Practice growth – the value of thinking differently
Dentistry.co.uk reviews the first of Software of Excellence’s Practice Growth Workshops taking place in 2019
Practice Growth Workshops are a series of events run jointly by Software of Excellence (SOE) and Henry Schein, designed to challenge regular thinking about dentistry, and give dentists and their teams an opportunity to explore different aspects of their practice in a supportive environment.
The informal, hands-on approach of the speakers is refreshingly different to other dental events, during which delegates are lectured to for several hours and have a sheer volume of content to imbibe. In contrast, this event was packed full of audience participation and engagement. Open dialogue both with and between delegates was facilitated by participants confident and willing to share their experiences – good and bad.
The Practice Growth Workshop concept is designed to cover the key pillars of business growth, and gives consideration to the factors that create a successful dental practice.
The day began with a session that asked the audience to contemplate what constitutes a successful practice. Ben Flewett, managing director of SOE, reflected on this question with sharp insight, suggesting that inertia in a business can usually be attributed to routine – doing things the same way they have always been done – without questioning ‘why?’.
He encouraged participants to use the day out of their practice to develop ideas about how to positively disrupt routine. ‘We invent belief systems and adapt thought patterns we believe to be true and this stops us changing.’
Ben’s opening discussion set the scene for the day, as he highlighted the key ingredients for successful dental practices:
• Building an engaged team
• Having a shared vision for the business and communicating this
• Effectively communicating with patients.
Each of these points became a strand that was covered in detail throughout the day.
Driving positive team behaviour is vital to building an effective team and Ross Drynan, customer success manager at SOE, took delegates through an energetic and thought-provoking session, during which he used anecdotes and relevant examples to illustrate his points. Ross considered the differences between leadership and management, and shed light on how to build a team dynamic focused on individual’s abilities rather than their shortcomings.
Quoting Lencioni, Ross introduced the five dysfunctions of a team and, from the audience reaction, it was clear many had experienced this theory in practice. ‘To be an effective team you need shared values that need to be based on communication, honesty, respect, time and contribution.’
The team behaviour session was particularly relevant for Suzie Lovick, area manager for South Ealing Dental Practice and Acton Town Dental Practice, who said: ‘As a manager for a group of practices, practice growth is a very important subject. I have a lot of interaction with my teams and found the team-building discussion particularly interesting and enlightening – concentrating on the impact of a solution rather than just the issue itself is a very useful tool that I will try and use in the future.’
Tracy Stuart from NBS Training, an experienced practitioner in dental teamwork, is set to lead future sessions on building an effective team, and her knowledge and expertise in this area is a welcome addition.
Creating a vision for the practice and knowing which key metrics to focus on needs to be determined using detailed practice data – and this process can be aided by the use of Mypractice Cloud.
This software module turns practice data into pictures, making it easy to understand and identify where progress is being made and shortfalls in performance are occurring. This enlightening session on comprehending data was led by Leanne Smith, customer success consultant at SOE, who explained how practices could benefit from using the evidence within their practice management software.
Research conducted by SOE has shown 61% of practices do not know how to access the relevant data that can help improve performance, and Leanne explained how, by using customer success consultants, practices could better identify which Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were most likely to affect business growth, stating that practices on the customer success programme achieved, on average, 50% higher growth in revenues than those not on the programme.
Alongside the business lectures, the workshop also presented delegates with an opportunity to appreciate the business-building benefits of digital dentistry. As a growing area that meets patients’ demands for immediacy, accuracy and technology; introducing a digital workflow creates both clinical and business advantages, and is often a key point of differentiation from competitors.
The business case for digital dentistry was outlined by Henry Schein’s digital specialist Tom Goldsmith, while colleague Phil Mullins demonstrated the latest in digital equipment and showed how various options work together to create a seamless workflow.
The practice growth event was brought to a close by Guy Meyers, director of customer success at SOE, who led the final session of the day on patient communication.
Guy discussed the role that different elements play in delivering effective communication; including rapport, motivation, education and control. He encouraged the audience to think about altering their communication style depending on the ‘type’ of patient they were seeing and how, by ‘flipping the discussion’ and spending more time on the pre-clinical discussion, dentists can build strong rapport with patients.
The Practice Growth Workshop was a day jam-packed with insight, ideas, opinions and experiences. It provided attendees with compelling reasons why, to build a successful practice, they should spend time working on their business, rather than in it.
In view of the increasing competitiveness in the dental market, it is vital practice owners and managers come to terms with how their business is performing, and understand how and where to make improvements.
Having a theoretical overview, combined with practical tools that can be used every day in practice, aids this process, and allows practices to deliver consistent and sustainable growth.
This one-day event successfully brought together all these elements to create a highly valuable forum from which participants – including Samad Hussein, dentist at Broadway Smart Dental Surgery, Peterborough – took a great deal.
He said: ‘I really like the vibe around this event. I like the way SOE is creating a community of dentists who can interact and cut down the learning curve. I am completely new to SOE and EXACT, but I believe the business side of a practice is equally as important as the clinical side. I realise the importance of making my practice more efficient. I have been alerted to a whole set of KPIs that I don’t even look at.’
For more details on Practice Growth Workshops in 2019, visit https://softwareofexcellence.co.uk/soe-events/educational-workshops