Can an investment in your clinic make you "rich", "wealthy" or "happy"....or all?
“True wealth is not measured in the quantity of material goods you have accumulated. True wealth is measured in the quality and contentment of life….”
Grand Canyon a few years ago…
This week I had the privilege of spending time and learning from Voco rep Sasha Skorba.
This profession allows me time to learn from so many people – and having these amazing young reps in my car for a couple days is an honor! It also helps pass the hours away behind the windshield and the conversation usually ends up digressing towards family, life, and money. It is the motivation for today’s blog….
The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness doing well with money isn’t necessarily about what you know. It’s about how you behave. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people. How to manage money, invest it, and make business decisions are typically considered to involve a lot of mathematical calculations, where data and formulae tell us exactly what to do. But in the real world, people don’t make financial decisions on a spreadsheet. They make them at the dinner table, or in a meeting room, where personal history, your unique view of the world, ego, pride, marketing, and odd incentives are scrambled together. In the psychology of money, the author shares 19 short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money and teaches you how to make better sense of one of life’s most important matters.
Several years ago, its was MY honour to be interviewed by Dr. Howard Farran of Dentaltown.
Howard is all about “dentistry uncensored” – and asked questions about student debt, the cost of education, the costs of technology (in particular Cad Cam and same day crowns). Great questions about MONEY and what it can and cannot do for you. I LOVED discussing money and investing (in a dental practice) with Howard. In particular I LOVED how he summarized “I know so many dentists…so many dentists are just miserable making their money…Dude, this isn’t making you happy….”
When he asked me about how SUCCESSFUL practices were in Saskatchewan – I asked him if he meant how much do they gross in a year, how much do they net or if they are happy? Because, for me, I measure success in happiness.
My answer was most Saskatchewan dentists are pretty happy. Which means “successful”
Do we have “High Gross income practices” – ya – but are they “successful” – not necessarily! I know practices over the years that had huge income but nasty breakups, divorce, couldn’t find staff, had huge overhead, hated coming to the office every day, just wanted to sell (hello corps….)
What is the point of working your *** off every day if you just create a money making machine with high overhead and tons of stress. Some of the most “successful” practices I see maintain an incredible life balance! Their “Gross income” is not even in the same stratosphere as their colleagues – but the happiest, in my opinion most successful, don’t give a **** what the other clinics are doing.
These doctors generally have “average” billings, but have DEDICATED team that love coming to work every day. They attend CE meetings together, and they feel like family – and are treated like such. Ya, overhead is more than other families in the neighborhood – but again, who cares? Everyone is healthy and happy! Mentally and physically!
These offices may have incorporated digital scanning – but they did it because the entire family thought it would be a good investment. Mostly because it was simply a better experience for the patients that came to the office, and that was important. The investments in new equipment was there – not because it made the clinic more money, but because it made sense for patients first. They took the time to learn how to incorporate this technology so that everyone was HAPPY and not STRESSED learning this!
I often see new techniques and equipment purchased because a hot salesman came and exaggerated the ROI to the doctors and made a fantasy land claim about how much more money they will make by simply buying the latest and greatest. Without any other consultation with the family – these new things get incorporated – and it doesn’t always go as planned. Patients are waiting longer as the team tries to incorporate technology they were not really on board for, and revenue is down. The learning curve is longer than expected, and some failures are experienced…..not successful.
Perhaps the investments lead to higher revenue, and a huge patient load. The team starts to click and management has found ways to incorporate every trick in order to create a high gross income. Success, right?
For some, this is success.
Being in sales, we are CONSTANTLY measured by how much revenue we produce. It’s not something we just go and ask our colleagues – we get reports that show us exactly where we stand versus other reps. There are competitions to see who is going to sell the most of a product on any given day. Everyone seems to think this is great - and how we should measure success.
This is not how I set my goals. As a matter of fact, if it was up to me – it would be nice to be recognized for FIVE STAR customer service. A reward for having the most loyal customers, regardless of how much they are actually buying. For me a successful dentist is known by their five star reputation, and the long wait time to see them! The huge amount of new patients flocking to the doors because of the experience at the office. Not measured in gross and net revenue.
The book “The Psychology of Money”, for me anyways, aligns with my ever evolving life philosophy.
Dr Howard Farran has it right. It’s not how “rich” you show that you are by buying a larger house, building a bigger clinic, driving that fancier car. It’s how “wealthy” you become “building a dental empire by eating mac and cheese” (podcast on Spotify).
The Psychology of Money reminds me of some important principals that I have witnessed as truth for almost every one of my friends that has “succeeded” in their practice:
#1 – It takes hard work
#2 – It takes time
#3 – It takes ethics
If you are ready to work hard, keep investing your time, and provide your services with a high standard – you will succeed (be happy). Don’t wake up worried about competing with BS- other people -or goals that other people set out for you. Wake up thinking how can you be the best you can be today, be modest, work hard and be ready for changes. Always improving and constantly learning – because the world keeps changing and we have to! It also keeps it all interesting! Do it for you, your family, for the people you care about. Not to impress people who really don’t matter.
25 years with Schein….38 in the business = I’ve seen it all.
Before the first light cure. Before the first composite. Before computers to book patients appointments. Before internet and websites. Before LED lights, electric handpieces, same day rotary endo.
Small, personal clinics with 2 chairs for a doc and maybe 1 for hygiene. Hand written appointments, and reminder cards in the mail. The sales rep who also fixed equipment. 50% backorders on anything you ordered that would take weeks to show up.
Many of you reading this still remember having to work a satellite practice on the outskirts of Saskatoon – many of these clinics are now full time and have more than one clinic in town! There was no “multiple offices” owned by one dentist or a corp – if someone owned two offices, it was because they needed to find work and it was always out of town.
Over the years, I have watched as my friends grew “successful”. Clinics expanded and teams expanded. Competition grew.
Things have changed over the years. How we measure success seems to be measured on social media and articles written by people who have something to gain by saying you need some material change to your life that you don’t have – but your neighbor does. I hate these sales men. These people who pitch unrealistic expectations just so they can personally profit. The treatment plan that benefits the salesman, not the customer.
How do you measure success?