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Are you prepared for the future?

Dentistry is changing – fast. The good news is that there’s still plenty of opportunity, plenty of options and great profit in dentistry, the biggest risk is staying the same.

If you want 2018 to be your best year in practice, you can’t do what you did last year.

It’s time to claim what you want and create a plan to get you there, so I’m inviting you to join me and dentistry’s leading experts, for The 2018 Future of Dentistry Event. During this free, online event, you’ll get a practical plan to transform your practice for the future and make 2018 your best year ever!

Click here to REGISTER for this special event. Don’t let the fast approaching wave of change overcome you. Learn how you can position yourself and your practice for an unbelievably successful 2018 and beyond!

 

January Is Make or Break Time for Dentists

January is dentistry’s busiest and best month for new patient acquisition. How your front desk handles new patient calls during the next few weeks can make or break your year. Knowing exactly what to say to callers as well as how and when to say it can mean the difference between hanging-up in frustration and adding thousands of dollars in new production to your bottom line. I hope you can join me and my special guest Laura Hatch, founder of Front Office Rocks, on January 12th for a special live webinar where you’ll learn how to take advantage of  January’s exciting growth opportunities year round. Sealing the Deal. Call Handling and Front Desk Strategies New Patients Can't ResistIn this all-new free presentation, Laura and I will share proven strategies that will help your practice create the kind of warm and caring first impression – both on the phone and in the office – that lays a great foundation for a long-lasting patient relationship. Recognized as one of the Top 25 Women in Dentistry, Laura is an expert at helping practices improve their day-to-day operations and create the ultimate customer service experience. In less than an hour we’ll cover everything from scripts for handling “shopper” calls about fees to tips on the best way a front desk can welcome new patients. It’s going to be great. We hope you can make it. Register now.

Dealing with The Dreaded Money Question

There is a long-held belief among dental consultants that we must never give prices over the phone when a patient asks.  Instead, we’ve created an elaborate way of not answering the question, and trying to get the patient in. I know, because in my first book, Everything is Marketing, I gave exactly that same advice.

Well, times are changing. People are very used to being able to find the price, and the cheapest price, for almost anything. Right there in their hand is a smartphone that can find the cheapest TV, car, dinner or hotel.

The problem in dentistry is compounded by the fact that fees vary so much from practice to practice, and UCF’s are radically different depending on what city or town you’re in.  And I know some dentists in Beverly Hills who charge a separate fee to put on a temporary (which is why they don’t want to get a CEREC–there’s goes that extra income!)

What’s a patient to do? Especially since the whole dental insurance coverage issue is just as confusing to them, and hard for them to understand that it’s not health insurance at all, but some variation of a discount plan on basic care.

I still believe that when a patient is asking what a crown costs, they are really asking if they can trust you not to overcharge them, since they can’t come in and start pulling charts to figure out if you’re a good clinician or not.  (Even if they knew what to look for, HIPPA wouldn’t allow it!) So they don’t know what else to ask, so they ask for prices. And many front desk team members will just give up the cost right away, without establishing any value or clarifying that costs depend on diagnosis.  And that’s not good either.

Now, some patients live on a very tight budget. Quite a few of them, actually. So cost is a huge factor when it comes to dentistry and accepting treatment. I don’t really have to tell you that.  And not everyone values dentistry the same way that you and I do. Some people just want to be able to chew or get out of pain.

And I also understand that most of you don’t want patients who are looking for the cheapest dentist. You don’t want to be that, and you don’t want people to expect that. But somehow, you’ve got to still get them to come into the practice and find out what a remarkable experience you give them, so that they start to believe you are worth the cost.

There is no simple answer here, but a large part of the solution is to have someone very skilled working at your reception, who knows how to listen, how to empathize, and how to effectively create a great first impression of the practice, and persuade someone to come in to experience it for themselves.

