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Podcast: Following the bottom line right to the bottom

Description: In this episode Dr. Coughlin explores what it really takes to be a leader, and shares a story about what can happen when there is a lack of effective leadership.

In this episode Dr. Coughlin discusses how focusing on the bottom line can shatter lives and the business itself.

Hello and welcome to Ascent Dental Radio. A program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of health care and the business of health care. And now here is your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

kevin-transparentWhen does bottom line sometimes make your business reach the bottom? My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin and welcome to the next podcast. One of my recent podcasts dealt with a series of factors that in my opinion create great leaderships and great leaders.

In truth, leadership is simply influence. The ability to influence people in your organization to go in a specific direction. The significant factors are motivation, tolerance, trust, purpose, vision, attitude, awareness, determination, commitment, tenacity, belief, faith, inspiration, self-control, willpower and patience.

I’d like to share with you a story of a recent transaction where there was a change in leadership and the corporate leadership felt that the bottom line was critical. Actions were being duplicated, people were being duplicated. And best friends who were excellent employees were terminated, lives were terminated, parents were terminated. In the end, reaching the bottom line also caused the business to reach the bottom.

Sometimes leaders, and in my opinion, the term leader is sometimes misused. Many times individuals are place in leadership position but lack the skills, knowledge, ability and personalities to truly be leaders.

In many cases, these individuals are rather small people who have little confidence and are many times blinded by power and greed. Ultimately, things have a tendency to self-correct, and those people that are put in leadership either by lack, financial reasons, or serendipitously by simple mistakes, those businesses will ultimately be destroyed.

The true success of any business is not the dollar bottom line, but the ability to create a service and a product that people clamour for and they want, and knowing that that organization is doing the right things at the right time for the right reasons.

Failure to follow those basic tenants will ultimately lead to self-destruction and ultimately to the ruin of a good business.

Sometimes I think that people are clouded many times by greed and lack of support or confidence. In this particular situation, I watched a family be ruined. I watched individuals who have developed over time a magnificent business with trust, belief and likeability, I saw individuals hurt and I see the business being destroyed piece by piece.

For those of you that think you’re leaders or those of you who hope to be leaders, or those of you who have been put in leadership positions, consider what your ultimate goal is. Your goal should be to build a great business, not for the short term, but for the long term. Your goals should be to bring the people around you up, not down.

The ability to be constant in your commitment to communication, fairness and honesty. Following these basic tenants will not only make you feel better, but will ultimately create an excellent product and excellent long term success.

If you’d like to listen to additional information, you can hear it and see it on my website www.ascent-dental-solutions.com or you can email me at info@ascent-dental-solutions.com. Thanks for listening and I look forward to sharing with you additional podcasts in the near future. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. Thank you for listening.

The factors behind Successful Leadership Part 3

What makes a leader?

For many it’s a process that starts when they find themselves in a leadership position. They suddenly have the title – even if they don’t necessarily have the skills. When I found myself in that position as the head of a dental practice, I took a deep dive into researching leadership.

What-makes-a-dentist-a-good-leader

Over time I found there were a number of crucial factors that contributed to becoming a successful leader.

They are motivation, tolerance, trust, purpose, vision, attitude, awareness, determination, commitment, endeavor, tenacity, belief, faith, inspiration, self-control, willpower and patience.

In two previous blog posts, I explored some of them. Here are some more…

Determination

Having worked with hundreds and perhaps thousands of employees over the past 30 years, it’s become clear to me that a strong willed, determined individual can become a superstar. The key is having the determination, the drive and the desire to succeed. Without those traits, it’s extremely difficult to raise a team member to a higher level of success.

The same is true for leadership. Without determination, your organization will start to fail. Business, like relationships, are difficult and require enormous amounts of determination to succeed.

Commitment

Mean what you say, say what you mean and don’t deviate from that. Working with employees, team members and partners, I’ve learned that if a commitment is made and you don’t fully pursue the outcome, trouble ensues. You have to talk the talk and walk the walk. You’re setting an example and people will respond. When you make a commitment, make sure you can keep it.

Tenacity

Tenacity means that no matter the challenge, you never give up. Further, it’s up to you to  instill this tenacity in the people around you. My experience is that unfortunately people generally lack this mindset and give up too easily. The hard fact is you have to constantly push yourself to be successful in leadership and management.

