Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Practice of Choice

Beltline Road in Addison, Texas, just north of Dallas, is the home to one of the highest concentrations of restaurants per capita of anywhere in America. It is known as "Restuarant Row" in the Dallas area. Every time I take a guest from out of town down Beltline Road, the response is usually the same. They can’t believe there are so many restaurants in one place. How could all of those restaurants compete with each other and be successful? Well, they don’t and they can’t! Let me explain.

Because there are so many restaurants in one place, Beltline Road has become know as THE place to go if you are looking for a place to go out. It has become a magnate for the dining out crowd. Other restaurants in the vicinity that are not on Beltline Road don’t fare as well because they don’t benefit from the “competition.” That’s right! Too often we think of the competition as something to fear. In fact, the “competition” may be one of our greatest assets. In the case of Beltline Road, the high concentration of restaurants attracts a higher number of people who are just looking for the right place to eat. Additionally, patrons leaving one restaurant may see another that looks interesting and decide that they will try that place the next time. It is a benefit the new restaurant would not receive if it had been in a more remote location.

Take another example: Have you ever noticed how often there are two gas stations at the same intersection? Common sense would tell you that they compete against each other, when in reality they are helping each other. How? Because there are two choices, the location has become known as a prime place to fill up and/or get what you need on the run. As long as each “competitor” has a way of differentiating itself from the other in some way, both can thrive.

Now to dentistry; With over 50% of the population that does not go to the dentist on a regular basis, your biggest concern should not be about the dentist down the street or around the corner. It should be how you can differentiate yourself and create a compelling benefit strong enough that attracts people to come in the first place. There are plenty of teeth to go around as long as you know what makes you different and you know how to get them in the door in the first place.

So, quit being so concerned about the “competition” and go to work on capitalizing on the assets you have that make your practice the attractive choice. There’s always going to be plenty of choices. What makes you the practice of choice?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Miles for Life

We are just back after riding 1,000 miles over 4 days through Yellowstone National Park with over 20 Crown Council dentists who each made a generous donation that amounted to a $100,000 benefit to Smiles for Life ( Officially named the “Miles for Life” ride, Dr. Roy and Frances Hammond four years ago offered to donate the proceeds from one of their Learning Curves ( dental adventure tours to the Smiles for Life Foundation. Four years later, this event has raised over $300,000.

Over four years ago when Dr. Roy invited me to join the Learning Curves faculty, I had never ridden a motorcycle. But his challenge to step out of my comfort zone resulted in an official motorcycle safety course and a new Harley-Davidson in the garage! Since then the “Miles for Life” ride has taken us through the Colorado Rockies, National Parks of Southern Utah, and Yellowstone National Park twice. (Above: as the sun rises over West Yellowstone, Dr. Ed White, Roy Hammond and myself prepare with over 20 other riders and partners to depart for the day.)

One of the fun aspects of this building tradition is the numbers of riders who have decided to get out of their comfort zone and prepare to ride for the first time as well. Our thanks goes out to Dr. Hammond and his family for making this a great experience for veteran and neophyte as well.

As mentioned in this blog several weeks ago, we recently lost Frances Hammond. This was the first Learning Curves ride in over 12 years that she was not present. Frances was missed, but we admire Dr. Roy’s commitment to carry on the good work that they started together.

My thanks also to the dentists and spouses who stepped up to the challenge, donated, and rode including:
  • Allan Acton
  • Joe Albert and Maurene Cronyn
  • Dale and Lynn Behner
  • Bill Dorfman
  • Joes Gurevich and Ana Loynez
  • Chris and Ali Hammond
  • Eric Harris
  • Fred Hecht
  • Denise Markoff and Fran Landoff
  • Michael Cooper
  • Mario Lemay and Suzanne Harmony
  • Ron and Cindy Massie
  • Ken and Lori McAfee
  • Lon and Holy M cRae
  • Tim and Faith Modic
  • Jim Moore and Tara Bauer
  • Ralph Pamenter
  • Howard and Alla Steinberg
  • Jared Theurer
  • Ed White
  • Mark and Angel Webb
  • Paula Swenson
  • Tracy Beckstrom
  • Amy Gerstner

It was four days o0r great scenery, education, and mentoring never to be forgotten.

So step up to the challenge. Join us next summer for “Miles for Life.” If you have never ridden, you have a year to learn and get ready. If you are a veteran rider, you’ll never go on a ride that is more fulfilling that will do more good than this.

Dates for next year’s ride will be announced shortly. To tentatively reserve your space, e-mail us at today. The ride has been sold out for the last three years running. That’s a tradition that is bound to continue.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Who is the fool?

This week, Pam Peterson, our lead ToPS Practice Advisor, quoted the first dentist she ever worked for years ago, Dr. Nate Hudgins: “A dentist who has him or herself as a dentist has a fool for a dentist.” Just as a brain surgeon would never perform surgery on himself, it does not make sense to think that you could do a quality job on yourself either, even if it is not brain surgery.

But let’s take that thought a step further, “A dentist who is his or her own advisor/coach, has a fool for an advisor.” Let’s face it, you can’t be objective about your own work, practice, or life for that matter. You are too close to it. You can’t see what others might see objectively.

Case in point: We spent a few days this week out of town, behind closed doors at the hands of a strategic planner who helped us look at our own business with a new set of eyes. Granted, I was familiar with the process he used and I knew exactly where he was going. But there was something different about having someone else guide the process than my guiding the process. I was in a different frame of mind. The biggest benefit was the things that we would tend to skim over and take for granted, we were invited to drill down, analyze and think about from a different perspective. In many cases, it was work that I would not have taken the time to do unless someone objective had been at my side holding my feet to the fire, asking all of the difficult questions, waiting for me to answer, and not being satisfied until the answer was complete and comprehensive.

So, who is your advisor or coach? Or are you trying to do it yourself? I am always amazed at the results that come back from ToPS practices where a ToPS Practice Advisor is involved, guiding the process, asking the difficult questions, and challenging the entire team to new levels of success. Often times, we will allow someone else like a ToPS Practice Advisor to do things that we would not have the courage to do ourselves. We all need a push, a challenge, encouragement, and a new perspective. The right advisor can provide a HUGE return by guiding the process that will help us get further and faster than we would ever get on our own.

So, don’t be your own dentist! And don’t be your own advisor. The person who has him or herself as his only advisor, has a fool for an advisor!