Are You Making a $100,000 Mistake?

Did you know that employment-related lawsuits now pose a greater risk to dental practices than malpractice cases? Settlements with penalties often run over $100,000.

I’ve seen more than my share of good, hard working dentists get into a world of expensive trouble because they failed to dot ever “i” and cross every “t” when it came to dealing with the nation’s increasingly complex HR regulations and employment laws.

That’s why I’m excited that my good friend Ali Oromchian — co-founder / CEO of HR for Health and founding attorney of the Dental and Medical Counsel, P.C. law firm – is joining me tomorrow, Wednesday, October 11th, for our next free webinar:

Ali is one of the nation’s leading dental counsels and a recognized authority on HR systems for dental practices. We’re going to pop the hood on this troublesome topic during Protecting Your Million-Dollar Baby! HR Compliance Made Easy so you’ll leave with an action plan that saves time, money and minimizes operational headaches.

Sign up now and be sure to stick around for the live Q&A session following the webinar. It’s going to be a good one.

Ready, Get Set, Instagram!

Okay, I get it. You’ve heard of Instagram, you know what it is, and you even agree that you need Instagram for your business. But if you’re like many dentists, what you may not be so sure about is how to set up an Instagram account for your practice, or how to put it to work to promote that practice. We hear you, and we’ve got you. The folks in our marketing area have created a really great resource just for you, our “Instagram QuickStart Guide.” It takes you step-by-step through the process of creating an Instagram practice profile, posting effective content and developing a healthy list of followers for your practice’s account.

And here’s the best part, you can download a copy for yourself for FREE, just by clicking here.

 

 

Don’t Panic, Plan.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand why I am writing this post now. All you have to do to is turn on the news. All around us are reports about back-to-back, off-the-chart storms and hurricanes, life-threatening earthquakes, and wildfires popping up like never before. It’s a lot. And sure, it’s enough to make you feel pretty humbled, but I’m here to tell you, it does not have to make you feel helpless.

What I’m saying is, there’s no better time than the present to create a detailed emergency plan for your practice. I get it, as a small-business owner, this task is a little trickier without a “corporate headquarters” to help you out. But the truth is, disaster preparedness is especially important for businesses like yours. In fact, FEMA reports that more than 40% of small businesses, lacking a solid emergency plan, fail to reopen their doors after a disaster strikes.  So let’s dig in and make some plans now, so that together we can beat that statistic.

Be a People Person
Have you ever noticed that when news crews visit the scene of a disaster and interview the victims, standing among their destroyed homes, the response is usually the same, “Well, these are just things. The most important thing is our whole family is safe.” I’m sure you feel the same way about your greatest resource, the members of your team.  So start by asking for their help. Put together an emergency task force to help you create a detailed plan with their safety in mind. Consider things like:

  • A defined evacuation plan
  • Clear instructions and ownership of each duty,
  • Provisions for those needing extra assistance
  • Adequate supplies (water, batteries, chargers, flashlights, first aid kits, whistles, tools for shut-off valves) for all of your staff and the maximum number of patients who could be at your office.

Talk Ain’t Cheap
During a disaster, communication becomes more important than ever. Make sure all of your staff’s contact information is accurate, and that at least a few key employees have access to that information so that they can act as point people if needed. These “communication officers” should also have contact information for vendors, your payroll provider, patients, etc., and understand who needs to know what.

Think Outside Your Phone
Because you won’t be able to depend on cell service, consider alternate means of communication for your practice, your staff and your patients. For example, during these latest events, Facebook has proven to be a great way for people to provide updates and to mark themselves as safe. We’ve also found that during Hurricane Harvey, PatientActivator’s® communication tools have come in really handy.

Geek Out
Let’s face it, our lives are on our computers. So while we have fewer paper documents, records and reports to worry about, we still have to be concerned about the actual hardware that allows us to store all that stuff. Back up your data regularly and store it off site, or better yet, send it to the cloud. And, of course, if you do still have some actual paper documents, make sure you have copies — off site and in a secure, fireproof, waterproof location.

Power Hungry
And while we’re on the topic, let’s spend a moment talking about keeping power flowing to all of this technology. What if during a key procedure your practice goes dark? Could your computers handle a power surge? Think about all the electronic items that would be unusable should you lose power and consider getting a back-up generator or battery system for your computers.

Cover Your … Assets
Recently, when the city of Houston became covered in water, I was amazed to learn the number of business (and home) owners who did not have flood insurance to cover the extensive damage to their properties. When’s the last time you checked your insurance coverage? Do you know what is and isn’t covered? What exactly is an “Act of God” any way? Is your current amount of coverage appropriate for the size of your business today? What about your equipment, could it be replaced if needed? Do yourself a favor, and make sure you’ve got the coverage you need to help you bounce back completely and quickly.

