May 24, 2016
Dr. Abraham Verghesi is a best selling author and world renowned physician. In his book “Cutting for Stone”, he tells his residents that the most important organ in the body is the ear. Why? Because to be a great doctor and exquisite diagnostician, you must train yourselves to listen to what your patients tell you.
All day long, as dentists, we diagnose dental problems and offer treatment solutions. Our patients seek us out for our ability to provide answers to their questions and concerns. Why is it then that some dentists are more successful than others in convincing patients to accept treatment? Advanced clinical abilities, expertise in multiple disciplines, salesmanship and communication skills are all important attributes for success with case presentation. But I find the most successful docs are the ones who have trained themselves to listen – to listen intently to what their patients tell them, and to truly hear their patients’ concerns, fears, and uncertainties.
It has been said that we have two ears and one mouth so we should listen more than we speak. Isn’t it interesting that the word “listen” contains the same letters as the word “silent”. So the next time that you are having a conversation with a patient, remember the acronym WAIT- Why Am I Talking?
My take away message – participate in the conversation but don’t dominate the conversation. Be interested rather than interesting, and the results will amaze you!
May 9, 2016
I decided to try something different. If you go to my website – directly in the middle of my Home Page – you can see my brand-new custom-designed animated white board video. Also known as an “explainer video”, this neuroscience based video uses the magic combination of visual storytelling and information to explain how your product or service works in seconds.
According to internetretailer.com, up to 85% of people are more likely to buy a product or service if they first saw an animated explainer video. Viewers retain more information watching the video rather than reading text. The continuous change and movement in the images of a whiteboard animation keeps the viewer’s brain engaged and involved. They are not only just fun and super engaging, but they also convert viewers into action takers like never before.
I hired wizMotions to help me create my own story.
• They have produced over 1500 videos since 2012 including 700 in the last 12 months.
• All of the wizMotions’ artwork is 100% original and hand-drawn. They don’t use clip art like a lot of animation companies do.
• All of wizMotions’ videos are produced in house. They have a team of 20 people, including artists, copywriters, animators, editors, and project managers. They don’t outsource anything to third parties.
• wizMotions offers unlimited revisions to the script storyboard. Many other animation companies start charging after two or three revisions.
• The pricing is totally transparent – very affordable – and published on their website.
• And best of all, their customer service and attention to detail was first rate. I never felt like a small fish in a big pond.
Differentiate yourself from your competition and their old school types of presentation. And remember that Google loves video – so relevant videos posted on your website are a great SEO tool. I can tell you that my experience was extraordinarily positive and amazingly easy. Start to finish, the completed video took two weeks. My total cost was $679. So call Grant Keller at 732-943-3337 ext. 705 and get started on a fun project that could be a game changer for your dental practice.
April 25, 2016
One of the most common events in any dental practice is the new patient visit that begins with a clipboard of forms to complete. Perhaps your practice is progressive and has new patient forms that someone can download from your website, print at home, and bring with them (if they remember) to that initial visit . The common denominator is paper that needs to be either filed into the patient’s folder or scanned into the patient’s digital record.
The team at Ambir Technology has developed software called nForm that totally eliminates the need for paper. The forms are delivered electronically to a tablet (Apple or Android) and the new patient fills out the forms with a stylus exactly as they used to do with a pen. You can even pre-populate some fields on the electronic form to speed up the process. That will eliminate the need for the patient to repetitively provide name, address, and contact information across multiple forms. Once the forms are completed and signed, the patient clicks Submit on the tablet, and the forms are electronically and securely delivered back to the front desk.
The forms are stored in the same place on your server or in the patient’s electronic record as if they had been scanned. But instead, staff save so much time by not having to scan, and the office eliminates the cost of paper and the costs of disposal of sensitive material. You also score a big win for the high tech image your practice projects.
The cost of nForm is a minimal $299/year license fee. Here is a link to some frequently asked questions about nForm. I suggest that you join the next generation of digital document management. Visit the website or call Amanda Plummer at 630-352-3257.
April 12, 2016
A little over one year ago, I wrote about an innovative company called Weave. I thought an update would be appropriate because there have been many new positive changes.
The basics are still the same. Weave provides the phones to your office. $349/month buys you unlimited local and long-distance calling, as many lines as you want, as many messages as you want to record, and music on hold. No contract–you can simply return the hardware and cancel at any time. And there is still a 60 day money back guarantee for first time users. Here is what is new.