Belief

Simply put, believe in yourself or others don’t believe in you.

Faith

As with belief, you have to have faith in yourself before people will have faith in you. And that faith must also include faith in your people and team to get the job done. If their faith in you fades or yours in them,  your business will struggle and your leadership will falter.

If you are running a business and struggling with leadership issues, I’d like to talk to you. My business coaching will help you define a vision for your business and walk you through the steps to become a better leader – that delivers superior results.

The factors behind Successful Leadership Part 2

As I noted in a previous post, leadership became a passion of mine precisely when I found myself having to lead. I immersed myself in the study of what works and what doesn’t. And perhaps unsurprisingly discovered the principles of leadership that led me to see business in entirely unique ways.

Over the past 33 years, I’ve pulled together 17 crucial factors that affect successful leadership.

These factors are motivation, tolerance, trust, purpose, vision, attitude, awareness, determination, commitment, endeavor, tenacity, belief, faith, inspiration, self-control, willpower and patience.

I’m going to delve into some of these now.

Smiling male dentist posing with female assistants at office

Vision

By definition, vision is your ideal future. But the key is to ensure that once established, your vision is a shared one. The people around you must have the same commitment as you. If that doesn’t happen, then a breakdown is sure to happen. A good example would be if one partner wants to expand the business, the other is quite happy with the status quo. It’s not a question of  right and wrong distinctions, just a matter of differing visions.

Attitude

Attitude can make a huge difference. Being consistently positive may be hard but it is extremely important nonetheless. As a leader you are being watched, even studied by those you lead. The leader sets the example implicitly, whether the attitude be positive or negative. Most people want to be positive so it’s important to lead that way. The benefits to your staff are incalculable.

Awareness

Awareness is a personal understanding of your identity and that of the people around you. Knowing your team’s core beliefs, what motivates them, what makes them tick is invaluable. Once you understand that, you can lead them in a deftly personal way.

More factors affecting leadership will be explored in the next blog.

If you are running a business and struggling with leadership issues, I’d like to talk to you. My business coaching will help you define a vision for your business and walk you through the steps to become a better leader – that delivers superior results.

Podcast: Lessons for Effective Leadership

In this episode you’ll discover the traits and skills that you need to be an effective leader. Dr. Coughlin shares his insights based on decades of experience.

Hello and welcome to Ascent Dental Radio. A program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of health care and the business of health care. And now here is your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

kevin-transparentWelcome. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. I hope you enjoy the next following words of wisdom over the next few minutes. We will discuss certain things to think about as it relates to leadership. I’m an owner of a small business in Massachusetts with approximately 150 employees. And over the last 33 years, I’ve learned an awful lot and have made an awful lot of mistakes.

At this time, I would like to discuss factors that affect leadership. Many of these ideas have been taken from other authors and experts in the area of leadership and business ownership and some of my own thoughts. What I’ve developed over the last 33 years are generally 17 factors that I think directly affect successful leadership. Failure to address and become an expert in each of these 17 areas can significantly decrease the success of your leadership. These factors are motivation, tolerance, trust, purpose, vision, attitude, awareness, determination, commitment, endeavor, tenacity, belief, faith, inspiration, self-control, willpower and patience.

Businesses are very similar to relationships. The best of businesses and the best of relationships are successful because of excellent communication, what I refer to as BLT. Generally the pattern is Believe, Like and Trust each other and I feel the same thing occurs in relationships. When that believe, like and trust has broken down or has failed, then generally partnerships similar to relationships end up in either divorce and dissolution or just a failure to thrive.

I’d like to first talk about motivation, which I place as number one. It is a huge key to success in my opinion. Remember, an important concept when it comes to discussing motivation is what motivates one person may not motivate another. It’s necessary to be a successful leader to find the switch so that you understand what’s motivating the individuals around you and it’s critical to learn how to use that switch.

The second point, tolerance, basically involves respecting other’s views. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with their views, but you should respect them. I strongly suggest you never sell yourself out. Respecting and listening is different than agreeing. You should try to understand where the individuals are coming from and hopefully try to provide information so they know where you’re coming from. In the end, realize that they may not understand exactly how you feel and unless you can articulate it well, it will be a huge stumbling block in order to achieve excellent leadership.

