I came into my practice really knowing very little of how to run a dental business. I finished the Sterling Executive Booster program in the spring of last year. I got out of it what I hoped to get out of it, which was a basic understanding of how to correctly manage it. The Sterling program gave me a blueprint for putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, which I did not have a clear idea of how to do. The job descriptions and looking at how your practice is doing and giving that a name (the different conditions and their formulas) really helped. The program gave me a good feeling for what the different staff members should be doing, how they should be fulfilling their roles in the overall business. The executive courses gave me a basic idea of the business aspects of dentistry.
I found that doing the dentistry, sitting in the chair with the patient and actually doing the work, is the easy part. The hard part is getting the staff to work together as a team and being able to know enough to tell them what it is they need to do. And evaluating what they do so that you can go back again and tell them what they need to spend more time on and do better so that the end result is there. That is what I was looking for, and that’s what I got from Sterling Management.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I knew that I didn’t know that. (If that makes sense!) Before Sterling I had also lost a couple of good staff just through my changing things, trying to find the best way to do something, how to track patients, changing my approach to it too frequently. That developed frustrations in my staff. There was also a lack of clarity on who was responsible for what: the job descriptions were not clear. So there was a lot of jumping around and doing it myself. I found myself getting overworked because I wasn’t letting them do what they should be doing.
Following the Sterling courses, the light bulb finally went on! I realized what I had been doing. I probably lost at least one good employee just because of the hassles I forced her to work through because I wasn’t sure what I was doing. That’s what prompted me to go to Sterling. I finally got someone who could lay out the whole picture, the grand scheme of things. Other consultants talked about how to work your hygiene program, or how to do this marketing thing. But there was never any structure to it. We were just looking at this piece and that piece but never really putting it together as a puzzle to see where it fit. I needed the frame to the puzzle so I could start filling it in. I didn’t have any frame prior to Sterling.
We are using the organizing board. We do have a very clear organizing board now and everybody knows where they fit on it. They know what their responsibilities are.
Production went up from where we were before Sterling, somewhere around $18,000 a month [additional]. The production aspects of the practice have definitely benefited from the Sterling information.
I’m a specialist, a prosthodontist. We have a specialty practice. We’re giving better-quality service across the board from the moment the patients walk in the door until they leave. All the staff know what they are supposed to be doing.
I graduated dental school in 1975, but I’ve been practicing in my own practice for just under two years. I was in academics for 19 years, teaching. Before Sterling I was getting in the way of my staff, screwing things up and making more work for me. Even a couple of the staff who had been with me through the pre-Sterling times will now say, “You are a much better manager of the practice than you used to be.” I think it is just knowing what is expected. I have confidence about how to approach things, where to go with a marketing project, how to get it started, and who is going to do it. As well as being able to tell staff members how to do things in the organization better than I used to, because I know how they fit in now.
I feel more confident and comfortable with my ability to run the practice and make better practice decisions than I was making before. It is not trial and error anymore. We have a path we are taking, we know what the goal is, and everybody can see it, especially when everybody is keeping all these statistics! Stats are being kept by every employee. Our bonus system is now in place based on those stats.
I have more free time during the day. I am comfortable knowing that things are going to get done. I don’t feel I have to check on things. I can put what time I have to use more productively with the things I have to follow up on myself as a result of my specialty writing letters, lab work, and so on. The stress level is lower.
I told my whole staff that the reason I’m doing the Sterling program is to eliminate or at least reduce irritation and frustration. That was the goal. To reduce frustration and irritation by knowing what everybody has to do and getting us all tuned in to the right approach to get all that done.
One of the things Sterling has done for me is it finally got my wife involved in my practice. Not a big deal she’s going to do some marketing and some background bookkeeping and stuff. But now she knows what we’re doing. Everything is going to be a lot smoother at home because she understands what I’m trying to do. She understands what these expenses are really going for and why they are there and why we have to continue to do it. She has a much better understanding of the whole thing now, of why I needed to do this.
I think the Hubbard management technology has worked out pretty well for us. I had absolutely no knowledge of that stuff before. I’ve talked to other people in the corporate world, and they are more aware of it there than in the medical-dental area, just in business. Without using something like that as a basic tool for putting a business together I wouldn’t have known where to go. I think it is definitely appropriate to a dental practice.
You also find out whether the employees you have are truly beneficial to the practice or not. I found a couple that really weren’t. It’s been good all the way around. They’ve been replaced. We’ve been using Sterling’s tests, faxing them in and getting a response from Sterling. That has been very helpful, too. That gives you another tool in making a decision between a couple of dental assistant applications.
The business end of things had been really frustrating for me. The Sterling program would definitely be the program to take so that you can feel as comfortable on the business side as you do on the clinical side. To me, the dentistry is the easiest part of the job.
Dale Cipra, DDS