Dentists are in a unique position as business owners. We wear many “hats” and each one requires a significantly different skillset. Most dentists don’t even know which “hats” we wear, when we are supposed to wear them, what accountabilities we have with each one, and what success looks like in each area.
The different “hats” we wear fall under 3 categories, and we will discuss each one below. The success of a dental business is directly related to how we identify the skillset we need in each area, determine what success looks like, and how we keep score and follow through with those we assign accountabilities to.
The first “hat” we wear as dentists, and this is the one that makes our business unique, is being a dentist provider. We cannot delegate this responsibility to anyone else unless we hire associates or have dentist partners. Most of us understand what it takes to be successful in this area. We must always strive to treatment plan for our patients exactly as we would for our own families, regardless of finances, perceived circumstances, and our own limiting beliefs. Success looks like a growing new patient base each year. This means that the way we treat our existing patients is positive and they in turn are referring their families and friends. We also keep score by always tracking doctor and hygiene production. Money is not our end game, it is simply the way we keep score in our business to see if we (our systems, processes, attitudes, etc.) are winning.
The second “hat” we wear is that of manager. Like it or not, we manage people and usually lots of them. We can assign this responsibility out but typically we “trust” our most experienced (whatever that means, some of the least experienced team members I have had over the years were the best managers) team members to “just take care of it all”. Managing people is a time-consuming act. It takes truly connecting with people, communicating with them on their level and doing it often, understanding exactly what these people want in their own lives, and how we can create value for them. It also takes a rare ability of outlining exact expectations for them in the specific area of the practice they work in. We usually drop the ball in this area as dentists and “assume” they know what we are thinking. Big mistake. We must outline to them verbally, in writing, and constantly through action and meetings, what success looks like to them in our business.
The third “hat” is that of CEO. Most dentists don’t truly understand the difference between what a manager and CEO do. A manager manages people and systems and processes. A CEO establishes the vision of a business. A CEO leads people through constant uplifting and intentional direction as to where they are going as a company and how they are going to get there. CEO’s are accountable to the business for growth, vision, leadership, direction, coaching, and getting team members to understand they are part of something really special and what they have is not just a job, but that they are truly making a difference in the lives of their patients and also in their own families.
As you can see, being a dentist and owning a dental practice is not for the faint of heart. We must learn that there are different skillsets required of us to successfully be a professional, to run a profitable business, to provide a work environment that people want to show up to everyday and finally to create a vision that people are proud to be a part of.
The most important thing we can do as dentists, if we want to truly impact our patients and team members, is to become true stewards of those assets we have been given responsibility over, namely patient trust, leadership of our team, developing and going after the vision you have for your practice and finally, the finances for you, your family, and your team.