Guest blog article written by Dr. Mike Schuster, Director of the Schuster Center, author, well-known speaker and coach to thousands of dentists.
This is one of a series of posts and emails Mike writes regularly, encouraging dentists to be the best they can be.
Mike has kindly allowed us to share a selection of these articles with you.
In this article he explains an under-served part of the patient community and the decisions you need to make if you want to serve this rewarding segment.
Positioning Your Practice for Growth
Dentistry is a unique professional service where the owner/dentist is the primary producer.
American dentistry is undoubtedly the finest in the world.
Our skills, research, new materials and techniques have been tremendously improved in recent years.
Our work with aesthetics, minimally invasive dentistry, prevention and whole person and rejuvenation dentistry can literally transform the appearance and often the longevity of a person’s life.
Paradoxically, the application of these procedures and techniques is becoming increasingly difficult for people to access.
With the restrictions of third parties on time and price, not allowing or paying for advanced cosmetic and functional dentistry, most patients do not benefit from many of the new techniques and procedures available and compromise the care that is delivered. Examinations and diagnostic procedures in dentistry have always been somewhat complex. Examination, diagnosis and treatment planning is subjective to the knowledge, experience, self-esteem and motivation of the individual dentist. There are many ways to perform dental services and there are multiple choices that can be made. An example is fixed prosthetics and implants as compared to partial removable dentures. In both categories, there are multiple choices to be made relative to quality, aesthetics and occlusion, and function.
Insurance and PPO Restrictions
Due to insurance and PPO restrictions, the current attitudes of many consumers has made the practice of excellent, comprehensive dentistry a very difficult, frustrating and stressful experience. (Exactly as the insurance industry desires and most dentists give up trying and follow the crowd into incomplete and inadequate single tooth or piecework, fragmented dentistry.)
It is essential for each practicing dentist to consider how he or she wants to practice and then position themselves accordingly. In order to position one’s self as to the type and style of practice that she desires, it is necessary to understand the pattern of people’s behavior and make a decision as to what type of personalities you wish in your practice.
Attitudes to Health Care
Studies agree on the following pattern of people’s behavior and values towards health care:
Low to Medium Health Values 50%:
They seek “instant” remedies or cures.
They choose the most accessible service.
Medium Health Values: 30%:
More health conscious, concerned with some aspects of preventive care
But “not too fussy” about who provides such service, but more so than the lowest 50%!
Individuals in this group can becomeengaged with a series of positive, emotionally compelling experiences.
High Health Values: 20%
Fitness and health centered.
These individuals are very concerned about receiving the ‘best’ available and will seek out such services where they can.
Will—to the best of their ability—pay for this higher quality of care, over and above their insurance.
Choose the Segment You Want to Practice In!
Each dentist must make a choice as to what segment or society he or she wants to practice in. It’s not possible to be all things to all people. If you find it more desirable to work with 20% of the market, then it is imperative to position yourself and your practice, your staff, your systems and experiences to attract those people.
The people in the 20% whose values are high, are generally not medically trained. The only way that they can judge the quality of care they are receiving is how they ‘perceive the experiences’ they have when they are in your practice and what others tell them about your practice.. This not only includes the treatment by the doctor, but by the administrative people in the office, receptionist, both on the telephone and in person; chair sides, hygienists; all personnel.
Align Your Practice With That Choice!
Patients impressions of first contacts are usually permanent, whether positive or negative. Public relations and enthusiastic satisfaction with your services are tremendously strengthened or weakened by attitude, motivation, and the environment and experiences people have with the staff as well as doctor Patient relationships and satisfaction with the experience of your services are tremendously strengthened or weakened by attitude, intrinsic motivation, and goal direction of staff as well as you, the doctor.
Highly motivated and focused, goal oriented people provide the leading edge of every successful enterprise.
An unmotivated or demotivated, unhappy staff with no clear personal or professional goals and objectives can destroy any health facility—regardless of the quality of technical care delivered.
By contrast, highly motivated, goal oriented, positive, productive, happy people tremendously enhance the experience and attitude of a quality care facility and also important, the bottom line of the practice.
Only 5% of Dentists Know How to Provide Service to the Top 20%
Due to present day social and economic conditions, third parties, such as insurance companies, corporate dentistry and governmental control, the majority of health care will be dominated by these groups. Approximately 80% of the people and institutions will be participants; but 20% of the population (some 65 million people) want more personalized individual attention than third parties and mass market business entities can provide.
Observation and scientific studies tells us that only 5% of physicians and dentists have the KNOW HOW to provide the individualized experiences and personalized services that the 20% want. This means that there are approximately 11,000 people looking for each dentist in this group.
Position Yourself and Organize Your Practice for the Coming Boom
If your desire and goal is to be in this 5%, then there is a boom coming. It is necessary to POSITION YOURSELF and ORGANIZE your practice to ATTRACT this group. The benefits are higher net profit, less volume, higher levels of patient satisfaction; and fulfillment and self-actualization for the dentist who work in this MODEL. I see it every week as MASS MARKET dentists evolve into SEGMENTED MARKET dentists their NET PROFIT DOUBLES in one year and continues to increase 15-20% per year over time. Often in a 3 year time span their Net Profit triples while they continue to experience a balanced, happy, fulfilling life and practice. In other words, this group works LESS and NETS MORE in every way. It is difficult, and some suggest impossible for those to belief this is possible when they are trapped in a Commodity, Mass Market practice model.
