Practice of the Month - Beale & Cullen

Client interview, December 2016

How long have you owned your dental practice?
We bought a 1-man practice from a retiring dentist in 1998. Between 1998 and 2011 we remained in the same premises, but had grown to take over a bit more space.

Then came 2011 with the big earthquake in Christchurch. Both Richard and I were with patients at the time and somehow we had both finished a bit early (we never finish early) and were able to literally grab the patients out of the chairs and run! I had just finished extracting teeth and putting in a denture. The whole building was red stickered (we were unable to go back in) and has since come down with a new building now in its place.

We were incredibly fortunate in that the September before, we had had another earthquake and were closed for a week. This caused us to review and substantially increase our Business Interruption insurance. This bought us time to make decisions on re establishing our practice and allowed us to maintain our team while planning and setting up new premises.

We bought a house and converted it into a dental surgery, which was finally ready in December 2011. Because of the increased business interruption insurance, we were able to keep the team together and didn’t have to start entirely from scratch. This was a really tough time but many of the skills we had previously learnt through Prime such as planning and communication certainly helped.

What was your first Prime Practice workshop?
I must have read about Prime Practice in the dental practice magazines. I liked the idea of the management systems and I felt like systems and management were missing in our practice. That was in 2006 and our practice then completed the Management Program. 

After we finished the Management Program, we decided to go it alone as we felt we had good systems in place… and we managed to keep a lot in place. However, after we had re-established in the new premises, we felt we were back where we were in that some of the systems were dropping, there were some goals we wanted to achieve and we needed help to reach them. So we re-joined Prime in the Masters Program.

What were the goals?
Both personal and practice related. We wanted a better life balance and we needed to start to thinking about succession planning… What do we want in the next 5 years? Do we want to sell to a corporate? Do it all ourselves? We decided to try and do it all ourselves and so we sought the help of Prime to achieve these goals and ensure we are set up for succession planning and set up our practice for success. The doors were wide open and we were welcomed back with open arms.

How are you going with setting up goals?
We have set them up and we have specific steps in place with our coach to reach them. We have worked out how to prioritise things and move towards (the goals and) where we want to be.

Was Primespeak a big thing for your practice?
For me personally, this has been amazing. I have been able to really hone that new patient exam to a point where patients are clear on what they want. I can present them with options, support them in what they choose. They can make a decision knowing they are supported. Before Primespeak I was half-way there, just didn’t have the confidence or the systems in place. Now I have a new patient exam system and flow and it removes the stress.

What is the best thing Prime has given you?
Focus and clarity. Focus for ourselves on our practice goals and for our team to understand the practice goals and to realise that by achieving them, we can help them achieve their personal vision. It gives the team a focus and empowers them to providing exceptional care to our patients. We believe very strongly in the importance of our team, so we love to develop them and support them in their goals too.

How have you found the coaching experience?
It has been great! It has always been easy communication. Our coach is always available. She guides us well and we feel accountable (for our goals), which means that we move towards our goals rather than remaining stagnant in our practice.

Where would you be had you not met Prime?
Had we not met Prime, I think we would just be coming to work every day to drill and fill teeth. There would be very little work satisfaction and I can’t imagine we would have a way forward with our practice.

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