Monday, May 24, 2010

There is no "I" in "Team". . .

. . .but there is an "I" in "Win".

And that is what I want to do with my office—win. So what I have been reminded of this month is that I need to step it up. Because I am the only one who really cares if this thing succeeds, and I am the only one who can control the success or failure of the office.

Four years in, and I've had some time for reflection on the journey. The reason for that time is that we have been incredibly slow the first three weeks of May.

All work and no play make Ric a dull boy.

I have warned my staff (only somewhat tongue-in-cheek) that leaving me with too much time on my hands is dangerous because I have time to look at reports and production statistics and compare them to previous years. I have time to evaluate the value of each employee and start to wonder if maybe we couldn't get by on a little less overhead. . . .

I also have time to get depressed or just apathetic.

I have time to take the "tie a knot in the rope and hang on" kind of attitude.

I mean, come on, it has been four years of constant growth. Four years of constant cheerleading. Four years of constant stress. Four years of trying to create something from nothing. Four years of lonely, isolated perseverance. I want to cut myself some slack for reaching a plateau and resting, but I need to kick myself in the pants to get moving again.

I get asked all the time "what is the economy like?. . .are you feeling it?"

The honest answer is "I don't know" because we are new and still growing. I assume our growth would have been faster in a great economy, but I don't know that it would have been any easier. What I can say is that it hasn't helped me any.

We are on track for our lowest production month in 18 months (and second-lowest in 30 months). Ironically, our new patient numbers this month are the best they have been in 6 months. Our June is looking good. . .I guess this is just a blip on the radar and sometimes those blips are simply innocuous friendly aircraft—other times they are the only sign of a very large invading force. When I have too much time on my hands, I start to see blips where they don't exist.

And so I had to make some difficult changes the past couple of weeks. Not changes to my staff or overhead but changes to my attitude.

I had to remind myself that—while I have a great team and I can delegate a lot of responsibility to them—I am the one that has to lead the charge (and unlike the light brigade, I don't plan to lead them to their death). Patients come to this office because of me and the staff I have hired, the attitude I have instilled in my staff, and the quality of care and level of customer service that I require.

It is exhausting. It is lonely. It is stressful. It is necessary.

If you read this blog and are a young dentist or dental student trying to decide whether to start a practice from scratch or buy one or associate somewhere. I will not tell you what to do. I will, however, tell you that the road I took is not easy. I wouldn't do it different, but I won't sugar-coat it either. It is all on you.

If you have done what I have done in the past few years, please let me know. I would love to know that I am not the only crazy one out there. Hang in there!! The economy will get better. There are no quick fixes, no magic bullets—much like dieting, it is constant, hard work.

The voices are excited that I get to see patients today.

Have a great week!


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