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.

 

The Magic of Giving Tours

If you’ve read my book, you know I’m a big believer in giving office tours to new patients, and I wanted to give you an example of how influential it can be based on an experience I had in Chicago last month.

One of the perks of attending the Chicago Midwinter Meeting is getting to eat at some Chicago’s amazing restaurants.  For the second year in a row, I made a point of dining at Chicago Cut Steakhouse, which to my mind is one of the best steakhouses in the world. The waiters are informed and attentive, the atmosphere feels modern and classic at the same time, and the beef is cooked to perfection.Fernando Chicago Cut small

We all wanted to see how they could do everything so perfectly, so we asked for a tour of the kitchen.  And they were entirely prepared to do so. They often give tours of the dry-aging room (they butcher all their own beef right there) but we got the bonus round and were led into the kitchen, where we met master chef Fernando (that’s him with me) who manages to serve more than 500 steaks every night, each one cooked perfectly.

He showed us his unique method for testing if the steak is done exactly right, but those of us on the tour were sworn to secrecy.  (Maybe if you buy me dinner there next time I’ll tell you. 😉 ) All in all, it was a singularly terrific evening in the Windy City.

Am I biased by the tour to believe that their food is superior? You bet. Am I coming back? Guaranteed. Am I going to tell people about this place? I am right now. Will I post about it on social media? Oh, just on Twitter, Facebook and Yelp.

This is the same effect you want to achieve with your new patient tours.

When a new patient comes to your office, they don’t know what they’re in for.  Even if they were recommended by a friend and family member, they’re apprehensive.  A tour relaxes them, informs them, and gives them an experience that they don’t normally get in health care.  It starts the relationship by making the patient feel truly welcome.

In a recent survey done for Futuredontics, we asked patients the reasons why they would go back to the same dentist. Surprisingly, they ranked the cleanliness of the practice as a close third. Most people have no idea the degree of effort dental practices make in sterilization, so show them.  Put them at ease. They may not verbalize it, but they want to know that the practice is safe and sterile.  If you want to know more about what we learned, you can access our white paper “What Dental Patients Want” by clicking on the title.

To give you an idea how serious people are about this, I recently met a woman who told me she only went back to the dentist that we recommended because they had soap in the restroom.  Huh?  But think about it.  She was basing the cleanliness of the entire office based on the bathroom.  Big assumption, but if the bathroom is dirty, what else is?  Keep it clean!

Lots of big companies do tours.  Zappos, the online clothing store, for example.  Anyone can get a tour of their facility in Las Vegas, and i highly recommend it.  A-Dec does as well, and you’ll be amazed at the lengths to which they go to build long-lasting products. And, if you’re ever in Los Angeles, we’ll be happy to give you a tour of Futuredontics. (Lots of soap in the bathroom, I promise you!)

I lay out the details of doing office tours in my book, but here are the basics:

  1. Plan the steps of the tour, and script it;
  2. Pick a tour guide (you generally know who that should be from the team–or take turns doing it);
  3. Let everyone know in the morning huddle when there will be a new patient tour, so that they can be ready to greet the person by name;
  4. Show them your wall of fame (pictures, training, diplomas, patient letters and photos);
  5. Explain all the benefits of the technology that you use;
  6. Show them the sterilization center;
  7. Introduce them to the team members and dentists;
  8. Ask them if they have any questions.

This will give a phenomenal and unique first impression.  Your office doesn’t necessarily have to have an amazing design, but it should always feel warm and inviting, and look clean and modern. Most of all, have fun doing it!

 

 

Why a Dentist Should Be Running the Oscars

I recorded the Academy Awards last night so I could fast forward through the
commercials, and I even added 30 minutes extra to the recording time, and I STILL missed the Best Picture Award.  How the heck can this be the 87th Academy Awards and they still can’t figure out how long it’s going to run?  35 minutes long on a three-hour show?  That’s off by 20%!This recording has ended-3

So here’s my solution: get a dentist to produce the Oscars.  There isn’t a single dentist I know who would consistently run over by 20%.  Dentists know how to make those 10-minute blocks work.  They certainly learn from experience, and if they ever did run over on a procedure, they wouldn’t book the same amount of time the next 86 times!

As an aside, I probably won’t be the first person to point out that while an Oscar was given to a screenwriter who spoke eloquently about his near suicide and how people shouldn’t give up, and another was awarded for best short documentary about the veterans’ hotline,  where the director spoke of how she lost her son to suicide, that the Best Picture winner was the one film where (spoiler alert!) the lead character kills himself. Huh? I love irony as much as the next guy, but seriously, folks.

Back to the show timing. Here’s a suggestion.  You are nominated for an Oscar, which means you have a 20% chance of being in front of 1 billion people accepting the award.  So prepare something eloquent. If you can’t think of something eloquent, ask someone to write something for you and then memorize it.  Then pick the two most important people you want to thank, thank them and do a blanket thank you for everyone else. (We actually watched someone thank his dog last night, which Mickey Rourke also did a few years ago.) That way maybe, just maybe, we could watch more film clips and more retrospective montages rather than strangers in badly-fitting tuxedos listing their co-workers, agents and family members.

Which is why a dentist would also be a great producer for the show.  Dentists know that the schedule is about treating patients, so they would know that the Academy Awards is about our love of movies. They’d focus on that, get it done right and get us to bed on time.

And finally, why a dental office should be more like the Oscars:

Take a little more time each day to express your gratitude and appreciation to your team. And, as team members, express that appreciation more to each other.  One thing we do learn from these acceptance speeches is that these people all know they didn’t get there alone.  None of us do.  Express it often, and don’t be afraid to go long.