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The Foundations of your Dental Practice

A tree can only grow higher by deepening its roots and expanding its branches. A bonsai tree for example will remain small and not grow because its roots and branches are continuously being cut by the gardener who wants to maintain it that way.

A dental practice like the tree needs to have deep roots and wide branches for it to grow tall. The dental practice needs to have what I call the ‘4 C’s of Dentistry’. These are the foundations of the practice, the roots and branches if you like, and need to be nurtured and allowed to grow.

The 4 C’s Of Dentistry – Your practice foundation and growth are determined by them

1. Consistency


It is vital that the practice has a purpose for the business. It needs a reason for that business to be in existence. Anything in nature which does not have a reason for its existence will eventually die off and get replaced. We see this in ecology, in plants and animals. Species which don’t have a purpose eventually die and get replaced by another species which is fewer in number yet greater in consciousness.

This is the same with dental practices. If a practice does not have a clear purpose, it will not be able to handle the trials and tribulations that it has to go through in order for it to grow. The practice will become bankrupt and the patients will be taken up by other practices which have a greater purpose. The practice and the principal both need to have consistency in what they are doing.

The purpose of the business and the message that the business is giving to patients need to match. There needs to be a message to market match. When the practice consistently delivers a certain standard of care, patients will be able to relate to it as they know what to expect. They can rely on the practice to remain within their expectations.

The team service needs to be consistent, the treatment quality needs to be consistent and the practice message needs to be consistent. This then allows the space for congruency to develop.

2. Congruency


To prevent conflicts within the practice, the team need to all be aligned with themselves, with each other and with the core message of the business. We see examples of this in fast food chains and restaurants or businesses that have many franchises. The team all say similar things, dress the same and the product you get is always consistent. This is called congruency. Everyone is on the same page so to speak and they work together as a team for a common goal.

Hence, it is vital at the interview stage for new employees that the principal dentist works out the values of the potential employee and understands them. Does the person fit well into the function of the practice you are allocating them for and is their job description accurate? Although a trial period is always essential, there is no point finding out that the person is not suitable once they have started working. A more efficient way will be to work out if there is congruency between the values of the company and the values of the potential employee.

In my 2-day programme, The Dental Mastery Experience, practitioners get to use a tool which helps them to find out what their values are. Value determination is an essential key for practice congruency and employee suitability.

3. Certainty


Dentistry is a profession based on science and for that science to work, there needs to be certainty.

It is essential that all team members educate themselves and learn from reputable sources about the theory and clinical aspects of dentistry on a regular basis. They need up to date information on the practical and non-clinical aspects of dentistry. The knowledge needs to be put into action and implemented. The team need to conform to the knowledge they learn at courses. They will only conform if they see value in the information. Again this comes down to knowing their values and understanding how what they learn can help them grow as individuals and give additional service to patients.

A wise way to ensure certainty would be to audit yourself on a daily basis. Find out what treatments work for you and what you are skilled at and what you are not so skilled at. If you like to do a certain type of dentistry then focus more on that and delegate other things to those people who like to do them. This will free up your time and patients will appreciate you more as they receive a better level of service.

If you are a practice owner, then you will have more time to work on your business rather than just in your business when you structure your treatments this way. To take this one stage further for example, audit your communication, the failure rates of treatments, the uptake rates of treatment plans, your posture, the reasons why you behave a certain way in practice, how the food you eat impacts the quality of the service you provide. This is where your care for patients is then maximised as you develop certainty for your work.

It is only when a practitioner has certainty in themselves, that they have learnt the ability to care for themselves that they are able to care for another.

4. Care


Dentistry is a caring profession and our ability to care for patients will be the ultimate deciding factor if our businesses are successful and are booming or become bust. I define care as the ability to convey the treatments and procedures that are important to you, in a way that it is important to the patient. Care is very subjective as it depends on numerous factors.

Some say care for your patients as if they were your family or friends. What if you don’t like your family or friends, then what? Care enough for your patients that you go over and above that which is expected from you. Care enough for your patients that you learn the art of selling and you master the art form of dentistry in all the dimensions it has to offer. That is the way of the Master practitioner.

In summary

When these 4 C’s of dentistry come together, then you have alignment with yourself, your team, your practice and your patients. Your dentistry will have deep roots and wide branches. It will be impossible for you not to grow and reach the skies.

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