Trust; trust is necessary in order to create the correct environment. Remember the triangle that I speak of in most of my podcasts, BLT. It is critical in almost all things that will continue to be successful that you believe, like and trust in the individuals, the memberships, corporations or businesses you’re involved in. Keep in mind that it’s easy to say believe, like and trust, but in most cases it must be earned. As I review relationships and business practices that have failed and partnerships that have gone in a negative direction, in almost all cases, the believe, like and trust was not earned.

Next, there is purpose. It is what we should be driving or what should be driving every aspect of your life and your business. What is your ultimate purpose? That question you should ask yourself and you should write down what your thoughts and answer should be. You should know what the purpose is of the people around you, which many times is just as important as what your purpose is. It can make a big difference if your team is not all striving for the same purpose.

Vision is also important. By definition, vision is your ideal future. It should include your values and remember what you want your organization to be may not be in agreement with all your team members. It is critical that once you’ve explored your vision, you understand your vision, that the people around you also have the same vision. Many times what I’ve seen in partnerships is one partner would like to expand and another partner does not. That doesn’t mean that one is right and the other is wrong, it just simply means their visions are different.

Attitude; attitude is critical. It’s a small thing but can make a huge difference. It is difficult, particularly for me to be positive but many times being positive, although it is hard, is extremely important.

The team members, employees or the people that you have relationships with will feed off your positive energy and it’s also true that they can feed off your negative energy. Although sometimes it’s impossible to always be upbeat, quite honestly the people around you are in most cases really only concerned with what works for them and what’s best for them and in most cases, they want to feed off your positive energy.

Number nine is awareness. It is a personal understanding of not just your identity, but the people around you and their identity. At the very core, you should know what your team members and individuals around you, what their core is made of, what makes them tick.

Number ten; determination. I cannot emphasize enough. After being involved with hundreds, perhaps thousands of employees over the last three decades, we could take an individual who’s determined, strong willed and make them a superstar, but if the determination is not there, the drive is not there, the wants are not there, then it’s extremely difficult to bring an average team member to a higher level of success.

You cannot become a leader yourself without determination. When the determination disappears, your organization and yourself will start to fail. Determination never takes a vacation, it never seems to get sick, and it has to be working every day. Business, like relationships, are difficult and enormous amounts of determination are necessary to make them both successful.

Commitment simply means you say and do what you mean, and you do not deviate from it. If I have seen time and time again amongst employees, team members and partners, they make a commitment but the commitment is not strong. As a matter of fact, it’s not even sincere. You have to talk the talk and walk the walk. You’re setting an example and people will respond. When you make a commitment, make sure you can keep it.

Endeavor; a successful business will take on its own endeavor. Your personal endeavor is what will make it successful. Keep in mind that these 17 traits are difficult to obtain, but if you understand what each one is, you will ultimately find your leadership and management skills will improve greatly.

Tenacity; simply means no matter what the challenge, you will never give up and you try to instill this tenacity in the people around you. So often today, my experience indicates that people lack tenacity. They’ll try hard for a few days, maybe a few weeks, maybe even a few months, but year after year, you have to constantly push yourself to be successful in leadership and management.

Belief is critical for success, but most important when it comes to belief, you have to first believe in yourself or others will not be able to believe in you.

Next comes faith. Again, similar to belief, you have to have faith in yourself before people will have faith in you. You must also show faith in the people and team mates around you and understand that in many cases they are working as hard as they can and trying to do the best they can.

You have to have faith in your team members and if you lose that faith in your partners or team members, then in general your business and your partnership and your leadership is going to be on the skids.

Inspiration; where do your ideas come from? Where do your team members’ ideas come from? In business you will always need new and fresh ideas. They could come from all walks of life, all different types of people, all different types of ideas, but you constantly need to renew your ideas and come up with new ideas.

Many times I find, personally, I get inspiration from the people around me. Many times it’s a certain story or something that I’ve learned about a team member or a partner that I fully didn’t understand or was unaware of. Think about those others, the people who inspired you and why they inspired you, and try to create that same atmosphere so that the people around and near you walk away inspired.

I cannot emphasize enough that self-control is critical. In the heat of battle, many times it’s difficult, some would say almost impossible to have self-control. But it is a part of success and leadership that is necessary. In most cases what I find is individuals will allow people around them to influence themselves.

Self-control starts first by understanding yourself, knowing the buttons that can trigger your reactions, and trying to maintain your personal self-control.

