Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Is your kindness to patients killing your practice?

Because you are a dentist or dental team member, you have great pride in your work and that of your colleagues. In my experience, dental teams they will do everything they possibly can to put right a situation where a piece of work, provided at their practice, has failed, usually at no cost to the patient. Dental teams want to provide great quality treatment and customer satisfaction.

Over the years I have been working as a Dental Business Coach and Mentor I have worked with and continue to work with highly skilled clinicians and fabulous teams with high standards of clinical treatment, customer service and care. Unfortunately, many of them are financially compromising themselves because of their quest to keep patients happy and to avoid being sued. Are you making the same mistakes?  Is your kindness to your patients killing your practice?

What I would like to show you in this article is that with some thought, and a system you can enhance your customer care and put your prices up significantly. One client followed this advice, doubled the price of her crowns and increased their uptake in treatment plans.

I believe that good quality dentistry is great value for money, while it, rightly, has a substantial price tag, it is not expensive.  Think for a moment, how much does a patient invest in an implant?  For a reputable clinician it will be somewhere between £2000- £3500, would you agree? Now where else can you spend that money on something that you can use every day, that improves the quality of your life and will last for as long as a good quality implant will do? Longevity of implants is usually quoted as 15-25 years and can be more. For a £2500 implant this is an investment of £0.27- £0.46 per day for the life time of the implant. What else can provides such an impact of health, beauty and function for the price of one apple a day?

What about a full mouth rehabilitation or smile design could be anything from £20,000 - £30,000 and again when done well should last 20 years +, that is £2.74 - £4.11 a day. I call that great value for money for health, beauty and confidence, for less than the cost of a coffee or a glass of wine.

What else do people spend £20 - £30 k on and expect to last 20+ years? Some people would spend a similar amount on a car and then expect to change it after 3-5 years, others may remodel their kitchen and then remodel it after 10 years. Good quality dentistry provides great value for money.

My concern is that as dentistry has become a commodity, patients have the work done and disappear. Time and time again, I hear of patients returning, to their dentist, for the first time after 8 years with a problem and saying something like “I paid X thousand pounds for this and now it has broken what are you going to do about it?” and because the dentist has pride in their work, great customer care and is scared of being sued they replace or repair the work, usually, free of charge to the patient and at great expense to themselves and the practice. Yet if I ask those same clinicians if they offer any form of guarantee on their work they say “No”.

Think about the purchase of a car for a moment. If you returned to your garage, for the first time, after 8 years saying there was a fault and ask what are they going to do about it, their answer would be “Nothing”. Quite rightly so. You have not had it serviced, they would have no evidence that the car had been maintained correctly, no faults would have been picked up and repaired early, they would not know if you had used or driven the car inappropriately, or if replacement parts had been used that the work was done by qualified technicians using genuine parts. If you buy a car, a washing machine, watch etc, if any form of warranty to be offered or honoured the consumer has responsibilities about how they use and look after the product.

If you were to offer a guarantee on your treatment, so that if it failed within a specified time, that it would be appropriate that it was replaced free of charge, what appropriate “Patient Responsibilities” could and should you specify?

What difference would it make to your patients, practice and team if,
·      You offered and marketed treatment that was guaranteed?
·      As a team you developed a “Patient responsibilities” document?
·      Your Patient Care Coordinator discussed and obtained understanding and signatures regarding the guarantee, and “patient responsibilities” with each patient as part of the consent and end of treatment process?

I am sure that when you implement this you will see a dramatic improvement in the uptake of treatments and maintenance care. Both your patient’s mouth and your finances will be healthier as a result.

If you would like more information about “Patient responsibilities” documents or any other aspect of managing an awesome practice, call us today 07989 757 884 or email

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Five steps to mastery


As a dentist you are probably striving to do your best, attending clinical courses, buying new equipment, improving your practice etc and if you are going to become a master at what you do you need to go through these 5 stages

Stage 1 Unconscious incompetence
In stage one, you don’t know what you don't know, or ignorance is bliss. This stage on the path to mastery is the most destructive and will have the most detrimental effect on your career and personal life. In this stage you accept the status quo and there is no quest for self-improvement or development. For some dentists there is imbalance in their careers and they stay in this stage when it comes to building a practice, business development, communication skills, and team development and happily move on to the second stage for their clinical work.

