Saturday, December 27, 2008

Why are you so expensive?

You have likely faced that question more than once from a patient. If it has ever caught you off guard or if you have ever wondered the best way to respond, here are some thoughts:

First, what is expensive? How do you arrive at a conclusion that something is expensive or inexpensive? It is usually by comparison. You compare the price of one item to the price of another item of similar “value” to arrive at your conclusion. But what if there is nothing against which to compare? Then about the only conclusion you can come to is that…it’s expensive!

To what do people compare the price of dentistry? Let’s face it. It is pretty hard to shop the price of a crown, a bridge or anything else unless you take the time to have an exam. Most people do not have the time to do that multiple times. Most people don’t “shop” for a dentist. So lacking a real comparison, the average patient comes to the conclusion that it is expensive. Even if you do crowns for the cheapest price in your area, it is not likely that a patient will exclaim with delight, “That is a deal!” when presented the fee for their work.

My late business partner, Walter Hailey, loved to say, “If you are going to be accused of being expensive, you might as well be it!”

So quit worrying about your fees. They are not the problem. Perception is! You’ll gain far more ground by working on your patients’ perceptions than you will fretting over your fees.

But before you start looking for the quick fix, the silver bullet, or the magic phrase that will resolve someone’s questions about what you charge, remember that we often move too fast to solve patient problems that we really don’t understand. Maybe it is the scientist in us that looks for the perfect material, procedure, or instrument to treat the clinical problem. We have been trained for the “quick fix.” But people/patients are not problems to be fixed. Just consider if someone says you are expense, is it because:
  1. They have not been to the dentist for some time and are comparing today's fees to outdated fees?
  2. They have never had a lot of dental work done, so they don't know what it costs?
  3. They are having some financial stress so everything sounds expensive?
  4. They are surprised because they thought they were just going to have to pay for a routine cleaning and then discovered that there is more work to be done?
  5. They have never placed that much value on their mouth or their health and have not considered what is was really going to cost to stay in good shape?
  6. It is the first time someone has had a conversation with them from a “comprehensive care” point of view instead of just trying to maintain the status quo?
  7. They just say that about everything to try and get a better deal!

The list could go on. The point is that you have no more idea of how to answer that question without additional information than you would know how to treat a patient who calls up and says her or she needs a filling until you did an exam personally to see the real condition.

Every patient has a unique situation…a story. Until you really understand them, their story, and their reason for asking, there's no quick fix verbal skill that will answer their question. It's about the relationship first, not the case or your fees.

So the next time you get the “Why are you so expensive?” question or one similar to it, just stop. Take a deep breath. And listen as you ask…”Tell me more about that.” You might be surprised to hear what comes next. The reason behind the question will most likely be something you had not considered.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

No More New Patients!

We are looking forward to the Crown Council Annual Event in Las Vegas, February 5-7, 2009. ( On Thursday, I will be facilitating a first of its kind session with our ToPS Team centred around a tried and true method for team work and team communication that promises to change the way your interact with your team. Get ready to think differently, act differently and interact in a whole new way that will positively change the results you achieve with your team.

On Saturday I will be presenting a workshop entitled "No More New Patients!" In this one session, you will discover the unspoken secret of which many are not aware that is eating away at your new patient efforts. In order for the preactice to really progress, it must be stopped NOW! Come discover the benefits and the increase in production and profits that results when you know what to look for and how to really manage your practice for REAL growth, not just activity.

We hope you will join us in Feburary. For more information, just go to Have a great week and a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Give me a break

A well-known dental magazine announced this week an "Economic Impact Survey" wherein they are inviting dentists from around the country to submit their answers to some questions to determine the impact the economy is having on their practices. Survey data will then be compiled and offered to the dental industry at large. Translation: "Will all the loser dentists who are sitting around with nothing to do please take a survey detailing their sorry status so we can accumulate their 'data' and infect the entire industry with a 'woe is me' report on how the 'down' economy is to blame for their poor results." If you have the time to fill out the survey, you must not be doing much in your practice. Get the picture? Give me a break!*

It is human nature to want to blame poor results on factors outside of ones self. It is easier to take the victim role rendering ones self helpless because of "uncontrollable, outside forces," than it is to wake up, be proactive, and make something happen. You decide: Will you act or be acted upon?

