My New Book Is Out!

After a year of writing and editing, my second book has finally been published. It’s called Becoming Remarkable: Creating a Dental Practice Everyone Talks About.  It takes the ideas in my first book to the next level.  It’s called “Becoming Remarkable” because that’s what you literally have to be.  Your practice experience has to be so amazing and unique that people can’t resist talking about you.

That has become more important than ever because when people talk now, they do it with their thumbs.  They post it somewhere, whether it’s on Facebook, or Yelp, or as a Google review.  They are adding it to your online identity and reputation, and it’s searchable, likable, sharable, and perhaps most importantly, undeletable.

I love signing books. It's very flattering to an author when people ask.

I love signing books. It’s very flattering to an author when people ask.

Some of the things that I cover in the book are:

  • The impact of corporate dentistry on private practice, and why you either need to join them or compete effectively with them;
  • How the dental patient has changed in the past 8 years, from their attitude about insurance to their expectation of convenience;
  • Where to put your time, energy and money online for the best results;
  • The impact of technology on your practice and on patients’ perception of value;
  • Why your trustworthiness is the most important element in your practice, and what increases or decreases it;
  • And much more.

Some of you may find my various suggestions and predictions controversial.  But I’ve never been one to shy away from the debates about the industry’s direction.  I’m passionate about the future of dentistry, and the urgency to evolve and grow.

I also feature six remarkable dentists and their unique stories and approaches.  What I found striking was how differently they all approached their practices, except for one thing: the patient always came first.  I hope to discover many more remarkable dentists in the coming months, and will feature their stories in this blog.

Meanwhile, I hope you take the time to read my new book, and that it gives you insights and practical tools to build and maintain a remarkable practice over the coming decades.  You can order it here, or buy the Kindle version on Amazon.

I’m recording the audio version next week, so it won’t be available for about a month. Hey, I’ve been busy!

SEO: Can You Ever Stay Ahead of It?

Every business dreams of coming up on the first page in an organic web search.  And every day I talk to dentists who want to improve the SEO of their website.  All while Google keeps changing how the results look and what satisfies their search algorithms.  They just did it again on August 6th in a fairly big way.

Let’s talk about that change first.  The big differences are:

1. The map results on computers now only show 3 practices. This now mirrors what happens on mobile phones.

2. The full address of the practice is gone.

3. Everything “above the fold”–what is immediately viewable on a computer screen–is now essentially paid for.

SEO search resultsThere are still listings of organic results on the first page, meaning if you scroll down you will see them, and not have to click to see the next page of results, but in this particular search Yelp had the first three “organic” positions.  This is because they know how to maximize SEO, and can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars making sure they are doing everything that Google wants. You can’t do that.

Also, notice that on the right the paid ads do get their address to show up.  And they can even offer specials or a have a specific message.  But clearly Google makes it easy to get to the paid advertisers’ websites.  And you can be sure that the bidding for those places is escalating all the time.

This is all happening because Google is in the ad sales business, and they want you to pay to appear.  The results are even more narrowed toward paying advertisers when you search on a mobile device (which is where more than 60% of searches begin, by the way.)

Face it, when you have 80% of dentists who now have a website, they’re not all going to show up on the first page organically. It’s not physically possible, and clearly getting more challenging all the time.

So what should your strategy be?

You still need to find as many ways to create good SEO as possible. But don’t fall for some company guaranteeing that they can get you on the first page. There are too many factors out of anyone’s control. Read my previous blog on this for more insight on that.  It’s more true now that ever.

Here’s what you need:

1. A dynamic website that allows you to change content easily yourself and have constant new content feeding to it automatically.  It should be simple, modern-looking, and easy to navigate.

2. Reviews are powerful content, and if you are surveying your patients using PatientActivator or some other application, then you can have those appear automatically.

3. Embed Yelp reviews in your site.  It will only show three, but it will keep people from leaving your website and going to Yelp to see reviews.

4. Add new patient testimonial videos every week.

5. Write a blog, and link it to your website. It should have your town included in most posts, as well as some key dental phrases. Your blog is for Google to read. Most humans won’t. So being local and with relevant words is what matters most.

6. Make sure all the directories across the web have the exact same information about your practice. ReputationMonitor, which is included with PatientActivator, makes it much easier to do this.

7. Have a form where patients can request an appointment.

8. Make sure your website is responsive, meaning it plays properly on every device–particularly mobile phones–and in every browser.  The first test is to look at your website on your own phone.  Easy to read? Pretty? Better be!