1. The telephones have been improved and are now the best you can buy anywhere – providing outstanding clarity and fidelity. These new telephones contain an internal 1 gig processor. So the phones do the processing and not the computer, which means you don’t drain the capacity of the office Internet speed.
2. You now have the opportunity–for training purposes–to record both inbound and outbound telephone calls.
3. Weave now provides call tracking for all missed telephone calls.
4. There is a new Weave mobile app. This allows the doctor to see the appointment schedule remotely from a cell phone. It also allows you to communicate with your patient in a novel way. Even though you physically call from your personal cell phone, it looks to the patient that the call is coming from the phone number of the practice. The same application applies to texting.
5. In the last year, the company has grown from 60 employees to 125, with significant improvement in customer service and technical support.
We all know how challenging it is to get a patient to leave a review–even after they have promised. Demand Force, Patient Activator, Lighthouse 360 and Revenue Well all have programs to solicit reviews, but these are known as “third party reviews” that are hosted on a micro-site controlled by these companies. While these reviews are helpful, they are nowhere near as visible or carry as much weight as a “direct review”. Those are the reviews posted on places like Google, or Facebook or Yelp.
I am thus most excited about a new Weave service called the Review App. This is not included in the standard monthly fee. It costs an additional $100/month. Frankly–for the results it generates–I would pay four or five times that amount! After a patient leaves the office following treatment, they receive a text message asking if–based on their experience–they would feel comfortable referring a patient to the practice. If the answer is yes–and if they have a Gmail account–they are automatically taken to your Google Place Page where they are asked to leave a review. If they do not have a Gmail account, they are automatically linked to the Yelp or Facebook Page of the practice where they are again prompted to leave a review. The entire process is automated and very clever. And the results are fabulous.
Since today it is estimated that 70% of all reviews come from a mobile device, this new Weave app is particularly effective. To find out more about Weave, you can call Monroe McCoy at 801-636-6116.
March 28, 2016
As we listen to talk radio, read the newspapers, browse the Internet or watch the 24/7 news cycle, it is very apparent that a large majority of our population is unhappy with the current political situation. I have no solution to offer, and would not even attempt to write a blog about politics. What I do want to write about is happiness.
According to a recent article from US News and World Report, out of the 100 best jobs in America, orthodontists ranked first and general dentists ranked second! So there should be a lot of reasons to be happy if you are lucky enough to be a dentist these days:
• You are self-employed. How nice to be able to control your own destiny and realize that you have job security.
• You set your own work schedule. Obviously we are paid on what we produce, so many of us put in long hours. But that is a choice that we make.
•You can dramatically improve the lives of so many people with the ever increasing availability of advanced reconstructive dental treatments.
•You can create beautiful smiles. In so many situations, this is a transformative and life altering event for the aesthetically challenged patient.
•As a dentist you enjoy a position of respect in your community.
• With careful planning, your long term financial security should rarely be an issue.
Of course it has taken a lot of hard work and time and effort, and study, and years of on-going and continuous training to get to where you are today. Not to mention the substantial financial investment. So you should be justifiably proud of your success and accomplishment.
But practicing dentistry can be stressful, often exhausting, and we all know how hard it is to please everybody. Just remember that when you are at that point of feeling sorry for yourself – and we all have been there – just try to realize – compared to so many others in our society – how truly lucky we are – and how happy we should be in our chosen profession.
March 14, 2016
In my last blog post, I discussed the challenge of picking the correct marketing strategy to attract more new patients to your practice. There is no one size fits all, certainly no magic bullet that is guaranteed to hit the target. So you have to be nimble and careful about making any kind of long term contractual agreement or arrangement with any marketing program. You just never know what the results will be.
The responses from many of you sharing your experiences got me thinking about Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) and why I think it surpasses any one strategy while complementing every strategy. I researched a number of word-of-mouth marketing statistics that you should know about. Take a few minutes and read these articles – very interesting stuff. Insightpool.com November 2015; ambassador.com December 30, 2015; and friendbuy.com July 2015. Some highlights:
• 84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products–making these recommendations the information source ranked highest for trustworthiness. (Nielsen).
• 74% of consumers identify word–of–mouth as a key influence in their purchasing decision. (Ogilvy).
• 20% to 50% of purchases are the result of a word-of-mouth recommendation. And consumers sharing a brand’s message generated more than double the sales that resulted from paid advertising. (McKinsey & Co.)