And in the end, it’s willpower, similar to determination. The constant drive to be the best at what you’re doing and to instill that willpower in the team members around you.

I hope you enjoyed this podcast. For this and additional information, please don’t hesitate to join www.ascent-dental-solutions.com for other information on business aspects, relationship aspects and how to improve your team members and your workforce.

I hope you enjoyed the presentation. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

The factors behind Successful Leadership Part 1

When I found myself leading a team for the first time, I didn’t know what I was doing. So I did what most successful leaders do, I immersed myself in the study of leadership – what works and what doesn’t. Along the way this exercise in self improvement became a passion as the principles of leadership opened my eyes to seeing business in completely new ways.

Medical team of three professional woman at dental surgery portrait

Over the past 33 years, I’ve pulled together 17 crucial factors that affect successful leadership.

These factors are motivation, tolerance, trust, purpose, vision, attitude, awareness, determination, commitment, endeavor, tenacity, belief, faith, inspiration, self-control, willpower and patience.

Motivation

I put number one as motivation. But there is a catch. What motivates one person may not do the same for another. So the key is to find the motivation switch that works on the people around you and learn how to turn that switch on.

Tolerance

Tolerance is simply listening to and respecting other people’s views. You don’t have to agree with them but it’s important to understand why people think the way they do and let them know the same about your views. Easier said than done of course, but nonetheless it’s important that others understand your thoughts and vision in order for you to lead them.

Trust

Trust is part of something I call BLT: believe, like and trust. All three must be earned. Having reviewed failed relationships and business practices over the years, most of them, in my view, are connected to the failure of belief, like and trust.

Purpose

Next, is purpose. What is it? Don’t just muse over it and let it go: write it down. Make it concrete and definable. Then know the purpose of your team. Your ability to pull together those possibly overlapping purposes will be key to leading your team and ensuring you all have the one purpose.

More factors will be explored in next weeks’ blog post.

Podcast: Selling your practice

E03: Selling Your Dental Practice

In this episode you’ll discover 3 basic rules to consider when selling your dental practice. Discover what to consider and what to avoid. To learn more about Ascent Dental and the services they provide.


Read the transcription…

kevin-transparentHello and welcome to Ascent Dental Radio. A program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of health care and the business of health care. And now here is your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

Welcome. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. I hope you enjoy the following podcast. In previous podcasts, I discussed some options and considerations for selling your dental practice. Unfortunately as we all know, we cannot take our dental practice with us. And eventually it will passed on to family members or sold to a corporate entity or ultimately and more commonly, sold to another practitioner, usually someone who’s been an associate in your dental office for the previous two to three years. There are some basic rules, what I call three simple rules when considering selling your practice.

Rule 1: Value does not equal price. Value is an estimate of the financial worth of a practice determined usually by formulas. Price, however, is determined by how determined the seller is to sell and the buyer wants to buy. At present time, most of the dentists that I know above the age of 60 cannot wait to sell their practice. Typically, the dental practice is considered one of the largest assets and is generally considered one of the best assets to help you retire into the near future.

Rule 2: Gross production is not what you want to purchase. That is a huge mistake. And many times I see this, over the last 35 years since 1983, of watching people deal with the selling of such an important asset. Gross production, remember, is not what you want to purchase. A much better determinant of value of a practice is really net income, as shown on your tax returns. So whether you’re considering selling your dental practice or considering making a purchase, it is critical that you look at net income from that individual’s tax returns on that particular practice. What a buyer should look to purchase is the dental practice’s ability to make a profit. This is perhaps the most critical point I can make in today’s podcast. The seller, if they understand this, would make this their number one goal and that is to make their practice as profitable as possible. The more profitable it is, the more valuable it will be to the would-be purchaser.

Rule 3: Never buy a practice potential. Only purchase what the present value is or historic value is. The future profits can be uncertain. So many times I see an individual say, “Dr. Coughlin, I’m thinking about buying a practice. It has a great potential.” You really want to make your purchase price based on today’s value, not what tomorrow’s value might bring or might not bring.

There are several methods of evaluating different assets. There is the fair market value, replacement value, book value and economic depreciation value. There are generally four asset classifications. There are considered tangible or physical assets such as consumables, supplies, furniture, fixtures and household physical assets. There are intangible assets which are generally considered goodwill, restrictive covenant and ongoing concern value. There are financial assets, which is the cash on hand, security deposits and accounts receivable and the real estate or land or building. These four asset classifications in general will make up the purchase price that you should consider for either selling your practice or buying your practice.

