Put down your smart phone…

The more I watch the way people behave with mobile devices the more uncomfortable I become. I was secretly pleased a couple of years ago when my son justified his use of a Nokia (non-smart) phone, “Makes and takes calls, sends and receives texts. What else do I need?”

I have regular conversations with dentists and practice managers who face resentment at best and mutinies at worst because team members aren’t allowed to keep their phones with them (and on line) at all times, on the pretext of “what happens if someone has to get hold of me?” which really means, “but I’ll have to go without Instagram/FB/Snapchat/Twitter/etc.” (Perm any 3 from a multitude).

This comes from The Economist via “Memex” (the blog of John Naughton which I consider to be essential reading).

Distraction is a constant these days; supplying it is the business model of some of the world’s most powerful firms. As economists search for explanations for sagging productivity, some are asking whether the inability to focus for longer than a minute is to blame…..

….Distractions clearly affect performance on the job. In a recent essay, Dan Nixon of the Bank of England pointed to a mass of compelling evidence that they could also be eating into productivity growth. Depending on the study you pick, smartphone-users touch their device somewhere between twice a minute to once every seven minutes.

Conducting tasks while receiving e-mails and phone calls reduces a worker’s IQ by about ten points relative to working in uninterrupted quiet. That is equivalent to losing a night’s sleep, and twice as debilitating as using marijuana. By one estimate, it takes nearly half an hour to recover focus fully for the task at hand after an interruption. What’s more, Mr Nixon notes, constant interruptions accustom workers to distraction, teaching them, in effect, to lose focus and seek diversions.

What to do when…..a Corporate Opens Nearby – Part 2

What to do when a corporate opens nearby. First Published in Private Dentistry…2 of 2

6 Expand your offering.

What is the corporate doing that you could be doing – and be doing better? Now is the time to take those course that you have been postponing. Invest in yourself, your skills and those of everyone in the practice. Where are your “blind spots”? What skills are you, your associates and support team lacking? Get out there and get refreshed, it will do everybody good.

 

7 Up your business game.

Get out of any business comfort zone you may have been enjoying. Set personal and business goals. Make sure your financial controls and monitoring are as good as they can be. Brush up your sales process by ensuring everybody understands the importance of every stage of the patient journey. Refresh your internal marketing.

8 Ride with, and learn to avoid, the punches.

People will leave, the unexpected ones, the ones that you have moved heaven and earth to help. That will hurt; you’re a human being, of course it will hurt. There is a possibility that there will be a fall in new patients calling. Accept it, use it as a chance to look backwards at patients who you haven’t seen for a couple of years and reactivate them.

Beware of getting dragged into a price war with the new business who will be using loss leaders and offers to attract new patients. There’s no such thing as a “free” examination, just a consultation with someone who isn’t qualified to give a full opinion. A price war is a race to the bottom, keep your eyes upwards, make quality your mantra in everything that you do.

9 Wave goodbye / Welcome back

Let patients “leave” with your blessing, they’ll be back. Be understanding, be helpful, offer to share notes and radiographs. Keep them on your database (with permission) so that they get the regular newsletter, the news of the people, the offers, the inside track.

In my experience the best way to drive business to a private practice is an NHS corporate opening across the road. When they come back, and if they don’t return you really do need to take a long hard look at yourself, welcome them, listen to what their experiences have been and what they have learned. Then learn from them. Delight in their return, welcome them home.

 

10 Celebrate your independent success on your terms.

The patients who attend are coming to see you and your colleagues. The help you give is what you think is appropriate not set down and governed by a spreadsheet. The targets you set are your targets, flexible enough to be realistic for your patients.

The history of post-war Britain is for successful small firms to be swallowed up by large ones and for the intrepid owners to move on and start again. You cannot take on the “big boys” on their terms so don’t try to do it. Discover your niche, work at it, celebrate it.

Look at the big picture, you aren’t competing with the corporate you’re competing for the discretionary spend with holidays, cars, gym membership and consumer goods. Put health and individuals at the heart of your business, be honest with yourself, your team and your patients and you will resist this and other challenges.

The Monday Morning Quote #513

“We’re not in the coffee business serving people,

we’re in the people business serving coffee”

Howard Schultz (Chairman Emeritus, Starbucks)

 

 

The Monday Morning Quote #506

“Doing the right thing is aways difficult. Very few worthwhile things are achieved easily. If you believe that you are doing the right thing, you must find the resilience and staying power to keep trying.”

Ken Jarrold (from Other People’s Shoes)

Hours down. Productivity up. Nothing new.

Sculpture of a Ford car in his father’s village in West Cork.

“Reduce your hours and watch your productivity increase.” I tell my clients that they need to focus on the the three Es by becoming, “Efficient, Effective and Economic.” This does not mean cutting corners or scrimping to save, rather ensuring that you are doing the best you can for only as long as you need – and no longer. Most dentists spend far too much time doing work that is undervalued, under rewarded and ineffective.

When my team & I stopped working 5 clinical days per week, our income and profits rose and team morale increased. Unfortunately there is still a macho thing about being booked “X” weeks ahead, it’s more likely to kill you than make you happy.

My daily calendar tells me that today in 1926 Henry Ford introduced the 5 day, 40 hour working week. I have an interest in Ford, not least because his father was born a few miles from where I am writing this in West Cork and my grandfather had some involvement with the Ford factory in Cork. I wondered how the hours change came about and why we seem to have stuck there or, in some cases, moved backwards in 94 years.

It seemed that Ford’s decision was one of several that put the company’s workers first. In 1914 with a background of unemployment he increased wages from $2.34 to $5 for a nine hour day. This move, doubling the industry norm, shocked many who said it would not succeed. Instead it was “a stroke of brilliance”, it boosted productivity and helped build a sense of company loyalty and pride.

Then came the reduction from 6 to 5 working days, a decision originally made four years earlier, justified by Henry’s son, Edsel Ford, “Every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation….The Ford Company always has sought to promote an ideal home life for its employees. We believe that in order to live properly every man should have more time to spend with his family.”

Henry said, “It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either ‘lost time’ or a class privilege.”

Ford also saw a bigger picture. Give people Saturday off and they can shop and have leisure, thus spending the money they are earning.

…and we think the “gig economy” is progress?

Time to review your associate contract?

A couple of years ago I asked a specialist dental lawyer friend of mine why her firm suggested using the BDA associate contract rather than writing one of their own, she replied that as the BDA contracts are the the mostly widely used they are regarded as the industry standard. She went on to say that the longer and more complicated the contract the more likely it was that there could be challenges and disputes both of which cost money to resolve. (Simplify, simplify)

Times change, bringing changes in the context of contracts, therefore the content needs to evolve.

The BDA has updated their template dental associate contract to reflect these changes; the amendments include clarification around:

  • Practice hours.
  • Time away from the practice.
  • Locum cover.
  • Provision of equipment.
  • Hygienist services.
  • NHS contract requirements.
  • Private fees.
  • Confidentiality and data processing.

I am still surprised by how many associates and principals do not have a formal agreement in place or, where they do, there is no regular formal review of working arrangements. When I visit a practice to carry out a Practice Business Health Check I ask about not only “if” but also “when” contracts are in place and reviewed.

With the self-employed status of associates coming under increasing scrutiny it is important for both parties their contracts are contemporary. 

BDA members can access the relevant updated contracts on the website here: New Contracts

 

The Monday Morning Quote #482

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

Thanks to my neighbour in Fahoura, Walt, for reminding me of this, (PSyou can find good optometry people in West Cork too).

%d bloggers like this: