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Everything Dental Blog – May 2014

In this issue: Are you cultivating, expanding, acquiring or exiting your business?

An exclusive interview with Olivia and Kerry Straine.

I’ve been writing about dentistry and change for over twenty years. It’s a labor of love and quite cathartic for me. The process of writing taps into my passion and allows me to speak to clients and industry professionals about a host of topics. It challenges me to overcome certain tendencies and allows me to address complex and complicated matters that resonate with my audience.

At age 55 I find myself divided by two loves; the growth and development of my primary business, and the desire to execute on my entrepreneurial ambition. Interestingly, some of our industries greatest challenges and opportunities are fueling both of my passions.

Our industry is going through a period of consolidation and a technological revolution at the same time. It is expanding on one hand and shrinking on the other. While the challenges are many for dentists and dental group practice so are the opportunities. Dentists must embrace a higher level of operational expertise and must pursue a more comprehensive and authoritative clinical doctrine. Key indicators and metrics must be studied to assess your operation and clinical effectiveness. Average performance will result in decline across several key categories.

How will you compete with corporate and group dentistry in the future? Are you prepared to make the changes necessary to compete? Will you seek assistance from a professional practice management consultant or coach to remain competitive? Will you join a group? Are you going to address the winds of change alone?

I work and network with dozens of coaches and consultants with expertise in operational, clinical and preventive best practices. Please call me if you need a referral.

Determine where you are in your journey and be sure to have the corresponding mind set. If you own or operate a dental facility then you fall into one of these categories. You are either; cultivating, expanding, acquiring or exiting the business!


Interview with Olivia and Kerry Straine

EDB: What is the greatest challenge you see among your clients today?

Straine: There are many external challenges facing our clients in today’s rapidly changing landscape, but historically you can see that life is always filled with adversity.  Many dentists are feeling the pinch of reduced reimbursement rates from insurance companies, increasing operating expenses, and rising income tax rates, which happens to affect all of us.  Having said that, the number one challenge to operating a successful practice, which has been consistent over the past 25 years, is the lack of education and training on how to lead and manage people, the most valuable and important asset in any enterprise.  Being a successful CEO isn’t just a catchy slogan, it’s the single most important factor in operating a successful business.

EDB: Which attribute is more likely to yield a successful practice – great clinical skill or charisma?

Straine:  In a super-successful practice, both attributes are essential.  Clinical skills give the dentist the ability to treat the patient, and charisma equips the dentist to connect with the patient confidently, resulting in a higher acceptance of clinical recommendations.  In addition to clinical skills and charisma, it is essential to have leadership skills, which can be taught.

EDB: How does your consulting firm create leaders and managers from dentists with little or no business training?

Straine:  Over the past 25 years Straine has been the industry leader in developing the curriculum and best practices methodologies for “business of dentistry” knowledge and competencies, both for dental practice owners and their staff and the variety of sales professionals that work with them. One management concept that is essential to success across the board is a process system.  For example, Straine teaches its clients how to link vision to goals to strategy, through daily processes.

EDB: Do you consider dentistry to still be a very rewarding and profitable profession?

Straine:  Absolutely.  As a matter of fact, for the clients we work with, we learn that the reward experienced from serving their patients is priceless, the “what’s it all about” factor.  Every time a patient says “thank you,” the positive reinforcement increases the doctor’s interest in performing the services they provide.  As for profitability, it’s not as simple as it once was which is why it is important to project the economic impact of every possible strategy and determine if it passes the profitability test, all before building a facility, buying equipment and hiring more staff.  If the strategy can be implemented, but isn’t one that is economically viable, you have to question implementing it.

EDB: If you were to build a dental practice for one of your children, would you shoot for a Fee for Service, PPO, Hybrid or DMO/Medicaid business model?

Straine:  I’d shoot for a practice that allowed them to have fun, fulfillment, financial reward, and one that provided enough free time for them to enjoy their family.

EDB: Is there any advice that you would give to a young associate dentist who plans on owning their own practice one day?

Straine:  The advice I’d give a young dentist is twofold.  First, realize that upon graduation from dental school education continues throughout their entire career.  This is required to equip them with the skills required to own and lead their practice.  Second, find a business mentor to help them learn the skills required. That mentor may be found as a respected practice owner they would like to emulate, or a consultant who has the skills required to guide them through their growth and maturation.

EDB: How do you see the Fee for Service business model in 2015 and beyond?

Straine:  With the rapid growth in corporate dentistry, and changing reimbursement policies from insurance companies, the fee for service model is suffering.  The question is what caused this?  Is it due to external influences like the economy, or is it internal, the failure to anticipate the change and make the necessary modifications to benchmarks, strategies, and the way they inspire, lead, coach, and hold their teams accountable.

EDB: Are Fee for Service practices extinct?

Straine: Extinct, no, but there are more and more practice owners enrolling with insurance plans to remain connected with their patients.

EDB: Can you share your thoughts about these emerging dental offerings: facial fillers and facial cosmetic procedures?

Straine: Innovators are always looking for ways to serve their customers/patients, and in some practices we see facial fillers and facial cosmetic procedures increasing.  At this time, this strategy appears to be in its infancy, with a small percentage of the practices we are exposed to providing these services.

EDB: Sleep Dentistry/Medicine?

