Who Do You Inspire?

We all have someone who inspires us.  If you’re lucky, you have several. And hopefully, 2016-new-year-ss-1920some of them are people you actually interact with on a regular basis, and aren’t just famous people or historical figures. I am blessed with a host of people who inspire me, from Tony Robbins and Simon Sinek to my good friend Ken Rutkowski, my brother Ron, and many more.

But it can also be little things, brief encounters, that inspire us.  I recently was picking up a rental car, and the Hertz clerk had such a genuinely cheerful attitude that he inspired me to brighten my own outlook. If we’re paying attention, inspiration can come from many places.

But what this blog is about is who you inspire.

We all have this ability. We all interact with family, co-workers, customers (patients) and various strangers throughout our day. Inspiration is a gift we can give to others.  And it doesn’t have to be something life-changing. You’re not going to barrel through your day handing out epiphanies left and right.  But you can spark something. You can uplift someone. You can set a good example, or do the unexpected.

And what really inspires people? Our actions. Sometimes it’s our words, or maybe a Facebook post.  But mostly, it’s our actions.

An act of kindness. A moment of patience or forbearance. Or generosity. You can inspire someone when you make someone laugh when they’re down, and show them the positives that are all around them.  You can demonstrate a better attitude (like my friend at Hertz).

A simple act of courtesy can inspire people, often without you even knowing them or realizing the impact you’ve had.

The opportunities to inspire are all around us. Grab a few.

I do this deliberately. I try to inspire my employees.  My friends. The people I lecture to.  This is not some ego trip I’m on. I don’t see myself as hugely inspiring, but I do acknowledge my ability to have some impact on people.  And so I make the effort.  Not to force-feed my viewpoint, but to show someone a different path.  It’s still up to them to take it. Inspiration is not about making anyone do anything. It’s an invitation.

And I don’t just see this as a nice thing to do. I see it as important to do, for you as well as others. For your own quality of life, your deeper happiness and satisfaction.

So I’m going to invite you to do something unusual.  Since it’s the time of year for resolutions, I’m going to suggest a different approach, which is this: take a few minutes, sit down and write your own eulogy.

Yes, actually write your eulogy. I know that sounds a bit morbid. But I’m pretty sure you’re going to die someday, so relax and go with it.  This is a chance for you to dive a little deeper into this concept of inspiring others.  The method to writing this is quite simple. All you have to do is envision what you will be remembered for.

This is not for anyone else to read. This is for you, written as if you were reading it at your own funeral service. (Ideally, many, many years from now!)

This is your chance to be honest, even brutally so, with yourself. What do you think your life will have meant to people? What would they say?  How do you think people would describe you?  Critique you?  What would they miss about you?  Would they miss you?

Will it be that you always had a fancy car and a big house, or was it that you were generous to a fault?

Were you adventurous or timid? Were you fair-minded or close-minded?

Did you choose love when it was difficult to do so, or did you fall into bias, prejudice, judgment and superiority?

Were you kind to animals but mean to people?

Exceptionally well-known, or an exceptional parent, or an exceptional complainer?

Did you have more friends than you could count, or more money than you could count?

Did you win, or help others to win? Did you crush the competition, or toast together with your competitors for a game well-played, whether you won or lost?

Did you inspire people to be better, to love more, to share more, to be honest and trustworthy?

Did you win arguments, or affection?  (Side note: there is no such thing as winning an argument. I’ve tried. It’s a delusion.)

Did you avenge every wrong, resent every slight, hold grudges endlessly, or opt for forgiveness?

Did your words of encouragement outweigh your criticisms?

Did you laugh enough? Did you pray enough?

Did you make a fortune? Or make a difference? (Not that you couldn’t do both.)

As you get toward the end of your eulogy, write what you would most want to be remembered for. Remember, this is for you. Not to show other people.  Don’t worry about the grammar. You are the only audience.

Once it’s done, seal it and read it next January 1st. See what’s changed. Maybe you inspired yourself.

In any case, I hope you decide to make this year an inspirational year, where some of your actions are deliberately chosen to inspire people. I wish you a joyful, challenging, and inspiring 2016!

Mythbusting Dentistry

I often say that dentistry is the most resilient business model in the country. This is true because of the basic necessity of tooth care, and the unique economic model of a dental practice. If you don’t know what I mean by the last part, read my recent blog entitled “Escaping Gravity.”  But I’ve found that there are some huge misconceptions about the industry by those who practice it.

