I found having a successful practice requires more than what I studied in dental school. Sure, college gives you the indispensable basics of the profession, but there is still a lot more to learn.
To begin with, you need to constantly work on your professional skills, keeping up with the latest techniques and expanding the range of services that you can offer your patients. This means taking the continuing education classes you need to constantly stay at the forefront of your profession, including orthodontics, implants, veneers or aspects of dentistry you didn’t learn in school.
But there is another part of being a dentist that is just as important—how to run the office. It doesn’t matter how proficient you are as a dentist if you don’t have enough patients or income. You need to attract enough new patients. You must find and keep qualified staff. You need to collect enough money to keep the office running and have enough left over for the type of life you want.
For the technical aspects of being a dentist, I regularly attend continuing education classes to improve my skills. For managing the practice, I rely on help from Sterling.
I have been a dentist since 1975 and a Sterling client since 1985. When I started with Sterling, the practice was doing about $9,000 per month. Now it is up to $110,000—sometimes up to $133,000—and I am on my way to reaching the $150,000 goal I have to set for myself.
But this doesn’t mean that I am working around the clock. By doing things right, I am able to enjoy working less while making more money. When I started with Sterling, I was working four and a half days a week. Now I work just five half days a week and I love it. I stop seeing patients at two o’clock and have the rest of the day off. I also try to take a trip every month, combining education and fun. I go do a course and at the same time take two days for myself. I like the idea of work and play at the same time. This sure beats the long hours and low income I had before I started with Sterling.
Sterling has helped me out in two major areas. One was teaching me how to run the practice using statistics. The other was with hiring. To put a Superbowl team together you have to have qualified people. Sterling helps you to hire the right team, helping you decide who to hire and who not to hire.
Having extra money has been great. I was able to send my children through college without them having to work, though they did pay their way through medical school. I have also been able to fund a scholarship at my alma mater. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to do all that if I was still making just $9,000 a month.
But the difference is not just the money, but the joy I get out of work. Having a great team to work with and being able to achieve the goals I set for the practice makes all the difference. Going to work is not just a job, it’s a game and I’m having a great time with it. I think everyone should come to the office to play, not to work.
So, that is my advice. Have fun and be the best you can be. This means going to those CE classes to keep your skills at their highest level and use Sterling to help you with making the practice run smoothly and profitably.
It’s a winning combination.
James Orrington, DMD