I have been a dentist for twenty-five years and practiced in England and Kenya before settling down in my wife’s home state of Texas in 1993.
My first office was in Mason, a central Texas town of 2,000. Five years later I bought a second practice in a larger town, Ballinger, about 100 miles to the northwest.
Running both, however, turned out to be a bit too much for me to handle. We got very busy and I was having a hard time keeping up with the dentistry, plus all the management actions and keeping the staff doing what they should be doing. I thought I needed a little outside help.
At that point, I went to a continuing education seminar on South Padre Island. The speaker was very good, but the part that had the biggest impact on me came from meeting one of the other doctors who was there with his staff. During the seminar, the speaker asked for a show of hands of people who knew what their practice was netting, and people would raise their hands at different income levels. One practitioner was doing much better than the others and after the seminar, I asked him who he was using as his consultant. He told me it was Sterling, so I decided to give them a call.
I have been a client ever since. During that time the practice expanded into a higher range, close to double, although I have cut back the number of days I see patients from four to three.
Running a practice successfully consists of more than just making sure the paperwork is filled out properly. The main job is dealing with people—your staff, your patients, your vendors. One of the best parts of the Sterling program, therefore, is learning how to select the right personnel and then manage them properly. It used to be that I would hire someone and then it would take me three months to see whether they were working out or not. And if they weren’t, not only had I just lost three months working with that person, but I now had to start from zero and go through the whole process again. Now I use the employee testing service that Sterling offers so I don’t hire someone who will backfire on me.
But once you have the right people, you still have to train them for their jobs, make sure they are doing it right, and address any errors or upsets that occur along the way. It even extends to relationships outside the office. Like it or not, home life and outside activities do affect how well you and the staff do when they are in the office. So part of the training you get at Sterling deals with how to handle people, which has been essential in building a stable, supportive dental team. I have even had staff members bring their children in to talk to me to help them out with some of their problems.
Over the years, whenever situations crop up that I don’t know how to handle, my consultant has always been there to guide me through. Sometimes, when you are working day-to-day, you can miss the bigger picture. Your consultant is like a coach who is looking in from the outside, who can correct parts of your game, pump you up and keep you in top form.
I am now in the process of switching from my two small practices to a single location in a larger city. We had reached our limit in our current locations, and I am looking forward to moving on to greater expansion. I know that my consultant will be there to help me out every step of the way and to ensure I achieve the goals I have set out for the new office.
Max Teja, DDS