I often hear people say things like:

He is just lucky
She is just good with money
They couldn’t do this in my area
My staff could never do that

We all say this type of stuff every now and then but more often than not, we are just not digging deep enough to find out just how he got so lucky, or how she got so good, or what they did regardless of their area, or how exactly they trained and motivated their staff. If you dig deep enough, you will find the answers; problem is you may not like them.

People who seem lucky, or are better at something, or more successful, usually got there through having and following a specific consistent plan of action, behaviour, responsibility, and management of thoughts and responses. Yes, even having a plan for how you will respond to a situation is important because sometimes, in the heat of the moment, you may not be as level-headed as you would like to be. So knowing how you will respond, what you will say, and what you will do, all ahead of time, helps you manage some difficult and challenging situations with professionalism, elegance, and grace.

A well designed plan, often referred to as a Strategic Plan, includes many different aspects as well as sub-plans that all work together to deliver a specific outcome. But one thing many people forget is what needs to happen before you begin to formulate your plan. Before you start to work on all the steps of building a strong strategic plan, you need to understand what the real pain point is for your own business right now. What is the one thing that needs your attention right now in order to achieve your goals by the end of the year? Kind of like finding out our patient’s chief complaint. And we all know how to elicit this from our patients… or do we?

Think about it. If a new patient calls your office and schedules an appointment because they broke a tooth and they are in pain, you will likely record that as the chief complaint when they come in if that’s what they tell you. And that is true. So if this patient comes in, you take an X-ray, determine the diagnosis and treatment plan, let’s say it’s a crown, you will simply present the crown to them and well, considering they are in pain, they will likely go ahead with your crown. The end. But without digging deeper and asking more questions, you may not learn about the fact that maybe this is their third tooth to break in the last two years, and they are frustrated about the fact that this happens at the most inconvenient times and always leads to another crown. Maybe their actual chief complaint, or real pain point is the constant uncertainty about when another one will break, not the actual treatment you recommend or the cost associated with it when it does. They already know the cost; they dread the cost; and you dread telling them the cost, don’t you? So instead of digging deeper, waaaaay deeper, you settle to present the one crown or maybe 2 or 3 but you don’t really want to freak them out and go any further. But don’t you? Doesn’t a part of you, even if it’s a really small part, want to tell them more? To at least think about more? You can still do your 2 or 3 crowns but wouldn’t it be better if you planted a seed for something bigger and better? And of course, I am talking better for the patient here. That, to me is obvious, but some of you reading this may interpret my meaning so I have to be very clear. So for the record:

When I say “better” or “bigger” or “long-term”,
I am always talking about a triple win.
What’s a triple win?
Triple Win = win + win + win
So Triple Win is when the patient wins,
the dentist/business wins,
the team wins.

Ahhh, some of you are getting it but not all of you. I’ve written about this before but you may not have heard me say this or maybe this is your first time reading something I wrote. The way I approach everything is the way I approach anything, so whether it’s business, or friendship, or any type of relationship, everyone involved needs to win in order for the relationship to continue and grow and flourish. In order for my patient to have a great relationship with me as their dentist long-term, I need to provide the best treatment for that patient based on what they really need and want long-term, what aligns with their values and beliefs. However, I also have to win, so I have to make some sort of income from it, in a comfortable setting, and my team that is involved in the process needs to feel respected, paid fairly, given adequate time and communication in order to deliver and complete what they need to do, and do so in a manner where everyone involved feels respected and included.

If I provide substandard treatment, let’s say a filling where it should have been a crown, and that filling falls out, or the remaining cusp of the tooth fractures off, or the opposing tooth over-erupts if I took the filling out of occlusion to cover my butt, all that is not a win for the patient long-term. It may seem like a win initially because they didn’t want to spend more money, but long-term, this will come back to cost them more later on. Or if I provide the correct treatment for the patient but don’t charge enough in order to satisfy their expectation of the cost, and I don’t earn an income from that procedure, I am taking on risk, responsibility, time, energy, costs of running the business, and the lost income, and I am doing this for zero dollars? How am I going to feel about the patient the next time they say they can’t afford something, or if I do this for many patients, how am I going to feel overall??? SO you get the message. Triple Win. That’s the rule I go by in everything I do. And in challenging or difficult situations, it was the one rule that saved my butt from many situations that could have gone all bad.

Ok, so let’s get back to the plan. What is my chief complaint today? What do I want to work on this year? What is the one thing that if I change this, will make the most difference this year? Or sooner if you want to set a short-term plan. Once you know your chief complaint today, before you start the planning process, dig a little deeper to figure out your true chief complaint, your true result that you would like to achieve, your real long-term vision of your business. Because knowing that may change or at least shift the way you manage or think about the one that is hurting you today.

For more information on how to plan or how to build a Strategic Plan, check out