“My practice is in Round Rock, a suburb of Austin, Texas. I’ve been practicing general dentistry here for over 12 years. We have six staff, including another older dentist who works mainly as a hygienist. I’ve been a Sterling client since March 2000.
“I went to Sterling because my practice was not doing what I wanted it to. Several years back we got into a lot of managed care plans, and at one point we reached a plateau with our practice where we were actually grossing well but I just didn’t like the direction it was heading. I didn’t like trying to manage and deal with all the plans we were in and the way the practice ran on a day-to-day basis.
“I decided at a certain point that I was going to wean myself off managed care plans and take my practice back to fee-for-service. In the process of doing that my practice really shrank. In the last couple of years, I got down to where I was producing less than half a million a year. I felt like we were starving out.
“During the last two years I have been trying to focus on getting beyond just survival in my practice; trying to make my practice grow in the direction I want it to grow. I had been actively seeking some management training that would help me do that when I stumbled onto Sterling.
“I talked to a lot of other dentists about what they were doing in the way of management. I am active in the IAO, the International Association for Orthodontics, and they put on an instructor’s course every ten years where they certify doctors to teach orthodontics. I was in this course with about 30 other doctors from all over the U.S. – very high-powered guys with great practices. I talked to a number of them about the different management systems that were out there. Dr. Greg Bixby strongly recommended Sterling to me as a really good way to go. He had taken a lot of management courses and he thought Sterling was the best thing he’d ever done.
“When I went out for Sterling’s Executive Basics training in March, my wife went with me to do the training. She is our new office manager. We knew my wife was going to assume the office manager role; she had already been working in the practice doing collections and other things. She took over as office manager in March.
“Sterling’s training really helped me focus a lot on what my real goals are, and what is important to me. It brought home how important it is to be a person of integrity and to bring that into my business. That was a really good thing.
“The course work at Sterling really was terrific in the area of trying to be as ethical as one can. This material wasn’t covered before anywhere else in any training I’ve ever had. I went to public school for twelve years, I went to college for a number of years before I got my degree, I did a residency – I basically went to school for about 25 years. No one ever talked about these issues and concisely stated it the way Mr. Hubbard states it. In taking these courses at Sterling, what I found myself saying was, ‘Gosh, this is stuff I would like my kids to be exposed to at the level they are at as high school students or middle school students, because this is so important. These are things that people need to know for life! It would have been nice if somebody had passed these on to me sooner.’
“Things have gone steadily up since we came back from our Sterling training in March, and especially since June. We had a super month in June, about double what we had ever done in the past. We have basically maintained that level since then. In terms of collections, they’ve gone up about 75%. We are producing almost double what we were producing before I went to Sterling. At this point we are producing in the $80-85,000 a month range. Prior to this, an $80,000 month was the best month I had ever had – ever! I hadn’t had a month that good for several years before I went to Sterling. We are at a level now where I feel that we are producing what we should be producing. I no longer feel that we are under-producing at all. Obviously we are going to continue to raise our statistics, but without being able to have a bigger facility or more employees, we are up in what I consider a very good range now.
“My wife and I are also doing much better together than we were before we went out to Sterling. We both decided to commit to having a good working relationship, and to settle our differences at work in a more relaxed and professional way, and not get on each other’s case about things or let anger issues come up between us that might cause the staff to feel bad. (That had been a problem before.) The staff really felt that was one of the major issues when we went out to Sterling, that my wife and I tended to fight with each other about small things – we would get into it over little things and we didn’t handle that well. We’re doing much better, far, far better than we were before. That has obviously reduced the stress level in the practice.
“I had never had any training in how to manage a group, and I hadn’t even realized what a bad job I was doing before. I wasn’t a leader before. Now I am the leader of my group, my team here. I think that was really what we were hurting for before, more than anything else. There wasn’t much leadership going on. I used to feel that I had to be ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ and make everybody happy. I basically allowed other people to make decisions that should have been my decisions. Things just kind of ran themselves. That’s not what we do anymore.
“The thing that we’ve implemented that has helped us the most is putting in the Management by Statistics. We actually have our staff members keep statistics and do their own weekly battle plans, and plan out how to produce and set goals.
“We are doing a cash bonus system for employees when they reach certain production goals. They are keeping their own statistics. That has paid off for us really well.
“It is absolutely a great system that works. Since our initial training we’ve been to two Sterling seminars and found those really useful, too. I took all my staff to one in Houston, and I took my wife to one in Hilton Head. We found the open forum discussions at these seminars extremely helpful. Many of the dentists there were long-term Sterling clients who had a lot of good suggestions.
“Sterling has helped us a lot. We’re working hard to make it work. Any plan, even a great plan, won’t work for you if you don’t work it. The Sterling plan is very clear, very well set up, and Mr. Hubbard’s principles are presented by Sterling very well. The principles make really good sense. I’ve never seen anything that Mr. Hubbard wrote that didn’t make good sense to me. The Hubbard management technology is an awesome resource.”
Ed Tennison, DDS