Thursday, 21 May 2009

11.59 - by Rick Wilson DMD

I came across this posting on a closed network I belong to and I enjoyed reading it so much that I simply had to share it. It was written by a dentist in Philadelphia called Rick Wilson and was originally in two parts, but I have edited them together in a way that makes it read coherently.

"For the next 3 years, it's 11:59. All the time.

And in spite of all odds, January was a good beginning for us. Because we made it so. Laser focus, people, that's the key. Full-throttle sense of purpose. Nothing less will do in these times.

Trust me, though. You can do it. Si se puede!

I just mean that I'm going to work as if it's the last minute, even when it's not. Like my partner, Dr. Sukoneck, always says- "You have to work as if the waiting room is full of patients- even when it's empty."

(I'm playing Blondie's "11:59" as I write this!)

I've set goals and I'm determined to rock out in spite of the overall economy. Operating within Seth's philosophy which so far is working beautifully. It's not fast, not a quick fix, but I'm just beginning to see real long-term rewards.

I believe that each business should identify their own "Four Horsemen of their Apocalypse". Maybe three, maybe five, but some tangible things that hold us back. I also firmly believe that it's hard to see your own challenges clearly, and that it helps a great deal to look at other industries or fields that are different than your own. Then draw parallels and learn and apply the lessons to yourself.

Wanna hear mine? The last will surprise you. OK. Essentially all I need to experience growth are a certain number of new patients per month. Leave the rest up to me and my wonderful staff, we practice Edgecraft etc. and treat people in Anne's Visceral manner, very I-You. All I need is to have enough folks find us. We'll handle the rest.

So my Horsemen are:
1- People who move away. Our society is a very mobile one. I still miss folks who moved away a long time ago, and recently we've had such fine patients go far away. It's sad, and also of course it drains away a little part of the practice each time it happens.
2- Patients who pass away. (No, not in the chair Tom!) Our practice has a large elderly population. Even sadder than when they move, of course, and same effects in losing potentially more than we can gain with new patients.
3- Patients who say, "My insurance changed, I can't see you anymore". But Tom, you have to say this out loud in that exact voice that Jerry Lewis used when he screamed "Laaaady!" ;} Here's the irony- they are usually folks who are healthy and have very little dental needs besides maintenance, and it might cost them, say, $140 per year instead of, say, $57 per year. I can understand changing doctors when thousands of dollars in some reconstruction might be reduced, but these smaller amounts do leave me bemused.
4- Here's the interesting one- people get healthy! If patients are reasonably compliant and listen to health advice, we can reduce cavities and periodontal disease to very low levels. It has been said that dentistry is the only major business that is constantlly trying to put itself out of business.

I post these in detail because, again, it takes a lot of deep thought to truly identify the challenges in your own business, and I find going far afield helps to figure it all out. So maybe someone here who does something quite different than me can use this, and will see something that they missed before.

So, in my case I need Marketing. Not Advertising, which is broken, but Marketing. So we Embrace The Cow, we use Edgecraft, I recognize that we'll always serve a crowd but also we can lead a tribe within that; I reflect on and use Anne's Visceral Business and Blatant Integrity concepts. I'm a bit fortunate that way because Dr. Sukoneck practiced that way instinctively since the 70's, before it was ever called that.

So, bringing in an appropriate number of new patients and treating them with excellence is what I need to do to counterbalance my Four Horsemen. As long as we stay focused every minute as if it's 11:59 we will continue to grow. The best thing about using Seth's concepts as opposed to "Y'all come" advertising is this- nearly all of the new patients who are referred by our existing patients are fine people with whom we can have a good mutual relationship, and this is simply because they were referred in by similar people who are already in the practice. We rarely have an extremely difficult, cantankerous new patient these days because it's not a random selection process.

Oh boy I'm on a riff here Tom, but I'd say that the above summarizes what I've learned form Seth, from Anne, and from all of you fine folks here on Triiibes. It's my Manifesto!

So, everyone steal from it and use it and have success in 2009!"

Rick Wilson DMD

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