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a blog by Chris Barrow

+100% is easier than +20%

I seem to have created some interest with a tweet yesterday that suggested “its easier to grow by 100% then by 20%” and a number of people have asked me to explain myself. The conversation that prompted me was with an excellent oral surgeon who wanted to “shoot the breeze” and look at the next 3 years of his career. In short, his current average daily productivity (ADP) is £2000 – and that immediately alerted me to the fact that something was wrong. I have worked with practices over the years who have invited in the travelling oral surgeon and I’ve seen ADP’s from £4500 to £8000 – so what is happening in the case of my client? It transpires that he is a clinical perfectionist and isn’t happy with the quality of the restorative work that his referring dentists can do – so he does it all himself – hence the lower number. I asked two questions:

  1. can the patients tell the difference – answer “no”

  2. how do you feel about paying over £150,000 a year to be a perfectionist?

Rather cruel to be kind – but you get my point. Interestingly – when presented to him in that way, his insistence on perfection seemed to diminish somewhat – and I want you to know that doesn’t make him a bad person. To call on Steven Covey, what he is doing is fishing on behalf of dentists, as opposed to teaching dentists how to fish. He had asked for a meeting to discuss how to increase his profits next year by 20% – what we agreed was a plan of action that will double his income – “simply” by focusing on his unique ability and teaching his referrers to do better restorative work. Which got me thinking…. If I asked the same question of all of my clients:

What would have to happen to your business for your profits to double in the next 12 months?

I suggest that the ensuing debate would be of great interest and might encourage you to take innovative action. An extra 20% (as I mentioned in my tweet) probably annoys people:

  1. associates and others who feel that you are pressuring them to move outside of their comfort zone

  2. team members who feel anxious

  3. patients who are irritated by your price increases

  4. suppliers who are under pressure

An extra 100% requires radical and innovative re-thinking – to tear up the rule book, tear down the walls, break with tradition, re-invent. It’s ultimately about doubling the ADP of the primary fee earners – not more staff, premises, patients, clinicians. Ask yourself:

  1. what is my current ADP?

  2. what would have to happen for that to increase by 100%?

and take some time to sketch that out. I’m convinced that its a lot easier then you think – and a lot easier than 20% I’m happy to help.

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