Really Taking Control of Your Practice – Season 1: Episode 1

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The Dr. Chris Griffin Show: Season 1, Episode 1 –

Productivity is the 1 attribute of your practice that either inspires greatness or drains your emotional gas tank.  Henry Ford inspired the LEAN management theory that all private practices follow whether they realize it or not.  Learn the 5 Why’s and other ways to “Control Your Own Destiny Before Someone Else Does.”

You will learn:

  • How to quickly identify if YOU are running your practice (most doctors aren’t and don’t know it)
  • Why Productivity levels tell the entire story and how to increase them
  • How Henry Ford can save your practice, even though he’s been dead for 70 years
  • The Key to Turning Your Team into Highly Productive Team Players instead of whiners

And Much, Much More…


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The Dr. Chris Griffin Show – Season 1 Episode 1

“Control your destiny or somebody else will”. Now who said that?

Welcome to the Dr. Chris Griffin Show. Your resource for leveraging systems and technology to easier workload, increase productivity and provide you with the time off you deserve to live the life of your dreams. It’s time to practice productivity in the passionate pursuit of a better life with your host, Dr. Chris Griffin. The doctor is in.

Yes, that would be the famous Dr. Jack Welch. Well a lot of you don’t know him as doctor but calling the man doctor. He had a PhD in Chemical Engineering and so I’m calling the man doctor. Now most of you probably know him from being the CEO of G.E. for 20 years and during that 20 years, he made G.E. into an absolute juggernaut; increasing their value 4000%. So I don’t know too many people that know more about what we’re getting ready to talk about than he does. He’s a good one to lead into because we’re going to focus on Season 1 here at the Dr. Chris Griffin Show. We’re going to focus on making your practice so productive that you can take control of every aspect of it. Okay so taking control of your practice through productivity. I don’t know too many people that know more about productivity than good old Dr. Jack and I’ve been told that not too many people preach productivity and the practice more than I do. So this is right on our wheelhouse, we’re ready to get going. Let’s get started and make your practice as powerful as it can be.

Hey everybody this is Dr. Chris Griffin and welcome again. Thanks so much for joining us today. I’m really excited about first ever program - Episode number 1. And today’s topic is one that I have heard a bunch when I’ve been out there on the lecture circuit and talking to Dentists. And so, I thought what better thing to talk about in the first ever episode right here in the Dr. Chris Griffin Show. But when you talk about taking control of your practice, what does that mean? I mean I know to say it out loud it’s easier said than done, first off, but it’s the first phrase that comes to my mind. But I mean, to say it out loud, is almost like taking ownership of it, right? Because you can go through an entire lifetime and really not feel like you have control of much and especially not things that you practice the way that you would like because every single day we see little things here and there that we don’t love, they’re not perfect. You know how we are about perfection. You know, we’re professionals. But let’s dive down and talk about this, so to me, the culprit and the source of so much angst out there all across this country. You know it’s not how overhead. That’s one of the things that, of course, it always troubles us. I mean this past week, I had rather $7,000 check on something I wasn’t expecting and you know that’s just another $7,000. You know just stomping around the office saying, “Anybody else got a $7,000 bill I need to pay?” because it was something I didn’t even know we had done and we had to have, of course, you know. It’s just one of those things, and I always pay my bill, that’s for sure.

But anyway, how overhead’s really not the problem. Although, if you have the problems that caused the inability to take control of your practice. Certainly how overhead’s going to follow. Let me tell you that the problem out there lurking in the shadow is not a lack of new patients or new customers, okay? Although the sheer number of practice management gurus out there that are trying to help us build up our practices, they all claim that instant access to new patients and specifically the types of new patients that “they really want”. You know, that’s going to solve your problems and almost every, for sure, dentist out there that I talked to. They all vehemently believed that more new patients is going to solve their problem. In fact, that’s the mantra as I talked to Dentists. I mean you know I can be talking about brilliant choreography of getting patients through the practice in a timely fashion to get more productivity done and get more productivity on your staff. You know, productivity is really that big thing. We can talk about that for 15 to 20 minutes and they’re nodding their head like they’re “yeah, that’s exactly right.

