BLACKBERRY TO iPHONE
TO HARD CASH
According to Henry Schein-surveyed dentists in 2005, the
number one challenge in dental practices was team harmony. While it is no surprise that the elements of team
harmony—confict management, communication, leadership, behavioral styles, and employee engagement—are
critical to the success of a practice, the fact that this was
rated as the top challenge, above anything directly related
to practice fnancials is signifcant. In 2005, team challenges made ofce stress a greater obstacle for dentists than
income or proftability.
Today team harmony appears to be just as challenging
for the average dental ofce as it was 10 years ago, but it
has taken a back seat to the challenges of new patients,
overhead, and cash fow. Tis change refects the
proftability pressures dentists now face from increasing
competition, decreasing insurance reimbursements,
and a reduced demand for dental services. While those
challenges must be addressed, human capital remains
the greatest asset of any business. Te lession is this:
Addressing team engagement can increase production
and diferentiate your practice from competitors’.
2005 was the year I joined the dental industry.
I was congratulated and welcomed with
comments such as, “Dentistry is recession
proof” and “People will always need their
teeth.” Marketing budgets were fush, dental
tradeshows were the place to be, dentists’
incomes were at their peak,1 and technology
was gaining momentum in dental practices.
Technology was also taking over the
workplace. While I held out as long as I could,
eventually a Blackberry became inevitable. At
that time, no one, with the possible exception
of Steve Jobs, had heard of an iPhone. Yet ten
years later, one out of every three cellphones
in the United States would become an iPhone2
and the Blackberry would go become virtually
extinct. Te smartphone would go from an
accessory to an essential, and dentistry would
not prove to be recession proof after all.
Was it all downhill from 2005? To answer
that question, I set out to review the most
important changes in dentistry in the past
10 years. Drawing from data collected by my
employer, Henry Schein, and others, I made
some interesting discoveries that can help us
meet the challenges of the next 10 years.