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!



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12 thoughts on “The Magic of Giving Tours

  1. Great article! I hope more offices start doing the tour. The office tour is the best way the team gets to show off & my team loves it. It is a chance for them to applaud one another, the doctor, new staff, or other things the office has done. The other day our insurance coordinator closed a huge claim that she had been helping a patient get paid. It was more than $1,200!! Now when the staff does the tour they tell the new patient that. It helps when we inform them that while it is only an estimate, the insurance coordinator is one of the best. The trust is built immediately.

    • I love that story–it’s so true that you can brag about the other people and how great they are, and giving examples makes the experience really come to life. Thanks for sharing that!

  2. Wow – great story and important reminder to put the Sparkle & Shine in the dental practice from the sterilization room to the bathroom – patients evaluate a dental practice by what they see, hear and smell in the office!

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  4. 100% Correct Fred! This definitely works well. I have always advised dentists to also look at their practice as a patient, or potential patient, would. I have taken them outside and walk them in through the front door and through all rooms (including the bathroom where the soap is supposed to be). At the end of the tour, I would ask if they were impressed and what they would change to improve the environment. At that point, I make my comments too, i.e. retire the magazines from 2008. The big question was, “Would you be a patient of this dentist?”. It makes them think. Patients don’t know a good crown prep from a bad one. They only know what they see and feel.

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  6. Very insightful tips here. It’s so important that a tour puts any new patient at ease, rather than make them more anxious, and also show what you can offer them that maybe the other dentist down the block can’t.

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