Thursday, March 8, 2012

How “social” are you? How “social” should you be?

At a dental meeting recently, I sat in on a session about “social media” ie. Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc. The casual observer might have been lead to believe that social media would cure all marketing problems in a practice.

Contrast that to another presentation I attended for CEO’s from around the country, in which the CEO of a major multi-media company in the southwest confessed that they had invested millions in social media to promote their business, but had not been able to measure any favorable marketing results from those efforts and investment.

So who do you believe?

The reality is this:

1. The # 1 form of marketing in dentistry remains word-of-mouth. That is how people prefer to choose their dentist. Social media is a great, additional way that you can give your patients the opportunity to spread the word about you to all their social media contacts.

2. Think of social media as an add-on to your INTERNAL marketing strategy. It can harness the power of your existing patient base.

3. As always, keep asking new patients where they heard about you. From a friend? On the internet? From a friend on the internet?! Keep digging and you’ll find out more and more of where they REALLY came from.

4. Remember that social media is not a silver bullet that will solve all your marketing problems, but just one more piece of the total practice marketing equation. Make it easy for people to talk about you in any format and they will be more likely to do it!

So, be more social. It may not be everything, but it is something!

Make sure to catch the upcoming Crown Council webinar: Social Media Fact and Fiction: The do’s and do not's of social media TODAY and how to use it the RIGHT WAY to build your practice, featuring Jack Hadley from Lava7.

For registration information, call 1-877-399-8677 or e-mail

Friday, March 2, 2012

Staying Insurance Free

It is a common phone call I receive from fee-for-service practices: “Should I sign up to be a provider with XYZ Dental Insurance?”

If you are fee-for-service only, the reason you would even consider being a provider with any insurance company would be because:

1. You want to increase production or

2. You want to increase new patient flow or

3. You want to increase profits or

4. You want to do all of the above!

In every case we have addressed this question we find that other, more important questions, have not been asked. Questions like:

1. What is our current marketing plan and the return we are getting on our best marketing sources? What would happen if we increased our marketing budget in those areas? Would it increase the new patient flow?

2. What is our “calls to scheduled new patients ratio?” Unless it is at or above 130%, there are missed new patient opportunities.

3. What is our treatment plan to scheduled appointment ratio? Are we really capitalizing on every case acceptance opportunity?

4. What is our external marketing internet strategy? How many internet leads do we get a month and how many are we converting them into schedule appointments?

5. What is our internal marketing social media strategy? To what degree are we giving our existing patients the opportunity to "talk" about us on-line?

6. What is our community marketing strategy and how many community impressions are we making throughout the year?

7. What percentage of our total practice production are we spending on marketing? A successful fee-for-service practice may need to spend up to 10% on marketing while a PPO practice may spend 2 to 4%.

8. What other fee-for-service treatments could we add to our practice that would add revenue? Modular Periodontal Therapy™, TruDenta™, Invisalign™, Six Month Smiles™, sleep apnea treatment, placing implants, etc.

That is just a start. If you have gone to the enormous work of successfully converting to fee-for-service or have been that way for a long time, think long and hard before signing on. Signing up is the solution of last resort after having explored all the other options.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Patient compliance signs. A radical approach:

I don’t know about you, but when I walk into the physician’s
office, I can’t believe the posted signs at the front desk:

“Payment is expected when services are performed.”

“You must update your insurance information at each visit.”

“Cell phones must be turned of in the exam area.”

Etc. etc.

You need a rulebook to go to the doctor.

Why not be a different kind of dental office and take an
unexpected and fun approach to these every day issues:

Tear all the signs

Put one new sign up periodically for fun. Signs like these:

"HIPPA Notice:
We can’t tell anyone that you’re here, but you can! Make sure to check into our office on Facebook right now and let all your friends know you go to the best dentist in town!”

"Payment Policy: You no longer have to pay for treatment at the time of your visit! Make sure to ask us about convenient payment options that will put a smile on your face.”

"Cell Phone Policy: We value your time. Keep your phone ON and feel free
to text and e-mail while you wait. If you are one of the few who still talks on the phone, make sure to put it on speaker! We’d like to invite your friends to come see us too!”

Remember: If people like themselves better when they are in your office, they will want to repeat and refer. Don’t be the traditional, stuffy, stodgy, no-fun-to-be-with health professional. Put a smile on your patient's face and they will tell everyone about you.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Dr. Oz Defense Plan

What does Dr. Oz know about dentistry? Apparently not much! But you do!

Most of dentistry has just about had it with Dr. Oz. The television doctor personality continues to disseminate misleading dental information like dental x-rays cause thyroid cancer and recommending that patients negotiate with their dentist for lower fees. I am sure there will be more.

With a daily show to produce, I am sure there is a back room of producers working tirelessly to come up with something they think people will find of interest. Sometimes these producers get desperate.

If you get riled up about Dr. Oz, consider the following thoughts and actions:

1. Much of what is produced on this show is created by front line producers who are not too deep into facts. They are trying to be creative. Sometimes they are more creative than they are factual.

2. The target audience for the Dr. Oz Show is older women of the 60 year old plus variety. Not very many other people have the time to watch his show which airs during the work day. Unless you are a die-hard follower and you TiVO his show, the market is relatively limited.

