Harnessing the Power of Profit in Private Practice

The only way to predict the future is to create it. This saying should ring true for your life, your practice, and even your patients’ health. You are a creator and the more you embrace that, the more of it you will do and the more predictable your future will become.

I have been emphasizing the power of private practice ownership over the past few Weekly Reports. That’s because it has been my guiding mission for the last twenty years. It’s been such a privilege to witness so many doctors reaching their true potential as they become more valuable to their patients, teams, and themselves. All because of their own discipline, vision, hard (and smart) work, sacrifice, and willingness to pour themselves into their lives and invest in their skills, their team, their patients, their future.

Today, I’d like you to take a walk down memory lane and review all you have become, all you have experienced, all you have created since the day you first began your career in dentistry. And no matter when that was, the time in which it took off, that you began growing into yourself really started when you became a practice owner.

In large part this is because you had no other choice, though you always do. But the alternative wasn’t something you could tolerate. Unfortunately, some doctor owners stay oblivious first without knowing and then just choose to ignore the fact that they have to do more than just show up and go home, more than just do dentistry on patients. That, in fact, in order to reap the real rewards of practice ownership you have to develop additional skills.

Private practice provides for unlimited possibilities in both income and lifestyle. You get to do it all on your own terms and you can adjust over time as your family evolves, as you grow, and as life changes. You do not have to stay stuck in any one place doing any one thing or any one way.

The key though is to tap into the leverage created by private practice ownership responsibilities, rather than shy away from them or even resent them.

Think about this for a moment… Most are in private practice yet they stay dependent on insurance. Many complain about corporate and organized dentistry but then they try to discount and commoditize their way into looking just like them.

The real power comes when you accentuate your differences. A long time ago, I wrote a book specifically about differentiation in private practice and it was all about everything you could do to show up differently, to engage patients at a higher level, and to change the game of dentistry so much so that no one could compare you or confuse you with any other dental practice.

You might do things differently, but if only the patients who come in every know that, you are leaving out the ones that are labeling you in the first place.

Don’t just do differently… be different, talk different, show up different, in as many ways as you can and make yourself a category of one practice.

One of the greatest private practice advantages is of course profitability. Not only your ability to keep more of what you earn but generate elevated hourly values so you can earn more in less time (since you are not relying on volume) and achieve all of your goals.

You do have to have goals by the way. I call it “the number that makes your life work” and really I should call it the number that makes your life everything you want it to be.

There is an income number that provides for everything you want to be able to afford, enjoy, experience, invest, or giveback in your life – coupled with an acceptable amount of time and effort required clinically, administratively, as the owner, with the team, for marketing, etc. to bring all of this together.

The first real key here is to understand the money. How it all moves through the practice; how the profit is actually made.

Imagine the ability to instantly add another $1,000 a day to your practice profits. Would you take a quarter-million in profit on a steady consistent basis? Of course you would. What if it didn’t require more time or perhaps even more production?

Most doctors believe they make x percentage of profit on every dollar in their practice because their accountant tells them so. I don’t know about you but I sure wouldn’t be motivated very much if I were getting thirty cents on the dollars. At some point, you’d choose just to stop chasing dimes.

But once you learn that not all dollars are created equal, that not all profit is worth it, and that not all production delivers the same – you can then engineer your practice to go straight for the richest parts where you get to your goals a heck of a lot faster.

What’s even more exciting for you once master the money in your practice is you can finally ‘afford’ to do things differently; such as dramatically over deliver on your patient experience, give back more to your community, reward your team members, and the list goes on.

Remember the three most foundational profit powers in your practice that must be mastered…

First, when you are profitable you aren’t desperate; you are in demand, in control, and you earn the ability to make different decisions about what you will or will not do.

Here’s the secret: you don’t wait until you are at that point. Make the decisions before you get there so that you can get there faster. There are three such decisions (I’ll share on the Whiteboard Session next week). These are three very easy ways to instantly make your practice more profitable.

The second principles of practice profit, that is most important for every practice owner (and perhaps the most common mistake), is that profit doesn’t find itself. It doesn’t know how to escape the practice. There is no flashing exit sign for the money to follow and leave the business in order to move over into your personal account.

The profit must be extracted – intentionally. The more seamless you have this set-up and the fewer barriers in the way, the more profit there will be each and every month.

Lastly, the ultimate private practice profit power that brings these two together: everything can and must be engineered; call it the discipline of business. This orchestration is your number one responsibility of practice ownership. Anything else is just irresponsible.

Just like your number one responsibility as a doctor is patient care, as a business owner it is profit care. The reason is not because the people don’t matter. In fact, it is because they do.

A failing business simply can’t care for anyone. A stressed out, running around, chaotic practice owner can’t manage a business or lead a team effectively. An unpredictably cashflow doesn’t allow for long-term, sustainable decisions to be made.

A profit-first mentality must be your practice principle. Not with patients as doctor but as the business owner because the degree of your profitability is equal to the degree in which you can provide the standard of excellence you desire and completely differentiate yourself from all other options.