lucky dentist secrets(This article is part of a series on giving staying power to your dental practice plans for 2016. Click the links for firstsecondthirdfourthfifthsixth and seventh articles in this series.)

How is it that one dentist can build a hugely successful practice, while another practitioner, even in the same building, with essentially the same circumstances, runs a practice that performs significantly more modestly? This is a mystery to many people, including the lower-producing dentist. There are number of stories people come up with to explain a discrepancy like this, and one of the stories is that the successful competitor is lucky – he or she must be getting all the right patients. 

That leads me to our next stop on our tour of ideas for creating a successful 2016:

Principle 6:  Make Your Own Luck

You have probably heard this many times, often in the context of sports. Wayne Gretzky, who scored more goals than any hockey player in history, once shared this bit of wisdom: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” The same goes for Michael Jordan or just about any star player you care to name. Yes, they have outstanding skills, which have been honed through constant practice, but probably their most outstanding talent is their ability to spot and pursue every opportunity – opportunities that others often don’t even see.

I’m not just talking about spotting clinical opportunities, although well-developed diagnostic skills certainly play a part here, like the athlete’s well-practiced skills. I am also talking about being able to see and respond to value creation and patient education possibilities.

For instance, what happens when a patient says, “I’d love to, doc, but I just can’t afford it right now”? In many practices the conversation pretty much ends there. But a dentist who is keenly attuned to possibilities realizes that when a patient says, “I can’t afford it,” that patient is often telling them something - and it’s not necessarily about their financial resources. It can mean that the patient (who maybe was just talking about their elaborate vacation plans) doesn’t value the proposed treatment enough to make it a priority.

That’s important intelligence to have about a patient's mindset and motivations, and the kind of dentists who make their own luck use that intelligence to tailor their approach to that patient. They may not change the patient's mind about the value dentistry right then and there, but they will have planted a seed, and they will have he have established a framework for a plan going forward.

The patient who only wants what insurance covers, the one in the hygiene chair talking about an esthetic treatment a friend had done – these are all opportunities to slow down, to really listen, to explore motivations and to respond with the right strategies that will move that patient relationship to a higher level. They are opportunities that occur every day in every practice, but many practices never notice them.

The “lucky” ones do.