Remember that tangible assets are usually just a small part of the value of a practice. In most cases, a reputable equipment dealer or expert can put a price or fair market value on the equipment and supplies. In general, consider approximately a $5,000 expense per doctor. If the practice you’re considering has two, three or four doctors, just multiply the number of doctors times 5,000 and that will give you an average cost of supplies and equipment.

As far as methods of valuating assets, remember that most assets would depreciate over time. In general dental concepts, most of the cases the depreciation will occur in one to seven years. I cannot emphasize that even if you feel you’re not interested in selling your practice or you’re not considering buying a practice you should be prepared to sell it at any point in time. You should fully have an understanding of your four asset classifications; tangible, intangible, financial assets and real estate. You should have a pretty good idea of the ongoing concern or value of your practice. So in case of a mishap, a disability, some kind of illness, you are able to put your practice on the market and get the best price that you deserve and also a fair price for the potential buyer.

The stress and strain of owning a small business, operating a business is difficult at best. To get the best return for this investment, be prepared, be wise, whether you are the seller or the purchaser. Understand that the net income, the net profit is what will be used to determine the value of the practice. After you’ve agreed on a price, you will generally finance this practice anywhere between five and ten years. The cost each month of financing that practice should allow the net profits from that practice to not only pay that debt but offer you a profit besides. If this is unable to be obtained, then either you’re doing a poor job managing and marketing your practice, or you overpaid for your practice.

Thank you again for listening to this podcast and I look forward to talking to you in the near future. If you’d like additional information, you can reach me on my webpage www.ascent-dental-solutions.com. Thanks again and I hope you enjoyed today’s podcast.

Three simple rules for passing on your dental practice

Passing-down-you-dental-practice

They say you can’t take it with you. And it’s certainly true of dental practices.

Whether you plan on passing it on to family members, selling to a corporation or even another practitioner, there are three simple rules to keep in mind.

Rule 1: Value does not equal price. Value is an estimate of the financial worth of a practice determined by formulas. Price, however, is determined by the careful dance between how desperate a seller is to sell and how determined a buyer is to buy.

At present time, most of the dentists I know above the age of 60 cannot wait to sell their practice. Typically, the dental practice is one of their largest assets and is generally considered the best way to ensure a happy and  secure retirement.

Rule 2: Gross production is not what you want to purchase. A much better determinant of the value of a practice is really net income. So whether you’re considering selling your dental practice or making a purchase, it’s critical that you look at net income from the seller’s tax returns related to the practice. What a buyer should look for before making the purchase is the dental practice’s ability to make a profit. So as a seller the number one goal is to make the practice as profitable as possible before putting it on the market. The more profitable it is, the more valuable it will be to a would-be purchasers.

Rule 3: Never buy a practice’s potential, only the present or historic value. Future profits can be uncertain. Many times I’ve had someone say to me, “Dr. Coughlin, I’m thinking about buying a practice. It has great potential.” You really want to make your purchase price based on today’s value, not what tomorrow’s value might or might not be.

I cannot emphasize enough that even if you feel you’re not interested in selling your practice or you’re not considering buying a practice you should be prepared to sell at any point in time.

If you are considering buying a practice or selling your own practice, I may be able to help. My coaching services leverage over 30 years of real experience growing my business from one practice to 14.

Contact me today and let’s make sure you make the best and most profitable decisions based on your current situation.

The tricky path from dental school to dental practice

Although it’s been a few years since I walked out of dental school with my degree in hand, I still think about new graduates going from the halls of academe to their careers in a dental office.

When today’s dentists start their career, most will be unable to purchase a practice. A quarter million dollars of student debt will make certain of that. Further, most lack the basic business knowledge to run a small or medium size business. If that seems odd, it’s because since they entered high school, the sciences have been their focus and following that, four years of an intense dental education.

Fix a tooth? Easy. Seeking out suppliers? Not so much.

So it’s been encouraging to hear that most dental schools are starting to provide at least sixteen hours of practice management education. The goal is to prepare these young businessmen and women how to make sound business decisions. Are they going to join a group practice, corporate dentistry, become an associate with an existing practice? Ideally this training will help them dovetail these options with their own personalities, ambitions and drive to find the right path to follow.

