Retirement can be seen as an end for some doctors and as a beginning for others. It can be seen as a first-class ticket to freedom for some and a personal prison for others. A subconscious blind spot for most is that it happens only a few steps away from the dirt nap, which usually creates an unnecessary string of justifications as to why one should wait to retire.
There is a new urgency for doctors who are not in a position to capitalize on a market turnaround (history shows us in a three to five year contraction) or long-term compound-interest opportunities of annuities, so for the purposes of this article I will focus on the actions that a doctor with 10 years or less of practicing might take.
I used to think that the statistic that only 4% of dentists retire financially free was understated. After years of reading the profit and loss statements of highly successful practitioners, I can attest this is true. It doesn’t have to be this way and I know many who have joined that elusive 4% when they thought all was but lost.
You’ve been working hard all your life. Let’s get real here and get you on your way to winning in the fourth quarter of your career. Elway and Montana were the masters of the two-minute drill, and now you can be the quarterback of your own “dental two-minute drill.”
First thing to do is step back and breathe. The average person’s retirement savings has gone down 40%, housing values are off by 30%–50%, depending on the market, and that’s only if you can find a buyer. So, for many, these situations are deeply impacting the retirement future that is quickly approaching and leaving quite a few with the question, “How will I make all this up and have the life I deserve?” If you want a change in your life it always starts out with accepting your situation as it is right now.
Step two is to leverage the current assets that you can control. Here’s the good news, after all is said and done, your best asset is your practice. One’s practice is the single greatest asset a dentist has to achieve the future that is desired. For every dollar you take in prior to retiring, you in essence gain two dollars. One is your annual earned income and the other goes to your equity income—the value of your practice. Here are five simple assets that you can leverage and implement right now to get you in line for that first class upgrade to freedom.
Gary’s Five Easy Ways to Maximize Your Assets
The first thing to do is get an intraoral camera. If you already have one, great, are you using it to its fullest potential in closing cases and educating the patient on EVERY visit? Intraoral cameras are the single most-important and lucrative tool your office could possibly have (your handpiece is number two) when it comes to presenting and closing cases. Seeing the problem, or problems, firsthand and magnified on the screen puts the patient in a position to far more likely accept the case. Being open minded to digital X-ray, CAD/CAM, lasers, and other technologies can help provide better diagnosis, treatment planning, and profitability.
The second action is to educate the patients with my P/C/S ModelTM. The P/C/S Model, or Problem/Consequence/ Solution Model, is easy and engages the patient in what’s best for them in achieving a healthy mouth. Educate the patient, using intraoral cameras, on the problem or problems. Then, let the patient know of the consequences to not having the problem/s corrected…this eliminates the “I’ll wait till my flex plan kicks in,” or “when I get my new insurance” justifications…as my favorite, Dr. Sanders, says, “You are just one bite away on that tooth.” (Love him for that) Lastly, present the solution. Solutions engage the patient into relief that the condition can be corrected and/or stabilized.
Your next action to implement is to assign or hire someone on your team as the dedicated treatment coordinator. This position is a key agent in closing cases and in patients accepting the full treatment presented. The patient has just been educated by the hygienist, and has just been seen by the doctor/you and you have recommended the treatment plan. Now, the treatment coordinator will have a conversation about the treatment presented, answer any questions, and will get agreement from the patient to move forward and on payment for the work that will be done. This drastically reduces broken or missed appointments because the patient is well educated and has made a decision to move forward with all the information and help available to assist them in making it.
Next, is to set up a consult room. This room will be a dedicated space for your treatment coordinator to have the extremely important conversations just mentioned. Stop presenting over the counter because you are making your fish nervous, not to mention your current “victim” and those who are next on the “chopping block.” This is a very important step in creating your personal stimulus package. Your job isn’t to sell, it’s to set up an automatic system that patients will buy. You need to be chairside. In the consult room, your treatment coordinator will be working for you, doing the educating and gaining the patient’s commitment. This is your treatment coordinator’s space to speak to patients in private and do the job that most do not enjoy because of fear of rejection, a low deserve level, or that they hate the thought that a patient thinks whatever they think.
The fifth, “must have right now” in your practice, is to implement and utilize third-party financing on an interest-free basis. Sure, you have to pay a percentage on that money, but it will be worth it to you because you get the whole payment immediately from the third-party provider. In a tight economy more people would like to spread out payments over a year, interest-free. If the patient happens to default, you are already paid and do not need to follow up or chase them down to receive payment. The treatment coordinator can have your patient preapproved for third-party financing through Citi (HSFS) even before they step out of hygiene. You see, the “R” word can be all the things that you dreamt it would be and could be, no matter your circumstances. In life and in practice it is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you respond to what happens. The only failure is not to take action now. You deserve it, your family deserves it, your team, and patients deserve it. Everyone wins, this time do not leave yourself out.
Gary Kadi has been turning successful dentists into highly successful dentists for over 15 years. His best selling book Million Dollar Dentistry and the highly anticipated sequel Raise Your HDL: Healthy Deserve Level for Successful Dental Teams are available on Amazon.com and GaryKadi.com. If you would like to learn more about what is possible for your future and for retirement plans, then join Gary and Henry Schein at their live event “Project 50:Quit Work On Your Terms.” Project 50 will educate and give confidence to the dentist and significant other who are searching for simple and practical support in maximizing their most prized asset. It will give dentists the peace of mind they desire most in a questionable economy to give them certainty in their, their team’s, and their family’s future. Find out more by visiting GaryKadi.com or by contacting Henry Schein about Gary Kadi’s Project 50 seminars.