If you do what we say you will double your profits in three years!
Just in case you are worried by this weird change of tone, we would never say this to you, even if you were a prospective client! It’s the kind of claim you would expect from an advisor who has a standard business model for all their clients – we don’t.
Our approach is to understand what your objectives and what’s important to you so we can work with you to find a strategy which will achieve your goals, both business and personal. At our annual meeting with clients, we focus on what they find rewarding. We will ask: Is your practice successful? Are you happy? Are you earning enough? What is enough? We can then move forward and discuss their plans for the future knowing that they are happy to own that vision.
By contrast, the ‘do what I say’ consultant will focus exclusively on where you can build profits. They are likely to take a one-size fits all approach. Typical obvious examples might be cutting back on associate pay, hiking up fees or using less costly materials. In many instances, taking these steps would certainly deliver immediate financial benefits – but is it contributing to a sustainable business? If you don’t really believe in the measures and are only doing what you are told, are you really going to be able to motivate your team and follow through? If you are not armed with the skills or conviction, surely there is a risk that these steps could backfire down the line? If your associate leaves or treatments fail more frequently or patients look for a cheaper option, you may be worse off, and unhappy.
It’s our belief that the best way we can help our clients is to review their performance in previous years and use our experience to see where change is required. We discuss options. Then we look to the future. When it comes to fee-setting, we will look not only at costs to be covered but at how busy the practice is, what is happening in the local marketplace, and what the team feel patients value most. If you have patients in a payment plan, we will also take into account what the plan fees are and how options are presented to patients.
We will undertake a close examination of your accounts and encourage you to understand how the numbers work and which ones to focus on. We encourage regular reviews of management accounts (monthly or quarterly) so that you are armed with the information you need to take decisions you believe in. This is so much more rewarding than blindly following orders!
You might be surprised at some of the things that have been said to us over the years. A former client once said: “It doesn’t matter if the numbers in the cashflow forecast aren’t accurate – as long as they look right..” Who were they kidding?!
Obviously, this was a relationship that was not going to flourish! We very much believe in the principle of ‘horses for courses.’ If you are a dentist who wants to take an intelligent approach to their business while your primary focus is on working as a clinician to care for your patients, we are probably a good match. Those who are happy to follow orders or who have a maverick approach to business will hopefully find a different style of advisor to reflect their personal style. But will they run a sound and ethical business where people come before profits? And what will happen down the line if control of their finances still eludes them.