Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

It’s an intense process to become an orthodontist and certain personality types tend endure the experience better than others.  Those of us who have made it through are typically very hard working and tend to be perfectionists.  Although these traits have served us well in our academics, they also tend to hinder our business growth with an undue amount of time spent on small things that really don’t matter in the long run.  Here are a few things to think about when you are making business and policy decisions for your office.

1. Focus on the big picture

Where do you want your practice in 10 years and how are you going to get there?  Is it possible a short term loss is going to result in a long term gain?  Is this thing you are worrying about going to matter to you in 10 years?  For example:  There was a post on the Ortho 101 group about charging staff of referring dentists the cost of the braces.  If you focus on the small, then you are going to be really upset about the fact that a ton of staff from a local office are “taking advantage” of you by getting braces at no cost.  This is money out the door and if you are a new practice, you probably don’t have money to spare.  If you focus on the big picture, you realize that these costs are negligible and that you may get much, much more goodwill from an office that has an entire staff wearing your braces – even if the doc doesn’t actively refer to you.  Early in your practice, the cost may seem important.  Ten years from now, you won’t even remember the cost but you will remember all the new patients that came to your office.  So the next time you are worrying about something happening in your office, don’t think small.  Take the big picture perspective and make the decision from there.  You shouldn’t let smallness dictate your decision making.

2.  Plan for the 99%

I’m pretty sure I need to give Ben Burris credit for this one.  This way of thinking has really changed my perspective when I’m thinking about my practice.  When developing policies for your office, they should be geared toward the most common situations.  Yes, there are going to be exceptions to the rule, but if you focus on the exceptions you will never get anything done.  For example:  You want all of your deband appointments to be during school hours.  Make the policy.  Don’t worry about your friend’s neighbor who has a child in a special school that handcuffs the children to their desks until 4PM.

You can also think about your business decisions in this way.  Is this a 99% problem that I need to solve or is it a 1%?  There are so many people who waste time focusing on the 1%.  For example:  You lost one patient to another orthodontist because you charge for a CBCT and he doesn’t.  Do you change your policy based on one or two people?  No!  But, how many of you have lamented over what you can change when one person chooses another office over you?  I know I have.  Make changes when you see a pattern that is causing problems or losses in your office and don’t worry so much about the little things.

3.  Deal with the 1% as it comes

You can’t ignore those 1% problems, so address them as they come.  Sometimes you will need to make exceptions to the rule.  Sometimes you will need to adjust your financial policies.  Exceptions happen.  Deal with them, move on and don’t lose any sleep.  Good office policies and good business decisions can remain in place even in the presence of exceptions.

So, when you are completely stressed over something happening in your office make sure to check yourself and don’t sweat the small stuff.

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