When The Pupil Is Ready, The Teacher Will Appear

The following email hit my inbox overnight, and coincidentally, was very timely.


You are 100% correct on your assessment of technical skills as a non-differentiator.  The US public believes that all dentists are the same, essentially making dentistry a commodity.  OTC companies routinely reinforce this message when they say, ‘9 out of 10 dentists agree’ in advertisements.  And insurance companies have done an excellent job of feathering their own nests at the expense of the dentists.  As you’ve always said the differentiator is Customer Service.  Most dentists are reluctant to accept that fact and therefore, most dentists will continue to see declining revenues as US demographics continue moving unfavorably toward dentistry.

Thanks for what you do…Dr. E.”

It was timely because, just last night, I watched as a debate unfolded concerning coaching and consulting, on a Dental Chat Forum.

The debate centred around whether investing in coaching was worth the money, or whether a DIY attitude of hard work would substitute for the wisdom and guidance that a coach could provide.

And it’s an age-old chestnut.

If you go outside of dentistry for a moment, and go to professional sport, there are very very few great sporting stars who haven’t gotten to where they went, without good coaching.

All great Tennis stars have coaches.

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy?

Have coaches.

Michael Jordan?


The trouble is that hard work, without guidance, can just result in blisters and not much more.

A friend reminded me of a Jim Rohn quote this week

“We could all use a little coaching. When you’re playing the game, it’s hard to think of everything.” 

And ain’t that the truth.

Golly, just try and teach yourself golf, for instance.

Think you’ve just fixed one thing, and then kapow, there’s another minor tweak needed. And sooner rather than later, your additional tweaks have resulted in the old cliché that *Five wrong

don’t make a right*.

As a dentist, we have to realise that eighty five percent of the steps and stages that a patient or customer go through during their visit to our office are not with us, but with team members.

And there’s things that team members are doing, to patients, while dentists are busy with other patients, that may not be being performed ideally.

And that may just be because nobody has taken the time with the team member to teach them a better way, and make sure that that better way is learned and acted upon.

And mathematically, that’s why Dentists need help. Because as Michael Gerber says, they’re really just technicians that bought themselves a self-employed job.

One of the best books on coaching that I ever read was John Buchanan’s “If Better Is Possible”. It’s the story of how John Buchanan, as Australian Cricket team coach, took the best team in the world, and made them even better.

Despite the fact he had some World Class Best Ever players in that team who thought they knew better, Buchanan was able to improve upon already achieved greatness.

Linda Miles, the doyen of US Dental Consultants told me five years ago that if the number of consultants in the USA doubled there’d still be plenty of work, too much work, for all of them.


Because I guess you don’t know what you don’t know.

I was chatting on Skype last week with a Dental Industry colleague in Dallas who was telling me about a Dental Consultant’s book that he had stumbled across.

And I found that I had that book, so I pulled it off my shelf.

The paperback version of that book retailed for around $85.00 on Amazon.

And I guess that with over 400 pages that does represent some form of ROI.

However, in that book there was a whopping eight pages only on Customer Service.

And that’s what I commonly find.

Nobody’s really investing in customer service in dentistry as a stand-alone product…. or not many.

The reason that Disney, Apple, Amazon and Zappos, Four Seasons and Nordstrom’s have survived and stood the test of time is that they’ve realised that they’re not rally out there in the theme park, phone, book, shoe, and hotel and retail businesses…. they’re in the business of providing an *experience* first and foremost each and every time.

An experience.

A World Class Experience.

One Dentist replied on the chat forum that he’d been influenced significantly by three consultants. He said:

“I don’t try and “be” a clone of any of them but assess their information, see what worked and didn’t work for them and implement what I felt was best for my practice. Test, measure, continue or discontinue and continue to look to improve.”

And another dentist replied:

“Sorry don’t agree with you…. I went to those seminars and added $300000.00 to my production after the programme. Just working hard and being nice is not enough.”

My own story is well documented. It’s no secret.

In 1996 I tried to sell my practice in working class Parramatta for $160,000.00. I had three dentists look at that practice and then either set up nearby or buy just down the road. None of them succeeded. None of them lasted.

It was a good practice. It was turning over double the average dentist…. but I knew it could do more. Much much more.

The reason I wanted to sell was because I thought I was working hard and being nice to patients but I was making no headway.

I finally worked out that I had an employee within my office who was rubbing patients up the wrong way SO SO BADLY that nobody was coming back.

I hired a consultant, replaced the recalcitrant front office person and my turnover tripled in six and a half years.

And then it doubled again in the following five years.

I successfully sold my practice eleven years on from 1996 for a figure THIRTY TIMES what I originally wanted back then…. it wasn’t that I knew it all…it was I knew that I couldn’t do it on my own.

As a golfer, I’ve had several teachers.

There have been some I’ve made progress with and some that I have not.

And yet other golfers I know have had the opposite results that I had, with the same coaches.

It’s said that:

“When the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear”

And maybe that’s it.

In a nutshell.

The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at david@theupe.com

Did you like this blog article? If you did then hit the share buttons below and share it with your friends and colleagues. Share it via email, Facebook and twitter!!