By Dan Fine, Management Consultant at Hive Business
I chair board meetings in some dental practices that don’t report on their marketing services or do proper planning. I’m not a marketer and I can’t talk about how it’s delivered, but I know what numbers are needed to make decisions. A board needs a plan with a budget and it needs reporting to see if the plan is working. This isn’t a controversial thing to say in any line of business.
So I don’t know if this issue’s peculiar to the dental market and its suppliers. Dentists on the whole seem interested in shiny new things, not so keen on monthly reports. Maybe it’s that many marketers in this industry don’t understand the economics or commerciality of a dental practice business, they’re just focused on their niche. Luc has written rather scathingly about this phenomenon here before.
The same phenomenon is absolutely true for those of our clients who don’t take our accountancy services. Our consultancy service has a nightmare getting the financial information we need out of clients when we don’t happen to be handling the accountancy for them. This is understandable because most accountants are compliance based, not performance based, so we expect this and we’ve designed our consultancy services to cater for it.
No reporting system — marketing, accounting, whatever — is perfect, but you do need something to work off, otherwise you’re wasting your time and money. Strategic conversations need to be anchored to something concrete that your board can agree on, otherwise it’s all nonsense. You simply need some facts.
It’s not unusual for me to ask a client, in preparation for a board meeting, to bring certain reports. The business manager will say, “Yes, no problem, we’ve got that,” but turn up three days later without the correct file. As a leader, if you genuinely want to give good advice, you have to have some evidence, otherwise it’s platitudes.
You can’t use Socratic reasoning — disciplined questioning that can be used to explore complex ideas, to get to the truth of things, to open up issues and problems, to uncover assumptions and to distinguish what you know from what you don’t — without facts. In the absence of facts you start projecting what you want reality to look like.
Hive has what appears to be a rarity in the dental sector: an anti-sales team. We will always give our opinion, we’re open to being wrong and actually happy to be wrong — show us the facts and we’ll react based on those. But without the facts it’s whoever speaks the loudest. I’m genuinely concerned that dental practice owners are paying people to waste their time, and those people are taking their money unethically. We don’t want those shouty answers, we want a process, a conversation, logical reasoning. We believe it’s far, far better for you.