by Paulette Johnson
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Some of the worst advice you can get or give.
I used to believe this saying was pretty close to the truth. As I matured, I have grown from a skeptic to an unbeliever. As media, technology, and the economy evolve so must the approach in which we deal with them and life in general. We used to write letters or hand complete insurance forms on paper, fold them, place them in an envelope, lick the envelope, address the envelope, lick the stamp, and place it in the mailbox. Today, we may still use paper letters, but most of the time we send a letter electronically, either via e-mail or text. And insurance, well if you are still submitting on paper, your turn around time is up to six weeks for a response. Electronically submitted claims are processed in two weeks or less. I could go on but this illustrates my point. You get it – things are changing and we need to keep up or get left behind.
There are so many aspects of the orthodontic practice that are neglected and left to wallow in a waste land of inefficient processes because “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I asked my Facebook friends to respond to this saying. And while there were many hilarious contributions, I’ve decided to share only a handful of them:
Jess Huennekens, Ortho2 Systems Consultant, says, “Just because it isn’t broken doesn’t mean it isn’t inefficient or obsolete.”
Take a look at your practice. If you asked anyone on your team why they do something the way they do it, what would their response be? I bet your number one answer is, “because that is the way I was taught”. Our processes are often the last thing we look at when updating our office. We put paint on the walls, new carpet, recover or purchase new furniture, even add new ortho bay chairs and side units All the surface change is wonderful, but if we really want change we must really change. I love the saying, “Old ways do not open new doors,” from the book “The Buddhist Boot Camp”. If you really want to effect change in your practice, you must change! And remember the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
Start small – maybe the way that you conduct your new patient exam. Have you looked at this process since you developed it when you started your practice? Using a critical eye, ask yourself what could you do better? Be honest. Are you giving this prospective patient the view of your practice you want them to see? Are you attentive or rushed? Do you offer options or do you have a take it or leave it approach? Are you and your TC organized with information needed for this prospect to make an informed decision? Are you presenting a picture that says I am on it, I am up on technology, the latest treatment and diagnostic tools and I know what I am doing? All encounters with patients or prospects should leave them saying “Wow, I can trust these people, they know what they are doing, and they really care.”
Another comment from Facebook came from Ross Johnson, AT&T Regulatory. He says, “Is it still relevant?” I like this one, not because Ross is my amazing husband, but because he is right on! Is what you are doing in your practice relevant to today’s market? How have you changed or adapted your process to the new consumer?
If you are saying to yourself that the consumer isn’t new you may need to look around. The consumer is more educated in the world of orthodontics. I mean they have seen it on TV, what more do they need to know. Invisalign will straighten teeth, dentists and orthodontists are just the delivery people. If they could order it off the internet they would. Wait, they can! http://www.dental-lab-direct.com/. They are bombarded with advertising on TV and online saying things like: Finally! A Way You can Avoid the Dentist and Save yourself Hundreds of Dollars by dealing Directly with the Dental Lab!
If you are operating in the same manner that you were 20 years ago, 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, you need to sit up and take notice. You are no longer competing with each other; you are now competing with general dentists and the Internet.
Staying on top of changes in your practice shows you care. General dentists, patients, and parents recognize when you are giving your best. Dave Ramsey says in his book “EntreLeadership”, “If I know in my heart you care deeply, then when you screw up, I will be quick to give you a second or third chance.” It is just good leadership.
Jimmy Johnson, Custom Car Restoration , says, “Leave it alone and buy a backup.” Not the best advice in my opinion, but an option. Jimmy also added “If it ain’t broke, maybe you need a bigger hammer.” I do this myself sometimes; I work on an old server, computer, or printer in an effort to just get a few more months/years out of it. In reality the amount of hours I put in it would have paid for a new machine, and with a lot less headaches. My thought process is, I am here and getting paid anyway, so it seems ok. But I think that inefficiency is just too costly. I am pretty sure my time could be spent being much more productive. In economics this is called opportunity cost, which is defined as "the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.”
This brings me to the next area we are going to address, COMPUTERS!
Chris Tremayne, WCO Consulting, says, “If it ain’t broke it soon will be, back it up!” Now that is advice I agree with. What is the life span of a server or a workstation? According to Chris, a server or workstation should last and continue its efficiency for 3-5 years. Beyond that you are not running at optimum efficiency. You know how often you upgrade your phone, audio, or video system. The same should hold true for your business. Merriam Webster defines efficiency as “the ability to do something or produce something without wasting materials, time, or energy: the quality or degree of being efficient”. Wasting time, money, and resources is not smart. Work smarter not harder. If you think of change in this way, it makes it easier.
I know, I know, it can be expensive for additional training, continuing education, or to replace equipment often. But in reality it is more expensive not to. The wasted man power is probably more costly than you realize. The continued investment in your practice is priceless!
Do you need help in updating a process or a critical eye on what could do with an update? Ortho2 is a great resource; they can help you learn more about your software which will improve efficiency. They can also provide you with a recommendation for a consultant or two or more to get you moving in the right direction. But you have to initiate the change!
About the Author
Paulette Johnson has extensive experience in the field of orthodontics and business management and over the last 16 years has enjoyed working as an Ortho2 Certified Training Specialist. Paulette is passionate about helping our customers achieve their goals. She does this by identifying opportunities for improvement, developing a plan of action, and teaching clients how to get the most out of their Ortho2 practice management software. Paulette can be reached via email: email@example.com.