• 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people – even if they don’t know them personally – over promotional content that comes directly from paid advertising. (Nielsen).
Word of mouth is defined as a trusted recommendation from one friend to another about a product or a service or a provider of a service. It is friends speaking to friends in all different situations: parents waiting to pick up their kids at school – chatting at the gym – cocktail parties – anywhere that people congregate. They talk about restaurants, movies, golf balls that go farther and straighter, books, and of course healthcare providers like their dentist. The following is a short list of what I hope people would say about your practice:
• I never felt one bit of pain! I was so nervous, and they totally reassured me and kept me comfortable.
• I have never once had to wait. They are always on time.
• They are so good with coordinating my insurance benefits. They really make the payment easy.
• My dentist is such a caring professional. She calls me after treatment to see if I am okay.
• I actually received a handwritten note from the doctor himself after my mother died. I could not believe how considerate and caring that was.
• I had my crown done in one day! And they didn’t even have to take an impression and put glop in my mouth.
• You simply would not believe how compassionate and friendly the staff is at this office. They always make me feel so special.
• The dentist explained everything to me and gave me his total undivided attention so that I fully understood the treatment.
• My dentist gave me choices for treatment, and there was no pressure, no salesmanship. I felt in control.
What is equally interesting is the effect of word of mouth through social media. In today’s digital age, it has taken on a new life, as conversations and engagement travel around the web at supersonic speeds. According to a recent Nielsen survey, 68% of consumers trust online opinions from other consumers and place online opinions as the third most trusted source of product information. Furthermore, 72% of consumers say that reading a positive customer review increases their trust in the business. So for sure you need to continually acquire excellent Google and Yelp reviews from your satisfied patients and make them easy to find and easy to read from your website. The value of these reviews is enormous.
So please make the commitment to excellence on all levels so that word of mouth can work for you. I always say – and truly believe – that it is easy to be good when so many others are so bad! Schedule some staff meetings and get everyone on board. You can’t do it alone. Please remember that this commitment has to be consistent and ongoing. Create the buzz in your community, and new patients will start flowing to your doors.
February 29, 2016
Not a single day goes by that I don’t receive an e-mail or a pop up ad or some direct solicitation about how to find more new patients. Webinars abound on this singular topic. Everyone thinks that he or she has the right answer–the magic bullet–that is going to get your telephone ringing off the hook.
• Postcard campaigns mailed to 10,000 of your nearest and dearest friends in your neighborhood.
• Radio ads for sleep apnea.
• Master social media – in one hour, of course.
• Learn to be a public speaker and go out and give seminars in your community.
• In bound marketing campaigns from your website.
The list is endless. The choices are considerable. We all want more new patients. This is ultimately driven by the recognition that the lifetime value of a patient is VERY significant–easily thousands and thousands of dollars. It is not the point of this post to evaluate the relative merits of these initiatives. If well executed, they might prove to be successful. But I think we can all agree that acting on these ideas requires a substantial investment of time and money with no guarantees on the return. How about trying something much easier and much more predictable?
With the experience afforded to me over the past 20+ years of management coaching to hundreds of practices, I routinely see an amazing statistic: 25 to 35% of patients who have been seen in the last 18 months do not have a scheduled continuing care appointment. In other words, there exists a fairly large practice within your practice with whom you’ve lost contact. These patients have not sent you a letter asking for their records to be sent to another office. They have simply fallen off the wagon.
Please read this article that I published many years ago that gives specific details on how to conduct a reactivation campaign. The financial rewards of reconnecting with patients with whom you already have an existing relationship will usually far outweigh the costs and energy required to market your practice to attract someone new. As my friend Spencer Peller of Yestrak recently wrote, “we encourage business owners to maximize existing relationships first before looking to create new ones. It’s not that we don’t like marketing that attracts new customers – quite to the contrary, we LOVE marketing. However, spending money on costly advertisements before making sure the existing base is happy (and referring others) is a mistake most business owners cannot afford to make.”
February 15, 2016
Allow me to introduce you to TempDaddy, a company started two years ago by Alex Adeli DMD, a dentist in the Boston area. TempDaddy is a platform that connects healthcare professionals – including assistants, hygienists, and front desk personnel – with dental practices for temporary staffing engagements. This company offers an automated solution that allows dental offices to find quality staff on very short notice.