3. Take a proactive stance. Keep an eye on anything that comes out in the media about dentistry. Be the local authority and set the record straight. Have information in your practice about what the truth really is about things that may have been broadcast or printed in the national media. Your patients will appreciate your being up-to-date and addressing what is going on today.

4. Negotiate fees? Why don’t you suggest people do that with their physician Dr. Oz? Oh, that’s because most physicians have no clue what they charge for anything. They have lost total control of their business model. I think Oz and his fellow physicians that lost their way from the “Emerald City” are just jealous!

5. Need a response for the occasional patient that wants to negotiate fees? “Mrs. Jones, we carefully set our fees once and explain them to our patients so we would never have to apologize for the quality of our work.” Everyone knows that you get what you pay for.

6. Get focused on what is working, not on what is not working. The effect that someone like Dr. Oz has on the whole market is minimal. When you get one or two comments from patients about things that sound related, it is easy to think it is a bigger problem than it really is. Focus on the patients that get it. Don’t give the small minority of patients more share of your mind than they deserve.

With that, I am off to Kansas…the real place Dorothy lived. After all, the whole “Oz” thing and the “Emerald City” were a dream, not reality. Remember? We should all treat Dr. Oz the same way.

Friday, February 10, 2012

How Do You Compete?

At our recent Crown Council Annual Event in Las Vegas, I highlighted some businesses worth emulating. One of my favorites is the Donut Stop in Amarrillo, Texas. Founders, Rose Martha and Jim Cates provide a great case study on how to stay competitive.

Their story is well-known in Amarillo. The hometown chain (Donut Stop) was put on notice when Krispy Kreme announced their entry into Amarrillo. Jim immediately packed his bags and went on a tour of Krispy Kreme locations around the country to see what they did well and what they did not do well. He returned with the data and they formed a new strategy.

In short, The Donut Stop attacked with what they did well that Krispy Kreme could not do at all. They accentuated their assets that were difficult to duplicate. The strategy was so successful that Krispy Kreme soon left town.

The mistake in “competition” is trying to outdo the other by doing what they do a little better. The Donut Stop didn’t even try to compete with Kripsy Kreme head to head. They looked for the differences and capitalized on them.

So the next time you are tempted to copy the office down the street and try to do what they do, but just a little better, STOP! Look for the things you do that the competition does not do and accentuate those assets that are difficult to duplicate. You’ll have a better chance of standing out from the rest and customers will beat a path to your door.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Secrets from your local optometrist

I spoke to a large group of optometrists this week from Cleinman Performance Partners. Cleinman is the “Crown Council” of optometry.

What optometrists and dentists have in common is the

“face space.” When it comes to first impressions, the first two things people notice are the eyes and the teeth. While the health of the eyes is a patient’s concern when they see an optometrist, they also want to know how their eye sight will make them look to others. Especially with women, who make up the majority of the optometry market, an eye lens prescription is permission to accessorize!

What happens in optometry is what is happening in dentistry every day. While most people are concerned about the health of their mouth and their teeth, they also want to know that their smile is going to look good.

As you expand your market share of the “face space,” consider your local independent optometrist. Working together to cross market your services just makes sense. Most people interested in improving the appearance of their teeth will be interested in their eyes. The opposite is also true.

For an introduction to a top independent optometrist in your area, e-mail your request to We will work with the Cleinman team to get you introduced and connected so you can begin working together for the better health and appearance of the “face space” of the patients in your market.

Friday, January 13, 2012

“But It Doesn’t Hurt…”

You have probably lost count of the times patients have responded this way to the diagnosis of periodontal disease. Human nature and how patients have been trained in medicine dictates that there is ONLY something wrong when it hurts. After all, for years the first question the physician asks a patient has been “what are your symptoms” or “where does it hurt?”

Moving patients from a “fix what is broken” mentality to a “prevent it from getting broken in the first place” is a tall order in dentistry. So before you hear the, “But it doesn’t hurt” objection one more time, here are 2 tips to implement immediately to help your patients make the shift from “hurt” to “health.”

1. Watch how you present the problem in the first place. Instead of TELLING a patient they have a problem, ASK the patient, “How long have you had this infection?” Then let the patient respond. Just by virtue of how you present the problem, the patient will take more ownership of his or her condition.

2. Watch how you respond. If they say, “It does not hurt,” you can respond by saying, “I am always amazed how an infection this serious never hurts until it is too late. In fact, in dentistry we call this condition the silent killer of teeth because it rarely hurts until it is too late to save the teeth.”

Don’t miss the next opportunity to have your team experience the next revolution in the treatment of periodontal disease on March 30-31, 2012 in Dallas, TX as Dr. Tommy Nabors and members of our ToPS team present “No More Dental Hygiene – Secrets of Oral Health and Periodontal Therapy.” In this two-day program, you’ll discover a whole new perio program that has turned Dr. Nabor’s perio department into a million dollar treatment center. It will transform your practice. Bust most importantly, it will transform the lives of your patients.

For more information on the March course, call 1-877-399-8677 or e-mail: