What we do is easy. Or at least it should be. Hell, it should even be fun for us and for our patients and for our team! But as with anything, perspective and attitude are everything. Tired or running behind, dealing with upset moms, chronically unhappy employees, staying late and having to “just change the ties” because you don’t have time to render proper treatment (and the overtime cases that result)? I KNOW most of you are so why do you persist in this insanity? You are in control of your office and your schedule. You are the one repeating the same behaviors that get you the same results over and over and over.


Let me explain how… Every day you print out your schedule for the morning meeting – if you don’t, you should. On those few pieces of paper are the sum total of the patients and the work you have to do today. That’s it. You know what lies ahead of you. You know what you have to get done before you go to lunch and what you have to get done before you go home. Here’s a day at our Jonesboro office for example:
Before you get off track, I hear you disagreeing and saying that broken brackets and emergency appointments and same day starts are not on the schedule – seriously??? That’s what you want to focus on?? Breakage is not a big deal and if it is then you need to work on your bond technique. Same day starts take just a few minutes! Anyway you know how much work needs to be done today. It’s finite and very predictable. Now, you and your team have two choices as to how to approach your day and you have to decide how it will go. (#1 is by far the most commonly chosen in my experience).
OPTION 1: We will start late, move slowly, the assistants will hide in the bathroom or the break room to play on our phones in secret, the doctor will play on the internet and talk to their buddy about stupid stuff and make assistants and patients wait, the doctor will take forever in the new patient consult, we will cherry pick patients and try to stretch the time it takes to see the patient we have so we don’t have to get another one and can “do less work” and we will move as slowly as possible when making an appointment or turning over our chair. We won’t follow the schedule and will put appointments in the gray so that afternoons are crazy and we can’t render good treatment. All of this will result in us running behind, making moms mad, leaving late for lunch, getting back after lunch late and leaving late at the end of the day. We love the misery. We love unhappy moms and unhappy patients who have treatment that goes on forever. We love dealing with a stressed out doctor and stressed out team members. We love that the day seems to go on forever in a never ending slog. We love getting in trouble with our kids’ caretakers because we are always late. That’s why we do what we do!! Why would we do it any other way?
OPTION 2: We show up early enough to have our meeting and start seeing the patients who show up 5-10 minutes before our official start because we know that going from empty chairs to full is the time we get behind. Our doctor leads by example and is there early, moves quickly, is respectful of patients’, moms’ and assistants’ time. We compete to see who can get their appointment done first, turn over the chair and get the next patient seated. The doctor and office manager will jump in and turn chairs or whatever needs to be done if we get behind because we are a team. We work hard to help our team mates look good and get them what they need whenever we can. We insure we have everything we need at the chair so we don’t have to waste time going back and fourth during an appointment. Though we are evenly busy all day because we have a great template and follow it, as lunch approaches we generally finish early. Those of us who are free empty the trash and clean up so that we can all leave a few minutes early for a relaxing lunch in the park. We return to the clinic early so we can start 5-10 minutes before the official start time so we don’t need the doctor at every chair all at the same time. This keeps us from getting behind. Our after school schedule doesn’t change because we follow the template and our work flow is even all day long. We generally finish on time at the end of the day and repeat the process of wrapping up for lunch. We play loud music, laugh and have fun with our patients, get our work done while the day flies by and generally have a great day making people smile. We keep our cell phones in our scrub pocket so we can check on our family or check Facebook during the times we run ahead and no one is waiting to be seated. We love what we do. What we do is fun and easy and we don’t work nights weekend or holidays! We don’t tolerate fellow teammates who don’t pull their own weight. The peer pressure in our office is positive and we all pull in the same direction. Most of our starts are same day starts and we love that because our patients love them. We have plenty of time and work hard to minimize appointments for our patient and for us. Our doctor is happy and relaxed and this makes everyone else happier and, as a result, our biggest source of new patients is referrals from happy patients. Moms are generally happy because we run on time and treatment progresses well and we generally finish cases early. Life is good. Why? Because we know we have to do the same amount of work in any given day whether we choose option 1 or option 2.  Some people don’t get it and we are sorry for them but they can’t work with us. It was hard work to go from the way everyone else does it to approaching a day like we do now but there is no way we would ever go back!
Simple right? Simple but not easy. It will take time to go from where you are to where you can be but the rewards are immense.

One thought on “Finite Work, Excess Time, Infinite Possibilities

  1. Ben, I really enjoyed this article! Getting a team to go from option 1 to option 2 is not easy. Reading this article makes me think you’ve done it time and time again. I enjoyed your sense of humor throughout.

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