Former NCAA basketball coach John Wooden became a co-owner of a dental practice in Phoenix, Ariz. with Dr. Paul Nielson in May 2007. Before his death in 2010 the two worked tirelessly to develop their self-described fixer-upper into an ideal practice. In a post for Takacs Learning Center, Wooden detailed several important lessons he has learned lessons that are still good for any dental practice owner to know.
Wooden says that he and his partner made what he refers to as dual mistakes of hiring quickly and firing slowly. He listed six goals that every practice needs. Included on this list: have an overhead no higher than 60 percent preferably 50 percent; create a treatment mix that gives you satisfaction; have the ability to fund a retirement or savings plan; have patients you genuinely enjoy taking care of; establish a state-of-the-art practice with a great facility using the latest technology, and the best labs; and never stop taking great continuing education courses.
Wooden stresses that each of these goals are critically important but the one he feels most important is to have a high performance team that you truly love and enjoy working with. He says that when you have this you have the means to achieve the other goals.
Besides establishing a retirement or savings plan, he says you should be cautious to eliminate poor insurance plans. In April 2008, we made the fateful decision to no longer participate with any PPO insurance plans that we could not provide care profitably. Best decision we made. Period!
Marketing constantly is another must for dental practices. Wooden and his partner developed a comprehensive marketing plan that consistently attracts new patients. This has allowed the practice to thrive even in a very tough economy. They use a combination of internal, external and digital strategies and carefully monitor the source of every new patient and the value of the dentistry they accept, which allows them to accurately track their marketing return on investment.
Wooden also feels that dental practice owners should invest more time in team training. He states that spending time on team training results in much greater efficiency and effectiveness. Another byproduct of team training is much greater congruency.
Another lesson that he feels will positively impact your practice is to raise your fees. His belief is that providing quality dental care is expensive. While he wants his practices care to be affordable and accessible to the public, he is uncompromising in his practices selection of materials, supplies and lab partners. He feels that practices deserve an appropriate profit margin so that they can continually invest in the practice to deliver the promise of quality care to their patients.
While you will need to determine your own fee schedule based on a variety of factors, Wooden continues. Id encourage you to raise your fees to a level that allows you to spend the necessary time, use the materials of choice and provide an acceptable profit margin.