So, if you want to be a loser, go ahead and take the loser's "Economic Impact Survey" and then read about your sorry state in the report that comes back. If you think you feel bad now, just wait until you read about yourself in print! Surely we have better things to do than to drag each other down with the doom and gloom that results from inactivity.

A better use of time might be to take a survey of your own. Sit down with your team and brainstorm all the ways that you can take advantage of a market left wide open by your fellow dentists that have gone into retreat because they believe in a bad economy. The playing field is clearing. The losers are in retreat leaving more room for the real winners to succeed.

The choice is yours. To let the economy "impact" your practice or for your practice to have an impact on the economy. Our survey make an impact.

* For your FREE copy of "How to Thrive in a 'down' Economy," the 12 page special report with ideas on how you and your team can succeed despite the negative news in the media, just give the Total Patient Service Institute a call at 1-877-399-8677 or e-mail

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Many are aware of my “mentor journey” twenty years ago when I interviewed over 60 very successful professionals, entrepreneurs and business executives in an effort to determine a direction for myself. It was one of the greatest educational experiences of my life to that point.

The thought for December 5 this week is from “Mentor #2," Stephen R. Covey, the well-known author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Steve Covey was introduced to me by another mentor of mine, my dad, long before the rest of the world had ever heard of him.

Steve Covey taught me first-hand the importance of a personal purpose and passion for what you do. I have yet to meet anyone more purpose-driven and passionate since.

At a time when our minds naturally reflect on the things for which we are grateful, I continue to remember each of those 60 mentors and the positive influence they continue to have in my life. That’s what great mentors do. That’s what great mentors are.

Lord Chesterfield once said, “We are more than half of what we are by imitation. The great point is to choose good models and study them with care.”

My challenge to you is to choose or renew a mentor relationship and “study them with care.” If we are more than half of what we are by imitation, then it would serve us all well to imitate “on purpose!”


I took a quick run across town from our “Total Immersion” course in San Diego this week to speak to the members of the University of California at San Diego Pre-dental Society. This group of 200 college students, mentored by Dr. Irv Silverstein, manages and staffs three charity dental clinics in San Diego with a $0 budget. All supplies, facilities, and staffing are donated. The group just surpassed the $2 million mark in donated dental services for the year.

What impressed me most about the group was their energy, determination, and focus. We talked together until 10:30 PM and they would have stayed longer! They are ambitious, goal-oriented, and highly motivated. You won’t find it surprising that all but 6 students in the room were first or second generation immigrants to this country.

It has long been said that you have a 4 times better chance of becoming successful in this country if you weren’t born here. It was easy to see why this week. I don’t think I have ever been with a group of more motivated, enthusiastic college students anywhere. (And I have spoken to a lot of them over the last 16 years.)

So take a chapter out of these student’s lives and live yours with more energy, enthusiasm, and focus this week. There’s no question that these students will get a lot out of life because they are and we all can too.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Forbes Inisght

When Steve Forbes (Forbes Magazine) climbed into my pick up truck this week in Ft. Worth, Texas, I knew I was in for an experience. I invited Steve to come spend a private evening in a “Town Hall” type meeting with a group of local CEO’s to discuss his views on the future of the economy, the impact that the results of the election will have on our futures and how we can manage in turbulent times. His insights were fascinating and his perspectives refreshing. I could write several pages about his prognostications, but there are two of his opinions that I will paraphrase that are worth passing on and acting on:

1. The biggest challenge in our economy today is….FEAR! Fear was the biggest factor that drove government regulators to put Lehman Brothers out of business and Merrill Lynch into a merger. Both companies were cash flow positive until the day they “died.” Fear continues to be the biggest bottleneck on main street and Wall Street. The good news is that battling that fear starts between your own two ears and within the four walls of your office. Keep it out and you will be amazed at what flows in your direction.

2. Keep the FAITH in our ability to solve problems…even the problems we have created ourselves! It is a personal decision. Are you currently innovating or disintegrating? It is a choice not a condition.