The process is pretty amazing. TempDaddy is able to do this by supplying these professionals with a mobile app that allows them to instantly apply for jobs. That same app allows the dental office to review the qualifications of the applicant before they decide to hire the professional. This is a very attractive feature because the dental office controls the hiring process and not some staffing agency. According to the people I spoke with at TempDaddy, 80% of their assignments are filled either the same day or the next day.
The costs are very reasonable compared to other companies in the field. TempDaddy charges a 25% “connection fee” for every hour that the professional works via their platform. But a major and important distinguishing feature is that they do not charge any buy-out fees if an office wants to hire a professional on a permanent basis. The only stipulation is that the professional must work through the TempDaddy platform for a minimum of 40 hours before they can be moved over to the office payroll.
In doing research for this post, I Googled dental temporary staffing agencies and reviewed six or seven websites. I was completely unimpressed with how basic and elementary and dated they appeared. In direct contrast, the TempDaddy website is very 21st century – very interactive and easy to understand and navigate.
TempDaddy is now available in 10 states in the Northeast with plans to expand nationwide. Do yourself a favor and check out this company. You can call them at 888-714-1817. There is a lot to like!
February 2, 2016
I was thrilled to re-connect with Seth Josephs this past weekend at the Yankee Dental Congress. Seth is the co-founder of DPG (Dental Purchasing Group), a dental-specific group purchasing organization. DPG was created just a little under three years ago in order to leverage the purchasing power of a large number of practices to obtain discounts as well as unique benefits from vendors.
Today, DPG is primarily concentrated in New England with a membership of more than 400 dentists and over 20 preferred vendors. Seth told me that he is now providing services to 10 different states outside of New England with plans to continue expanding the reach of his company. The first 12 months are free. After that, there is an annual membership fee of $99.
DPG is not a buying club that inventories product and competes on price with the Shein’s and Patterson’s and Benco’s of the world. Instead, they offer significant discounts on products from companies that sell direct to dentists. For practices already purchasing from companies such as Ultradent (curing lights and whitening products like Opalescence), Komet (burs and diamonds – the original Brasseler), BioHorizons (implants and biologics), and W.B. Mason (office supplies), it has been an automatic win for them without having to change anything about how or from whom they purchase.
DPG members can also receive wholesale pricing on credit card processing services from Capital Bankcard. Savings using that company alone can often range from $100-$500 per month. According to Seth, he sees dental practices realizing annual savings of $1000-$5000 on lower levels of engagement (1-2 vendors) and up to $10,000-$30,000 of annualized savings for highly engaged practices (5 or more vendors).
To find out more information on how the plan works and the complete list of vendors, you can contact Seth directly at 978-609-4281 or visit the website. In all probability, you are now buying from some of these companies, so here is an easy opportunity to save real dollars
January 19, 2016
In my last two blog posts, I discussed the many reasons for obtaining professional help with the HR side of your dental practice. I’d like to conclude this series by focusing in on the details of HRIS software–the acronym for human resource information system.
All four of the companies that I mentioned in those posts offer their own version of HRIS software. This is a state-of-the-art, end to end, online solution to manage and track all employee data including – but certainly not limited to – benefits, time and attendance, time off requests, sick time, vacation time, license or certification renewal, and new hire paperwork.
Probably one of the most important features of the software is that it provides an easy and effective and time stamped way for you to document performance. Wage and hour lawsuits have grown out of control, and now eclipse malpractice cases brought against dentists. Wrongful termination claims are also on the rise. In my experience, I find that doctors are often very lax and undisciplined when it comes to documenting inadequate and/or poor employee performance. Lack of documentation opens you up for risk of liability. Paper documents don’t seem to hold up very well in court since they can be easily fudged or fabricated.
HRIS software will also act as the time clock to assure that time is accurately tracked, and that breaks and lunches are documented. An IP specific time clock uses the doctor’s modem to create a digital fingerprint, assuring that punching in and punching out happens when and where it is supposed to. Individual password protection is included to eliminate buddy punching.
Every state has a list of documents that employers must have on file for its employees. A big advantage of HRIS software is that it makes this easy with federal and state compliance checklists.
The list of what this software can do goes on and on. I’ve probably only scratched the surface here, but I hope I am making the point that it is time to get into the 21st century. Investigate–perform your due diligence – make some phone calls and take some demos – and then take the necessary action to make your life so much easier and reduce your liability.