Let Go, Level Up and Stick with it!

by Dr. Angela Mulrooney

Let’s ensure dental practices recover from the mess of 2020! How can we do that? Start by asking yourself a few questions about redesigning your practice to make sure your brand is working for you and not the other way around:

  1. What do you want to let go of?
  2. What do you want to level up?
  3. How are you going to make it stick?

What do you want to let go of?
The first part in redesigning your practice is figuring out what you need to trim that isn’t helping your brand. If the past nine months taught us anything, it is what is essential in life.
Let’s dig into the two biggest complaints that have become louder from clients since the pandemic started. Both are good examples of what to focus on to release yourself from being a slave to your practice.

  1. “I’m working too hard and taking home too little!”
  2. “I’m doing procedures I don’t love to keep production up.”

Working Too Hard
Working harder doesn’t always equate to more production, and the stress it causes can end up harming your overall brand image. When we are in fear, we often double down on our efforts rather than stepping away to see things clearly and what we can do about them. If you feel run ragged trying to make ends meet, look at what you are doing in a day. Is everything your practice doing necessary? Take a hard look at what everyone does. Categorize each of those tasks as one of the following:

  1. Required by law
  2. Adds to production
  3. Levels up the practice

If the task doesn’t meet one of these categories, eliminate it.

In dentistry, we tend to task-switch all day and proudly live on the hamster wheel of exhaustion. Task switching slows us up – a lot! Instead of letting the practice’s schedule be haphazard, plan for efficiency. Are your tasks sprinkled carelessly or programmed purposefully? For example, are you doing the same type of procedure back to back? Bundling treatment presentation preparation once weekly? Submitting insurance predeterminations once per day? The longer you can stay in one mode for a single type of task, the more efficient you will be. This makes your day easier and more predictable. It also helps patients see you as having good customer service and control of their care. This is exactly how you want them to describe your brand as you level up.

Doing Procedures You Don’t Love
I have seen beautifully niched practice brands revert to bread and butter dentistry during the pandemic because they are terrified of not making ends meet. Now they are seven months into the ramifications of this decision and they are miserable. There is a sentiment they destroyed their brand and a fear they will not be able to go back. Niched practices that maintained their niche have barely been affected or posted higher numbers for 2020 than previous years. How did they do that? They stuck to their vision and nurtured their brand.

In tough times, we tend to pre-judge our patients’ wants based on our fear they can’t afford care. Many people have cash burning a hole in their pocket from cancelled vacations, reduced travel expenses, and less activity participation. As such, many are choosing to have higher cost procedures like orthodontics and aesthetic transformations because they can do it away from their coworker’s eyes. Zoom and masks only show so much!

Don’t let your fear interfere with your patients’ treatment or the balance you enjoy in life. You have a choice in what you do. If you are doing anything that is not giving you happiness, stop doing it! Is it that simple? Yes. Does it take guts? Yes. An unhappy practice is reflected in an unhappy brand.

What do you want to level-up with your brand?
Levelling up is less scary than letting go. But letting go paves the path for your passion. When you love something, it is easy to work on it and invest time. You feel inspired to go to work. You feel excited to hang out with your team. You feel energized when you get home from the clinic. You’re proud to tell people about your brand.

What passion do you want to pursue? Is it mastery of the business of dentistry? Is it reducing the chaos in your practice by getting it systemized while developing a remarkable brand in the industry? Is it adding procedures to serve your patients at a higher level? Is it filling a gap in your practice with more education?

There are many things we can do in practice but only limited time and resources to do so. You can have it all, but you likely will dwindle your finances or run yourself into the ground. Be clear on what you want, what you can feasibly handle, and what makes the most sense for the brand of your practice. That is how you can thrive without destroying your life balance or doing procedures you hate.

How are you going to make it stick for your brand?
Inspiration is empty if you do not take action. Not to be harsh, but if you want anything to change, you have to be willing to transform your approach so that something can change. Same inputs equal the same outputs, after all.

Get serious about taking action for your brand. Set a date to let go of what is not serving you. While it may not be feasible to make certain things grind to a halt instantly, over a month or two, most things that aren’t serving you can be stopped. Make a plan for how you will gear down what is not working, while simultaneously levelling up what is working. Establish milestones that will measure your achievements. Discuss your plan with your team so they can get on board. If they aren’t aware of your goals, there is no way they can support the mission and vision of your brand. When they are a part of the conversation (rather than being dictated to), they will take ownership as if it were their brand mission and vision, too.

No one thrives under hardship without a little pivot. Get clear on where you want to pivot, commit to the change, and get back to cultivating a thriving brand, no matter what conditions surround you. It can be scary to talk about change, especially in tumultuous times, but it is the time to redesign your practice so that you are no longer a slave to your brand. Instead, your practice will start to serve you and allow you to get back to living your dreams.

About the Author

Dr. Angela Mulrooney turned a run-down clinic into a cutting edge practice that was referred to by colleagues for full-mouth reconstruction, I.V. sedation, and sleep apnea therapy. In doing so, she more than doubled her hourly production while working 50% fewer hours at 28 years of age. After sustaining a career ending injury, she decided to turn tragedy into opportunity by sharing her credibility and production-boosting secrets through practice management and social media marketing to help talented colleagues realize their full potential clinically and entrepreneurially.