You CAN Get There From Here

Posted By

Weston Lunsford


August 18, 2020

What do you want from your dental practice? Take a moment and answer that question. Seriously, stop reading for 3-5 minutes and ask yourself, “What do I want for my team, for my patients, for my family, for me? What does it look like, what will it feel like when I actually get there?” We all have dreams, hopes, and ideally, a vision for our business, and our life.

This is the story of how you get from here to there.

Right now, you’re here, but in the future, you want to be there and from here, there looks pretty good - but so few get there.  Why is that?  Of those who do “make it,” a few just get lucky, but most will have a strategy - they will plan and execute, set goals and review, and they’ll obtain the information needed to lead them to their desired destination. If you’re looking to get there, you need to chart a course and then monitor your progress every step of the way. 

So, how do you reach a desired destination? Seems like a simple question, right? Well, maybe not so simple. It depends on the destination and distance and effort required to get there. Walking from your couch to the kitchen? Easy, hopefully. Getting from your driveway to the top of Mt. Everest? Definitely not easy.

But regardless of where you are right now, you can get to where you want to be. And the road between here and there is shorter for those who know the way.

Finding Your Trailhead

For the past few years, I’ve coached the American Fork (UT) High School Mountain Bike Team. Three to four times a week we identify a trail we want to ride and a meeting destination, usually at the trail head or close by. With over 100 young athletes on the team there are always a handful showing up late to practice. Teenagers, right? Each team member understands we always start on time and, then, for latecomers, I provide detailed course instructions via text or email so they can find the trail and their team.

American Fork High School Mountain Biking Team (pre-social distancing)

Recently, we all gathered together to ride a trail called Thunder-Dome, which required my riders to follow a course just to get to the trailhead. Shortly after reaching the destination myself, I received a call from one of my late athletes. “Coach Weston, I can’t find the trailhead!” I asked him if he had followed the course I sent via text and he responded by saying, “I think so?” I laughed a little and asked, “Well, where are you now?” He then responded in a whisper and with some obvious discouragement, “I don’t know.”

Far too often I run into practice owners that have given up on ever getting “there.” Of course, they have a hope, even a belief that it’s possible, but they don’t take the time to first identify where they are and to then (the hard part) map out the course leading to where they want to be. If by chance they did have a course mapped out, they somehow fell off course without knowing. Does this apply to you? If someone asked where your practice is at, right now, would you also respond with “I don’t know”?

After working with over 4,000 dental practices, I have seen growth repeated again and again, with success being defined by the owner and the team – whether that be higher profits, exceptional patient care, a thriving culture, or even a healthy and balanced life. Success is ultimately being where we want to be, when we want to be there, and knowing how we got there.  What are those principles? The principles of living to reach our goals.

And now for your moment of truth. If I share these principles with you, will you try to learn?  Will you discuss them with your team? Will you map out a course? Will you follow the course?  If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, you will get there. I promise. Time and again, I’ve seen it happen. It can happen for you. But you must – must, choose to act.

 Most of us know how to set goals – in fact, many of us just finished setting our practice goals for 2020, right? We’ve all sat through classes and seminars on goal setting and understand the importance of setting goals in all aspects of life, but for some reason, we reach very few of our goals and sometimes even settle for less.  Why would you do that?  Why do I do that?  Honestly, it’s simple.  We have not learned how to master the techniques in living in a way to reach those goals.

What Does The Data Tell You?

I love data, and recently came across some statistics put out by Statistic Brain Research Institute, who performed an online and direct-mail response survey around New Year’s resolution and goals.  Only 9.2% of the individuals surveyed were successful in keeping their goals.  Why is this number so low?

M. Russell Ballard, a successful U.S. businessman and religious leader, had this to say about reaching our goals, “I am so thoroughly convinced that if we don’t set goals in our life and learn how to master the techniques of living to reach our goals, we can reach a ripe old age and look back on our life only to see that we reached but a small part of our potential…”

We all have unrealized potential, right? Whether personally or professionally, there are still mileposts yet to reach. If we don’t want that future day to come when we look back on our lives and regret what might have been, we’ll need a vision and a plan.


This all being true, let’s start with four important steps toward reaching your goals:

  • Identify where your “here” is: Where are you right now?
  • Identify what your “there” is: Where do you want to be?
  • Design and develop a process. This is a map for you and your team, your path to get from here to “there.”
  • Measure your progress every step of the way. This is the step that will help you know when and if you fallen off-course.

After a couple of years of seeing plateaued results, one of our most successful practices owner decided to actually do something about not reaching his past goals by putting these four steps to work. At the time, he was trying to figure why his patient volume was up by 12%, but his gross revenue was flat. He knew he had a problem, but he didn’t know what the problem was.  Or, in other words, he knew where he wanted to be, but he didn’t really know where he was.  He was lost. Why? There were lots of possibilities, but just guessing wasn’t an option. He knew he had to first know “why” he wasn’t growing in order to make needed changes.

#1 This doctor used the power of practice intelligence to go below the surface and find the root cause of the problem. In other words, using data, he worked hard to discover as best he could where he really was, and that’s when he found the source of his problem: There was a decrease in average production-per-patient revenue.

#2 Now for step two. Armed with this data, he and his team began looking at all of the possible reasons for the decrease. After rejecting several possible causes because the data didn’t validate them, this practice determined that the cause of their lagging performance was same-day treatment acceptance. They got excited, because this metric was something they could do something about!

#3 Step three was to meet as a team and discuss and practice techniques that would increase same-day case acceptance. Every member of the treatment team took ownership of their role, and then they went to work, focused on improving their case presentation skills with patients who needed treatment. In just a few short weeks, they saw an amazing 10% increase in case acceptance and a 50% increase in presented treatment, leading to an all-time high in total practice revenue.

#4 I’m happy to report this successful practice owner and his team continue to monitor this and many other key metrics in their practice. Step four, in case you missed it.

Find Your Path and Take It

So, back on the mountain here in Utah, after giving my young rider the assurance that he’d get to us and be able to practice with the team, I then asked him if he could find his way back to the parking lot. He answered hesitantly, “Yes, I think so.”

Well, I was willing to work with that hope. I instructed him to ride to the parking lot and promised him that I would be there to meet him and that, together, we would navigate through the course to the trailhead. I’m happy to report he found the parking lot, and together we made our way to the rest of the team. I’ll never forget the smile on his face when he made it to his destination.

If you’re not quite sure where your practice is at right now, don’t stress! Dental Intelligence would love to help you discover your current “location” and then share several steps you can take to reach your desired destination. We call this a “practice analysis” and we provide it to eligible practices at no charge (i.e. you just need to use one of our approved practice management software programs). Visit us here and request your analysis today. You CAN get there from here!

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