But overall, concentrate on giving a great patient experience, because your website is only one part of your promotion and practice awareness. Social media and review sites will play a larger and larger part of that with every passing month.  It all has to work together, with your website as the hub.  And what patients post out there matters more than ever.

We build websites with our WebDirector product, but there are other reputable companies out there as well.  You can tell who they are because they don’t promise magical results.  We will also help you integrate all the social media aspects that you need to make everything look consistent and connect to each other.

It’s a daunting, moving target, I know. But it’s the way of the world, and ignoring it or thinking it doesn’t relate to your neighborhood is going to prove to be failed strategy.  So stay on it!




Responding to Negative Facebook Comments

First of all, where have I been? I haven’t blogged in several weeks, but there is a good explanation: I just finished writing my second book, and I’m really excited about it!  It’s entitled Becoming Remarkable: Creating a Dental Practice That Everyone Talks About.  It will first be released at CEREC 30 in Las Vegas on September 17th, and then available for purchase after that.

So, on to the topic at hand. You may find that sometimes you will post something on your practice Facebook page and a patient may have a comment you don’t appreciate, or that you find taints the positive impact of the post.  What should you do? Respond? Delete it? Ignore it?

If you’ve been following me at all, you know I’m not going to recommend ignoring it. NEVER ignore a negative comment.  Now, as far as deleting it, that depends on whether it’s something nasty or insulting or inappropriate in some way.  If it is, then you just go to the little “x” on the right of the comment and remove it.  But remember that by doing so you are inviting the person to comment again. If they do, I would just remove the post altogether.

But what if it merits a response?  That’s trickier.  So let me tell you a story which, by way of example, has several key lessons in it with regard to Facebook.

A dentist friend of mine wrote to me about this exact problem.  First let me say that she does an amazing job of building a culture in her practice, and also does Facebook very well.  She is always doing fun events for her team members, from group pedicures to mini-vacations.  And she knows how to stage them as well.  One day she came to work with a new Coach handbag and was making a bit of a deal about showing it off to her team.  They were admiring it, but she knew that there was a bit of “I’m glad you can afford that,” as an undercurrent.  She was setting them up perfectly without them knowing it.

That night there was a team dinner and as each of them showed up they were given a number.  They were not aware that the number was based on seniority.  She was still sporting the Coach handbag as they all sat for dinner, and there was some joking from a few of the team, like, “When will we get ours?”

“Actually,” she told them, “I’m glad you asked.” Her husband, meanwhile, who manages the practice, had set up a separate table earlier, with a tablecloth draped over something, and he stepped over and revealed a row of brand new Coach handbags.

“Those numbers that you have? You get to go up in order and pick your own bag,” my friend told them.

Of course, the crew went wild with excitement.  My dentist friend made sure to document the whole experience, and then the next day she posted a photo on Facebook and explained the team reward.  Herein lies the lesson.

There were many positive comments and likes on the post, but one patient felt the need to make this remark: “I think you are a good orthodontist, but it is upsetting to see your staff get Coach bags when I am struggling to pay my orthodontics bill. They work hard but so do I.”

In this person’s world, no employee should be rewarded, and discounts should be passed on to the struggling consumer.  Ironically, (and typically), this person was already getting a discount and a special payment accommodation, but still felt the team was being enriched to her detriment.

The team, as you might expect, was indignant about this comment, and will no doubt not feel as warmly toward this patient on her next visit.  But my friend responded perfectly, as you can see below:

Romani Facebook response blurred (1)

How perfect is that?

The lessons here are twofold. First, respond well, and positively, and turn it to your advantage whenever you can. But this is a cautionary tale as well.  How many other patients might have had this negative response but didn’t express it? I think it wise to be careful about posts where you are rewarding your team members.

A group pedicure may be fine, but something that seems expensive to the average person is best kept private. Stick to charity events, costume days and holiday celebrations with the team, and avoid flashing your success too much.

For more on ideas of what to post on Facebook, read my previous blog post.  Also if you are interested in our white paper, Facebook 101, click here.

By the way, if you’re not going to CEREC 30, you’re missing out big time.  This is going to be the largest and most exciting event in dentistry all year.  I’m speaking there, as well as Tony Robbins and Magic Johnson, and the band Train will be playing a full concert on Friday night.  Even if you don’t use CEREC, it will be a great learning experience for you and your team. There will also be an Eaglesoft track and several other learning opportunities.  See you there!






