After the ’08 recession, Dr. Dave Diehl hit a plateau in his practice. After spending some time trying to manage his practice on his own, burnout and frustration set in. He believed there was more than enough potential for progress and profitability, but knew he’d need to call in reinforcements. Dr. Diehl had previously worked with a management group before, so he was familiar with the benefits management groups provided. This time, however, he wanted to find a group that would do more than help him out of his business rut—he wanted to find a team with values and goals that aligned with his own.
After conducting a search on the internet, he came across reading material that displayed, “Success in dentistry is built on relationships.” This was something he knew to be true based on the healthy partnerships he’d formed in his practice, but he felt his communication skills and ability to reach people could be improved upon, so he took the leap.
After attending his first Productivity Workshop through Productive Dentist Academy (PDA), Dr. Diehl went back to his practice with many new ideas for increasing production and efficiency. But he wanted to implement and integrate even more of knowledge and processes he learned. Through a combination of business coaching with Productive Dentist Academy’s Vice President of Business & Program Development, Patti Sooy, and a PDA Over the Shoulder event experience with Dr. Bruce Baird – where he observed how Dr. Baird implemented PDA strategies for scheduling, communication, leadership, and teamwork in his office – Dr. Diehl put more pieces together.
Before becoming part of the PDA team, Dr. Diehl was performing cosmetic dentistry and implementing CEREC, but hadn’t applied his continuing education to offer sleep apnea treatment, orthodontics, or dental implant placement. “It’s one thing to talk about these things in conferences and lectures,” Diehl says, “but as a much more visual person, actually seeing somebody utilizing it and making it happen was really impactful.”
Making adjustments to his scheduling process, department procedures, and team communication allowed Dr. Diehl to offer more services to patients, which provided the opportunity for building stronger relationships. Throughout the process, he felt completely confident in his coach’s advocacy. “She’s been a coach, but she’s also been a friend,” he says. “She’s as much invested in the success of my practice as I am. She was as good of an office manager as I could have ever hoped for. Patti really invested herself in the success of my practice and growth.”
While hesitation and uncertainty may be common for dentists to feel when debating whether to begin coaching, Dr. Diehl welcomed Patti’s guidance. “By far, the biggest benefit is accountability. Patti helps me stay on track and focused. She stretches me professionally, clinically, and by keeping me focused on the goals.” However, Diehl was hesitant when Patti recommended adding marketing.
“Where I’m located,” says Diehl, “Marketing is looked down upon among dentists in my professional community, so it was a very scary leap for me to start advertising. Once we did it and started doing it consistently, we started seeing results from it. That was a big game changer that led to more success in the practice than anything else. It went from me trying to get existing patients to understand the need for this [service], to people hearing radio advertising and receiving direct mailers, then coming in and saying, ‘I hear you do this, this is what I’m looking for.’ I was very closed minded about marketing, but it changed everything for my practice.”
And the benefits kept delivering. “The odd thing that’s happened [despite marketing being looked down upon in the local industry] is, we had a really good reputation in Fort Wayne, but when we started advertising, it suddenly elevated the credibility of the business. I’ve had overwhelmingly positive responses. I voice the radio ads myself, and people are always complimenting us on the radio ads. People seem to be kind of proud, like, ‘Hey, that’s my dentist!’ As I’ve become more comfortable with the concept of marketing my practice, my attitude has changed to ‘Hey, I’m proud of what we do, I love my practice, I love helping people, and I love getting the word out that we can help people.”
One of the biggest motivating factors behind Dr. Diehl’s decision to begin coaching and marketing with PDA was his passion for going on mission trips, specifically Barnabas Task, an organization that provides medical care and leadership training to poverty-level communities in the Dominican Republic. His goal was to do two or three mission trips per year, but to take that time away from both his practice and family felt like too much of a burden before the achievement of other goals. “I thought, if I can grow my practice and hire an associate, that would give me the freedom to do more mission trips,” says Diehl. “That was another big reason I chose PDA. I never envisioned PDA and Barnabas Task coming together, but after I met Bruce, he mentioned his faith and giving back, and all of a sudden it clicked.”
“PDA was pushing me to do good things in my practice, so I thought, now I’m going to push you, too! We’re going to get you guys connected with Barnabas Task which I’m very passionate about. I never would have expected the wonderful things that have come out of that first conversation. It’s been really nice, Bruce has gone, Victoria has gone, and they’re both going back again. Patti’s going. And I believe a few other PDA Team members. I’m very excited about that.”
Dr. Diehl is happy to share what’s worked for him with other dentists, especially if they’re considering Business Coaching with PDA. “It’s not a quick fix. It’s a journey,” he says. “It’s about the long-term relationship more than increasing production by $500 an hour or whatever it may be. I ran into someone at a meeting years ago, a real nice person that sounded like they had a massive practice with hundreds of employees. They said they were with PDA for five years before they dropped out and tried doing it on their own. After a few years of that, they decided to re-enroll. They thought they were going to get a quick fix, figure it out, then take it from there on their own. After losing that accountability, that coaching voice coming in and reminding you what to keep your eye on, you realize its value.”
“PDA’s allowed me to stay focused instead of having to juggle it all at the same time. When you find a company like PDA that’s doing it for the right reasons, get them on your side. It’s an excellent tool to help you achieve your goals.”
Dr. Diehl also appreciates the difference he sees in the way PDA works. “There seems to be a family relationship at PDA that’s really cool to watch. It seems a lot of companies are more cutthroat, but there’s something about the community of people that work at PDA that’s very special. I know a few of the PDA Team members well, and I value and enjoy watching the camaraderie and team work, the respect they have for each other and the work they do to elevate each other and the dentists who partner with them.”