So by the way, how do you get more patients? I mean I hear that all the time. And so it almost makes me think about the saying “Mo’ money mo’ problems”. I mean the truth of the matter is, most of us out there, more new patients you’re going to have more problems. It’s just the way it is because most people are really not set up, you’re really set up. I heard a person say one time that you’ll get what you deserve so really and truly, you have about the number of new patients, new customers that you deserve for your particular practice machine at this particular time. Okay, so that’s what you’re set up for. Whatever you’re doing, you’re attracting this particular amount of patients, this particular amount of money; whatever it is. And so to get more of whatever you want, you have to transform your systems a little bit, okay? That’s just the way it is. So lack of new patients, new customers, that’s not your problem. Okay the root cause of this disease is not the economy. Okay the economy is not great, recent economic changes have certainly brought a lot f issues that have been sort of hidden beneath a pretty little façade in our profession for so long. That’s okay, it was bound to happen. If you took action back in the mid 2000’s, you’re probably fine. They’re still trying to take action but you certainly do need to get on your horse. I mean, it’s good you’re listening to this show right now, but yeah you need to hurry up. But the economy is not the problem so don’t let that bug you right yet, okay? That, now that is a symptom but that is certainly not the problem. It does however underlie the things that are causing the problem. But the central cause of almost every single problem in your practice right now probably stems from the amount of hours that you’re spending at the office. Okay? And I’m not talking, well sure, hey, if you’re really happy spending a lot of hours seeing a lot of patients, that’s wonderful. But if you’re not doing that because you’re still spending a lot of hours at the office, then the likelihood in my opinion is that things are not set up the way they should be for you.

Now I’m telling you right now, you hear all the time about the patient-centered practice, okay? And it is true. While you are treating a particular patient, yes. That patient should be at the center of your world. Let me go on record right now saying that. That is absolutely 100% correct. However, if you have a standalone practice; if you’re a standalone practitioner, the truth of the matter is, your practice have darn well better revolve around you a little bit. Because if things are not set up to support you as the practitioner, as the practice owner, then eventually, you’re not going to be able to accept all the pressures that come from running a successful practice. You’re going to be staying late writing at a patient chart. You’re going to be staying late fixing insurance claims weren’t sending correctly. You’re going to be staying late writing up narratives and charts to better fight with insurance companies that are “loot way” would never getting or losing or getting claims with incorrect information. These are all things that are going to wear on you and wear down on you. Okay?

These things are the symptoms of the root problem but they’re not the true problem. The true problems exist underneath everything. They’re underneath layers and layers of your emotional blankets you’ve thrown on top of them because you don’t want to think about them. Deep down inside you’re probably know there’s a problem. You know, probably what the solution to that problem would be. But you don’t want to think about it. I mean, who would want to think about these things right? Who wants to have these terribly hard discussions with their team members, with themselves? When you are at a practice and you’re the practitioner, there are many times when you’re walking down the halls and you see something, it just makes you cringe that this is happening in your practice, right? It just makes you cringe and upsets you. You want to just stop what you’re doing and rush out, find the solution, fix the situation. Fix the situation is a good example because we are professional fixers, are we not? That’s how a lot of us, you know, that’s what we do in life. We find, we talk to patients, we find their problems and we come up with solutions to fix their problems. We are professional fixers. Okay?

But as you look at your practice, there are just so many wheels turning that if you try to fix every situation, you know your brain will just gloss over and eventually, you just blow up. You know, vent your anger, whatever. That actually happens a lot more than you would suspect, by the way. I think that’s why so many dentists are so stressed out these days and so many practitioners period. Let’s face it, if we consistently face an issue, any issue, every single day, that’s not optimal. And we know deep down that there’s just not enough fuel in our emotional gas tank and there’s a concept we need to talk a lot more about as time goes on; because I’ve heard that brought out more and more as I talked to doctors out there. They just feel like their emotional gas tank is empty. Well then it just stands to reason, if we’re walking around kind of in a fog of aggravation. Okay, that’s just what we’re doing every single day because we see these things that are not perfect and we love perfection because we’re all practitioners.

