Home Practice ManagementManagementHuman Resources The Creative Versus the Competitive Dentist

The Creative Versus the Competitive Dentist

by Jay Geier

Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt.

Dance like nobody’s watching.” When Satchel Paige said this now famous quote, he was in the midst of what would become a stellar and historical baseball career. Life was good and he was probably living just as he described – free of financial and emotional constraints.

Since I’m not an expert on love, dancing or baseball, I’d like to focus on something I have spent the last three decades of my life cultivating – the “work like you don’t need the money” part of his recommendation – I do know something about that.

I also know that when you can work like you don’t need the money, you approach business – and life – a little differently. You are no longer held by the confines and responsibilities of income building. The pressures. The stress. The sleepless nights… That freedom allows you to make decisions based on what’s “right.” It readjusts your focus to what really matters. When you work solely for the money, your hands grip a little tighter around it and your mind narrows both its focus and its ability to think beyond anything but your bottom line. This causes you to make decisions that, well, aren’t always “right” for you, your staff or your patients.

Let me explain.

There are two types of people: Competitive and Creative. We are all “pre-wired” to be competitive; we’re programmed and trained that way from the time we’re born. And it’s everyone’s default position, especially when it comes to money. So as refreshing as Mr. Paige’s suggestion is, it’s not easy to naturally achieve- especially if we are dependent on our income. My guess is that as a private practice owner, you too fall to the competitive side. After all, how else would your practice thrive if you weren’t up for a little friendly marketplace competition, right? Not so fast…

❝…when you can work like you don’t need the money, you approach business – and life – a little differently.

People often assume that competition in life is good – healthy even. But when competition eclipses your primary mission – and it often does – it can become destructive to your end goals. What is the primary mission for your practice? Is it to make as much money as possible, no matter what? Or is it to serve and provide the best experience to your patients, allowing them to live healthier lives?

The most fundamental difference between a competitive and a creative practice owner is easy to identify: if you sell something to someone and give them less in value than they paid, you are being competitive. That’s called UNDERdelivering. Your success and profits will be temporary, at best. You cannot be uber profitable until you learn to do just the opposite – for every transaction, you provide more value to the person than they pay you for. That’s is being creative and OVERdelivering – THE formula for financial success.

Virtually all our clients come to us as very competitive types. They are stressed out, overworked and not getting ahead. Their only goal is to make more money because they think that will solve all their problems and make their lives all better. It never occurs to them to invest in amazing client appreciation events or do mission work – things that actually support their primary mission or end goals. Why? Because their competitive nature is hyper focused on tightening the financial reigns.

So what if you did work like you don’t need the money? What if you actually woke up one day and decided you weren’t going to let competition drive your decisions any more? What would you do differently? How would you run your practice or treat your staff? A bit more creatively, I would imagine.

For a creative practice owner, it’s more about experience than money. You can leave a person better than they were by teaching them something, providing them with valuable advice, offering encouragement, or just by being sincerely nice to them. For patients, this means creating the best experience possible. Update your space, provide refreshments in your waiting room and give new patient gifts. Offer incentives for referrals or specials for out of pocket treatments. I have clients who hire on site massage therapists and provide paraffin treatments to their patients while they wait. They invest in their patient experience because they know the return will be substantial in retention and referrals.

And speaking of investments, consider the impact of investing in your human capital – your staff. While a competitive practice owner avoids formal staff training (can’t see the ROI), a creative practice owner invests in a comprehensive staff training program – a minimum of 40 hours per year for every employee. If that’s you, you know that your investment in your people will guarantee you get a tremendous return. Your team appreciates that you care enough to invest in them so they want to perform at the highest possible level – an attitude not tied directly to wages. You inspire their creative nature to over-deliver.

In fact, the right team is absolutely essential. Each one of them needs to be over-delivering for their own paychecks. In other words, you need to get more from them in value than you’re paying them. If you don’t, it’s a guarantee that your practice as a whole is not over-delivering to your patients. So how do you get hourly employees to over-deliver? In two important ways:

By over-delivering to your staff; by training them more, encouraging them more, providing a great office environment, hosting memorable parties and appreciation events, doing nice things for them as individuals…

By giving your business a real purpose that your people want to get behind; something they can be passionate about. They will over-deliver as a team because they feel they are collectively working to accomplish something significant; they will over-deliver for the sake of ‘the cause’.

Learn to tap into your creative nature so you can over-deliver. Very few other people ever do, so you will completely eclipse the competition. Competitive people consistently under-deliver on patient expectations, so they don’t get repeat business or new referrals from satisfied patients, because their patients aren’t satisfied!

Has your competitive nature hijacked your ability to over deliver by providing the best patient care and experience possible? Take a look at the chart (see below) and think about which side you are on…and which side you want to be on.

You probably are a competitive person today (just hopefully not that bad!), and the good news is… you can change! You can develop a creative nature. It takes time and commitment to work all those bad habits and negative thought processes out of your life, but just imagine your life with unlimited money. That should be a strong incentive to change the way you approach your business, and the people and the world around you. Then, eventually, you can actually work like you don’t need the money.

Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute and creator of the original New Patient Generation and Practice Expansion Program that has revolutionized the way dentists attract new patients to their practices and turned teams all over the country and even abroad into new patient generating machines. He is offering a step-by-step description of how his system works along with a custom rating of your own team and its ability to generate new patients. For this free information package, go to www.5StarChallenge.com or call 855-975-9455.

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