But don’t take my word for it, ask the real experts how to do your future self a favor and get your emergency plan together today. Take a look at the following websites for some additional guidance. And if you are a 1-800-DENTIST member, make sure you’ve got us on your important emergency contact list!

American Red Cross

FEMA

OSHA

CDC

Small Business Administration

I’m absolutely crazy about Dr. Wayne Kerr

I was lucky enough to see a presentation by Dr. Wayne Kerr earlier this year and frankly I was blown away. Wayne’s tales of success and failure from his 35+ year career in dentistry had me laughing hard and seriously rethinking a lot of what I thought I knew about how to succeed as a solo practitioner. I’m thrilled to tell you that Wayne is my special guest for an all-new webinar tomorrow.

“Winning the Long-Game in Dentistry” is filled with humor, great insights and proven business principles that improve lives, practices and financial health. I hope you can join us. A good time is guaranteed, especially during the live Q&A session. It’s going to be a wild one. Click here to register.

 

 

The Devastating Impact of Indifference

With the ever-increasing influence of social media affecting every business, it is more important than ever to be hyper-vigilant when it comes to the perception by your patients that you care about them. They need to feel that you care about them more than money, more than efficiency, more than your own sense of importance.

And understand that the opposite of caring is indifference. Think about how quickly and easily you perceive when someone is being uncaring or indifferent to you? How little did you like it? And did you post somewhere about it? Did you feel compelled to tell someone? Or did you just not use that service anymore?

It doesn’t matter if you’re not feeling particularly caring that day or toward that patient (and I’m talking about everyone on the dental team, not just dentist).  What matters is that they perceive that you care.  Which means maybe you have to act like you care, even if you don’t feel like it.  Because that’s the job.

This blog was inspired by a recent post by Seth Godin, whom I normally find extremely insightful, but this post was more akin to wisdom, and relates directly to creating a remarkable patient experience (my favorite theme!), so I’m going to quote it in its entirety here for you:

The Toxic Antidote to Goodwill,

by Seth Godin

 

Anyone who has done the math will tell you that word of mouth is the most efficient way to gain trust, spread the word and grow.

And yet…

It only takes a moment to destroy. Only a few sentences, a heartless broken promise, a lack of empathy, and it’s gone. Not only that, but the lost connection can easily lead to lawsuits.

Doctor, the surgery seems to have gone wrong!

It’s not my fault. I did a perfect job. Tough luck.

Architect, the floor is sagging, the beams were put in the wrong direction!

I don’t care. There’s a three-year statute of limitations, and even then, it wasn’t my job to ensure that the work met the plans.

Airline, my two-year-old can’t sit in a row by herself, and the agent on the phone said you’d work it so we could sit together!

It’s not my fault. If you don’t want to get on the plane, don’t get on the plane.

In all three cases, there are significant operational barriers to magically fixing the problem. But that’s not where the breakdown happened. It happened because a human being decided to not care. Not care and not express anything that felt like caring.

A human being, perhaps intimidated by lawyers, or tired after a hard day, or the victim of a bureaucracy (all valid reasons) then made the stupid decision to not care.

By not caring, by not expressing any empathy, this individual denied themselves their own humanity. By putting up a brick wall, they isolate themselves. Not only do they destroy any hope for word of mouth, they heap disrespect on someone else. By working so hard to not engage (in the vain hope that this will somehow keep them clean), they end up in the mud, never again to receive the benefit of the doubt.

What kind of day or week or career is that? To live in a lucite bubble, keeping track only of individuals defeated and revenue generated?

It turns out that while people like to have their problems fixed, what they most want is to be seen and to be cared about.

Of course you should use these fraught moments to reinforce connections and build word of mouth. Of course you should realize that in fact people like us get asked to recommend airlines and doctors and architects all the time, but now, we will never ever recommend you to anyone, in fact, we’ll go out of our way to keep people from choosing you.

But the real reason you should extend yourself in these moments when it all falls apart is that this is how you will measure yourself over time. What did you do when you had a chance to connect and to care?

Sometimes the only option is to reach deep into ourselves to offer up caring even when we feel we are too busy, too annoyed, too frustrated or too frazzled.  But this is when it makes all the difference.  And if it’s just a performance, so be it. Because what happens almost every time is that other person responds positively, warmly, humanly.  And suddenly you feel yourself genuinely caring. And find a way to solve the issue.