By Chris Moriarity, BA, MA, FA, VP of Business Development
Culture is a big buzzword in the world of business right now. But what is culture and how do you know what your culture is? How do you control it? Maybe more importantly, where do you even start? It’s actually quite simple: Culture gets down to the why of the business…why do you do what you do?
The reality is there are a lot of differences in dental practices. There are different passions, reasons, attributes of why people go into dentistry to begin with, and there are different patient populations each practice is trying to help.
When you’re presenting your culture to the outside world, the number one thing you’re looking at is how can you use your culture to increase the number of patients coming into your office. In other words, how can you stand out from the crowd and attract the patients you want? The reality is, and we’ll get into this a little more later, most people are attracted to – and stay with – a dental practice because of the culture.
Pieces of the Puzzle
When helping dental practices through the process of cultural discovery, I often ask them one question: if all dental care was free and all offices looked the same, why would people come to you?
The answers to this question – the stories within that business and of the team you surround yourself with – are where you can start to hone in on what makes you different or unique.
The second piece of the culture puzzle is internal, it’s the people on your team that help create and maintain your culture.
Let’s walk through culture a little more to learn 1) how to discover your culture, 2) how to share your culture with potential patients, and 3) how to maintain culture for long-term success.
Finding Your Why
What is your why? What gives you energy? What stories that patients tell you make your day? These stories will help you start to discover who you are and why you do what you do. Here’s a great example.
I was told by a practice recently that they just had their first multi-generational patients come it. They knew the grandparents, and the parents, and were now treating the kids. It meant a lot to them; it’s a big piece of their culture, of who they are as a practice and how they treat their patients. I told them, “If that’s true and that’s what you value, that story needs to go everywhere.”
That story needed to become part of who they are as a practice. In fact, everyone in their town needed to hear that story, because that story will attract the people who enjoy that level of stability.
Establishing Who You Are
Being multi-generational may not speak to you. And that’s fine! You may want to be known as fast-paced. Or cutting-edge. The point is you shouldn’t be mistaken for anyone else. Very rarely do BMWs get mistaken for Kias. Why? Because those companies spend millions of dollars every year to make sure customers know the difference.
You don’t need to spend millions of dollars, but you should have a clear understanding, and way to communicate to your potential patient base, why you are unique and different from all the other dental offices out there.
The one harsh reality is that this culture and identity won’t be based on your clinical ability. Pause for a moment to think about that. But, in fact, it makes sense. Patients simply don’t have the expertise or time to research what a proper margin looks like or not. But what they will understand are your values. Do your values line up with theirs? How are they treated by your team? How do you interact with them? Do you value the same things they value? And that can make all the difference in the world to a potential patient.
Culture for Long-Term Success
Culture is not a one and done deal. Once you discover your why, then you’re faced with the daily task of maintaining your culture.
In a study in 1982, 43 successful companies were tracked for 20 years to get a better understanding of how businesses can achieve and maintain long-term success. Hint: it was all about culture! Across the board, these companies had four aspects of their culture in common:
- Bias for Action – Successful companies never stand still. If something is working today, they don’t assume that it will be working tomorrow. They make sure they are constantly taking action and putting things into motion.
- Staying Close to the Customer – These successful companies weren’t trying to solve problems no one had. Instead, they listened to their customers wants and needs then took action to meet those needs. Talk to the people at the front desk, and listen to those phone calls; what questions are people asking, what are their concerns, where are they going for help?
- Doing What You’re Best At (and Not Deviating) – Know what your comfort zone is. Do what you’re great at.
- Fostering the Team’s Entrepreneurial Spirit – Hire the smart people…and listen to them. The most successful companies know that it doesn’t matter who comes up with a great idea – front desk, back desk, CEO, janitor. If it’s a good one, they use it.
Unleash Your Potential
If you need help discovering your culture and determining how to capture and distribute that message for long-term success, contact us for your Complimentary Practice Discovery. In your Discovery, we’ll take a look under the hood of your practice, run a diagnostic, and identify the areas that could use improvement.
Or you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to walk you through your Complimentary Practice Discovery to cover your growth forecast, marketing effectiveness, office production, scheduling tactics, and more.