Dr. Morrell has increased production by 43% and profitability by 6% while providing a higher standard of patient care.
adding an associate, creating systems, hygiene care, production, leadership
“How much money do you need to retire?” That’s the question that increasingly kept Dr. Scott Morrell up at night between 2017 and 2019. Coming from a long line of medical healthcare professionals, he confesses that his entire career he was locked into the old, solo, traditional private practice model. He’d opened his dental practice in Boise, Idaho, on Halloween in 1989 and built it up from scratch. While his practice was successful, he’d plateaued. What scared him was seeing friends in private practice who were battling cancer or other illnesses and couldn’t continue working in their practice. Approaching 60, he wasn’t ready to retire. However, working at an aggressive pace, he had no way to ease up his schedule and no backup plan should something go wrong. But the real turning point was when his dad, who was a general surgeon, became ill and died. Realizing life is short, Dr. Morrell understood he must change to develop a sustainable work pace and set himself up for retirement. “I had the traditional private practice mindset of do it all yourself,” Dr. Morrell said. “But I reached a point where I realized that I just cannot physically keep doing this. Nor can I quite afford to retire and seeing the sort of changing business environment going on, I needed to start exploring some different options.”
In researching alternative approaches, he discovered The Team Training Institute and was intrigued by the idea of having a business that would continue to spin off profits so that he could work less. “I felt it was unfortunate that so many of us are in an all-or-none situation where you’re all in the practice or you quit,” Dr. Morrell said. “I wanted to find a hybrid model if I could, where I could still do a little clinical work, but be involved in developing the business which I enjoy doing.”
Dr. Morrell had never worked with a practice consultant of any kind before Team Training Institute because he’d never found one that made him feel comfortable. “I had dabbled in finding a consultant a little bit and I felt very unsure about their values, level of aggressiveness, and perhaps dubious ethics,” Dr. Morrell said. “So when I stumbled on Team Training Institute and read through their materials, the values of the company stood out to me. They wanted to do things for the right reasons. I ordered Dr. John’s books and digested the material. Psychologically it was a big step for me to really commit, but I decided, at this point in my career, I’ve got to explore some options, so I jumped right in and became a Blue Diamond member.”
Since joining The Team Training Institute Blue Diamond program approximately 15 months ago, and despite shutting down for six weeks because of COVID-19, Dr. Morrell has experienced significant growth. Production is up 43% and his profitability increased 6% in 2020. In 2021, he’s on track to significantly exceed an aggressive goal he set during his Vision Day with Dr. John Meis. “Our target was 26%,” Dr. Morrell said. “We fully anticipate blowing that goal away by year’s end and may leap almost a full year forward in terms of our growth projections.”
"For the first time, I’m able to have dedicated time to focus on working on the business versus in it."
While he’s working hard to implement a lot of operational changes, he believes stress will lessen considerably over time because they now know what to do. He’s moved past the traditional solo practice mindset and can see the path for growth, not just for his practice, but for personal growth for himself and his team. He’s now taking off a couple of afternoons per week and no longer requires cramming in administration work on his lunch hour or the weekend. “I think we’re laying the groundwork for future good things,” Dr. Morrell said. “For the first time, I’m able to have dedicated time to focus on working on the business versus in it.”
Patients compliment Dr. Morrell and his team on their patient experience and Dr. Morrell has found that The Team Training Institute’s coaching is reinforcing the importance of always striving for excellence. “We’ve always had a pretty good patient experience, but Team Training Institute reminds us to continue to go the extra mile for patients each time they’re in and maintain a consistent, especially well-organized patient experience,” Dr. Morrell said.
Here are seven tips from Dr. Morrell on how you can achieve similar success in your practice:
#1: Explore What’s Possible
Reading through Dr. John’s books and working with the Team Training Institute (TTI) Coaches helped Dr. Morrell get plugged into a community of doctors and see what was possible with his practice. “Coming from a traditional private practice mindset, you don’t really know what’s out there,” Dr. Morrell said. “Our involvement with the meetings, seeing what other client doctors of TTI are doing, and seeing what Dr. John did with his own career, opens up your mind and perspective on what you can do.”
