A few years ago, Jay Bowman, DMD, MSD, was struggling with figuring out the best way to reorganize his three-office orthodontic practice in Michigan.
He hired consultants to play around with different ways in which the office could be managed. But about a year passed, and despite all the meetings he held to figure out how to streamline operations at Kalamazoo Orthodontics, nothing changed.
Then he learned about a management system from a company called EOS Worldwide. He met with Don Tinney, the co-owner of EOS Worldwide (EOS stands for Entrepreneurial Operating System), who explained to him how the system could help him get organized—by potentially changing the roles of everyone who worked in the office.
EOS, also based in Michigan, provided for Bowman what most of his training in the field of orthodontics had left out.
“In orthodontics, we don’t receive training in business,” he says. “The practice was successful, but organizationally not as much.”
The system—designed for second-stage, privately owned businesses with 10 or more people on staff—helps business owners gain control of their business, in terms of everything from which job each person has to changing the ways people are compensated.
“Part of the process is defining these things for each other and questioning them,” says Bowman, “and the other thing is to identify, discuss, and solve problems.”
But the concept of “solving a problem” often sounds simpler than it is, and prior to using the EOS system, Bowman found that he and his employees would sit and discuss issues all day long, without truly identifying what the problem was. That meant there was no way to solve it.
The EOS program starts with a 90-minute meeting, for a business to determine if it wants to go forward with the program. The employees of Bowman’s practice met, and decided by the end of the meeting to implement EOS. One of the first things the staff did was to identify whether the people who worked at Kalamazoo Orthodontics were in the right jobs.
“It was eye-opening,” Bowman says. “It was fascinating to see the process, and it wasn’t me, it was the team; they think it was way more important than any other consultant.”
One of the most dramatic changes was that the team decided the woman who was working as the head of accounts payable shouldn’t be, and should actually be the office manager instead. So she switched roles, and the office manager at the time was eventually let go.
In all, the practice—which now has 17 employees across its three offices—ended up letting three people go as a result of upending its management structure.
The staff members also went from being salaried to hourly for pay—that was what employees wanted and it also made more sense for more flexible schedules.
Each team member was then given long-term and short-term tasks to focus on between each weekly Thursday meeting, where they report on their progress.
“It’s a way to make decisions to address accountability,” Bowman says. “Before, we did extremely well, but there was no vision of what we were going to do. I think the main concerns the staff had were lack of accountability and lack of management.”
He also says that he thinks the struggle to maintain a vision and execute a business plan to fulfill it is common among other orthodontist practices.
“Most orthodontic practices, I’m assuming they don’t do these types of things,” he says. “These folks are really focused on what we’re going to do and how the practice is going to look.”
What’s more, Bowman is confident that the practice is on a good trajectory even if he’s not there to run it the entire course of its 10-year plan, a part of the EOS program. He’s already been in practice for 30 years.
“Now, everyone appreciates the fact that they know what the rules are,” he says. “Everyone is replaceable, including me.”
The program also appeals to entrepreneurs because it allows them to learn how to run a business without requiring them to do in-depth courses on business management.
“Their frustrations are addressed and eliminated,” says Tinney. “Business owners love a simple, comprehensive solution that doesn’t require them getting their MBA.”
Because EOS doesn’t track information about what kinds of businesses use the program, he wasn’t able to say how many in the field of orthodontics might be using EOS. OP
A.J. Zak is a freelance writer for Orthodontic Products. She can be reached at [email protected].