By: Dr. Mike Zetz

I am writing this with the assumption that the reader – YOU – holds this tenant to be true.  That is, you believe that within your area, when it comes to orthodontic care, you and your office are the best choice for the patient.  If you don’t currently believe that, and in fact feel as if another competing office is actually better for your potential or current patient, then we need to have a different discussion at another time because it’s going to take a minute.  That said, you’re welcome to read on to know how you will/should feel in the future when you’ve got you/your office where it needs to be.

As a reminder, our patient doesn’t know (really know) what they need or why they need it.  Even if they think they do.  They don’t know what kind of treatment is indicated.  Or why.  They don’t know whom to trust.  Or why.  They don’t know exactly how much it should cost.  Or why.  In short, other than knowing that they want to have straight teeth, a beautiful smile, and in general a pain free life for no down payment they don’t know… Anything.

Therefore, it follows that when an individual is unsure of a decision, or needs guidance due to lack of experience or information, they look to mentors, coaches, family, and friends.  When a stranger is sitting in our chair for the first time, they are there for a myriad of reasons but they are looking to us for insight.  They need answers they can understand and guidance they can trust.  And while I understand that we all know that, actually executing the instilling of trust and beginning the relationship seems to be difficult because we are letting the constraints of time, preconceived notions of need, fear of failure, or any one of a number of things cloud the basic principle of what is actually going on in that room.

And what is going on is that you, as the individual who knows what is best for the patient in terms of reaching their goals, are a coach.  An orthodontic tooth coach if you will.  The person with the knowledge and insight into the things they know very little to nothing about and the one coaching them towards the right decisions both in the beginning and throughout.  In reality, you are guiding them to a winning result with a game plan that you establish – the definition of a coach.

For me, I find it helpful to stay in this mindset because there are too many things in any given day that can take us away from it.  It’s too easy to get sidetracked and lose the focus of that relationship and the inherent trust that comes with it as we run about the office attempting to manage our staff, manage our time, and just manage in general.  And that’s not good because I will also remind you that if you fail in establishing that relationship you not only fail the patient because they likely will end up in another (already established to be inferior) office, you also have the potential to let down the entire profession should the patient end up choosing a PCD instead of you!  At that point you’re losing another potential ally to our profession who can appreciate the difference between an orthodontic specialist and a PCD.  Long story short, if you run around worrying about all of these other things and neglect that fundamental relationship right in front of you that represents your/our biggest asset, your fears will meet your failures halfway.  That’s just the way it works.   And that’s just not acceptable because in our offices and in our profession we need to be focused on going the other way – meaning that we are careful to put the patient relationship first.  In that way, we put practice management aside when we’re in that NP room.  Put fear of market share loss aside when we’re in that NP room.  Put efficiency/profitability aside when we’re in that NP room. Yes, all the preceding are very relevant to the present and the future but it better not occupy our thoughts when we’re supposed to be the confident coach, leading our patient down the road of the best care possible and building lasting relationships.

Now, believe me, I know that some of you are reading this worrying about the guy down the street whose prices have undercut yours.  I suggest that your perspective is part of the problem and not the solution.   Solve these problems ahead of time (or hire someone to help you solve them.)  Free your mind.  It’s not that complicated. Put the patient, their needs and your relationship with them first in all things! Stay focused and establish the relationship and never let anyone do it better and cheaper. If they do then we need to go back to paragraph one.

So, as you go about your day, for the betterment of the present in your office and the future of our profession as a whole – maximize our collective asset by acting like you know that each one of us (you) is the best positioned professional to serve our (your) patients.  Establish that relationship on a foundation of trust that is grounded in the fact that you are THE winning coach for them.

Foster and nurture this truth, and it will do us all proud every day………..

……… and of course never, ever forget who you are.


2 thoughts on “Coach

  1. In 35 years of practice I have never read anything that so precisely and clearly captures the essence of what should take place in the np exam.
    It is not only powerful it is transforming and sets one up for success and the ability to make a massive difference in our patients lived. Well done

  2. Wow! You’re quite the wordsmith!! Thanks for the kind words.

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