There is one thing and just one thing that can really make or break a successful practice. Because when it’s working right, nothing can stand in the way of success. Okay it’s a big statement but let’s read that again. There’s one thing, just one thing that can make or break a successful practice because when it’s working right, nothing can stand in its way. However when it’s off kilter, almost nothing else gets done in a positive or constructive manner. And that one thing is the concept of practice control. Now I apologize if that seems like a little bit of a vague or broad term, so let me define it for you, okay? Practice control is knowing that the systems, policies, protocols, standards, whatever. That you, as the doctor, have sent forth in your practice are being followed in good faith by your entire team as a unit. Okay let that sink in; your entire team as a unit. Because you are not out there on an island, you may own the place. You may be the head honcho of the place but you need a team to help you pull through this and make your practice work the way it needs to work. Okay?

You know when you see your practice with the lack of control? Let’s list a few symptoms of a practice, okay? That’s in sort of a downward spiral of control if you will. And let’s see if you flinch a little bit as I go down this list. Number 1: Staff, team members not getting to work on time. Okay? Bingo! It bothers the heck out of me; probably bothers the heck out of you. Do you think people realize how much that hurts team around when they show up 4 or 5 minutes late every day? And then you have to address the situation or you have an office manager you’re suppose to rely on to address it but they don’t want to address it either. You probably got a policy in your manual about how’s it important for “no team members to be tardy as it puts on to you strain and the rest of the team”, you know. But eventually if you practice long enough, somebody is going to test you out on that policy. It may be a new comer, okay, if so, great. Address it, move on. Worst than that, it could be a long time employee who’s just decided they’re tired of playing by your rules. Okay? Maybe they want to test the waters, just to see how far you can be pushed before you can say something to him. I’ve noticed that young, idealistic doctors have a bit of an advantage over us battle-hardened veterans. Because after a while, you know, each battle, no matter how insignificant the battle; whether it’s trying to get someone to pick up a piece of paper out of the hallway before you bend over and pick it up, even though 15 hundred people have walked passed it, you know. Eventually that’s going to rob your emotional reserve to fight on. Young doctors maybe are a little more idealistic, they got a little bit more of that emotional gas in their tank. I’ve found that somehow, team members, they can sense when your emotional reserves are running low. And that is the exact time they’re going to test you. So just trust me when I say, if you let it go on mention, you can rest assure things will only get worse. I’m practicing for 20 years, it can only get worse and more and more team members are going to see what they’re doing, that’s going to make them get worse. And if people think there’s no repercussion, they’re missing their daily start time by a few minutes here and there then it’s just going to get bad for everyone. The next thing you know, you’re seeking your first patient at age 17, okay? That’s just the way it is. So there’s one thing. So see if you cringed on that one.

Second thing, staff not observing job descriptions; now I’m making an assumption here that you actually have job descriptions. Maybe you do maybe you don’t. I hope you do. If you don’t, we’re going to talk about it at some point during this show. But many times, teams out there they have an internal hierarchy that you may or may not know about, right? Mary is in-charge of everything even though she’s not the office manager, everyone goes to Mary to cry about stuff, to fuss about stuff, to tell you know, Mary’s kind of in-charge. Or maybe the office manager is in-charge, maybe the office manager is kind of like just really just slams her fist on the table. “You’re going to do it like this! Bam! Bam! Bam!” and maybe that’s people, maybe it runs a good practice; stay away, maybe it will run some people off, you just don’t know. But the hierarchy is going to be there, internally. There’s always going to be an alpha in the group and that alpha is going to usurp the authority unbeknown to you a lot of times and go against probably what you would like to happen and they take you to upon themselves to sort of like re organize the flow of the practice, the flow of the tasks, maybe that’s even away from what you set forth. When you talk to people in your policy manual, in your meetings, and they’re going to move the direction toward what they want, that benefits them. I do think if you want to try to keep any semblance of control over what your team does in the direction that they move in, you can’t just let them pick and choose which tasks get done on any given day, okay? So you need to make sure that you figure out who they’re looking towards and you know a lot of times, I say find the alpha. Get them on your side. Well you can’t have somebody there that’s running counter to your decisions all day long and trying to get people on their side, whatever their side is. So you need to either make peace with that alpha and make sure that you guys are on the same page or the alpha is just going to have to find another place to go. Or maybe you need to find another place to go if you can’t have that discussion, right? But you got to keep control over the task are getting performed on any given day. I always tell my team, if a policy is written that makes your job tougher than it needs to be, hey, let us know. You know if you have a team leader OR an office manager, tell them what’s going on. You need to have, at least if you don’t have an open door policy which is fine and I totally agree with that, especially during the work day because you’d like to say, you need to focus on the patients. You need to have at least an open door policy between your team leaders or office managers and the people that they manage. So there can be a back and forth there in the discussion. Because if there’s really, I have been…hey, I’m guilty. I have set forth policy many times that ran counter to what I wanted to happen in the end because I’ve made it too difficult in the middle, you know, in the beginning and in the middle. However it was difficult for the person I had assigned the task to, okay? So there needs to be enough an open door policy that they can get that fixed and it’ll be great if they can get it fixed without having to talk to you personally, the practitioner. But if needs be, then that’s just the way it’s got to be.

