7 tips to consider before launching your dental practice startup
In my 20 years in the dental field, I’ve seen it all — from small practices growing into successful multi-practices to practices launching with great ideas and enthusiastic doctors falling prey to a vicious cycle of becoming bogged down by day-to-day details of running a practice.
And now, here you are — an associate seriously considering opening your own practice. You know you have the potential to make it on your own. You know you’ve got the skills and talents to be a better boss and run a more efficient practice than your current employer.
Have you ever stopped to think that chances are, before your boss launched his (or her) own practice, he was an associate probably with a similar mentality? What happened?
Once you open a new practice, it won’t be long before you’ve got associates working for you. They’ll be thinking the same things you thought about your boss, the same thoughts they had about their bosses, too. And so the vicious cycle continues… unless you make a commitment to stop the cycle before it begins.
Here’s the thing. When you get the keys to your new office, your life totally changes. The key determinant to whether your practice thrives or fails? Preparation.
I want to share seven tips with you to help you prepare and save you from the overwhelming, never-ending operational circumstances driving this vicious cycle.
Read and listen to audiobooks about savvy business entrepreneurs. Follow their strategies for running a successful company. The law of cause and effect says if you follow what other successful leaders have done, you’ll achieve similar results.
Look for a mentor — someone in your field whom you admire and whose advice and opinions you value. In time, that relationship might evolve into a Mastermind Alliance. Even if you don’t share the same exact philosophy, you’ll learn from them. And since thinking is the highest paying job in your business, cultivate a positive mindset by focusing on successful thoughts.
Develop your team.
When I hear a client and/or friend who is a dentist say they plan to hire someone “just to answer phones” during their start-up’s initial stages, I cringe. Recruiting those who will represent your office and be the face out front requires preparation and intention. Incorporate into your planning the time to vet and select each member of your team. Once you’ve made your initial hires, inspire them — and set a stage for their own professional and personal development.
Think about it. When you start a business, you’re creating jobs and adding value to other people’s lives. Not only do you have the responsibility for offering opportunities for your staff to improve their skills, it’s in your — and their — best interest to do so. Create and direct the stage for them to perform and shine.
Build a patient community.
Understand your contribution to each of your patients’ lives and continue adding value. Make each encounter memorable. Love them and they’ll reciprocate. But really, they’ll do more than reciprocate: they’ll serve as your champions and evangelists, bringing you more and more business through referrals and recommendations.
I see too many offices suffer when they direct all their energy, resources and focus to outsourcing their marketing. The best marketing investment you’ll ever make is the most rewarding — and the least expensive. It’s the connection you make with the patient in your office, sitting in your chair today. The way you make them feel generates a much higher ROI than any of your latest and greatest equipment. Stay present. Make connections. Build relationships.
The secret to the success of most major companies doesn’t stem merely from the products they serve but the systems they create. Take McDonalds, for example. I bet you (or someone you know) makes a better burger. But can you make a system to sell burgers more effectively than McDonalds? Probably not. The same approach is valid for Starbucks and many other companies.
My point? Invest the time early in your startup strategy to create checklists and scripts, manuals and procedures. Build in employee training for each role in your company. This granular detail will serve you well in the future.
Analyze and modify strategies.
Speaking of strategies… you’ll learn quickly that ideas provide the tinder for a project’s first stage. Along the way — especially in the beginning — you may find that things aren’t working according to plan, and that’s okay. Circumstances change. Sometimes it’s best to change course. Always make time to analyze those strategies and processes. Create a checklist and visit it consistently — and regularly — to verify that the key strategies you’ve created for each business area to see if they’re serving their purposes as intended.
What do those checklists include? Perhaps a quarterly check-in of your marketing efforts, front- and back-of-house operational workflows, or a deeper market dive to analyze and evaluate the services you offer — or any new competition.
With so many industry reps selling us different products and services, it’s hard to stay focused. My advice? First, remain calm. You know you’re making a contribution to your community and your team. Nex, keep it simple and you’ll be fine. We all make the mistake of over-consuming products and services we learn too quickly that we really didn’t need in the first place.
Technology evolves and patient expectations change, but there’s always something else new on the horizon and never enough time to review everything. So choose judiciously which “latest and greatest” you’ll evaluate and research. Always ask yourself how much of a contribution that new equipment, tool or process will improve and enhance your office. Dentistry is a never-ending cycle. Choose wisely.
You’re a leader — an entrepreneur embarking on a new adventure. Be kind to yourself, give yourself grace, and have faith! The law of expectation says that what you expect tends to be what you realize. So expect to be successful. Expect to reach the level of financial freedom you’re seeking. Expect to reach the top 10% of your industry.
Enjoy every patient encounter. Learn from them, share experiences, and build strong and long-lasting relationships. Prioritize getting to know your team, empowering them, expressing gratitude, and investing in them. Do this, and the universe will have no choice but to fulfill the wishes of this new, inspiring, successful leader you’re bound to become.
Want to learn more? Please contact me.