Customer Satisfaction Is Not a Calculation

Customer satisfaction is a perception. It is not based on some calculation of value
received.  Cost may certainly be a factor, but what is expensive is also a perception that varies widely from person to person. To me, a $17,000 Apple Watch is too expensive.  To someone trying to impress people with how much money they have to buy whatever they want, or how successful they are, it’s worth every penny.Caclulating value girl

Understanding this is essential in any business. Pretending it’s not true, that human beings are completely rational in their decision-making, in their assessment of value, in their responses to situations, is, well, completely irrational.

Think about it.

Whether you were treated well is a perception.

Whether you were greeted nicely is a perception.

Feeling respected is a perception. So is feeling disrespected.

Feeling talked down to is a perception.

Feeling understood is a perception.

Trustworthiness is a perception.

Feeling appreciated is a perception.

Notice that none of these are calculations people make are based on a column of numbers or a list of provable facts.

Most important, they are all integral parts of the patient experience.  And the patient experience, much more than the clinical result, is what compels a person to write a positive review, or recommend the practice to a friend or family member, or borrow money in order to get comprehensive treatment.

Which is why the little things matter.

Which is why listening is so important.

Which is why price is not the primary factor in patient retention, unless it’s the only thing they hear.

Which is why genuinely caring about your patients, more than about making money, matters.

Which is why, quite simply, everything matters.


Google+ Down, Mobile Up, Facebook Up and Down

Here are some up-to-the-minute changes in social media.

  1. Google+, as far as dental practices go, is over.  Let me be the first one to tell you that you can stop posting there. Google+ is morphing away from being a social media site, as it failed the “me too” challenge with Facebook. I know, in my book I told you to mirror everything you did on Facebook on Google+.  Stuff changes–don’t shoot the messenger!  However, you should still request reviews for your Google+ page, as they will still show up in a Google search, and are valuable for SEO and influencing searching consumers. [Thanks to Jason K. for pointing that out!]
  2. Your activity, likes, and recommendations on your Facebook page are no longer indexed by Google.  No one knows exactly when this happened, but it’s over. So you get no Google juice (my term for SEO) out of your activity. This doesn’t mean you stop using Facebook.  It’s still the best medium to show the experience of being a patient of yours.
  3. On April 21, Google is modifying its algorithms (how it ranks websites) with respect to mobile sites. If your mobile site is not responsive or reformatted to play well on mobile devices, it is going to hurt your ranking.  Not the first time I’ve told you how important the mobile version of your website is.
  4. 74% of consumers will abandon your mobile website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Not the second time I’ve told you how important the mobile version of your website is.  More than 60% of web searches begin on smartphones, by the way.
  5. Videos now start playing automatically on Facebook as people scroll down their wall. (Unless you turn the function off.) This is engaging FB users in a big way. How big? Well, media analyst Socialbakers’ recent study showed video has twice the organic reach on Facebook as photos. And Facebook also has twice the number of videos with 1 million views that YouTube has. That’s serious.
  6. Because of this, I maintain that patient testimonial videos are your best marketing tool. Also, make sure you post natively on Facebook, which means don’t link a YouTube video or other URL source, upload it using Instagram or straight to Facebook with your computer or device.  If you don’t know how to get them done, read this blog post.
  7. Physicists now believe that gravity can leak into parallel universes, creating tiny black holes, and that the Large Hadron Collider may be able to detect them.  This may not seem important now, but wait 50 years. You’ll be saying, “Yeah, I knew about that back in 2015!”

That’s it for now.  But expect more changes.  Social media is a rapidly moving target.  And of course, if your website isn’t playing right on mobile, check out WebDirector.

And Jack Hadley, from My Social Practice, had this important point to add:

Fred, your statement under #2 is only partially true, “So you get no Google juice (my term for SEO) out of your activity.”

Cyrus Shepard, a super-smart SEO guy at MOZ, wrote the following just a couple of days ago… “The basic argument goes like this: ‘Google says they don’t use Facebook likes or Tweet counts to rank websites. Therefore, social activity doesn’t matter to SEO.’ This statement is half right, but can you guess which half? It’s true that Google does not use metrics such as Facebook shares or Twitter Followers directly in search rankings. On the other hand, successful social activity can have significant secondary effects on your SEO efforts. Social activity helps address two of the major tasks facing SEO: 1) Search engine discovery and indexation 2) Content distribution, which leads to links and shares.”

I wholeheartedly agree when you say, “It (social) is still the best medium to show the experience of being a patient of yours.” Spot on! However, in addition, there ARE SEO benefits that result from social media activity. We see it with our clients all the time.

Oh, BTW, if anyone wants to read Cyrus Shepard’s post, here is the link:

Thanks, Jack!