DR. ACE GOERIG
OWNER & CO-FOUNDER
I’ve written before about how sailing is a great metaphor for your endodontic practice. You want your ship to be in top form with your crew, rigging and sail in ideal alignment. When you catch the wind, the sail snaps into fullness and you surge forward powerfully.
People who go sailing for the first time are usually surprised by how quiet and peaceful it is when the boat is fully under sail and effortlessly cutting through the waves. It’s the same with an endodontic practice: a great practice with optimized team roles and practice systems is free from noise and resistance to forward momentum.
I always tell new coaching clients that it is easier to do 6 or 8 cases per day than to do 3 or 4 cases. Many are doubtful at first because their context is what they are doing now, which is equivalent to a person trying to sail a boat with an inexperienced crew and a big hole in the sail. Coaching helps doctors correct practice deficiencies and create team alignment, and suddenly they discover how easy and stress-free it is to optimize their schedule for effortless productivity.
Filling your endodontic sail
One thing that sailing does require is wind. A sailboat on perfectly flat windless water goes nowhere. It doesn’t have enough wind and so it just drifts on external currents without making any progress toward the desired destination. Conversely, a sailboat in a storm requires constant stressful reactive attention and course corrections. Between the two extremes, there is a sweet spot—a good steady wind that energizes the boat to operate efficiently and intentionally.
In your practice, the energy you bring as the leader is akin to the wind in your sails. Without energy, the practice will be at a standstill, drifting without making progress. Likewise, if you don’t have a clear vision for your practice, you can end up over-reacting to the challenges of the practice and losing your way forward.
As we move into 2023, good questions that every practice owner should ask are: What is going to fill my practice sail this year? What will make my practice more successful, meaningful and enjoyable?
The answer might differ depending on where you are at with your practice and in your life. If you are averaging 3 or 4 cases per day (like most endodontists), adding 2 more cases per day could change your life so significantly. This result, from improved marketing and scheduling efficiency, would probably double your take-home income while simultaneously reducing stress. That completely changes your relationship with (and your mindset about) your practice.
For other doctors, lifestyle changes may be the focus. This might include reducing the number of days worked per week or taking more vacation time. Lifestyle changes have an economic impact on the practice, so filling your sail with renewed growth and improved productivity is often needed.
Filling your sail also varies for doctors at the bookends of an endodontic career. Startup doctors will need to focus on profitability and getting a strong return from every dollar they invest in their new practice. As new practice owners, they have an uphill climb to put their team and systems in place quickly and effectively, become productive, and pay off their debt.
For doctors in their near-retirement years, preserving or maximizing practice value prior to an equity sale is paramount. This often needs to happen while accelerating savings for retirement and also transitioning to a better lifestyle with more time off from the practice. How can you achieve a lifestyle practice without giving up practice value or profitability?
It’s the journey, not the destination
Whatever your focus is for the coming year, it’s important to remember that the journey is what counts. Any destination you choose will ultimately be only a stop along the way to the next destination.
Practice ownership is a game, but not a “how can you exploit the system” game. It’s a game of enjoyment about doing something worthwhile. How can you have fun everyday with your team to fill your sail and achieve new goals?