They really are. Awesome scripting, excellent paperwork (physical and virtual), fantastic billing and collections, outstanding organization, super staff hierarchy and job descriptions… all of these things are fabulous and, in and of themselves, goals worthy of pursuing. Ask any consultant, expert or fellow orthodontists and they will agree that systems are key! However, all too often we visit businesses and practices where the devotion to the systems supersedes servicing customer needs. This contradiction has been especially apparent over the last few weeks as we’ve been traveling across North and South America playing the tourist/customer. Many, many times we’ve observed situations where SYSTEMS come in conflict with CUSTOMERS (for us and for other customers) and in almost every situation the employees are slaves to the systems without a thought for the needs of the customers.
“Well if that is the case the systems must be bad” I can hear you saying.
But I would contend that it’s virtually impossible to set up systems that work every time in every possible situation. Furthermore it would be dumb to try and have rules to govern outliers or freak occurrences as I’ve mentioned many times before. Great systems are great because they plan for what we deal with 90+ percent of the time. No one can plan for the uncommon and no one should try as this is a sure way to bog down employees and kill your business.
So what the heck am I going on about?
It’s simple but it’s not easy. Go ahead, create and maintain awesome systems to manage the normal, everyday occurrences in your office BUT in 2018 make a change and commit to having an office policy of putting the customers’ needs over your (and your team’s) need to adhere to your systems. All the truly great offices do this and do it well. I’m talking about the superstar, owner-operator run, three or less locations (many have one location) collecting 2-3 million dollars a year per day a week they work** offices that everyone loves and who have nothing to fear from the current or future states of orthodontics, superstar offices. These offices know to put people first and the doctors and their teams have great systems but ALWYAS choose to look after the customer when the desire to follow the system conflicts with the needs of a customer standing in front of them. Simple as that.
So I’m sure you’re wanting examples. There are many but for the sake of brevity I’ll leave you with just a few.
  1. The new patient phone call: I’m sure you’ve got a super duper new patient call intake form. You may have acquired this from a fancy consultant, a friend, online or perhaps you developed it yourself. The problem with this paperwork system is that the primary goal of anyone using it is to fill out every blank on the form. The goal should be to listen to a what the patient/parent wants, answer questions, make a great impression and GET THE PATIENT IN THE OFFICE! Who cares what kind of insurance they have or where they heard about you if they don’t show up for their appointment? People are busy and they don’t have time for a long NP phone call AND your best bet for closing the case comes when the patient is sitting in your office! Think about it and think about the last time you called to inquire about a product or service and how you were treated.
  2. The new patient exam: We love to put new patients in a dental chair to examine them because “that’s the way it’s done”. We insist this is necessary for a proper exam even though we have photos and radiographs and can see what we need to see perfectly well with the patient sitting in a normal chair. We are slaves to the system we learned for conducting an exam even though most people feel vulnerable and uncomfortable being laid back like that. People who are uncomfortable don’t buy as often as those who feel secure.
  3. Using NOLA retractors: Many of us still use these medieval torture devices despite the blood we often see in the suction tubes (from where it is cutting the patient). We do it because we believe it’s the best system for isolation and it’s the system we have chosen despite the fact that patients hate it and it creates a terrible experience. There are many other isolation systems that are just as effective once you learn to use them AND they are more comfortable for the patient.
Make 2018 the best year of your personal and professional life. Make it your policy to put people over systems and you’ll be amazed by the results!
Happy New year!
** Though it blows the minds of most orthodontists, it’s very doable to collect 2-3 million dollars a year for each day a week you work in a single office with 7-8 chairs. For example, if one of the offices I’m talking about works three days a week they will do awesome work, have exceptional customer satisfaction, run on time and collect 6-9 million dollars a year. This is not theory. I know of several who are doing it all over the country!

3 thoughts on “Systems Are Great

  1. Great article, Ben!

    I would love to hear about isolation options. I have been stuck with the NOLA way too long!


  2. Great Advice!

    What software do you use for case/fee presentation? I saw your article about slider scale craze.

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