Part 4: What Defines a Successful Practice?

  • by John Gammichia, DMD, FAGD
  • Aug 9, 2017, 08:30 AM

This is my fourth blog post in the series I’ve written over the past few months that has discussed what I think success is to how I practice. I started this series because I read a lot of dental articles and blogs that tells us what a successful practice looks like. If you read or talk about success a lot, and you might start to think, “I don't practice that way” or “I am not wired that way,” I am here to tell you that that is OK. Success looks different to everyone.

Here’s an example: I do almost no external marketing. I have a one-dentist practice in a relatively small town that produces around $1.4 million, and I don’t externally market. But I am big on internal marketing. I am always harping on retention at my office. I see anywhere from 10 to 20 new patients a month. Imagine this: What if they all stayed? So we treat everyone who comes in here like a queen or a king, and we constantly tell people how happy we are that they are here. There are a lot of choices out there, and your patients can choose to go somewhere else.

I try to instill the “service above self” mentality in my staff, and I think patients appreciate this. I do the little things to set us apart. I write a handwritten “welcome” note to everyone who comes to our office for the first time. If we have a patient refer a patient, I will send them a handwritten thank-you card (sometimes with a gift card in it). All this to keep people who appreciate what we are trying to do and have them talk about us and send their friends and co-workers. And along with making people feel special and having a staff who serves, I make sure I have a great internet reputation. Google your name and make sure what people are saying about you is positive.

Regarding production, I work in a community that is on the outskirts of Orlando (some think it is the country), but I am the only show in town. There are a lot of people here, but not that many dentists. I have built a reputation of being good but also fair. I have built a reputation of being honest and conservative. I am conservative to a fault. My “go-to” restoration is a plain old filling. One year, less than 10 years ago, I only did 53 crowns. That is about one a week. I don’t do crowns when someone has broken a small cusp on a molar. I don’t normally do crowns after endo either. I am doing a lot of fillings. I use the crown or full coverage as the last resort.

When you do a lot of fillings, you get pretty good at it and become more confident. Then you start showing your patients your work with an intraoral photo. Then you start getting a lot of “wows” and a lot of “that’s awesome.” Mix that with the fact that I saved them $800 or more. Talk about a raving fan. Talk about a practice builder.

I’ve written all these blog posts in this series really just to say that you don’t have to be like everyone else to be successful. Have a warm and welcoming place. Have staff that understand capitalism. I think my biggest asset is that I make my practice about serving others. Trust me — the patients feel it when it is about them and not you. Be great at teeth and be professional but never too stuck-up about it.

Being successful, to me, is not all about fitting my practice in a box. It is not about making tons of money. To me, it is about loving what you are doing and caring for others. And if this is the criteria, I am feel pretty successful.

Am I the only one who believes this? Do you love what you do but don't feel successful? Tell me what you think.

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