Dr. Alexander was having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. No, he didn’t wake up with gum in his hair, but he did wake up late. From there, things only seemed to get worse. Working in dental consulting and coaching, I see many clients who have these No Good, Very Bad days quite often. Things just never seem to go according to plan, and they often wind up feeling harried and frazzled. I am not a believer in blind luck. As a general rule, if you are having a bad day, there is always something you can do to turn your “luck” around. With proper planning and self-assessment, you can have a string of great days in the office – and at home, too.
One Thing after Another
Dr. Alexander stayed up late the night before going over practice finances. He has just lost a large number of patients. With no established budget, he is not sure how this is going to affect his practice, his team, and his children’s college funds. Stressed out, he stayed up way too late, and consequently slept through his alarm. He made it to the office 15 minutes late for his first appointment.
The procedure was easy – a tiny filling, and for a while thing seemed to be looking up. However, the next patient who came in had terrible dental anxiety. Dr. Alexander didn’t know this. Soothing the patient and administering nitrous oxide added a full hour to the procedure. By the time he got through that patient, he was grumpy and hungry. He snapped at the next patient who complained about the hour and 15 minute wait, and the patient left, vowing to find a new dentist.
Lunch time finally arrived (late), and Dr. Alexander escaped to his favorite neighborhood café. Tucked away in a corner booth, he started to check his email. Before he knew it, he got caught in a string of communications. Caught up in the emails, Dr. Alexander returned to the office 20 minutes late.
The afternoon never got better. In the middle of a wisdom tooth extraction, he got three phone calls. In between a denture adjustment and a crown lengthening, he got caught in another email whirlwind. The day ended with a complex molar endo, possibly his least favorite procedure to perform. To make matters worse, he never caught up on the schedule. As a result, the person who should have been his last patient of the day stormed out, swearing that she would write scathing reviews on all the online rating sites she could find. Dejected, Dr. Alexander went home for another long night of budgeting, knowing he would miss his daughter’s soccer game.
What. Dr. Alexander Could Have Done Differently
While I sympathize with Dr. Alexander’s plight, I also recognize that there are many things he could have done differently that would have made his day go much more smoothly. As a dental coach, I would sit him down and help him make a specific list of goals and improvements. It would go something like this:
- Hire a CPA and meet with your banker regularly. Solo budgeting into the wee hours is not beneficial for you or your practice.
- Learn good communication skills, and really listen to your patients. You should know ahead of time if they have a special need, such as dental phobia.
- Allow extra time in your schedule for unexpected events and emergencies.
- Eat breakfast before you come into the office. Keep a stash of protein bars in your car in case you are running late.
- Do not get caught up in email. Check your email once or twice a day, preferably before or after the days’ appointments. Email is one of the biggest time wasters for all professionals.
- Have your office team screen your calls. The only time you should be answering the phone during a procedure is if you have a family or patient emergency.
- Schedule difficult procedures early in the day when you have the most energy. It will make the rest of your day go by faster if you don’t have to dread a complex procedure at the end.
- Do not overschedule and try to cram too many appointments into a day. It will only make for dissatisfied patients.
- Respond to online reviews, acknowledging your mistakes and offering solid evidence that you will improve in the future.
- Remember to find a balance between your family and professional life. Neglecting your personal happiness for the sake of your practice will only disappoint your family, put a strain on your business, and strip the joy from your work.
By following these tips, Dr. Alexander may find that he enjoys a string of Wonderful, Fantastic, Excellent, Very Good Days.