The Exceptional Dental Practice



By Guest Blogger M. William (Bill) Lockard, Jr., DDS, author of The Exceptional Dental Practice – Why Good isn’t Good Enough


“Good is the enemy of great.” ― Jim Collins


“The exceptional dental practice is based on values
with a purpose driven-vision to create a life of meaningful service
by helping people improve their quality of life.”

– Bill Lockard, DDS


Striving for Great Leads to the Reputation Brand You Desire


When I made a commitment to continuous personal and professional growth, I found it was a never-ending spiral of learning new behavioral and technical skills, applying the new knowledge and discovering new lessons I must learn. The process became creative, adaptive and dynamic by bringing together the sum of everyone’s energy and input. The strength of our organization grew stronger due to the power of the shared values and personal relationships of the team. Our technical excellence and the trusting relationships that were developed over time with our patients had more impact on the success of the practice than any other factors.


Dentists who want to achieve financial security and fulfillment need to:


* Become master technicians in order to satisfy the ever-increasing demand for aesthetics, resolve the complicated interdisciplinary restorative case and treat TMJ disorders.


* Develop organizational expertise to ensure that every system functions efficiently and effectively.


* Develop psychological awareness to understand and deal with the needs, feelings and concerns of the patients and the team.


* Develop leadership skills to create a caring and committed team with a shared purpose dedicated to helping people improve their oral health.


The atmosphere of a dental office encompasses a total experience from the first telephone call to the parking lot, through the reception room and into the treatment room, with interaction between the patient and the team along the way. The patient’s experience is determined by the nature of teamwork in the office. When patients feel a positive, caring and helpful attitude from the entire team that is combined with an atmosphere of warmth, understanding and commitment to excellence, they feel comfortable and reassured.


The empowered team lives out a philosophy based on shared values of trust, unity of purpose, relationships and a commitment to personal and professional growth. It is very important that the attitudes, actions and activities of everyone in the office are congruent with the values, purpose and motivating spirit of the organization. Each dental office must develop its own unique style. The dentist and team must deal with values, concepts of patient management and standards of technical excellence in developing their philosophy of treatment.


To achieve consistently predictable standards of excellence, we developed systems in my practice that with clearly defined goals and acceptable standards. The systems and structure were designed with flexibility to adapt to new information and different conditions; a process that created synergistic and fully engaged team members who knew what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and most importantly, why to do it.


Dr. Henry Tanner told me years ago, “We will never know all that we need to know about dentistry or people.” That statement has made all the difference in my journey.


Finding Meaning in Your Work Drives Your Economic Engine


Jim Collins’s 2001 book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … And Others Don’t, still resonates with me–and its precepts can make all the difference for any dentist.


He writes, “When [what you are deeply passionate about, what you can be best in the world at and what drives your economic engine] come together, not only does your work move toward greatness, but so does your life. For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. Perhaps, then, you might gain that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that you’ve had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution. Indeed, you might even gain that deepest of all satisfactions: knowing that your short time here on this earth has been well spent, and that it mattered.”


Dentistry continues to be exciting for me today, and thanks to my discovery of what relationship-based care is all about, even more exciting than when I began this wonderful journey. Enjoy your journey. I wish each one success and happiness.




Retired dentist Bill Lockard is the Principal of The Exceptional Practice Seminars, Associate Faculty member at the Pankey Institute for 40 years, former clinical instructor in Fixed Prosthodontics at University of Oklahoma Dental School, dental intern adviser at St. Anthony Hospital, Oklahoma City, and teaching faculty with the Pride Institute, California.
Former member of the Academy of General Dentistry Foundation board of directors, L.D. Pankey Dental Foundation board of trustees, and Oklahoma Board of Governors of Registered Dentists.