Dr. Doug Goff, Columbus, Ohio
"In the past, our practice was doing well, but thought it could do better. I was looking at different management consultants because I wanted to get a little tighter handle on my practice. I just didn't feel that I had a grip on all the business aspects of the practice. When I met with Dr. Bob Willis it really clicked with me. I was already committed to a more of a comprehensive, fee-for-service practice. What Bob talked about seemed to be a perfect match for me, so I thought that philosophically, he and I were coming from the same place. Any time you jump into a relationship, there is a leap of faith and I just felt real good that Bob knew where I was coming from. I took the jump with Bob and it's been wonderful ever since.
When I started with the Dental Coach team, we were doing about 210 working days. When Bob said I could do that in 180 days, I thought, "That sounds good. I can work 20 to 30 days less and have the same production. That will be great." We set up a 180-day year and started by making sure that overhead and accounts receivable were under control. My accounts receivable was about one and a half to two months' production so we started with a program to reduce that. Within about six to eight months we got AR down to about half a months' production and we've been there - or better - ever since. Then lo and behold, when the first year ended, I didn't make it. I didn't make it to 180 days. I only worked 175 days and we produced and collected 23% more than ever before!
Along the way they taught us systems and communication skills that we worked on together, as a team. Doctors go to a lot of continuing education programs, then they try to come back and train their staff, but that doesn't work. I had talked to enough other dentists to realize that a lot of us felt the same frustration. You come back from the seminar and you're all excited about some program, so you tell your staff, "We're going to do this a new way." The staff looks at you and they're thinking, "Oh gosh, he just went to another program, but it will be OK. After a couple of days or a couple of weeks, it will all go away." The problem is that the staff doesn't make a commitment to the change and we doctors don't have the time to follow through. The beauty of the Dental Coach program is that it's a team program and they are your coaches. We're all involved. It's not just me, the doctor, trying to teach the staff. The Dental Coach Team helps us all learn together. They have provided more than just a system for my staff and me. They also provided us with the tools to implement that system and coached us all along the way.
The Coaching Program also teaches the doctor about accountability and delegation. Unlike other practice models in which the doctor is the boss who is dictating to everybody, Bob helps the doctor realize that everybody has an area where they should be in charge. With help from the Dental Coach Team, the entire team is working for the same goals. Everybody takes charge of their area and everybody is accountable for their area as opposed to the other model, in which everybody is subservient to the doctor and they don't accept accountability for their areas. Instead, they put it all on the shoulders of the doctor. That didn't work for me and I don't think it works - period. Now my staff are also accountable for helping get treatment accepted and for collecting what we produce, and if things don't happen the way they're supposed to happen, then they're accountable to the whole team. There's real beauty in that. Just like on a sports team, if somebody is not pulling their weight, the rest of the team is going to find a way to get them off of the team. You end up with committed team members.
It's also been wonderful from our patients' point of view. We're here to treat people exactly the way that they want to be treated. So we have to ask them the right questions, listen to their answer and hear what they say. Patients gain comfort knowing we hear exactly what they say. Then we treat them exactly how they want to be treated. Our job is to facilitate achieving their dental goals. Sometimes we realize we're not the right practice for a person and maybe they realize they're in the wrong office. That's ok. There's nothing wrong with that. The point is we're hearing each other first, before we get down the road, and then we realize that our philosophies are in conflict. I think every dentist has been there. You jump into something and later realize that what the patient expects isn't where you're going. Then you have to try to make the best of it. It creates a lot of tension and stress. The things we have learned from the Dental Coach team has been a tremendous stress reliever because we know exactly where we're going with a patient and the patient knows exactly what to expect. There are no hidden agendas. It really helps us achieve our long-term goals by having good communication with our patients from the very beginning.
The staff loves the program. Most dental staff are nurturing kind of people and they really want to help other people. Now they have a clear way to identify exactly how they can help. We're here to satisfy peoples' wants. We're there to help them achieve their goals. We all feel really good about that because we all can celebrate - rejoice - when we're done. That's a wonderful feeling for all of us. They are real excited with the financial rewards also. Since we got into Bob's program, several members of my staff have nearly doubled their incomes. And I'm really happy about that because if they're making money, so am I.
For me personally, it's given my practice not only a system, it has also given it a structure so I feel like I always have a handle on the pulse of my practice. I equate it to an athletic team. With an athletic team, there are certain key fundamentals that you must be in place. If you stop paying attention to those fundamentals, something bad happens. It works the same way in a dental practice. The nice thing is that with our system and our structure, we can quickly diagnose where the problem is. It's not a mystery because there are only certain key fundamentals and Bob has taught us how to monitor those fundamentals. So you don't have to wonder what the problem is, or why is it happening. You can always quickly diagnose your own business and know how to fix it, or be able to quickly find out how to fix it. We find the problem, then we can go back to that fundamental, get it on track, and things start running smoothly again. That's been wonderful.