Many dentists stress greatly over the idea of hiring a dental consultant to help them improve the conditions and culture in their practices. And they should. It is a very big decision.

Think about it, you are going to bring in a stranger (from the outside) to help you improve the business that you, your team members, and their dependents rely on. They are going to advise you and your team on how to do what you do every day – and make it better over time. They are going to be with you for many months, sometimes even years. It’s a big investment of time, mental energy, and financial resources. The key is to make an informed decision from the beginning.

Making a bad investment could spell disaster, or you might have to spend years trying to re-wire that experience in your office. Worse yet, bringing in the wrong advisor could send you into a negative spiral whenever you hear the word “consultant” – a reminder of the investment and how it didn’t pay off. This could also lead to putting yourself in an infinite holding pattern of “figuring it out on your own.”

The best performers know that you can never figure it out on your own. As human beings we are designed to only reach our potential with the help of others. It is impossible to be a successful hermit. They don’t exist.

Investing in the right consultant can change the game for you forever. Better yet, a one or two-year investment into the right consultant can produce year over year results that could compound ROI well into the millions and, more importantly, give you more time for the things that matter most – like your family.

Some of the very best in this business scream about the importance of finding the right consultant. Like Dr. Howard Farran who says “If you’re burned out, there’s a good reason you’re burned out, and nine times out of 10, it’s because of something you’re doing (or not doing). If you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s time to hire a coach, and if you’re not taking care of your business, it’s time to hire a consultant.”

But how do you pick the right one?

If you are just starting out in practice, you have probably been to a few seminars or you’ve heard about a few really good consultants. And it’s true there are lots of really good ones out there. We have learned so much from a great number of them. As a matter of fact, in 20 years of passionately working to serve this profession we love so much, I would go as far to say there are VERY FEW BAD CONSULTANTS. Its honestly hard to find them if you hang around long enough. I truly believe there are only BAD FITS.

Let me explain….

If you meet a dental consultant that has worked in dentistry more than 10 years and has a robust client list and strong references, I can already tell you that they really know what they are doing. It’s the dental consultants that have been around for less than 10 years that make huge promises to so many dentists and then, a year later, they disappear. If you have been in practice for more than a decade you know that to be true. They come and go sometimes before we even really get to know their names, but the ones that stay have learned a methodology for predicting success, they know how to help develop leaders within the practice, not just find more new patients and increase production. They have learned from their clients as much as their clients have learned from them. They understand how to build a business, how to lead people, and how to build a reputation that matters. They aren’t in it just for the money, they are in it for the right reasons – and it shows when you work with them.

A Good Fit

When you hire a dental consultant and the effort fails, it usually comes down to a failure of fit. And yes we ourselves have even had some fit fails. They are not fun, but every time it happens, we learn from it. To make a mistake a few times is frustrating, but to repeat it is insanity. Every time a relationship fails, it usually comes back to one thing – it wasn’t a good fit – for US and for THEM.

Think about it. You could apply this to any relationship. Especially the doctor patient relationship. When complex restorative cases fail, it usually isn’t your skills or treatment planning that went wrong. What it comes down to (most of the time) is that you invested time and resources into the wrong person. Your core values didn’t match up with the patient. Those are always your least favorite patients.

If you practice dentistry long enough, you learn the most painful and consistent lesson. Working with the WRONG PATIENT never turns out RIGHT. Putting a burr to a tooth on a patient who is clearly the wrong patient for your office is NEVER a good idea. You will always pay a price. Maybe not in dollars, but maybe in stomach lining. And what’s worse is that, as you see the burr spinning and getting closer to the enamel, you are telling yourself, “I probably shouldn’t do this. I don’t even like this person.” And you’re probably right.

Finding the right match requires that it is truly a MATCH. Often times dentists don’t stop to really examine the relationship and ask the really critical questions before they get started. Better questions always provide better answers. They provide more insight and more mutual understanding. Here are 3 great questions for dentists to ask before considering help from the outside:

 

3 Critical Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Dental Consultant:

1. Do you really understand ME as a dentist and MY WHOLE STORY?

You story is truly yours. It’s the main reason you are going to do anything. It’s the WHY behind all of the WHOs, HOWs, WHATs, WHEREs and WHENs. Working with the right consultant requires they understand who you truly are and all of the variables within your business that make it tick. An expert who understands you can apply their acquired knowledge to your unique situation and recommend “best practices” in a way that coincides with your vision. Your team will also better support an outside expert who subscribes to the theory “seek first to understand before being understood.” Hiring the right fit as a dental consultant requires seeking the expert that best knows you.

2. Do our core values MATCH UP?

This is a very big one. After question number one has been satisfied, make sure that question number 2 truly matches up with who you are. There are many different experts on how to grow a dental practice. Again, all of them very good at what they do. Be sure that you are clear about what your core values are and how you want to experience yourself in dentistry. There are many experts that will teach you to expand your hours (into the evening and weekends) to drive revenue and patient numbers. They are very good at teaching this model. And I will say that it works brilliantly. The only challenge you have to be careful of is that you are serving A specific group of people based on 2 principles: you are convenient and less expensive than other dentists. Other Consultants teach a high quality work-life balance approach in which you choose the hours you want to work and build a business that works within those hours. Your team is trained at a world-class level and they help patients understand why they have to come into your practice during the hours you work. Again, neither is right or wrong you just have to pick the right one that fits with your core values. Take some time to truly define what success means on both sides. Make sure your definition of practice success matches with the expert you choose.

3. Do you and your team really LOOK FORWARD to working with them?

This is also another big one. Just because you like a particular expert doesn’t mean everyone will. Energy is a very big deal in your practice. The worst thing to do is to bring an outsider in that makes everyone roll their eyes when they think of them. Make sure that the person, the advice they bring, the energy they facilitate, the approach they use, and the calls you have with them all add up to an experience that you and your team look forward to. If you aren’t excited and your team is an excited about the road ahead you can kind of predict where it ends. Enough said on this one.

Still struggling with a more specific way to select the right dental consultant to help you with your practice? Download this scorecard to use as your checklist before making a big decision for you and your team.

13 Point Scorecard for Dental Consulting

Use this scorecard to rate 13 key capabilities before hiring your next dental consultant – so your investment isn’t a total loss.