Straine: This area of service is certainly one that captures my interest.  Having lost a brother to sleep apnea in 1989, I am always drawn to this subject.  Possibly, due to my own personal interest I see more of this, but there has been a growth in the number of dentists I meet during seminars, complimentary telephone consultations, and with practices that we work with providing this much needed service.  I hope it continues as the market is in need, and according to statistics, one that would generate a lot of patients for a practice.

EDB: Comprehensive oral cancer exams with a device that can identify abnormalities in the oral mucosa?

Straine: Any and every service that supports the clinical commitment of a dentist that is legal, ethical, moral, and profitable, is one we encourage them to employ.

EDB: Cad Cam dentistry and digital impression scanning?

Straine:  Two important issues are addressed with the investment in this technology.  The first is efficiency. The ability to consolidate procedures into fewer appointments reduces the overhead of the business.  Second, same day dentistry increases case acceptance production, cash flow and profitability.

EDB: What role will hygienists play in the future?

Straine:  In our clients’ practices, the same role they are playing today.  Hygienists who share their employer’s values, philosophy, and mission are more willing to learn the behaviors outlined in their job descriptions.  These behaviors lead to better reappointment rates, case acceptance, lower missed appointments, and more new patients from satisfied existing patients, and ultimately contribute significantly to the overall profitability of the practice.

EDB: Do you believe in expanded duties and mid-level care givers?

Straine:  It’s not whether or not I believe in these positions, but rather, will they allow a practice to deliver on its mission and at the same time, remain economically viable.

EDB: How important are job descriptions and operational systems to the over-all health of a dental practice?

Straine:  They are essential to the over-all health of a practice.  Without job description outlining the behaviors to be performed, and the systems required to train, lead, coach, and monitor the those behaviors, chaos will reign in any organization.  It’s the lack of orchestration that will drive up overhead as a percentage of production due to the inefficiency and ineffectiveness within the practice.

EDB: What do you think about the growth of corporate dentistry?

Straine: It is very impressive. Having had the opportunity to work with very large corporate clients, I have witnessed their commitment to their patients, the development of their teams, the investment in their facilities and technology, and in the training of their teams.

EDB: What percentage of the dental practice population will they have in 5 years?

Straine: There are statistics in the marketplace today that suggest the corporate market will grow from its current level to 33% to 50% of the market. While it’s impossible to predict exactly, this market will grow due to the economic pressure practice owners face.  With a never ending supply of dental graduates to fill their dental staffing needs, and baby boomers who expect a high quality of life, while continuing to earn a good income, this market will not suffer from a lack of providers.  Last, with the return on investment some of the successful large groups have generated, third party investors are very attracted to the predictable profitability that comes from this industry.

EDB: What do you think will happen to specialists as more offices are engaged in multi-specialty services? Are there any specialists that you think will thrive in the future?

Straine:  Again, it’s about efficiency and profitability that is leading more multi-specialty groups to emerge, often connect to a large pool of patients served within a general dental practice.  Successful specialty practices provide exceptional services to their patients, and are focused on creating a successful experience for patients and referring doctors.  To that end, there are many benefits of consolidating into a group, but there are challenges as well. Shared philosophy, time management, overhead allocations, and team development are just of few of the factors that need to be considered before joining a group, therefore it’s important to think accurately and act wisely. With respect to which specialists will thrive in the future, it’s reserved for ones who realize their clinical skills, education, and licenses, are the end, but instead, are just the beginning when it comes to becoming an accomplished professional. Specialists, who are committed to a life of learning both the clinical and behavioral skills required to connect, will remain relevant in the lives of the people they serve.

EDB: Kerry, what are the top three leadership mistakes that doctors make?

Straine:  The top three leadership mistakes that doctors make are a failure to:

  1. Cast a vision that defines the practice they desire to own, which allows them to serve patients based on their values and skills, and generates the economic outcome that supports their professional and personal economic requirements.
  2. Lead their employees to understand and master the behaviors contained within their operating policies and job descriptions.  This includes taking the time to customize tools, commit to training their team, and verifying that the team has learned how to perform services that align the team with the values of the practice and ultimately with patients.
  3. Align vision to goals, verifying on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis that the practice is on track with the benchmarks forecasted, and that in fact, are attained.

EDB: Please tell me why Straine Consulting is the right investment for any practice (regardless of size) growing their business and relevance?

Straine: Having served over 5,200 clients in the last 25 years, conducted more than 17,000 individual consultations with practice owners, and met thousands of team members in seminars, our experience is unmatched in the industry. Additionally our value proposition is unique within the consulting industry, as Straine offers:

  • An experienced national team of Straine Management System Certified Consultants that know how to craft a customized strategic plan, set benchmarks, define operating policies and install management systems based on the unique values and philosophy of each client.
  • Extremely competitive pricing with the least amount of contractual invasiveness:  all clients can cancel our agreement with 30 days’ written notice.

To discover and capture the true potential of your practice, contact us to schedule a free telephone consultation with Kerry Straine or one of the Certified Straine Consultants today.

You can contact Straine Consulting at 800.568.7200.


Oral Cancer Screening

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It is our responsibility (dental community) to reverse these alarming statistics through education and assisted cancer screening. What you can’t see, can hurt you and your patients.

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Join the revolution. Get a demonstration of Identafi and join your peers by becoming involved in this war against oral cancer.

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