Transformational Thinking: The Key to Having a Thriving Practice, by Robert Maguire, DDS

In Impact by Dental Entrepreneur

The power to transform your practice begins with the “right thinking”. Often, I’ll meet or hear of dentists who are unhappy with their dental practices, many telling me they feel “stuck”. On numerous occasions, they’ve tried to make changes to improve their practice production, tried to build a collaborative and happy team but in the long run, have been unsuccessful. They failed because the steps they took were transactional in nature rather than transformational. In this article, I will explain the difference between transactions and transformations. I’ll explain why transactions rarely result in long-lasting positive change and why transformational thinking is powerful and the key to sustainable happiness and increased practice production. Lastly, I will provide practical steps you can take to experience more profound, significant, and lasting change.

Often, when dentists start to search for ways to improve their dental practices, they look for “quick fixes”. These “quick fixes” are essentially transactions that include things like enacting new systems or policies, or quickly hiring team members based solely on their skills. Additionally, many dentists “impulse buy” and purchase new pieces of equipment, often on credit, and often without thinking about how it will be used to improve the lives of their patients and their teams. Other examples of transactional steps include learning new procedures or taking practice management courses to schedule more efficiently, to decrease broken appointments, or to improve collections.

Transactional steps are an important and a necessary part of running an efficient dental practice. However, implementing these things alone, without thinking about the deep-down desires for you and your practice, will rarely lead to more happiness and increased profitability. It’s like the steps people often take to lose weight. We know statistically that most diets work for the short-term. We also know that most people who’ve dieted relapse and end up right back where they started. The reason most diets fail over the long haul is that the dieters haven’t fully envisioned their desired result, or how they want to look and feel once they’ve lost their weight. Here’s the reality. Many weight loss programs only provide the transactions, the steps people need to take to lose their weight. What they don’t and can’t provide is a picture of the end result, or the transformation. This vision or desire for a long-lasting result can only come from the individual themselves.

With regards to your dental practice, if you want more profit- ability, more happiness, and long-lasting change, focus and think about the transformational steps, or those steps that involve using both your “head and your heart”. (Transactions are steps that involve using only your “head”). Your “heart” is the place where your emotions are found. Transformations are most effective because they take into consideration our emotions, our deep-down desires, our passions, and our dreams, not only for ourselves, but for our patients and our teams. They provide the motivation, the power that sustains us as we strive to build a happier, more productive, and thriving dental practice.

Another way to look at transformations, is to think of them as your blueprint, your inspiration, or your vision. For the past several months, I’ve watched a new house being built in a lot across the street from my home. Before the construction began, the owner had a vision of the house he desired. When I chatted with him, he spoke about it in detail, with excitement in his voice, and joy on his face. He told me that six months ago, he had hired an architect and together they had worked through and drawn up the blueprints. Once the final plans for his dream house were completed, the owner hired a reputable general contractor, someone he knew did quality work, someone who had a team of excellent workers to help him.

Over the next several months, I observed the whole transformational process, the building of this dream home for my neighbor. Watching this construction was like watching synchronized swimming, each step was coordinated and seemed to seamlessly flow from one step to the next. In a timely fashion, his high-quality home was built just as he had imagined it, and just as he had planned out ahead of time.

In this example of the construction project, the transactions included things like the excavation, the pouring of the foundation, purchasing the building supplies, working with the subcontractors, and using the right equipment to do the job. Every detail had been spelled out ahead of time in the architectural plan. Can you imagine doing all these steps without having blueprints, a vision of the finished result, or the right workers to do the job? This is no different than building the practice of your dreams. Having a vision and formulating a plan are the keys to transforming your practice.

For you and your dental practice, start by asking yourself transformational questions like “What is my current situation?” Think of today’s reality and imagine your dental practice as an empty lot for your new home. “What do you want to build on your lot? What’s your dream for your dental practice?” In other words, “What kind of dental home do you want to construct for you, your team, and your patients?” Asking yourself questions like these helps you envision your ideal practice.

Other questions might include “What will your practice physically look like and what type of equipment will you purchase? What about your team?” It’s especially important to think about the people who will occupy your “dental home” with you. And how about the other occupants, your patients? “Who are the patients you’d like to serve? What procedures would you like to be doing? How about the quality of your dentistry, the quality of your team members work, and the quality of your patients? What will your estimated costs be and how much would you like to make? What are the fees you’ll need to charge to make your dreams a reality?” The questions listed here are transformational in nature, getting you closer to envisioning your future practice. You may have some of your own questions.

Looking for more happiness, more joy, and more financial fulfillment from your dental practice? Your first step is to stop and begin by drawing up a blueprint for the life you want, for the practice you want, with the team you desire, and with the type of patients you want to serve. Some dentists accomplish this on their own. Others reach out to practice coaches or consultants to help them first organize their thoughts and secondly help them outline a plan to make their dreams a reality.

Whatever route you choose, start with a well thought out blueprint of your heart’s desires and make sure you hire the right team. Remember to think “transformation before transaction”. When you start with transformational questions and a basic idea of your vision, you’ll end up having a more profitable practice, one you’ll enjoy, with a team and patients you’ll enjoy, one that will sustain itself for many years to come.

Dr. Robert Maguire DDS, MASCL is a dental speaker, coach, practice consultant, and DISC trainer, passionate about leadership and communication. If you’d like more information about Dr. Maguire and how he can help you and your team experience more fulfillment, more joy, and more financial success, visit or email him at: