This article was inspired by my peers and by doctors past, present, and future in need of help with their practices.
Someone once inquired of me, “What’s the most difficult question you’ve ever been asked as a consultant?” Resisting the urge to answer “this one,” I thought about it for a moment, and then realized that the most difficult question that I’ve ever been asked, is asked of me quite frequently, and actually has nothing directly to do with practice management at all. It’s the one put to me by a perspective client that goes something like this: “What makes you so different than all the other consultants out there?”
Talk about a catch-22. How am I to answer a doctor that asks me this question? If I answer by extolling my virtues and the benefits of my program while diminishing another’s material and reputation it comes off as egotistical and self-serving. On the other hand, if I’m diplomatic and complimentary of another consultant’s methodology and results, than I risk being the same as the others and therefore nothing special. Of course it’s not always this black and white, but it’s a fine line to walk nonetheless. So after the first few times I was asked about what sets me apart from my practice management guru colleagues, having to briefly recompose myself to come up with a good sales pitch each time, I figured out a way to avoid the trap, and in the process, had a revelation.
What do you as doctors really want to know when you’re asking this question? Is he worth it? Can I trust him? Am I going to have to compromise my integrity and my philosophy on dentistry? Will the changes he insists upon upset my happy dental home? The answer is probably all of the above and more, but the common denominator is comparison shopping. I am being compared to a paradigm that has been established by a historical pantheon of every dental practice management consultant who has ever preceded me to the present day. For better or for worse, I have been pigeonholed into a model or standard of what a dental practice consultant should or should not be and it’s frequently an uphill climb as a result. I’m often amazed at what doctors and staff really think of consultants and the expectations they have going in to a professional consulting relationship. The numerous fears, concerns, misconceptions, doubts, and misunderstandings surrounding the field of consulting are similarly parallel to those that have surrounded the field of dentistry in the minds of the general public for so many years. It has only been through persistent education, communication, and promotion that the public perception of dentistry has improved and changed so substantially over the last decade. Patients are getting a new reality on modern dentistry and its technological and clinical advancements, and they’re discovering the numerous possibilities that exist for obtaining optimal oral health care on both a restorative and cosmetic level. Unfortunately, the same cannot yet be said regarding the field of dental consulting.
Most doctors I speak with are still mistakenly holding on to what I call the “Consultant of the Past” mentality. They are basing their opinions, viewpoints, and decisions on whether or not to utilize a consultant on antiquated ideas and connotations attached to dental consulting that have probably been around since the day’s of PBP*. Dental consulting, just like the field of dentistry, has changed, improved, and modernized since it’s inception as well. There has been a paradigm shift occurring in my field for quite some time. The “Consultant of the Future” is now. The Old Guard is changing, and a new, creative, and dynamic generation of consultants has emerged to support the 21st century dentist and handle the challenges he faces doing business in today’s society. I am proud to be a part of this transformational revolution that is taking place in my field, and to be playing an active role in helping dentists have more fulfilling and prosperous lives. As a dentist who may be considering or looking for help with your practice, I urge you to seek out a Consultant of the Future and open your mind to the limitless possibilities that exist by bringing one of these individuals into your practice and your life. What is available to you today in the field of consulting goes far beyond practice management. It is much more than statistics, scripting, verbal skills, bonus systems, schedule management, and the like. Although important and given due attention, they are not the core repertoire of the Consultant of the Future.
The Consultant of the Future is more of a coach than a consultant. A consultant tells you what to do and shows you how to do it, while a coach does this and so much more. What is a coach? A coach is an experienced professional who cares deeply about the fate of the human spirit, and truly recognizes the importance of understanding the human dynamic of dental practice. He is a trusted advisor, friend, and confidant who always has your best interest at heart. A coach is a mentor who gets you to see yourself as others see you so that you can constantly improve and change. He acknowledges that this is a true gift in life, and he is not afraid to hold up the mirror of self-analysis in front of you on a regular basis. A coach is someone who is committed to your happiness and prosperity in life, and shows you how to more quickly and easily attain your personal and professional goals. He does not distinguish between business and personal – it’s all personal when dealing in the realm of human emotion and interpersonal relationships. He is always pushing you out of your comfort zone by challenging you and holding you accountable to specific measurable results. Your comfort zone is your pre-set idea of what is easy for you to experience, and what stops you from applying what you learn from his teachings and guidance. A coach keeps you on track and overcoming obstacles in practice and in life by directing and keeping our attention in the right place at the right time.
*Professional Budget Plan. One of the first consulting companies in the field of dentistry popular in the late 50’s and 60’s.
He helps you take an undistorted, rational look at what is stopping you and gets it handled. Not only does a coach teach you new things, but he is there to remind you of what is tried and true that you may have forgotten or overlooked. A coach may be your equal, or you may in fact possess raw talent and natural ability for superior to your coach (ie: last time I checked, most all of my clients were better dentists than me). However, because a coach has concentrated his power in a particular area for years, he can teach you new strategies, new techniques, and new information that can instantly bring your game to a higher level.
In essence, a good coach knows that his game plan and his materials are only as good as the people who are using them and to what level of effect. The majority of his time, efforts and attention is spent handling the people element of practice as a priority over the clinical and statistical aspect. He understands that he needs winning players, working at peak performance, that have their heads in the game at all times.
Practice, like life, is a game – and to win the game, everyone needs a coach. Make yours a Consultant of the Future!