Living in Los Angeles, I meet more than my share of actors. Not just the more famous ones, but the ones trying to make it. And there are many of them at the “undiscovered” stage of their careers who are pure artists. By that I mean they love acting. They are passionate about the process of creating a character and performing. And some of them are extremely talented. They consider themselves as pure artists, but they are starving, because they have not adjusted to the idea that successful actors know that they are not just artists, but are working in an industry trying to make a profit, not just art.
Tom Cruise, on the other hand, knows that he is in a business. He loves acting, and works as hard or harder than almost anyone in the industry at his performances. He has been the lead in 29 films, has won three Golden Globes and been nominated for three Oscars. But, he is also ranked #3 in all-time box office revenue ($6.5 billion so far), because he understands the business of acting, perhaps better than almost anyone.
So what does that have to do with dentistry? In my experience, the best dentists clinically are artist/engineer personalities. They want to do great dentistry, and train themselves constantly to get better. But many of them are in practices that are struggling financially. Despite being extraordinary “artists”, their careers are not paying off. Just like the “pure” actors, they don’t like the idea of promoting themselves, or focusing on the business aspects of their practice, and don’t feel the need to understand their “audience.”
Tom Cruise has a PR team, an acting coach, a manager, an agent, a financial advisor and business partners in his production company. Why? Because to succeed in acting you need all of those things, as well as talent.
The successful dentists I know all have their team as well. They use a practice consultant to coach them, work with a financial advisor, use outside marketing resources, and have a deeply-engaged relationship with their distributor representative. And they make sure that their office manager is constantly updating her skills (through organizations like AADOM).
But all that is expensive, you might say. In response, I say, you know what’s expensive? Houses. Cars. Kids’ educations. Travel. Retirement. That’s why you need to be successful as a dentist, not just clinically excellent. That takes investment. Tom Cruise pays his manager 10% of his income because he earns it! His acting coach isn’t expensive–he’s an investment in growth. His financial advisor doesn’t cost him money–he makes him money. And all of these people do these things so that Tom can focus on his performance.
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand the business aspects of his career. You can bet he’s paying close attention to it. (Just as you should.) And his reputation is also vulnerable, just like a dentist’s is. You may have some troubling Yelp reviews, but he’s had some issues with his involvement in Scientology. But he doesn’t ignore them. And you can’t afford to either. He fixes it with good reviews for a hit movie (The Edge of Tomorrow). Just as you should have a systematic approach to generating great reviews. (This whitepaper gives you a step-by-step approach for this.)
Successful dentists–dentists who are thriving and enjoying their work–focus on the clinical and the business side of their practices. Clients of mine use 1-800-DENTIST because they know their ROI is 4-1 on their marketing investment. They have us build their websites because they know they couldn’t possibly keep up with SEO on their own. Fortune Management clients keep using their coaches even as they get more successful, because they know they can always get better (or slip back into old, unproductive habits.) Patterson clients know that their rep isn’t just keeping their cabinets full of sundries, but are also steering them in the right direction on new technology, office design and clinical training.
Those are just examples of the many good resources that are available to you. I list my favorites on this blog on the right-hand side, from Gary Takacs to Spear Education to the Madow brothers, and in the resources section of this blog as well.
Long-term success in dentistry is not an impossible mission, but a noble one. You’re helping people, and the only way you can keep doing it in the next 20 years is by running your business extremely well. And that takes a team.