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December 9th, 2019

Production Goals: Are you Practicing in the Safe Zone?

Patti Sooy - Safe ZoneAs practices move into the set up their goals and strategies for reaching their goals, I find that many doctors prefer to practice in the safe zone.  Doctors that are producing an hourly average from the previous year, still prefer to set their goals lower than that number that they’ve already been reaching. Which makes me ask,  “Why aren’t you stretching yourself when you set your new goals?”  The common responses I hear are, “Well I know I can make this number and it’s better than where I started last year.  I’m happy if I can do this.”  Or, “I don’t want the team to get discouraged if I don’t make my goal consistently, because I want them to bonus too.”

I truly appreciate the last response because that tells me you want your team to win.  It means you are taking great care of your team and your patients – the two things I encourage every doctor to do!  I usually push doctors to go a bit higher, because that’s just what a good coach does.  When I get the first response, however, I realize that most doctors want to succeed – in fact they want to surpass what they did last year without it being too difficult. They want to practice in the safe zone.

This is when I pull out my little box of questions:

  • What do you really want to accomplish if you were dreaming big?
  • What are you afraid of if you don’t reach your goal every month?
  • You may miss your goal for a month or two – but what do you learn from those months?

I don’t want you to settle for a small amount of growth…go for it!  Set your goal high. No team makes it to the Super Bowl by playing small.  And very few if any teams make it all the way to the big game without a few losses.

I recently talked to a doctor who said to me, “Patti, you’ve told me before that I diagnose in the safe zone.”  His enrollment is generally very high-usually 50-75%.  So my response is, “What aren’t you discussing with your patients, what are you afraid they will reject, what might they say yes to if you gave them the opportunity?”

Please realize that I don’t want you to set your production goals so unrealistically high that you’ll never make it.  But I do believe that pushing yourself a little makes the reward that much more sweet at the end.  If you are never reaching your goal, then the strategy has a flaw.  Strategies and goals can be modified as well as action steps to make them happen.  This is where tracking your results makes all the difference and reviewing those numbers consistently will tell you the story of why.

Most of our Academy dentists are all about growth – they want to be better every year. What they fail to realize is that they have a different set of skills and they look at mouths differently than they did a mere three years ago.  Count up the number of CE classes you’ve taken in the last 5 years.  Would you recommend the same treatment plan to a patient that you did in the first 2 years you practiced dentistry?  I would expect the answer to be no.

So I challenge each of you to step into the new year with a set of diagnostic eyes.

Look at existing patients differently than you did at previous visits.  Look at them like they are a new patient.  Share with them that you have been expanding your knowledge base over the last several years and you’d like to share some of the possibilities with them during today’s exam.  And then DO IT.

They might say “no” today – but they might not.  And if they don’t say “yes” today, they might the next time, or they might say “yes” to part of it.   Don’t be afraid of the word NO – they are only telling you “I’m not sure today”.

In dentistry, you really don’t have much to lose if they say “no” today – the next time they come back they may just say “yes”. Get out of the diagnostic safe zone and play it big.  The reward will be worth it.

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