GPS dentistry: Discover your direction and destination

In the course of looking for information on “green” office design, I identified several interesting websites and an article from Dental Economics worth reposting……

Medieval dentist removing tooth

Image via Wikipedia

Each provided an interesting feature – floor plans, design, et al…..but in retrospect, I wondered if we know when we start our practice, our careers, what to expect, how to anticipate need, growth, if we are able to envision how “we” will grow as individuals, practice managers, how our clinical skills will develop,how to stay focused on evidence based dentistry and yet assimilate the onslaught of new technologies…… such,over the next few months, I plan on looking for articles that address the psychological and experiential needs of dental practice.  How do we distill what we are “sold”, from what we can intelligently assess.  I welcome comments, inputs, directions……..

do you expect?

The Law of Expectation simply says that you get
what you expect. I know it sounds a bit like psychobabble, but I’ve seen
it play out over and over again with both positive and negative
results. Wrong thinking and negative expectations can be dangerous. I
remember a conversation with a client of mine whose practice had just
experienced a tragic event. Upon meeting with him, I was astounded to
hear him say, “I kind of expected it to happen.”

What?! He went on
to explain that after years of growth, he knew something bad was bound
to happen eventually. He had a clear expectation that disaster would
befall his practice. Coincidence? Or, do we get what we expect?

remember meeting with a doctor and his wife about their new-patient
expectations. My goal was to get them on the same page. The wife
expected 40 new patients each month of the previous year while her
husband expected only20. Miraculously, after we looked at the practice’s
performance in the past year, they had 361 new patients — an average of
30 per month. Coincidence? Or do we get what we expect?

Take a
few moments and write out your clear expectations for your practice
including your staff, your patients, your income, your time invested,
and everything else that makes up your dream practice. Find people who
will be supportive and share your dream expectations with them. Then
share it with everyone connected to your practice.

Do it now and
see if your results move closer to your expectations.

What are
you focused on? Part 1

The Law of Attraction simply says that you
will attract whatever you focus on. This law has become popular of
late, so let me clarify from the beginning that I am not talking about
some magical potion to make $10 million arrive in your mailbox tomorrow.
However, experience has taught me that what you focus on, you will

After speaking about this concept at an event, I was
pulled aside by a frantic doctor. He went on to explain that his
grandfather and his father died with massive debt. He resolved never to
be in debt like they were and yet now, at age 50, he found himself in
over his head with debt.

How does that work? His focal point of
attraction became “debt, debt, debt.” It should have been “abundance,
abundance, abundance.”

If your town is like most, you have a few
great dentists that attract great patients and also your share of weirdo
doctors that attract weirdo patients. Two practices may be within
walking distance of each other, using the same signage and advertising
with both providing good dental care. Yet, their staff and patients
couldn’t be more different. Why? The law of attraction is at work.

on what you want to attract, not what you want to avoid.

are you focused on? Part 2

The Law of Expansion simply says that
whatever we focus on expands. One sure way to see the number of problems
expand in your practice is to focus on them. Focus on “no shows” and
cancellations in your practice and you just might experience more holes
in your schedule. Focus on collection problems and watch as you collect
less and less. Focus on bad patients and watch their number grow.

good news is that the opposite is also true. Focus on opportunities and
watch them grow. In the average dental practice, the dental hygienist
sees about eight patients a day or about 224 teeth every day. With two
hygienists, that works out to 448 teeth coming into the average practice

A meticulous dentist focused first on good dental health
and yet also focused on opportunity sees 448 potential opportunities. Is
it possible that 1 percent of those teeth might need crowns or some
other work? One percent would result in four new crowns every day.

on what you want to expand.

What do you talk about?

Law of Affirmations simply says that whatever you talk about is what
happens. Once you have a grasp of the first two laws, it’s time to
change what you say to yourself and others. What you say is directly
related to the person you will be and the practice you are building.

seven years old, I took my first job as a newspaper boy and have been
working hard ever since. During my childhood, I had to pay for my own
clothes, activities, and even dental care. As a result, I had a chip on
my shoulder and when pushed by others would often say, “I’m the hardest
working guy I know and nobody has ever given me a thing in my life.”

few years back, my wife and I were involved in a “high-decibel
discussion” as sometimes happens in a marriage. With conviction I said,
“I’m the hardest working guy I know and nobody has ever given me
anything.” Through tears she said, “Ken, you’ve said nobody ever gives
you anything so much that nobody ever does give you anything. Please
don’t ever say it again.” I wish I could say that was the last time I
said it, but I can be stubborn.

A month later, I pulled through
the drive-thru to get some coffee. Being a morning person, I was chipper
and friendly. The young girl, taken by my positive outlook on the day,
said, “I’m going to give you two donuts for free.”

“Really?” I

“Why do you seem so surprised?” she inquired.

because nobody ever gives me anything.” I paused, reflected, and my
wife’s words came back to me. I said, “You know, I guess I should stop
staying that.”

She agreed that I should never say it again. I
wasn’t smart enough to listen to my wife — I had to learn it from the
drive-thru girl. I know it may sound strange, but from that moment on, I
started saying, “People give me stuff; people want to give me stuff.”

has been eight years since my drive-thru conversion and now I can
hardly keep people from giving me things. Doctors give me paintings
right off their walls. Companies give me free parking. A few weeks ago,
the owner of a restaurant gave my wife and me free meals for no other
reason than he liked me. People love to give me stuff!

What you
talk about is what happens. I don’t always understand it, but I have
known it to be true in my life and in the thousands of practices I’ve
served. Does what comes out of your mouth match your dream of whom you
want to be and what you want your practice to be?

Time for action

on the laws above, what changes do you need to make in your life and

Take some personal time this week to evaluate your life
and practice according to these laws. Consider whether your current
direction matches your anticipated destination.

Write out your
expectations and make sure your affirmations are aligned with your
written expectations. Use whatever tools work for you to begin to focus
on what you want to attract and what you want to expand.

Now is
the time to take action to change your thinking in a way that will help
you reach your dream destination.

Ken Runkle,
America‘s Profitability Expert™, is founder and president of Paragon
Management. He has helped dentists reach peak profitability for 24
years. For more, visit

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