#2: Implement Production Optimization Rapidly
Since receiving Hygiene Explosion Training, production has increased more than 43%. Dr. Morrell attributes this and the compliments he receives on the patient experience to his TTI coach Bert and implementing her recommendations rapidly. Changes improved the organization of the office and the systems which they are continuing to refine and optimize for better efficiency. For example, while Dr. Morrell offered sealants and fluoride previously, he says the Team Training Institute process elevated their standard of care so that not just a few people were getting it, but everybody was getting it. He also added same-day dentistry and a new compensation incentive for his team and is working on using tribal language to create a unified approach.
“The increase from hygiene alone has way more than paid for the whole Blue Diamond program,” Dr. Morrell said. “The training reminds us not to be average. It not only improved the patient experience, but also lessened stress on the staff. We get more done and get to the end of the day without being completely exhausted and overwhelmed.”
Dr. Morrell hasn’t received any major pushback from patients regarding the changes. However, initially, some of his team was reluctant, but between the new compensation program and training, which helped them understand how the changes benefited the patient, everyone is now on board.
“The Team Training Institute was instrumental in giving us the scientific data behind treatment to show us that yes, this really is a great standard of care that we’re recommending,” Dr. Morrell said. “It’s not frivolous treatment for the patient. It’s a very high standard, and we ought to feel good about that. It provided extra clarity in terms of how we can refine, improve our standard of care, and do so ethically, in a way that benefits both the practice and the patients. Our hygienists are seeing the benefits to the patients and the benefits to themselves in terms of income. Sometimes you think something is impossible until you really start working your way through it. It requires an adjustment in thinking, new approaches, and a more efficient process, but it can be done.”
#3: Get Clarity Outside of Your Bubble
When he started working with The Team Training Institute, he had no idea how well he was doing. Working with coaches, attending meetings, and seeing what other client doctors of TTI were doing gave him perspective and helped open his mind to what is possible. Reviewing metrics with his coach and discovering he was doing quite well in various parameters also gave him a tremendous boost of confidence. “You don’t know what you don’t know and the fastest way to optimize your future is to get outside of yourself, seek the counsel, the coaching, the resources of other people who have been there and done that in order to accelerate your growth trajectory towards whatever goals or dreams that you happen to have,” Dr. Morrell said. “It’s pretty hard to do it on your own. The way The Team Training Institute lays that process out and helps coach you through that whole minefield was extremely reassuring and helped me move ahead without fear. Those little details that Sherri (business coach) provides are extraordinarily helpful in creating clarity and direction, decreasing the stress to the greatest extent possible, and providing the confidence that we’re moving in the right direction. You have people who know what they’re doing and have done it before. And if they’ve done it for others, they can do it for you.”
#4: Be Open to Bringing on an Associate
He credits The Team Training Institute in assisting him to find the best fit possible for bringing on an associate dentist. His coach, Sherri, helped him to determine what to look for in an associate dentist by helping to lay the groundwork for philosophical continuity personality-wise. “I had a big mental block about bringing on an associate doctor,” Dr. Morrell said. “I realized I had avoided any consideration of an associate after watching several dentist friends of mine have disastrous associateship situations, so I was extremely reluctant to pursue that. But with Sherri’s help, we’ve been able to find an associate that we’re very much in sync with. It’s early, but it’s been extremely positive, and he’s interested in the eventual option to buy in with equity, as Dr. John outlines, down the road with future expansion. We’ve talked about those things with him early on and I think having this vision of what the future can look like helps you to back into what you need today.”
Plus, he didn’t fully realize how out of capacity he was until the new associate came on board. Instead of taking the three to five months he thought it would take to ramp up his associate’s schedule, he was pleasantly surprised when the associate was fully booked on day one. “I’ve developed awareness of capacity blockages which I’m finally getting my head around,” Dr. Morrell said. “Everything Sherri predicted in terms of our capacity issues and our ability to entertain and keep new staff and the new doctor busy has been right on the mark. We’re already swamped, and we almost have no capacity for same-day already. That has been gratifying to see that come along.”
