We average a couple visiting doctors a week at Smiley Face these days. Doctors who generally come to see what we are doing and learn but in a significant number of cases it is readily apparent that the doctor/visitor is more interested in being right than learning anything new. In these cases the doctor will spend their time telling me and my team how to “do it better” or “how they do it in their office” (EVERYTHING from how to position brackets to how to properly isolate to marketing to contract entry to name a few) despite the fact that we started more cases last month than they did in the last year. And they see zero irony in their actions when I point this fact out – they continue to tell me “how to do it” when their results prove they have no idea. I certainly do not claim to be right, I don’t claim the way we do it is the only way and I don’t pretend to know much other than how to run a single orthodontic office. That being said, those who have joined The Smiley Face Experience know that our results have been excellent thus proving the model we have chosen. And that’s the point of this post – results are all that matter.
To prove my point and explain how I feel when someone with lackluster results tells me how I should do things at Smiley Face let’s flip the script. I’m by no means the fittest orthodontist around these days (but I’m working on it!) so how would you cross fit, mountain biking, marathon running, super fit, super skinny orthodontists feel if a fat ass like me gave you advice on physical fitness? Would you still believe “everyone’s opinion is equally important”? Would you still maintain that “everyone has something they can teach others”? I think not. You’d scoff and tell me to shut the eff up. And I’d deserve it! To be clear, I’d never dare to give physical fitness advice to anyone because I’m not good at it and my results prove that out. (As an aside if you’re thinking “that’s different” then you should stop reading this post and never visit OrthoPundit again as you are beyond hope).
“It’s impossible to add anything to a cup that is already full” the old saying goes.
But we orthodontists tend to run around with full cups, closed minds and the desire to prove ourselves right above all else. I’ve been as guilty of this as anyone. Probably more than most. And I’ve suffered for it more than most. That being said, these days I’m always willing to learn from someone who has better results than I do. ALWAYS. That could mean better, demonstrable, measurable results when it comes to business or clinical results or HR or systems or marketing or anything else. I know several orthodontists who get better results than I do and when they talk or when I visit their offices I’m all ears. However, the converse is also true – I have very little time for the advice of those whose results are demonstrably inferior, theoretical, or irrelevant. In the past I’ve fallen for advice that sounded great from those who could not show me their results and it has ALWAYS ended badly. These days my answer to claims of excellence is “show me”. And I don’t mean show me in an ABO-cherry-picked-cases-KOL-style-case-studies-of-one way, I mean I want to come to your office on some random day and see you in action, getting the results you claim with the patients who happen to walk in the door that day. I’ve learned so much from visiting hundreds of orthodontic offices and seeing the real deal! I can’t recommend a better way to learn and grow and this is why I allow visitors to pick a day and show up at Smiley Face.
Back to the point of this article. In the modern orthodontic feel good, everyone is equal, everyone’s opinion matters, everyone has something they can teach, case studies of one are meaningful, I choose to have a little practice and that is ok mantra/morass there is a total lack of touch with reality. Furthermore, to question anyone about anything, to ask someone to video and post a procedure they claim to be expert at, to ask for numbers of case starts when someone brags about their high fee, and conversion rate or to inquire as to the legitimacy of outrageous, unsupported claims in any way is considered rude these days by the OrthoMob. “Humble” and “Respectful” are the buzz words of the day though these words are certainly not applied to those with whom the mob disagrees. That’s sad and funny all at once! So… if your results suck, the next time you wonder why your results suck keep in mind that you are unwilling to assess and acknowledge your lack of results and that you are so right that you refuse to even consider changing. Moreover your decisions and your results control whether or not your business survives or dies.
Nothing changes for the better if nothing changes!
Without a successful business there is no orthodontics (and no job for associate orthodontists either). Every decision we make, every appliance or piece of equipment we purchase, every case we decide to treat, how and if we market our businesses… these are all strategic business decisions that will have long lasting impact on our success or failure. Of course it is our duty to get the best clinical results possible for each patient and to act in an ethical/moral manner (this is a given as far as I’m concerned) and protecting one’s ego/feelings has no bearing when it comes to successfully running a practice/business. The formula for success is pretty simple! Find someone who is doing what you want to do and copy them. Period. That’s what I did and that’s what majority of the most successful orthodontists out there did as well.
I welcome people to visit Smiley Face and will continue to do so because I love helping others be successful. Just please keep in mind that if your results don’t measure up to or exceed what we do then there will be no exchange of information – it will be a one way street. Please also remember that you’ve come to visit my office (not the other way around) and I didn’t ask you for help. If you are one of those who have results superior to my own then I will ask/beg that you let me visit your office to learn from you and when I do, I assure you I’ll be all ears.
Real life, honest to god examples of the most popular questions and statements from visitors to Smiley Face that make me cringe:
Visitor: Wow, your cases actually look really good.
Me: So… you are admitting that you assumed I do shit work and are shocked that my results are good?
Visitor: I see you don’t butter your brackets, do the brackets stay on the teeth?
Me: No, they all fall off. That’s why we do it this way.
Visitor: You don’t use steel ties? Are you able to get rotations out?
Me: Nope, we just leave the rotations in place. Our patients like it that way.
Visitor: You can’t put a payment in the computer before you enter a contract – that is impossible because it creates a credit on the patient account.
Me: Ummmmm…. Yeah we can. We do it every single day. Your assertion is silly because when you put the contract in first it creates a negative on the patient account so it all balances out.
Visitor: You should really work on your no-show problem. Also, your conversion rate is really low.
Me: We started 80 cases last month, you started 80 last year. Our goal is to increase case starts. Apparently your goal is to increase show rate and conversion rate. How is that working out for you?
If you’d like to come visit Smiley Face connect with me on Facebook and we will make a plan.