Stage 2 Conscious incompetence
In stage two you become conscious about how much you don’t know about an area of your practice, clinical or communication skills. This may be precipitated because you have had a complaint, you are in financial difficulty, you have a dispute, or a staff member leaves. Unlike stage 1, stage 2 can be uncomfortable, recognising that you have made mistakes and don’t know all that you think you should, can be embarrassing, frustrating, depressing, and it can also be exhilarating and fascinating as you recognise that you are at the beginning of a journey of exploration and learning. As you step in to conscious incompetence, you have a choice; you can deny that there are areas of your practice, clinical or communication skills that could be improved and ignore all the warning signs. Do this at your peril. Or you can step in to stage 3.
If you are committed to improving your practice and your practise, I would encourage you to do regular assessments of your performance. Our clients use the Brilliant Practice Evaluation (BPE) on a monthly basis. Please use this link to evaluate your practice performance.

Stage 3 Conscious Competence
In stage 3, you are learning new philosophies, techniques, and approaches to your clinical skills, business, and communication skills. As you learn new habits, they are not immediately second nature, they require you to practice, repeatedly evaluate your results, revise and hone your approach. In stage 3 it is normal to feel frustrated, you know what you want to achieve, and it can often feel that progress is slow, you may feel despondent if things don’t work perfectly first time. For some this learning curve is too steep and too hard, not for you, you know that this is part of the process. “I will not lose, for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned, so it evens up for me. You learn more in failure than you do in success” JAY-Z

Stage 4 Unconscious Competence
Stage 4 is another blissful state, you have become skilled, so skilled that you no longer have to think about what you are doing, your mind and hands are on auto pilot. You have practiced so hard for so long that your skills are second nature. And yet, before you know it stage 4 becomes stage 1 and if you are to continue on the circle of mastery, you must start to self-evaluate and step back in to stage 2 and get conscious about how much you don’t know and start the process again.

As dentists I recognise that we are very good at following this process with our clinical work, making our composites, crowns, and endos etc better. Our PDP plans ensure that we have a program of improvement and have identified the courses and training we need to support us. Unfortunately, business skills, communication skills, team development and sales skills are generally overlooked.

In the last week I have been introduced to two dental practice owners who are clinically highly qualified, and their businesses are on the point of failing because they did not learn about how to build a dental practice, they ignored the signs and chose to stay in stage 1 unconscious incompetence. Having buried their heads in the sand, they are now in danger of losing their practices. Curiously both of these dentists said they did not know Dental Business Coaches and Mentors existed or that there was anyone available to teach them how to run a successful dental practice, and that they wished they had met me sooner.

We work with GDC registrants before they set up their practice and once it is established, helping our clients make their good practices great, avoiding expensive, stressful, time consuming mistakes.

If you are thinking about setting up a practice,  or know of someone who is planning to open a practice or who has one and is struggling, pass on our details and call us today on 07989 757 884 to find out how we can make practice ownership simple.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018



1.     springing back; rebounding.
2.     returning to the original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched.
3.     recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant.

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.”
Gever Tulley

“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.”
Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
Nelson Mandela

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
Maya Angelou

“My scars remind me that I did indeed survive my deepest wounds. That in itself is an accomplishment. And they bring to mind something else, too. They remind me that the damage life has inflicted on me has, in many places, left me stronger and more resilient. What hurt me in the past has actually made me better equipped to face the present.”
Steve Goodier

The life of a dentist is tough, and it is getting tougher every year. The profession seems to be in a bleak place at its worst there are reports of dentists committing suicide, using drink and drugs to get by, and leaving the profession. Fortunately, the vast majority are not making these choices and yet are desperately unhappy, demoralised, despondent and don’t know what to do. I am saddened by every story I hear, and I am deeply troubled by the young dentists who feel disenfranchised and let down by the profession and would leave if it were not for debt and family pressure to stay.