As evidence of what Steve Forbes was saying, I was in a dental office this week that is “on fire.” The enthusiasm was contagious. The energy was palpable. I could not help but feel great while I was there. And I’m not the only one. Evidence that they are radiating positive vibes to their patients and the community came in the form of 16 new patient calls in just one day this last week. The vast majority of those were referrals from existing patients.

You may not be able to control Congress, the economy, or the new presidential administration, but you can control the attitude that you chose in your practice each day. That was one of the positive messages I received from Steve Forbes. There are a lot of problems to solve, but the most important of those problems can be solved right where you are.

Have a great week and

Make It Happen!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Leading a ToP Team

We just concluded our “Leading a ToP Team” course for dentists and key team members. One of many timely topics that we discussed was the 6 different leadership styles and what circumstances demand each type.

The question was raised, with the current turmoil in the economic and political world today and the resulting fear that is prevailing, what type of leadership style is the best? If you do what comes naturally, you may be tempted to retreat into a “wait and see” position. But is that what you, your practice, and your team needs right now? Part of our leadership experience was planning a team “press conference” to set forth the clear plan of action for today’s troubled times. In times of uncertainty, everyone looks for direction. Who will set that direction for your practice? The media or other random voice of doubt, or YOU!

One of the secrets of success in dentistry is to look at where the average dentists are going and then run in the opposite direction! While the average office is high centered and stalled on doubt and fear, run in the opposite direction toward a clear direction of action. While everyone is waiting to see, you will have already arrived at the next level of success. So lead on!

If you would like a complimentary copy of the ToPS 6 Leadership Styles worksheet outlining what leadership style is right for what circumstances, just give our ToPS team a call at 1-877-399-8677 or e-mail us at.

Have a great week as you lead confidently to the future.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Be a Rookie

I’m just back from presenting at the ADA Conference on the New Dentist. It was a great day filled with the enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge that the young dentists from all over the country brought to the meeting.

As I looked out over the audience, I was reminded of the attributes of a ROOKIE: Eager, enthusiastic, hard working, positive-minded, optimistic, and willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. About a year ago, I spent a day with Jerry Rice, most recently of “Dancing with the Stars” fame and the NFL before that. Jerry shared that if there was any one attribute that helped him in professional football, it was that he took on the attitude of a rookie each season no matter how successful he had been the season before. In other words, he tried out for his position every year, just as if he were a rookie again.

No matter your tenure in the profession, it might be time to go back and be a rookie again. Adopt those attributes. “Try out” for your position again. If you were hiring for your position, would you hire you based on your current performance? One of my favorite quotes from author Brian Tracy says, “What kind of company would my company be if everyone in it were just like me?” Do you exemplify the positive attributes of a rookie? Do those attributes positively influence your entire team?

So go ahead. Be a rookie again. It will be good for your practice and good for your team. After all, if you don’t, someone will eventually come along in your market that will want your position more that you do, will be willing to work for it, and will probably get it!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Are you A Servant Leader?

My dad was the first person to help me understand “servant leadership” when I was a kid.

“Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant."

Dad continues to be the best example of that concept. From the many talks that he wrote and rehearsed with me as a youth, hopping on my purple bicycle to delver my paper route when our scout troop’s return was delayed from a camping trip, to secretly washing his car with my mom before a date so that I would make a good impression; Dad has always been on the lookout for ways to help those he leads be more successful.

As the leader of our family and the many other leadership roles he has filled over the years, he has always lead by example and been the first to serve those he leads. His example has always been one to follow because he leads by serving.

Happy Father’s Day Dad.

Have a great week as you lead by serving.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Power of One...More!

Imagine what would happen if you and your team committed to do just one more of something every day. One more whitening. One more crown. One more ViziLite or Velscope exam. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you committed each morning to do just one more of something? I am always amazed at how much needed treatment walks out the door every day in most practices because the team is too busy, too rushed, or too distracted.

Make the commitment every day this week to do just one more of something. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can accomplish.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Youth Seminar

Think of one of the most fulfilling, worthwhile things you have ever done. Near the top of that list for me would be starting and running the youth seminar that we did for over a decade.

