How One Dentist Went From a Struggling New Practice to a Successful, Happy Life.

“I spent seven months as an associate/slave and decided that was not how I was going to have a career in dentistry,” said Dr. Craig Slack, a general dentist in Clintonville, Ohio.

A graduate of Ohio State College of Dentistry in 1987, Dr. Slack bought his practice soon after his tenure as an associate. Upon taking over the practice, he quickly realized that the procedures in place were of little to no help in causing his fledgling practice to succeed. He was producing only $9,000 a month – this created a rather tense situation for he and his wife and family. Although he was producing at a low level, he had little time to enjoy life because of his constant struggles with the practice.

He finally realized that he was never trained in any business/practice management skills and that he needed some help. He hired a consulting firm but, unfortunately, soon found out that it was not structured for new practices. Dr. Slack said, “They were good for tuning up a Ferrari but they didn’t provide the rubber band to keep the engine running.”

He did some more research and hired a new practice management consulting firm in 1990. Things then changed dramatically. “They helped me to develop programs to bring in new patients. They put in organization. Job descriptions for staff were implemented, and this truly helped the staff to mature in their roles,” said Dr. Slack.

Dr. Slack explained that the practice just snowballed to higher levels over the years. “When we came back from our training, we saw a big jump in new patients and production. We always had good collections, around 95%, but even that went up to 98% and that has been stable for nearly 20 years. I think we’ve only had two down years in that entire time. We’ve had very steady increases with no plateaus,” he said.

With the help and advice of his consultant, he put internal and external marketing plans in place to drive in new patients. New patients that came in through internal marketing for referrals were the strongest, however. “They just seemed to be a more professional crowd,” he said.

“The consulting was great. This firm really taught you how to become your own consultant. My consultant only came out to the practice once for staff refresher training. Everything seemed to stick,” he said.

Dr. Slack continued, “The biggest benefit I’ve gained from consulting is that I learned to run my own office and know the basics that have to be in place to succeed.”

He’s been married for 22 years to his college sweetheart and has three children ages 20, 15 and 4. One of the things that he loves about having a successful practice is that he is now able to be a contributor to his community as well as having the time to do the things in life that he truly enjoys. He works closely with the Kiwanis Club, is an avid backpacker and has recently developed a passion for video production work.

“I went from $9,000 a month to over $80,000 a month and attribute that to the consulting I had. In my opinion, dentists are very afraid to change anything and only use what they were taught in school to run their practices. The problem is, what they were taught in school is wrong. I recouped my initial investment in consulting within two and a half months, based upon the number of new patients I received during that time.”

Dr. Slack wants all other doctors to have the same success and be able to enjoy the type of life that he does. He highly recommends getting outside help, if needed, to be able to achieve that. Learn what you need to learn to be successful, is how he now operates. He feels everybody should do the same if they want to have a happy, enjoyable life.

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