Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Administrate or Innovate

Leadership in any line requires many different skills. Some are in direct opposition to each other. For example: administration vs. innovation.

Administration is the skill of managing people and organizations so that everything runs smoothly and stays aligned with policies and procedures. In many ways, it is the art of maintaining the status quo.

Innovation is the art of progress and change. Many times it requires challenging the status quo by looking at things in a different way and acting outside the “norm.”
As a general rule, for every innovator, there are 10 administrators. As humans, we crave stability and the status quo. It feels safe to us because of the consistency. Because of that natural tendency, most have to consciously work at innovation. The irony is that while administration feels safe, innovation is the essential ingredient to surviving and thriving.

History lauds, honors and praises the innovators, but is relatively quiet about the administrators. That’s because we admire the rare and take the common for granted.

History honors Thomas Edison as one of the most important figures of the 20th century. Why? Because his numerous innovations changed the way we live. Meanwhile, can you name any one of the administrators that ran Edison Electric or General Electric in the subsequent years? If you can, the only one that comes to mind is Jack Welch because he dramatically innovated the way General Electric approached its business.

So, step out of administration from time-to-time and INNOVATE! Ask:

- How can I make things better?

- What type of business would put me out of business?

- What would we look like if we expanded by 10 times?

- What weakness would I exploit if I were my competition?

- What is something I would never consider changing?

If you want something to administrate in the future, you better start innovating today!

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Wake Up Call to the Realities of Business

Dr. Bob Maher called our attention last week to a Seattle Times article about decreased insurance reimbursement rates to dentists in Washington. View article by clicking HERE.

I always scratch my head when I hear that dentists are angry, shocked, and surprised when reimbursement rates are cut. Of course they are getting cut. They always do…over time. The reason? Greedy insurance companies who want to make more profit? That is what most would like to blame it on. But, the reality is that there is a natural law in business that states that prices (exclusive of inflation) will always decrease over time. They always do. Think about the price of new technology. When it first comes out on the market, it will always be priced at its highest. As competition enters the market and the basic product becomes more widely available, manufacturers figure out how to produce the product more efficiently, reduce costs, and provide the product at a better price in order to stay competitive and profitable at the same time.

If you are in dentistry, think about what intra-oral camera technology cost when it first came out. Today, better technology is available at a fraction of the cost. More competition produces more expertise in the market place. That expertise creates more ways to produce a better product at a better price. That is what continual improvement is all about. It is also why companies are always seeking out new technologies and products to produce.

So instead of being a victim of the Natural Law of Decreasing Prices, go with it.
Do the following to stay competitive and relevant in the market:

1. Be disciplined in the effort to control and drive down costs. Do you know what your true costs are? Do you have budgets for these costs? Do you have discussions with your team on how to control and cut those costs?

2. Find more ways to be more efficient without cutting quality. Other companies do it all the time.

3. Measure quality and efficiency. If you don’t know how to measure these things in a dental practice, it is high time you learned!*

4. Constantly be looking at new services you can add to your business or practice. The newest services always demand the highest prices. Over time they will decrease, so get in early before the competition.

5. Quit complaining and being a victim and wake up to reality. For some strange reason, there are some professions that think they are immune to natural laws in business. They’re not. So you can complain about it and lose, or go with it, get ahead, and win. Winning seems like a better choice!

* The Total Patient Service Institute measures a unique set of data points in dental practices so improvements can be made constantly in service, quality and efficiency.
To learn more, call the Total Patient Service Institute at 1-877-399-8677.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Is Your Practice a “Staples” or an "OfficeMax?"

We are fortunate in our town because we have plenty of choices. When it comes to office supplies, for example, there is a Staples just 5 minutes away and an OfficeMax 7 minutes away. If that does not work, you can get to an Office Depot in 10.

I went into Staples recently looking for four items. I wondered around trying to find what I was looking for. When I finally found someone to ask for help, he pointed me in the general direction and gave me an isle number. When I got to checkout counter, I asked the clerk if they happened to carry any other computer speakers than the ones they had on display. She didn’t know, but she told me I could go ask one of the guys on the floor if I wanted to know. I chuckled. She looked at me. I simply told her that I did want to know and that is the reason I asked! She then proceeded to ring up my order incorrectly, twice, and never called for the guys on the floor to answer my question. I decided that the competition might be more worthy of my business so I thanked her and drove two more minutes to OfficeMax.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived at OfficeMax and was greeted at the door by an OfficeMax associate who asked if he could help me find what I was looking for. I was expecting a pointed finger and an isle number, but got an escort instead. He walked me to every place in the store where I was looking and offered to order the computer speakers I was looking for but that they did not have in stock. It took me 1/3rd the time at Office Max as it did at Staples and I was glad I went. The clerk at checkout was courteous and efficient and I was out the door in no time. I even saved $10 over what I was going to pay at Staples.

Now I don’t know if I would find the same service at the OfficeMax 20 minutes away as I did at the one 7 minutes away. I don’t know if I would have received the same lousy service at Stapes at a different location either. All I know is that…

1. You are the brand when the customer is standing in front of you.

2. Brands are as strong as they are consistent. But if I only go to one location and that location always has good service, that brand to me is consistent.

3. When customer perception of the product is about the same, your biggest point of differentiation is service.

Ask your team today, are you a Staples or an OfficeMax? It all comes down to service. If you haven’t trained and re-trained on it over and over and over again, you are probably a Stapes. It rarely happens on accident.

Make sure to che
ck out the upcoming ToPS Total Immersion dates at www.TotalPatientService.com. Bring your team. Take your service to the “Max” with the Total Patient Service difference. Otherwise you are bound to be Stapled!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fraternity Rush and the Law of Harmony

I like to start stuff! It probably started with the Legos I played with as a kid, before the days of kits with pre-designed models.

Early in my college experience I had the opportunity to start a chapter of the largest fraternity in the country. I jumped at the chance to create something new on our campus. It was a great experience that taught me many lessons of launching a new business.

The most distasteful part of the process, however, was fraternity rush. It was not the rushing part where each house is vying for their share of the incoming freshmen, so much as the vetting; sorting through the potential candidates to determine who would receive a “bid” or an invitation to join and who wouldn’t. Passing judgment on each rushee was a painful process.

As time has passed since that experience, I have come to appreciate more and more the rush process. It is very similar to hiring and building a team in your organization: generating potential team members to interview, screening, interviewing and then determining who you think will be the best fit for your team.

What you are looking for is the right “fit” because you know if the person you select is the right person, you tap into the Law of “Harmony” or the Law of the MasterMind which says: Two or more minds joined together in harmony form a third mind more powerful than the sum of the parts.

Harmony is a critical ingredient of “health” and growth. When there is harmony of purpose and process, there is momentum and progress. When there is disharmony, there is “dis-ease” and lack of progress.

I was in two offices yesterday that had just finished their best month ever. It was very evident why. There is a spirit of harmony in each where team members support team members and everyone is working in harmony to help each other accomplish the practice and goals. There is momentum because there is harmony, that allows for laser like focus on the unified purpose.

So if there is “dis – ease” in your team, ask yourself to what degree you have a unified purpose and harmony toward the goals you have set. The movement and momentum you experience toward your goal may very well be determined by the harmony you have on your team toward your unified purpose.