What else might make us cringe as we go throughout the day? How about things getting done right about 90% of the time? Now hey, I know in our society these days, 90% gets an A. I don’t even know when that started. When I was in school 94 was an A, sometimes 95 was an A. My kids are sitting here telling me 90 is an A. And you know they think, “Hey if I get a 90, that’s good enough.” And I don’t know why that really bugs me, that’s neither here nor there. That’s a personal thing of mine. But hey, today’s society apparently 90% gets an A. Well we work in a little bit of a different setting, do we not? We’re in a perfection oriented profession. We have very little tolerance for words like “nearly or maybe”. Well like it or not, the minute details of our daily routine, that’s what can make or break our practice. The lab case that was nearly written up correctly, it’s still 100% incorrect, okay? The pieces of equipment that were maintained properly most of the time, they’re still going to tear up quicker than they should; and probably going to tear up in the middle of a procedure. Okay? It can’t be most of the time. When someone tells me, most of the appointments were confirmed, that means that some, which probably a lot of the appointments weren’t confirmed at all, and likely we’re going to have a lot of no shows. That’s going to cause schedule and dilemmas, we’re not good enough. We should fix something in because it’s going to overlap. That’s just going to cause a lot of problems. And these cause stresses that build up and take away from your emotional gas tank every single day. We’re going to list the things done, nearly correctly, that can still wreck a practice and induce major stress to the doctor and team. That list can go on and on forever.

And having said that, the whole purpose of this, is to define ways that we can increase our productivity and our happiness in our practices. Because ultimately, when we can fix these situations that I just described, that is going to allow us the freedom to take more time away and refill those emotional gas tank. And so when we go back to our practices, we have the strength and the energy to make it as perfect as it possibly can be. When we make our practices perfect, that’s going to make labs better, all across the board; team members, patients, and of course, our own. So that’s the whole purpose of all these.

Now as we move forward with this show, we’re going to tackle a different topic every single week and we’re also going to try to solve problems one at a time. We can’t solve everyone’s problem today, but we’re going to tackle a problem each show. And at the end of each show, if you will take it very seriously, I truly believe you can move forward and you can make your practice as productive as it possibly can be, too. Okay everybody, let’s move on to the next segment.

This is John Lee Dumas of EOFire. And if you’re ready to ignite your productivity, explode your growth and burn down the barriers to your dream life, then Dr. Chris Griffin Show is where you need to be.

Okay everyone, it is time for today’s Practice Productivity Segment! I know that you guys are so excited right now. Okay, so today we’re going to dive into the world of Lean Management. How many of you people out there know what Lean Management is? Okay I see you out there raising your hands. Not many, okay. We weren’t taught that in school. Let e give you a little brief synopsis.

Lean Management is theory of manufacturing that’s derived from the works of Henry Ford and post World War II reconstruction in Japan. And this is how a lot of Japanese companies rose to dominants in the 80’s and 90’s in their fields of endeavor. But the truth is, a lot of concepts that work with Lean Manufacturing work really, really well with Practice Productivity. It’s just simple stuff, this stuff is common sense but if you just start thinking and don’t know to do it, then it’s hard to make yourself do it, right? So today, the concept we’re going to be talking about is the 5 WHY’s. W-H-Y-s. WHY’s.

