Amy D’Arcy-Burt discusses the benefits of connecting with like-minded people and businesses
Throughout the year I host a breakfast club in the south of England for my practice managers to enable them to come together, share their experiences and generate valuable conversation and connections.
I do this because I believe that making positive relationships with other like-minded people or companies is vital to creating and maintaining a successful business. So with this in mind I thought I would share my top five reasons why, as a practice manager, you should make networking a priority.
1. A source of support
Never overlook the simple benefit of having friends and connections within your profession with no strings attached. Acting as the middle man between principal dentist(s) and the team can be a lonely existence. Being a practice manager comes with its own challenges and meeting up with people who understand your situation can be extremely valuable.
A simple chat can keep you motivated and cheery, giving you either a sounding board for ideas or a friendly listening ear. For example, in the past, my group have discussed how to handle a patient whom the practice have decided is not quite right for them, or the practice not being right for the patient. As always, confidentiality was paramount, but the level of ideas and quality of the discussion enabled a practice to move forward and find a solution.
2. A positive influence
If you surround yourself with the right people, then attitudes, habits and associations will rub off. Make it your business to gravitate towards people who have a positive mindset, who will share your goals and values. My group are all keen to share successes and I believe that modelling successful people is a positive way to improve your own performance and motivation. And what better way to do this than interact with them regularly in an up close and personal setting?
Creating conversation can help you to refine your ideas as well as generate new ones. It can also prevent you from spending time on something unproductive. You can rely on a good network of people to share advice and keep you on track; obviously the key here is to make sure that you also contribute as well. My ‘clubbers’ share everything from in-practice processes, experiences with running charity events to lessons learned from attending an event or show.
4. Opportunities and connections
I believe that all the best opportunities are shared person to person, whether that be recommendations to use certain companies or making connections with other people. You’d be surprised who other people know and how easily it can then become to connect and reap the benefits. I always ensure that I contribute to my clubber’s discussions by making them aware of any useful events they could attend.
Recently, they have all benefitted from attending Practice Plan’s annual Workshop Tour – which provided support and advice for them to achieve 10% uplift in income for their practice. I’ve also shared my experiences of where practices who have used services and consultants to help their businesses to grow. The group also use the time to let me know what they would like support with. For example, they felt they would benefit from core CPD training on complaints handling and this was something that I was then able to arrange for them with positive results.
5. A sense of community
My breakfast clubbers have been meeting for a few years now and have really bonded. It’s great to see them forming a strong network who share their achievements and experiences – good and bad, all for the good of the group. The learning they share out they get back in equal quantities from each other. For example, a practice recently faced the challenge of dealing with a patient who was homed with a family and claimed to be 15, but the dentist could see that his wisdom teeth told a different story and estimated that he was likely to be older, which was reported to the relevant authorities.
The practice manager was able to share her experience, describe what processes took place and the outcome with the authorities as well as the appreciation from the ‘home’ mother for the issue being highlighted. Not something you would expect a dental practice to have to face and deal with, so an invaluable share that day.
Ultimately, away from the practice, the group communicate in an open and honest way, which enables them to gain real value and genuine support from each other. Whilst the impact might not always be immediate for all members of the group, over time the compound effects of the connection are significant and long lasting.
Amy D’Arcy-Burt is a regional support manager at Practice Plan, providing patient membership plans to dental practices, as well as supporting practices to grow their plan and their profits through strategic business and marketing support, events and training for the long term. Amy has worked in the industry as a practice manager and has the experience and knowledge to provide practices with the bespoke support they need and want.
Practice Plan is a leading provider of practice-branded patient membership plans and a source of wider business support services for dentistry. Over the years, it has helped thousands of dentists introduce membership plans to become profitable and sustainable businesses.
Tel: 01691 684165