Running a dental practice can be challenging, demanding, and stressful. On top of providing quality dental care to patients, you need to operate a full business, build and lead a team, manage costs, oversee marketing, deal with insurance companies and regulators, and more. As if that weren’t enough, many dentists also carry hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) between personal student loans and practice debt. It's no wonder so many dentists are stressed and end up burning out. With all those pressures, the simplest decision is to just work more, put more on your plate, and struggle for a decade or more until the practice debt and student loans are paid off, hoping you'll have your practice under control by then and your finances will ease up.
Unfortunately, even if you'd get more control of your practice by then, many dentists never experience an easing of their finances, as practice debt and student loans are often replaced with other obligations like house payments, their children’s college tuition, and retirement planning and saving.
When that happens, dentists end up ten, twenty, thirty, or more years out of dental school having spent the best years of their lives working harder than they ever wanted, making less than they expected, and missing out on important personal and family events like vacations and school activities.
That was almost me. A few years ago, before I hired a business coach and built my Delivering WOW practice, I was working so hard I started missing important family events, was spending no time with friends, and was doing little for myself. I was unbalanced and stressed. My practice took all my best time and energy and it wasn’t getting better. After hiring my coach and beginning to look at my practice differently, I started taking more control of my practice and putting things in place to keep my practice from ruining my personal life.
Here are three things you can do to keep your practice from ruining your personal life, too.
1. Take control of your schedule.
One of the most difficult things to do in business is set and stick to boundaries. To do so, decide what’s important in your personal life, schedule blocks of time in your calendar for those activities, and defend those blocks, even that means asking a patient to come in at another time. Almost without exception, your patients will find a time that works with them that doesn’t conflict with your blocks. If a patient can’t, then let go. They’re not the right patient for your practice and that’s okay because your practice needs to support a personal life you enjoy.
In addition to regularly scheduled things like early Friday dinners, weekly exercise classes, long weekends for your wedding anniversary, family birthdays, or whatever predictable events are important to you, decide what types of events are important to you, so you know to block off time for those beforehand. For example, if it’s important for you to be at all of your kids’ sporting events, have your team block out those times on your calendar as soon as the schedule is released so you don’t inadvertently schedule a patient during those times. If a patient is on the schedule already, have a team member reach out to them as soon as possible to ask them to reschedule. With enough notice, this is hardly ever an issue, and at the end of the day, you’ll get to enjoy what’s most important to you without sacrificing business performance. In fact, this type of planning has helped my practice regularly get 80% to 90% of our daily target revenues before lunchtime.
2. Build a practice that allows you to delegate as much as possible.
Have you ever wished you could be in two or three places at once? Wouldn’t it be great if you could be sitting on the beach instead of doing paperwork, billing, or ordering supplies? By building a practice that allows you to delegate with confidence, you essentially can. In fact, you can be in two, three, or even more places at once. To do so, all you need to do is create systems and processes that anyone in your office can follow to perform activities exactly how you would do it every time. Record those systems and processes by writing down the steps you take, creating checklists, or even recording videos of you doing things how you want them and then store those recordings in a place everyone can find.
Systematizing your practice so you can delegate more is the only way to get your practice to run how you want it to run without your having to be there to do everything.
3. Take time off.
In service-based businesses like dental practices, owners can go months or years without a vacation. They look at the monetary cost of going away, especially if they’re the only dentist working at the practice, and they don’t take time off.
You need to take time off if you want to keep your practice from ruining your personal life. If you aren’t in a position to take a week off, start taking long weekends and getting away. Plan a month or two out and schedule patients on other days to protect that time. Go back to your schedule and have your team block out vacation time well in advance.
After scheduling your time away, stick to it and take that time to fulfill your best personal objectives. If you want to get in better shape, book a fitness boot camp. If you want to relax, go for a spa getaway. If you want a deeper relationship with your spouse, plan something meaningful to do together.
It’s time to take your life back from your practice.
You’ve worked too hard for too long to let your best years pass you by without feeling personally and professionally fulfilled. By systematizing your practice, taking control of your schedule, and taking time away to engage in activities that are meaningful to you, you can make more, work less, and love your life!
Join me and over 2,000 other dentists in the Delivering WOW Facebook Dental Hangout on Facebook to get the support you need as you start putting these pieces into place in your practice. For more ideas, forms, best practices, and focused help building your practice, sign up for your 14-day trial membership to Delivering Wow U right here.