Let’s give credit where credit is due, Dr. Wood certainly had the confidence to go straight out of dental school into private practice. She also had the skill to train and ride horses to victory in several competitions.
She just didn’t know just how to combine those skills into a dental practice that could become a champion until just recently.
Leatha has enjoyed competitive horse riding for years. She still trains and competes with her horse, Gaitor, and she gets to enjoy this passion with her daughter, Brielle, as a bonus. I think that is one way that Dr. Leatha qualifies as a Winning Dentist right off the bat. She has managed to find a passion outside of the clinical halls, and she has combined that with time spent with her daughter. Win-Win.
One of the things that Leatha knew to do with her horses when she wanted them to learn a new skill or work on developing a skill she would use during competitions was to train them with ground work techniques. Ground work is especially important when you need your horse to perform a task under pressure without losing their composure and falling back to old habits.
I can’t think of a better comparison to a dental practice.
Dr. Leatha knew how to get the best from her horses, but as the 2000s ebbed, her practice was in a funk. She just couldn’t seem to grow. She and her staff seemed helpless to fight the terrible economic storm that had affected most of Michigan where she practices.
She could have blamed the economy. She could have blamed her staff. She could have blamed her patients. I’m sure at some point, she wanted to blame herself. But, that doesn’t really get you where you need to go.
She purposed in her heart that she would form a plan and make her practice into the booming practice that she had always wanted to build.
She was starting to get on the right track when she stumbled into Ripley, Mississippi for one of our famous in-office days that have now been coined Navy SEAL days due to the intensive training that the doctor and supporting staff receive while they are there.
Dr. Wood attended with her key staff that included her sister and office manager, Cheryl Vaughan. It was Good Friday, April, 2010, when Dr. Wood and her sister saw first hand some of the things that they had just been missing from their practice.
Cheryl relayed to me later that during that day, they had seen that I had worked in 5000 dollars in EXTRA dentistry from work-ins and emergencies and that they couldn’t tell that it had made the day any more hectic at all. Heck, we had even finished on time.
They came to the realization that they were working in about ZERO in same day dentistry due to really no good reason and that if they followed the plan we had laid out for them, it should drastically improve.
Cheryl told us that the trip to Ripley had been a big turning point for them. Dr. Wood had come home, never waivered, and insisted that they institute our Route Board, templates, and Orange Cards immediately along with the KISCO radios that we all love so much. In the past she might have made suggestions, but this time she never flinched. She was doing something that came natural to her. She was doing ground work.
Dr. Leatha does this ground work with Gaitor where she snaps a whip all around him and puts the whip all over his body, and he has to stand still. Now, that’s some serious training. I don’t think it ever came to that point in her practice where she had to bring out the whip, but I’m certain that her staff knew what would be expected of them when they got home.
Actually, having trained several of her staff members myself, I can assure you that they are and were superstars just waiting on the right direction. But any great athlete, student, or worker needs clear instruction from their leader. This time, Dr. Wood took it upon herself to stand up and make the necessary changes to improve everyone’s lives surrounding the practice.
I’m proud to say that today, Dr. Leatha and her staff average about 2000 dollars per day in Same Day Services. Even if you factor in the leisurely 3 day schedule that she also swiped from my own practice, that’s a hefty quarter of a million dollars per year that couldn’t exist before the change in philosophy.
Today, Dr. Wood has harnessed the most powerful elements of patient desire to ensure that she is no longer a victim of economic strife. She is now master and commander of her life and she has the ribbons to prove it. A winning dentist if there ever was one.