#5: Develop Your Leadership and Vision
Working with TTI on developing his vision and leadership has helped Dr. Morrell get out of his own way, relieved his stress, and provided him time to work on higher-level items rather than getting lost in the minutia. Dr. Morrell’s key personnel are the same as before, however, both he and his management team have evolved tremendously in their roles.
Before, he had the stress of having his hands in everything. After taking his two leaders to a Vision Day with Dr. John, Dr. Morrell says he is “much more aware about the importance of vision and leadership.” Today, he is delegating tasks, coaching, cheerleading, and helping his team see his vision for the future. As a result, his key personnel have blossomed, become more confident, and taken on more responsibility without him having to be involved in every minute decision. “If you’re trying to double or triple a practice, it’s more of a question of who are you going to become in order to do this?” Dr. Morrell said. “My identity changed from being just a dentist to a leader. I’m now a businessman and a dentist. It was hard for me to get out of that role of doing everything and delegating to my key people. I started setting a clear vision and empowering people in a way that I had never done previously. Taking my key people to Vision Day really starts to change people. They’re growing and developing personally and professionally in some extremely significant ways as a result of having more responsibility and being trusted and needed. It’s been great for them. They’re entirely different people in the last year and a half.”
Before working with The Team Training Institute, Dr. Morrell found he was exhausted because he felt he had to tow all the lines. He also worried about losing his best staff because of stagnant growth. Now that everyone is on the same page and experiencing growth, his team is all pulling toward a common goal.
“It’s extremely gratifying to see people on your team growing that’s in part because of your impact as a professional and as a leader,” Dr. Morrell said. “To see people under you, not just doing the everyday tasks, but actually growing, getting better, enjoying the process, and feeling like they’re going somewhere with their career, plus feeling like they’re going along with you too – it’s comfort in numbers and it’s energizing.”
#6: Tiger-Proof Your Practice
Working with The Team Training Institute’s coach Sherri on the key performance indicators and developing systems around those processes has helped create consistency, train new people, and begin tiger proofing his practice. He recently received confirmation that his practice can and will be able to function independently when his sister had a healthcare issue. “I had to leave town for a couple of days on an emergency basis,” Dr. Morrell said. “Low and behold, the office ran just fine in my absence. That was a WOW moment for me. Before, we would have had no option but to shut down. In terms of the future and anticipating how we might expand, we are building a template on which to build, train, and develop new people so that if one practice is running one way, a second practice could run identically. If you can develop a formulaic approach to it, which we’re hoping to do once everything is dialed in, that should make expansion efforts easier, faster, and more predictable.”
#7: Don’t Go It Alone
Dr. Morrell’s goal is to lessen his clinical obligations and make the same, or in the years ahead, even more, due to shifting dental labor salary to the profits on the operation. He now feels he has a solid plan in place to achieve that goal.
“Trying to go it alone is a tough road,” Dr. Morrell said. “You can obviously learn things on your own, but the comment that Dr. John made to me at Vision Day, which really hit home is, “Good coaching is a “speed process” that allows you to move forward with a level of focus and clarity and therefore speed that you would never have without that.’ Without The Team Training Institute we’d be struggling. We’d be moving but the difficulty would be immense and the results much less than it is with the great coaching, feedback, and perspective that is provided by TTI. The growth trajectory offered and sketched out by Team Training Institute has created a path forward for growth for everybody at the same time—personal growth for me and my team, and financial growth, but with a less stressful clinical future, and without the demands that you normally would be shouldering in a private, traditional, private practice setting.”
The biggest thing Dr. Morrell says he’s gained is “a level of clarity and direction that is extremely liberating.”
“The biggest business challenge was me and getting out of my own way,” Dr. Morrell said. “My MIP (most important project) every morning is working on me so that I am not my own worst enemy. So, seeing what is possible and realizing, yes, we can achieve these steps incrementally has allowed all of us in the practice, me in particular, to overcome doing just the basic stuff that everybody does and moving to that higher level of teamwork, vision, management, and organization. Ultimately, my goal is to be able to take three weeks in the fall of ’22 and sit in a café in Italy while the operation is still viable and running smoothly in my absence. Being able to look forward that way is hopeful and uplifting and because there’s a good pathway forward, and others have done it, I know it can be done.”