Okay, so here’s how it works. Just like we talked about earlier in this program, every single day we walk up and down the halls and we see little stuff that bugs us, right? Or maybe there’s big stuff and that big stuff that really gets to our nerves like maybe seeing patients on time late. Repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly. Okay we hate that. What can we do to fix it? So the first step in the process is to do a little research; to do a little investigative research. So the way that they use this over in Japan and anywhere that practices with Lean Management Systems. First thing they do, they try to get to the root cause. So what’s cause, so the patients were running behind, what’s causing that? Okay, there can be a multitude of reasons but let’s just start with the basic stuff and work our way backwards until we figure out the root cause. And it’s been found that’s most of the time, you can get to the root cause within 5 questions “WHY?” Okay, it’s almost like, how many lakes did it take to get into the center of the Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop? It always took 3, well it takes 5 WHY’s to get to the root cause of a problem in practice. Okay?

So, here’s how it might work. Let me give you guys an example. The problem is, we’re always running behind. Let’s go and let’s ask the team. Or let’s ask the team leaders or the management. How do you…Whoever do you want to ask first. Number 1, why? Why are we constantly running behind? They might say something like, “Well because we’re not getting people seated on time, that’s why.” It’s not because they’re showing up late, it’s because we’re not getting them seated on time. Okay, Number 2, Why? “Well, it’s because the exam room’s not ready.” We can’t seat them if the exam room’s not ready. Okay, well why is that? Number 3, Why? “Well, the truth is doc, it’s because it’s taken our new assistants you hired too long to turn the rooms over compared to the old assistants that we had in 15 years.” Okay? Maybe it never occurred to anyone, including the doctor. "Gee Whiz says it might be different. We do things differently here than maybe a person did if there are other places or work. Or in school, for goodness sakes, they’re not going to as fast as the ones that have been here for 10 years. Okay. Well Number 4, Why is that? Well, there’s 2 options here. Number 1, either the new assistants are just too slow and lazy to really do it right. Okay, that’s number 1. Let’s hope that’s not it. But if that’s it, simple enough, get rid of them and get some new ones with more energy, okay? But more than likely, the second possibility is, they just weren’t trained properly on the way that we would like the room set up. Okay, now the 5th one. I think we finally get to the root cause, Why is that? “Well it’s because we haven’t set aside dedicated training time specified for helping them setup the rooms at a faster pace. And maybe we haven’t provided them with the tools that they need to help them with their learning curve.” Now that probably seems like the more realistic option, doesn’t it? I mean guess what happens when you get to the root cause. Now those new assistants, they aren’t feeling all those pressure because why can’t they keep up? They don’t understand why I’m trying my best but I keep up. The people upfront are not aggravated; mumbling, grumbling amongst themselves about “Boy, those new girls sure are slow, aren’t they?” The truth is, it always comes back to you just like it usually does the doctor. And the truth is, when you hired someone new you just made a lot of assumptions or you didn’t think about it. That’s probably the truth of the matter, right. You didn’t think about that all that much. You didn’t think about, “Oh this person might be a little slower than other people.” So you just hire them, threw them to the wolves, hope for the best. Only the strong will survive, right? Tree of Darwinism. But that didn’t happen in a very simple correction, now we’re going to take 15 minutes every week for a couple of weeks on our training day. We’re going to train specifically in room set ups, we’re going to give you the right tools you need to set up the rooms properly and that’s going to move right up the chain. And the next thing you know, we’re going to be sitting patients on time again and then we’re going to be running on time, nice and smooth just like we like them. Okay?

So there’s your productivity tip of the week, tip of the day, and I really enjoy, if you can’t tell these productivity segments. Because that’s the kind of stuff that I really get into. I love solving those problems, fixing those things and coming up with these types of solutions which seem like common sense. But after coaching Dentists all across North America, I got to tell you, it’s not that common in most practices.

Okay, so we will see you with an awesome productivity segment again next week and everybody, enjoy the rest of your day. Have an awesome day! Make your practice into a powerhouse. We’ll see you next time!

We appreciate you joining us for this episode of the Dr. Chris Griffin Show. Be sure to visit for the latest resources and updates to keep you more productive every single day you’re at the practice. So when you’re not working, you can do the things that matter most in life. We look forward to having you join us in another episode of the Chris Griffin Show; where the doctor is always in.

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