What dentists need now more than ever is to become RESILIENT, that is not to be broken by the day to day challenges and to develop the ability to bounce back.

I would like to share with you some of the habits that I recognise enable people to be RESILIENT and therefore successful. "Everything will be alright in the end and if it not alright that is because it is not the end"


Recognise you have a problem or a challenge
Start to find solutions
Identify your strengths
Log your progress
Invalidate negative influences
Engage a coach /mentor
Nourish yourself physically and mentally

R – Recognise you have a problem or a challenge. 

I heard a wonderful story of a gentleman that was desperate to get to the hospital to visit a dying relative, he knew he was running out of fuel and yet refused to stop at each petrol station he drove past because he knew he didn’t want to waste the time it would take to fill up. You know the end of the story, because he was to frantic to stop, he did not get to say goodbye to his relative because he ran out of petrol.

In your car, the petrol gauge and the other instruments are designed to give you a performance report and enable you to correct errors early.

It is common for us to ignore our own instruments and suffer as a consequence.

Pay attention to how you feel and learn to recognise problems early. Notice when your mood changes and intuition is saying “No”, if you are not feeling happy, not sleeping or sleeping too much, that you are using food, drugs, alcohol, financial irresponsibility to change how you feel, you become easily angered or closed down, you are sick or in pain.

Your challenge, problem may be stress, financial difficulties, relationship breakdown, lack of confidence, fear, feeling bullied, business difficulties, patient complaints, being sued, addictions, depression or mental health issues etc. Whatever your situation however large or small it is the first step is to recognise and acknowledge it. If you continue to deny it, it will never get better and as soon as you recognise it you can resolve it. Learn to deal with the underlying problem at the root cause rather than using short-term sicking plaster approaches.

E – Exercise.

This may seem a little left field and whenever you are feeling down, out of control, or like your world is collapsing like a pack of cards around you, that is the time to do some exercise. Ideally do a repetitive type exercise such as walking, cycling, running, outside where you have fresh air and are in touch with the natural environment. Another, excellent form of exercise is yoga which also has a focus on breathing control and meditation.

This model, developed in a field of psychology and coaching called Neuro-lingustic programming (NLP) teaches us that if we are in an resourceful state of mind we can change it very quickly by changing our and our thought patterns, that is how you are thinking about a situation.  You may already be changing your physiology by using, drink, drugs, food, I am suggesting that you can change your physiology more quickly and supportively by moving your body and exercising, even if it is for just 20 seconds of star jumps. Try it out and see what happens.

S - Start to find solutions

Doing nothing will not solve anything, and your current situation will not fix itself. Please be reassured that whatever you are going through, someone else has already been there before you and come out the other side and because of that there is a solution to your problems. Unfortunately, for many of us when we are in a dark place we become paralysed and unable to see to take steps to make progress.  “Any problem can be solved when it is broken into small enough chunks”. Read books, find a coach, and start to find effective strategies ways that you can put your challenges behind you. Start with small steps and make constant progress.

I - Identify your strengths

I work with many professions including dentists, and one of the patterns I recognise in dentists is that they are far more self-critical and very reluctant to identify their strengths or even celebrate successes. Remember where you have previously been resilient and bounced back already, what did you do that enabled you to do this, and how do you replicate it? Take some time, with a coach will make it easier, and identify your strengths, beliefs values and unique abilities and use these assets to enable you to work through your current situation.

L – Log your progress

Retired Navy SEAL, Bill McRaven, said at a graduation speech that if you want to be successful you must make your bed every morning, for him it is important that he, and his recruits start each day having achieved success already.