To position yourself towards a SEGMENTED or NICHE MARKET PRACTICE MODEL the following steps are required:
- An in depth knowledge of what the 20% want; what they really, really, really want.
- A series of innovated and planned series of ‘emotionally, positive experiences’ that lead to a transformation in thinking and behavior. A ‘paradigm shift’ from transactional relationships to transformational relationships.
- An engaged and committed staff all aware and working towards the same goal. Individual experiences which lead to a Transformation.
- A reputation in the community of what your particular practice knows and how to produces excellence in patient’s experience.
These skills do not come naturally. We were not trained for The Experience Economy. Developing new skills require attitudinal, structural and systems change and a definite evolution in the mindset of each dentist. Each dentist must experience a paradigm shift in thinking, behavior and attitude before a staff member or patient can experience it. We, you and I can’t give to others what we don’t have for ourselves. Developing a practice based on ‘excellence’ today requires a true dedication to learn, develop and focus on creating a practice model to produce consistent transformational experiences for patients. This is why there will only be 5% at the top who create it. For the rest, its simply too easy to slip into average and then mediocrity and work for someone else.
The Two Keys That Influence Your Success
There are two keys that will influence the success of each individual practitioner today. 1st , is his or her personal motivation and clear, focused direction relative to goals and specific ‘staged experiences’ that will influence patient outcomes. Research has demonstrated clearly that the majority have indefinite, inconsistent goals and their business strategies most often do not line up with what they say they want. True goal directed people with proper training are able to crystallize their thinking in such a manner that they know exactly what the end result of their work will bring to them. In other words, those people who have crystallized their goals as to what they want and have a plan to achieve it, are most likely to do so.
Without specific goals and specific individual strategies, ‘planned experiences’ and skills of being able to establish ‘transformational relationships’ with individual patients in such a way that a partnership is created, little movement will occur. Without a personal relationship built on ‘trust’ and precise knowledge of what the individual patient wants, a truly successful, thriving practice cannot exist.
2nd: Those practices that depend on ‘referrals’ from patients must have a genuine trust and partnership relationship. They each must trust each other.
Developing Trust and Confidence
To develop trust and confidence with a person is not a simple matter. It takes skill training and study, practice and feedback; self-observation and self-reflection. Selection of staff and team effort are essential. Surveys of medical and dental school curriculum in this country clearly discloses that less than 1% of the curriculum is devoted to these subjects. In other words, little or no time is spent on the key to developing a practice dedicated to individual care. No time in any technical education to teach the skills, methods and experiences that create ‘transformational experiences’ to Engage, to Connect with patients; to help patient’s Commit to a Preferred Future they Really, Really Want and enter into a Co-Creative process that guides patients towards short and long term health and wellness.
IN SUMMARY: Questions You Must Answer, Strategies You Can Learn
For those dentists who truly desire to be economically successful and rewarded with satisfaction in their practice in today’s world, it is vital that they decide first their goals in life and then their goals in dentistry and structure all activities to by-pass today’s challenges. The dentist who does not make a choice and attempts to be all things to all people will be confined to mediocrity, mass market, commoditized, low fee, low fulfillment dentistry and or to sell out and quit.
The problem is that if you don’t make your own PERSONAL CHOICE, it will be made for you. The questions that only you can answer is this.
- Do I want to direct and focus my energies in areas that are meaningful to others and myself; or do I want to have outside forces direct my life?
- Do I want to focus my efforts and life on learning, growing, evolving and becoming the best that I can be or do I want to render mass care dentistry and compete with the rest of the 95%?
If you choose A, then it would be our pleasure to talk with you to determine what KEY STRATEGIES you can learn and do which will Transform your practice so that you can transform the lives of the people you work with and serve.
There is a way, a path, a road, to the practice you hoped you’d have when you began. It’s right there in front of you. It’s not ‘outside of you’ in some fancy new technical gadget, and it’s not in a brand new $1M building…it’s the simplest, easiest, least complicated and least expensive thing you could do.
Your success today, tomorrow and in the future, is exactly as mine. It is in the type and quality of ‘experiences’ you create and whether you form ‘transactional relationships’ or ‘transformational relationships’ with the people we call patients.
They both work, but they work in distinctly different and unique ways. The WORK (training, practice, coaching) of the Schuster Center and Performance Coach has been specifically targeted to those dentists who want to form more ‘transformational relationships’.
This is THE WORK of my life. This is what I am passionate about. Whenever you ‘transform’ a life, your life is ‘transformed’ as well. Indeed, all work is good. Anything we can do to help a person is good; however, ‘transformation’ gives meaning, depth, purpose and life to every person engaged in a process of transformation. Transforming lives brings you back to work on Monday, and Tuesday with anticipation, enthusiasm and a renewed ‘positive energy’ that its hard to get anywhere else.
Director of the Schuster Center
Co-Founder of Performance Coach
Want to learn more from Mike? Go to the Schuster Center website!
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