It’s nearly 2018 and if you’re a dentist, I suggest it’s time to look up from the treatment chair.

While Christmas carols might try to convince us it’s the most wonderful year, when you’re hard at it in dental business, feeling jolly might just be a stretch.

As 2018 rises up, you might wonder: “How do I start future casting? How do I make next year better than this one?”

I love a good question.

Especially the kind that gets me thinking and acting differently.

Here at Savvy Dentist, right now we’ve been connecting the dots from 2017 to carve out the pathway for next year.

We’re looking at what worked well, what didn’t, and what we can do better.

Our capacity for reflection has only been possible by asking thought-provoking questions.

Now, with the whole year almost completely under your belt, it’s the perfect time to muscle up with honest answers to interesting questions like these.

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Are You Resistant To Change?

I’m the first to admit there are certain things I like done the same way, every time I do them.

Change the routine and you’ll find me digging in my proverbial heels.

Here are a couple of things I resist changing:

Coffee at my favourite café.

Travelling the same route to work each day.

Watching the Boxing Day test match at the MCG. Uninterrupted.

Where I’m much less resistant to change – in fact I think I embrace it – is in my business.

In this domain, I’m all over change. I love it.

Why?

Because while we might hang on to habits and routines in other areas, resistance to change in business is a luxury few can afford.

I’m old enough to know the words to the popular Buggles’ hit from the Seventies, Video killed the radio star.

Well, Buggles was right. Video did kill the radio star.

And no sooner was the radio star well and truly buried, we were waving good-bye to vinyl records, and it was hello CDs.

Seemingly, within moments, audio downloads were ‘the next big thing’.

How many of us thought, “This is never going to work!” and then found ourselves proud owners of iPods.

Blink and you’d have missed it.

Change is part of life. It’s a big part of dental life. And it’s a fact of dental business.

As the end of year approaches, gauge your level of resistance to change.

Could you open up to new or different ways of doing things that could make a measurable difference to your business in 2018?

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Are You Delivering Dental Treatments Or Creating Great Care Experiences?

The commoditization of dentistry is something I’ve written and spoken about many times.

Driven by big corporates and health insurance companies among other things, in this context, being a patient often means you often feel you’re just a number.

I mean, it can be hard to build confidence in your dentist when it’s a different person every visit.

People don’t want to be numbers; they want to be people.

And they want to connect with people, especially when receiving health care.

Which is why it’s important to make the distinction in your mind about whether your business delivers dental treatments or creates great care experiences.

Feel like this is too much like clichéd marketing hype?

Think again.

Marketing will drive patients to your practice; connection and relationship – how you make them feel – will keep them coming back.

There’s no doubt it can be hard to dress up dental treatment as fun. That’s okay.

Instead of focusing on the treatment itself, we can make the before and after clinical something they’ll talk about and have fun with.

Over time, a personalised approach to providing a great care experience creates connections and breeds loyalty.

Really, what you want is for the experience to be so great, patients don’t want to leave.

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What’s Your Philosophy Of Care?

As I worked my way through dental school, nobody ever asked, “What’s your philosophy of care, Jesse?”. I am sure it was the same for you too.

With greater wisdom and experience, I’ve learned to ask myself. And I’m asking you now.

As a dental business owner, it’s a fundamental question to be answered.

Andre Shirdan, founder of Systems Practice Management, Inc., and developer of The Crew Process, says a philosophy of care should be expressed in six words.

A philosophy of care is about how you work. It’s also about how you and your team deliver treatment to patients.

The bottom line? Your philosophy of care must resonate from within you. Then it must be articulated clearly to the world.

With clarity comes certainty. And certainty creates confidence.

Confidence leads to an unwavering commitment to your business vision.

The next step is communicating this philosophy to your team, something that is regularly overlooked.

A vital ingredient for success, you’ll find this more compelling than anything else for bringing your people on board, and keeping them there.

In turn, the team connects with your patients because they understand your business’ goals. Actually, they do more than that; they become invested in them.

Before you know it, momentum kicks in.

Is this easy? No.

Does it take time? Yes, it does.

But you’re already working your dental business.

Getting clear about your philosophy of care is something you can do for your business right now.

Your philosophy of care could be:

Do it right, do it once.

Every patient is important.

We’re never late.

 We make time for you.

Express your philosophy of care and then live it each and every day.

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And My Bonus Question: How’s Your Community?

We’ve all heard about the need for a ‘tribe’ or a community, so how are you going with yours?

Although this might seem like a new-ish marketing phenomena, it’s not.

Back in the day, before everything became online social, dentists built their tribe by getting out and talking to people in their community.

Now face-to-face conversation might seem a bit old school, but it works.

Actually, you will find the general response as one of surprise and delight – a winner for any relationship.

Talking to people is not bells and whistles. It’s not expensive. And it’s not hard. In fact, you and your team can do it with every patient you see.

It does, however, take time, but it’s time well invested.

Commit to conversation as part of your community building strategy and watch your business grow.

People love to be part of something bigger than them.

Make your dental business a place where they can do that.

Final Words…

I love this time of year.

There’s the anticipation of a new year balanced with the opportunity to reflect on what’s worked and what could be done better.

Ask yourself – and your team – these questions before shutting the door on 2017 so next year is your best yet.

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