MYTH #1: You don’t have to become more affordable.  You absolutely do.  Have you not seen billboards for implants at $399 a tooth?  You need to become more efficient in your delivery of dentistry and the use of your facility, precisely because you need to become more affordable.  And the right technology and systems can make you faster, delivering better quality dentistry in less time, which means you can provide more affordable dentistry and still be as profitable as you are now, and maybe even more so.

MYTH #2  Everyone eventually will need a dentist.  Think about this: in 2013, 59.2% of Americans supported a family on less than $50,000 a year of household income. That’s households, not individuals. Where is the disposable income for dental care? If it’s not provided by their individual states or counties, it doesn’t exist.  So everyone may need an extraction, but not everyone is going to be getting dental implants.  What dental audience you aiming for, and are you affordable to that segment of society, and are there enough of them in your area?  This goes back to the first Myth, because I believe when dentistry becomes more affordable and more convenient, it will broaden the entire category of dentistry. (My next blog will be about that subject, so stay tuned.)

MYTH #3  All you need are great clinical skills to attract patients. Absolutely not true.  The average person has no way of assessing a dentist’s clinical skills, and a tiny percentage of the population has the desire and the capability to find a highly trained dentist.  If you think CE alone will fill your chairs, you will eventually starve.  This may have been true 30 years ago, but it has grown less and less true for decades, and will not be true at all in the near future.  A great patient experience attracts patients, and creates word of mouth.  Clinical skills are only a fraction of that.

MYTH #4  Dentists are entrepreneurs.  They’re not. They are small business owners, and there’s an enormous difference.  You didn’t invent the dental business model.  Or the group practice model. Which is good, because it means you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Just look at what already works and do it, and adapt as times change to the new technologies and systems that are improve what you do. That’s challenging enough, don’t you think?

MYTH #5  Selling Dentistry Cheapens the Profession. The simple truth is we all need to be sold on things that are important to us, things that we neglect to focus on the true value of, whether it’s saving for retirement, or buying life insurance, or proper diet and exercise.  Dentistry is probably the most undervalued service in the country.  Very few people accurately assess the value and importance of their oral health, so it’s our professional responsibility to persuade them to do what is best for them. Which is what selling is: effective communication with a purpose.  If that purpose is to the patient’s benefit–and they don’t understand or are in denial about that benefit–you are duty-bound to help them understand the value and importance your recommended treatment.

MYTH #6  Group Practices Are Evil and Will Destroy Dentistry.  The reality is that there are good group practices, highly ethical and dedicated to treating patients well and providing a supportive environment for dentists to simply be dental professionals and not businesspeople, and there are some that are less so.  I had a dental student ask me recently about this, suggesting that some groups have a reputation for over-diagnosing and just being about making money.  My response was that there are some individual dentists who behave exactly the same way.  Don’t paint every dentist or every group with the same brush.  The real truth is that group practices are here to stay, and often serve populations that individual dentists don’t want to treat or can’t afford to.

MYTH #7  New Technology is an Expensive Luxury.  The corollary of this is that you can keep doing dentistry the way you’ve always done it.  The truth is that new technology, properly integrated into a practice, will make you more efficient, and allow you to do higher quality dentistry, and more than pay for itself.  For example, the cost of CAD/CAM technology like CEREC should be totally offset by the savings on your lab bill.  And CBCT technology like Galileos makes it possible to do implants faster and with significantly higher accuracy. And that is just considering the basic advantages of these two technologies. And let’s talk about the standard of care that technology can elevate.  Is there any clinical advantage to putting on a temporary?  Is there any clinical advantage to doing implants with two-dimensional imagery?  I’m no dentist, but I do know that patients are very interested in knowing the advantages to them of these technologies.

I often hear dentists complain that they don’t adopt new technologies because it slows them down.  Well, are they really considering the patient when they use this as the deciding factor?  And the truth is, very often to get better at something by learning a new technique or technology, or changing a system in the office, it requires slowing down before you can get faster and better.  But it’s generally worth it.  (Check out this blog on that topic.)

I’m sure some or perhaps many of you will disagree with me on these various points.  I’m hoping to give you a broader perspective, and also inviting you to inform and enlighten me.  My personal goal is for dentistry to reach more people while making dentists more successful.  And that’s no myth!

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!

Responding to Negative Facebook Comments

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.