So it’s obvious that I need to lose weight and get back in shape. This is not the first time I’ve allowed my fitness to go by the wayside. Over the last 5 years I’ve been overly focused on business and family but now I’m working on myself as well. The most effective method I’ve found for increasing my capacity for exercise is an app called Couch to 5K. The gist of it is that you start out mostly walking and then progressively run more and more over the 9-week program. If you are consistent then the program works. Once I can run 3.1 miles easily then I’ll do a marathon program that will take me from running 3.1 miles to 26.2 miles. This is not theory. I did it 6 years ago and ran a marathon 5 years ago. If only I’d kept it up…

Why do you care? Well, you probably don’t.

But imagine that as I sit on my couch someone tells me I could run a marathon but instead of getting off the couch I say, “I can’t do that. It’s not possible.” We can take this analogy further and imagine that once I am a 5 k runner someone suggests again that I could run a marathon but I balk and say, “Running a 5 k is all that one should do. Running a marathon is excessive. I don’t want to do more than a 5 k and I couldn’t spend the amount of time with each mile that I need to spend if I had to run an entire marathon.” But it doesn’t stop there. Once I’m a marathon runner someone could say to me that I should try an ultra-marathon but of course I would say, “You can’t be a quality runner and run that far. I’m running marathons and doing all that can be reasonably done so you must be cutting corners and cheating to say you’re running further than I am…”

Hopefully you see where I’m going here. We know the world is changing and the future for most orthodontists is very bright but will include lower fees and higher patient volume. These concepts seem to be an obstacle for many orthodontists who believe even discussing such things is “bad for the profession” and “doom and gloom”. They are neither – lower fees and increased volume are just the natural progression for any business in this country as we have discussed many times before. The good news is that there is a huge untapped customer pool that will purchase orthodontic treatment as it becomes more affordable.

The most patients I’ve ever seen in one day in an 8-chair clinic was 232. 232 not including new patients and observations.  

We ran behind most of the day and I had to order in lunch for the team. We did 17 same day starts that day and a ton of unscheduled debonds for “braces vacations”. Oh, and I was terribly sick, recovering from the flu!

It was terrible.

It was great!

Honestly, I would never have scheduled such a day but because I’d just taken over the practice things just worked out that way. The best part about that day is that now I KNOW WHAT I CAN DO if push comes to shove. I used to think, “I never want to do that again” but these days I’m thinking more along the lines of, “How can we set up the office and systems and template and pricing and marketing so that we can do that every day, run on time, deliver great care to more people in need, have happy customers and work less days?” You might say, “You can’t do that” but I prefer not to think in those terms!

It’s up to you. Will you sit on your proverbial couch, complain about the world and defend how little you do and how few customers you serve or will you join me and the other Orthodontic Ultra Marathoners who routinely see high volume and deliver excellent care and service? The only thing separating you from us is will and mindset.

Gotta go. I’ve got lots of work to do and a date with C25K!

2 thoughts on “Couch to 5K

  1. Ben, if a “typical fee” is $6k, how much do you think efficiency can reduce that fee? 10-20-30-40%?? what is a good average of income produced per patient appointment ? we all need to talk more about the future of our practices. prices of computer are lower and lower yet they are better machines. we can do the same for orthodontics. and i am only half way through your favorite book. thanks, bill

  2. You are absolutely right.
    Lots to talk about here. It mostly has to do with setting policy based on the middle 90 percent not the 10 percent of outliers as we currently do and also requires modulating service to fit the appropriate fee. The two things are interrelated and very difficult for orthodontists. This is one reason Marc and I wrote a book on the subject and will give an in person course soon. Stay tuned.

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