Defying Gravity

Amy Stafford


We all need direction. Just ask Dorothy. One bad day, and she wound up in crazy land with a witch hot on the heels of her ruby red slippers. Let’s face it, we all have days when we feel like we are caught up in a tornado, and everything is flying around us, out of control, causing our heads to spin. The schedule isn’t working, a staff member (or two) is home ‘sick’, you’ve got three of your most ‘challenging’ patients coming in at the same time, four people are asking you to sponsor their soccer teams, you’ve got a charity event at noon, you are 10 minutes late for a new patient exam (who has more baby teeth than permanent teeth, like most of your other exams today), Shelly needs you to position brackets for her patient NOW, AND to top it all off, your network just went down. You know you need to focus and perform at your best; after all, you are on stage, aren’t you? All eyes are on you. You cannot let anyone see how stressed you are. What do you do? Do you suddenly burst into “Somewhere Over the Rainbow?” Maybe so, a few patients would probably join in. But it’s definitely not the answer. You may not be a wizard, but you are great and preparation is powerful.

It’s time to defy gravity, and rise above the chaos. You need a yellow-brick road leading to success. You’ve got brains; your patients trust you. You’ve got heart; your patients love you. You’ve got courage; use it to be the leader your patients and your team need in good times and bad. Protect your practice like it is your home and you won’t need to drop a house on someone, and steal a pair of magic shoes, just to remind you there’s no place like it. What Dorothy didn’t have was a plan. She wanted an escape. And we see where that got her. Sure, eventually, she had a consultant in a pretty pink dress float in on a bubble to point her in the right direction. However, if she had a plan in place, she could have avoided the scary flying monkeys.

Always plan for the ‘what-if’s’ and have this contingency plan readily available for your entire staff. Who is on stand-by for each role if someone is absent? Are staff members cross-trained? Be ready to discuss in your morning meeting exactly how the day’s schedule will play-out. Discuss the plan minute by minute if necessary so that everyone fully understands and is on-board. Your day should run like a well-rehearsed musical. Appoint a ‘stage manager’ to be in charge of the ‘show’ for the day to see that your ‘direction’ is carried through. Once the plan is finalized, you should never have to discuss it again.

Delegate quickly. If any situations arise during the day involving technical, structural or environmental concerns, immediately delegate to a team member so that your focus may remain on keeping your ‘performance’ on track. New patients should be seen on-time and be treated to a red-carpet experience, no matter what is going on around you, or how many team members may be absent for the day. Examine your ‘cast’ very carefully. Are you repeatedly calling in understudies for the same roles? Excellent performances are the result of excellent casting. Surround yourself with stars. Ask the right questions and listen carefully in your initial interviews. As the Scarecrow said, “Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking don’t they? “ Follow-up on resume resources and contacts as provided. Dorothy probably wishes she had checked into the Wizard’s resume a little more thoroughly before she made the long journey into OZ. We all know what was really behind that curtain.

Plan your marketing and PR plan well in advance. Avoid the last minute, scrambling for contest ideas, trying to decide who to sponsor, what to attend or host by determining a fully established and consistently themed marketing plan that covers the entire year. This includes your plans for referral sources and all events. Once it is planned, STICK TO IT and make it happen. Resist the temptation to say, ‘maybe next year’ as you run through a field of poppies just to find time to take a break.

Don’t use younger patients as an excuse for poor case acceptance. You want these patients. You need these referrals. These are the kids who are building your practice. They will need treatment one day, and you want to be the only orthodontist in their minds when the time is right. What you need is an outstanding, engaging kids’ club that will keep them coming back for follow-up appointments and commit to your practice BEFORE they are ever ready for treatment. If you don’t have one, you are missing out on an invaluable opportunity to build loyalty and extend your brand into your community and schools. Kids love a reason to be a part of something big, and they want to belong. Roll out that red carpet and welcome them to the Lollipop Guild.

Finally, take a deep breath and smile. Trust your instincts, close your eyes, and leap. You’ve got this. You’re Defying Gravity. When in doubt, click your heels together three times and remember why you started this journey. What you are doing is amazing. You are making a difference everyday.

At Ortho Infusion, we provide solutions to the tornado of chaos. You don’t need a broomstick to Defy Gravity; you just need a plan. Contact us to discuss how we can help get you on the road to success with consistent marketing strategies. Our road may not always be paved with yellow bricks, but it sure is paved with fun!

Amy’s 20 years of experience working for orthodontists nationwide as a certified orthodontist assistant, clinical and software trainer, treatment coordinator and marketing coordinator give her a unique well-rounded perspective for your practice.