Consider the private practice option.

In my experience if a dental student is considering going it alone, the process should be begin in dental school.

They likely know that after the graduation accolades fade, the reality of starting their professional life will come rushing at them faster than their first loan repayment installment.

There are several stages that a practice goes through when you’re looking to either purchase or start your own.

Stage one is simply opening up one’s own practice de novo: put a shingle on the door, market the hell out of the practice and yourself and hope to God you have a patient base to both support your debt and provide an income that’s necessary for you to survive. In general, you will need approximately 1,800 active patients, meaning that those clients come to your office at least every 18 months to make it work.

Sound impossible? Most realize it is, which is why it’s done so rarely right out of dental school. Many opt for a way to ensure steady income while they pay down their student debt and put their solo dreams on hold.

If you are considering starting up your own practice, I offer personal coaching for dentists help you navigate the business end of dentistry. It may be the wisest investment you make because I can quickly tell you whether or not this is a smart decision.

And if you do go through with it I’m here with over 30 years experience running 14 practices to help you implement the processes and procedures to help you build the practice of your dreams.

Corporate dentistry not friend or foe

What’s the fastest growing segment of the dental health care industry? No, not actual dental care methods like braces and tooth replacements. It’s actually corporate dentistry: the organizational DNA of the industry.

Although many of us are aware of the accelerating incursion of dental chains into our industry, it’s worth mulling over the facts for a moment and why it matters.

As a catchall term, corporate dentistry is growing at almost 40 to 45 percent each year. These Managed Service Organizations (usually chains) or Dental Service Organizations (same, except a DSO can be a stand-alone operation) can be owned or invested in by venture capital or equity firms.

It can be argued that such a financial relationship is problematic in practice. Equity firms typically invest short-term so when they get involved in dental firms they’re trying to triple or quadruple their money over a 3 to 7 year timeframe. When they get out and sell to another finance firm, this can be disruptive to the dental operations in that they may have to financially modify or change their models.

Most of these dental practices are run like franchises. Some have a universal look and feel along with strict franchise practices and branding. Others, usually existing dental practices, are allowed to retain their own unique character and feel, with the franchising instead focussing on suppliers and general business practices.

Keep in mind that like with all things there are excellent corporations, less than excellent corporations and poor corporations. The critical aspect is what is their short and long term goals are. And that should be your focus when considering bringing your practice under their system.

Ownership still has it’s privileges

When you own a practice as part of a chain, you have certain obligations to the franchise. At times it can feel like you aren’t your own boss although shedding a bit of  professional sovereignty yields considerable benefits.

The most important of these is that you don’t really have to put too much thought into how you run your practice. Or at least that’s how many owner/dentists tend to approach things.

But what happens is that you start thinking about your services as products to be sold rather than treatments for patients. So your practice becomes a glorified assembly line. Where treatments are ranked based on price and not necessarily patient need.

I recently told the story of an elderly couple who came into my practice facing either a pricey root canal, or a simple extraction. Obviously a short term win for me would have been the root canal. But then given the patient’s age and medical history, would that have been the right choice? Of course not. So we did the extraction.

If someone owns a practice that is part of a chain they could theoretically still offer advice to a patient that would save them money.

Doing so would create loyalty with that customer and make their operation stand out among the other chain services lining the streets.

So why don’t more do this? Depressingly, it could be because it doesn’t matter.

Being part of a chain means a steady flow of customers drawn in because of the brand. Word of mouth means little. A chain store is a chain store is a chain store, right? Is your local Starbucks any worse or better than the one down the street? Does it really matter if someone is just looking for a coffee?

Well yes and no. Because a business person can have their cake and eat it too. They can operate under a chain and deliver superior service with an eye to getting return business, loyalty and word-of-mouth.

What’s the cost? Very little if one puts the cost of saving customers money against the cost of regional marketing and advertising budgets.

But there is a very real reason why individual service initiatives don’t often happen in a chain store. Simply put, most dentists working in chain operations only stay for two years. Any quality service improvements will ultimately just frustrate the next dentist who may not have the same integrity.

So what to do? As a customer, I always choose the independent operator.  It doesn’t mean I don’t trust the chains. I simply want my dentists to have more of a long term investment in myself and my community.

When the chains make this a part of their business model, maybe they’ll even be able to retain some of their best talent beyond that two year mark.