And then it comes down to the words. In many cases, rather than being totally evasive, you can give a range of what something would cost, depending on their individual condition. And it’s still critical to explain to people that it’s impossible to diagnose over the phone.  But a root canal is a root canal, and 9 times out of 10 you are going to charge exactly the same amount each time you do it.  So they know you’re being evasive when you don’t just tell them, and that doesn’t build trust.

In short, your front desk person has to be comfortable talking about cost, while making sure to build value over the phone, and inviting the patient to come in and see for themselves. If she is confident that she is working for a dentist who does high quality work  in a comfortable environment at a reasonable price, then she is going to project that over the phone, and the patient will sense it. And then, talk about the range of what a treatment would cost, and also make clear that an initial exam is free or a very low cost.

Of course, you won’t get everyone in.  That’s the reality. And not every patient is a good fit for the practice.  But you can improve your odds.  And I’ve become convinced that we need to not only get comfortable talking about fees over the phone, but we need to get good at it.

I’m going to dive much deeper into this whole question of maximizing the front desk results in my next webinar, with special guest Laura Hatch, who has helped create the front desk environment that built two multi-million dollar practices, and who know teaches those skills in her fantastic video course, Front Office Rocks.  The webinar is Friday, January 12th at 11am Pacific time.  You can register by clicking here, and even if you can’t make it, as long as you register you’ll be sent a recording of the webinar.

It’s going to be extremely valuable for anyone building a practice, so don’t miss this one!

 

Even if You’re Careful, You’re Going to Get a Reputation

How many times have you heard someone say “My reputation is at stake,” or even “We’ve built a reputation as (fill in the blank)?” But how can you really define “reputation,” and how is yours created?

The truth is, your reputation isn’t what you do; it’s what people believe you are going to do.  And there’s a huge difference there. And given today’s headlines, I don’t think I have to tell you that your reputation is constantly at risk.

What you do and how you do it may be the foundation for your reputation. However, the propulsion, the spreading of it, the required active engagement in the media, is what exposes it to the world. That is what gives it life.

And that exposure and circulation is happening all the time, with or without your permission. Certain media, whether you like it or not, are creating and building that reputation. Yelp, Google, Facebook, Healthgrades, Instagram and many other sites are gathering opinions, ratings and reviews about you — all the time.

So the real question becomes, how are you actively “controlling the story?” 

It’s understandable to think, “I’ll let my outstanding work speak for itself.” But it’s not really enough to be good. In fact, it’s not even enough to be the best.

The truth is, the marketplace is littered with products and services that were “the best,” and yet the second- or third-best version wiped them off the map. Why? Because they were more actively and expertly marketed. The best product, although superior, failed to take control of the conversation and paid the price.

And I know what you’re probably thinking right now, “I’m a medical professional. I shouldn’t have to be involved in all that sort of behavior.” The problem is, your competitors do involve themselves. And your impression about social media’s lack of respectability is mostly misguided.  The reality is, consumers are hungry for information about you, even if it is only someone else’s biased impression. And consumers’— your prospective patients’— easy access to this information only increases their appetite for it exponentially.

Which is why, again, you need to take charge of your reputation.   Fortunately, there are several ways to do just that — most of which involve actively engaging your patients in the process. Here are a few steps to consider:

  • Create video patient testimonials and distribute them via your social media, email, and website. Letting someone else sing your praises is a lot more powerful than having to do it yourself. And using video lets you show, not tell, prospective patients what your practice has to offer.
  • Claim your social media. Check out your profiles on Yelp, Google, Facebook and Instagram. Is your information accurate? Have you included everything that makes your practice great?
  • Counteract negative reviews. What are people saying about you on Yelp, Google and other review sites? Don’t let negative reviews just sit there working against you, respond. But when you do, make sure you are positive, professional, and above all, compliant.  Need help? Click here to download our FREE guide to handling negative online reviews.

Net-net, your reputation is still based on what others say and think about you, but you are not powerless. You still have the ability to monitor what’s being said, acknowledge it and counteract it with information that you control.  So in the end, your goal isn’t so much about making sure you don’t get a reputation, as it is about owning and shaping the one you’ve got.

 

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.