You will over estimate what you can achieve in a day and underestimate what you can achieve in a year. If you keep a journal or log book it will help you track your progress and see how far you have come in a short period of time. I  and my clients have found answering these questions every day an invaluable tool.
·      What are the three things that you are most proud of achieving today?
·      Why is achieving these things important?
·      What will you do tomorrow to build upon todays’ success?
·      What are you thankful for?
I challenge you, write the answer these four questions every day for the next four weeks and notice the amazing progress you make.  Message me and share your results.

I – Invalidate negative influences

In your life you have energy vampires, people or things that suck your life force and leave you feeling like an empty shell when the leave. Energy-vampires, could be friends, family, patients or team members, you know the ones, those that always contradict, are critical, for whom you are never good enough and you feel that you are dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t. they could also be things that you watch on the TV or the internet, music, games. Whatever they are they must be eliminated from your life. From now on you must only spend time with people who lift your energy, encourage you and see your potential, your talents and love you just because you are you.

E – Engage a coach/mentor

If you are having challenges as a dentist, your first thought may be to sign up to one or more clinical training programmes. Being a skilled clinician is essential and you must develop those skills, and yet clinical skills are only one part of your professional and personal development and until you learn about yourself and how you work, you think, and what enables you to be the best version of yourself, your clinical training will always remain on a unstable foundation. One of the biggest predictors of you doing well through and after an adversity is having support, resilient people seek support. If you are not in a great place, if you are brave enough to confide in someone you have probably done so in a friend, family member, colleague or spouse, and I honour you for taking the first step. However, experience has shown that turning to those who are close to you is usually counter-productive. For those who have done it they have very rapidly become over-drawn on the emotional bank account and those valuable relationships suffer often irreparably. Engaging a coach/mentor you will be working with someone who has received training in working with people in situations like yours and unlike friends and family there is no emotional charge to the conversation, your coach/mentor is completely neutral. Because of this, your coach will help you work through things in a way a friend or family member without specialist training would not be able to do.  

For peace of mind find a coach who is qualified (seems obvious and many aren’t) and accredited with the International Coach Federation at a Professional Certified Coach status. Coaches who are Master Practitioners in NLP have a training and skill set that will enable you get past your mind-set blockages and into success very quickly.

When you work with an NLP coach you are in good company, people have worked with a NLP coach include, Jimmy Carr, (Incidentally I coached his brother) Pharelle Williams, Russell Brand, Ophra Winfey, Cheryl Fernandes-Versini (Cole), Heston Blumental, Warren Buffet, Lily Allen, Geri Halliwell, Sophi Dahl, Leonard Di Caprio, Bill Clinton, Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Sir Clive Woodward and Hugh Jackman and many more besides.

N – Nourish yourself physically and mentally

How far would your car go on chip fat or an empty tank?

That’s correct not very far. And yet we expect our mind and bodies to function optimally in stressful situations when they are inadequately fuelled. Think carefully about how you look after your mind and body and only feed it what it the best.

First cut out the CRAP, Caffeine, Refined sugars and carbohydrate, Alcohol and Processed food. Yes, you will feel like a junky going cold turkey day 4 will probably be the worst and after a week you will feel amazing.

Make your food CLEAN, Colourful, Live, Easy, Alkalising, Nutrient dense. Stay really well hydrated, spend time outside in nature, exercise, breathe clean air, develop good sleep hygiene and sleeping patterns, spend time with people you love doing things that you love.

Find your favourite way to take a mental break, spend time doing those things that lift your energy and spirits. These activities fall into two categories,
1) Fun activities that re-energise you as soon as you think about them or do them
2) Activities that raise your energy after the event, these often include cleaning, tidying and sorting.

T – Thankfulness

“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you'll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you'll find that you have more of it”
Ralph Marston

It may be hard to see it now, and that what you are going through will make you stronger, and for the time-being be compassionate on yourself.

I trust that this article has been useful, it is only the tip of the iceberg, and if it raises any questions for yourself or your colleagues, and you want to know more do please call 07989757 884 or e mail for more information and support.