DR. ACE GOERIG
OWNER & CO-FOUNDER
I haven’t “worked” in over 25 years … at least that is what it feels like. I love every day that I spend in my practice, and I have a lot of fun with my patients, team and referrers. Every day is stress-free and effortless. I arrive in the morning with high energy and feeling great, and I leave at the end of the day feeling the same or better!
This is possible because I created a “lifestyle” approach to practicing endodontics. I used to call this approach retire-in-practice—which reflects my personal feeling that I’m not really “working”—but the word retire gives the impression to others that it is something you can only do later in your professional life as you get closer to retirement. That is not the case.
I spent my first 20 years practicing endodontics in the army, so I was a newbie to private practice endodontics in my mid-forties. I was 20 years behind my residency peers! However, within 10 years I was far ahead of them because after talking with my contemporaries, I knew there had to be a better way than what they were describing. Here’s what they told me:
- Meaningful growth in their practices had stalled, at least 5 or 10 years earlier. They had plateaued and were frustrated.
- They were completing only 3 or 4 cases a day, which means they were making more money than the average Joe on the street but by no means rolling in riches like they imagined.
- Most of them still had debt: school, practice acquisition and personal mortgage—a never-ending source of stress.
- Some of them felt okay with respect to saving for their eventual retirement, but most felt they were seriously behind. A few were concerned they could never afford to retire.
- Many felt worn out or tired, but they were afraid to take time off because they felt they had to be available for their referrers.
- There was daily stress in the practice with the team and other management concerns. They weren’t having fun and there was a monotonous predictable drain on energy every day.
In short, the overall impression I got was that most of my peers were feeling that their practice life should be easier and better by that point, and their personal life was stuck as a result. The practice was taking up too much time, it was wearing them out, and they didn’t have the flexibility in their economics to do anything about it.
Defining the lifestyle practice
The list above became my focused checklist of things to avoid when setting up the lifestyle model in my practice. Therefore, the lifestyle practice is defined as having:
- An easy, powerful and effective marketing system, driven by a marketing coordinator on the team, that strengthens referral relationships and allows the practice to keep growing.
- Mastery of the scheduling strategy and financial systems of the practice with a highly trained office manager who is accountable for the efficiency of the team and success of the practice. Train the team to highest professional level so you never have to look over their shoulder and you never second-guess whether they are taking care of your practice with the utmost attention. Establish excellent reporting systems so you can “trust but verify” the key numbers and factors that drive the practice within minutes each day, week and month.
- Implementing a coordinated clinical team approach to patient flow, treatment room efficiency and doctor productivity, so the doctor only does what is medically necessary for the doctor to do. This takes the heaviness out of a day and allows the doctor to routinely complete 7 or 8 cases per day with less stress than with the 3 or 4 cases they are doing now. This also results in the practice’s profitability to be 2 to 3 times higher than average.
- Use the higher profitability to first pay down their debt and the stress burden that comes with it. Almost every doctor can become completely debt-free in as little as 3 to 6 years. After that, channel higher profitability into savings and personal (family) lifestyle.
- Work no more than 4 days per week at first, and then when clinical efficiency and productivity allows it, cut back further—ideally to 3 days. Endodontics is mentally and physically demanding, and your long-term enjoyment of the profession depends on having sufficient rest. Working fewer days per week takes the heaviness out of the week and allows more balance with family and personal time.
- Take at least 10 weeks off per year for regular vacation time so you remain energized and never feel worn out, burnt out or exhausted. Really take the time to enjoy your family and your life together. It’s the most important thing.
- Enable a 3-days-per-week schedule (and eventually less if desired) by expanding the clinical capacity of the practice with another endodontist. This ensures full coverage 5 days per week for referrals. There are various ways to add another provider, from long-term associates, to associates who eventually buy-in as partners, to facility partnerships, to traditional business partnerships. In my case, I have long-term associates with minority ownership stakes and a right of first refusal when I finally sell. But for now, I’m still in control of the practice as majority owner.
Achieving your lifestyle vision
In summary, what creates the lifestyle practice is 5 things:
- Being debt-free and stress-free
- Earning 2 to 3 times the average endodontist
- Working 3 or fewer days per week (with coverage)
- 10+ weeks of vacation per year
- Effortless daily flow and productivity that is fun.
This is our philosophy and vision at Endo Mastery for our clients, and it is what our coaching program is designed to do for every endodontist. In a year or two, you can close all the gaps that tell you things should be easier or better. In fact, we have clients in their early thirties who have done this already. They are living such an abundant life that every day inside and outside the practice is a dream.
It’s really not about how old you are, or how many years in practice. It’s just about making the decision to optimize and prioritize the practice and team with expert guidance so that you get growth back, get enjoyment back, and get your life back.
Stop feeling like your practice is a life sentence!
I encourage you to give us a call at 1-800-482-7563 or email Debra Miller, Director of Coaching, at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a complimentary 1-on-1 conversation about your lifestyle and practice goals.