Nine years ago, I opened a pediatric dental office in Watkinsville, Georgia, a rural town near Athens. I started out part-time, but gradually over the next few years, I worked it up into a full-time practice.
With seven years of hard work, I had managed to build the production up to about $35,000 to $40,000 per month. It was an improvement but not enough to meet the goal that my husband Steve, and I had for ourselves. I knew that it should be better and I was frustrated by this. Nothing I tried had worked.
Steve was working in upper management for a construction firm and his job site was quite a distance away. This meant that he would wind up staying in a hotel four days a week, only coming home on weekends. That was hard on the family. It is not the way to see your kids grow up. The plan was for him to quit his job, but he kept putting it off because he did not see a return in my dental practice that he felt comfortable with.
In 2000 I read a Sterling article and I sent off for the videotape. My husband and I watched it and he said that the Sterling program was just what I needed. It made all the difference in the world that he agreed with me to do the program.
In October 2000 I went out to Sterling’s office for a week of management training. It helped me to understand relationships better, what to look for and how to communicate with people, both staff and patients. I also started realizing what I was doing that was not productive, areas where I was working against myself.
But the biggest thing I received was a confirmation of many things that I knew but did not have enough confidence in myself to believe. I was starting to have a lot of self-doubts because things were not working like I thought they should be working. Doing the program gave me a boost in my self-confidence. I felt I could handle things better and was in a better frame of mind.
The following month I had a consultant to train the staff and help me implement the program. Doing it made the employees realize that they were responsible for the way the office ran and taught them new skills to do their own jobs better. I feel it empowered the employees to actually run the practice rather than putting it all on my shoulders.
The training received by myself and my staff had a tremendous effect on the office’s production. I had been averaging $35,000 to $40,000 for a couple of years. Then the month that I returned from my training, we increased production by $20,000. The following year, things really improved and we went up to a $62,000 a month average. Last year our production averaged $90,000 per month. We had hit our first million-dollar year.
Despite being a lot busier at the office, I have also been able to take more time off with my family. I don’t feel so guilty taking the time off from the practice because the daily production is high. Every December, for example, I close the office for two weeks so that I can be with my kids over Christmas. Since we only work two and a half weeks that month, we have always had very poor production. But this year we outdid November by $5,000. It was pretty amazing!
As a result of doing the Sterling program, the office is better organized, the staff are more productive and there is less anxiety. I am much more confident in my own abilities to manage the office and no longer feel trapped by personnel issues that I felt I had no control over. That has been a big change.
Best of all, we are now making enough from the dental practice so that Steve was able to quit his job and become our “household manager” instead of living in a hotel.
Jayni Bradley, DMD