It has been 4 years since I have been involved in such a program, but thanks to the insistence of Dr. Bill Dorfman and many others, we have created the LEAP Leadership Program for high school and college students to help them get a “leap” ahead in their career and their life.

For 5 days this summer, students from around the country will sit at the feet of CEO’s professionals and other successful roll models who will share with them secrets of success that would take years to discover by “experience.”

If you have a high school or college age young person in your life, give the LEAP team a call at 1-877-855-5327 and check out for details.

Success starts early. The path is typically unusual, A LEAP ahead may positively change the course of a life.

Have a great week as you work with your team to take a LEAP of your own in the direction of success!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Who's The Mother?

With Mother’s Day just a week away, I have to admit that rarely a day goes by without thinking of something Mom has taught me. One of her favorite sayings is “Inch my inch life is a cinch, but by the mile life is a trial.” Or how about “A job worth doing is worth doing well.” Mom is also a big believer in what I have come to call the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt be dependable!”

Understanding dependability is knowing the difference between responsibility and accountability. Responsibility is being able to respond. Accountability is being willing to give final account of the results in a specific area. Everyone on a team can be responsible, but one person needs to be accountable for each specific result. For example, everyone is responsible for attracting and looking for new patients, but one person needs to be accountable for the overall marketing plan and making sure everyone fulfills their responsibility.

Being accountable is what I like to call being the “Mother.” Mothers are the most accountable people there are. That’s why I like to say that every practice needs a “Mother” for every important result. A marketing mother. A scheduling mother. An infection control mother. Every important result needs a “mother.”

If you have ever become frustrated because of things in the office that just don’t get done, consider giving those specific results a “mother,” or a team member who is accountable for that end result. Everyone else can be responsible for helping, but the “mother” is accountable.

Thanks Mom for teaching me dependability and for being the model of accountability. You really know what it means to be a mother at home and the traits of being a “mother” at the office too!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

What's in a name?

Our oldest daughter Ashlin came home with an assignment from art class that said the following: "An architect named Antonio Gaudi designed buildings that had curvy outer walls covered with brightly colored tiles. The American word gaudy, meaning “in poor taste,” is derived from his name."

While the statement is false (the English use of the word “gaudy” dates back to the 1600’s and Antonio Gaudi lived from 1852-1926) it did cause me to think, “What’s in a name?” There are some “names” that are so powerful that they become synonymous for what they are. Kleenex: facial tissue. FedEx: over night delivery. Xerox: Photocopy. Oops…not any more! When what you do or what you are becomes so powerful, people automatically associate your service attributes with your name. For example, when people are asked to think of a beautiful flower, 80% say they think of a rose. Maybe that is why “rose” became a name…for a person. Your attributes give powerful meaning to your name to the point where the two may became bound together in the hearts and minds of your market. So it may be well to decide and act on the attributes you want to be known for the most in your market.

When you are ready to take that step, feel free to use our Top Service Attribute (TSA) worksheet that asks 9 specific questions that will help you identify your top service attributes and the market for which those attributes will mean the most. Just let us know when you are ready for it by e-mailing our team at or by calling 1-877-399-8677 and ask for the TSA worksheet. Just remember: the decisions you make today about your top attributes may determine what people believe and say about you tomorrow.

Make it ToPS!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The MasterMind

We just finished a productive day with our “Top of the Table” group: one of several select groups of high performing dentists that meet on a regular basis to compare results and share ideas. Their openness with each other is uncharacteristic of the typical dental group. Their desire to learn was sincere. What they shared was mutually beneficial.

“You take on the nature and the habits and the power of though of those which whom you associate in a spirit of sympathy and harmony.” - Napoleon Hill

There is a significant competitive advantage to those who have a group of high achievers with whom to meet on a regular basis. Organized and facilitated correctly, it can be one of the most powerful assets you can create for your practice.

To learn more about how you add this type of an asset to your practice, call us at 1-877-399-8677 and ask about our Total Practice Support program. You maybe surprised to discover the results other dentists are getting and what it could very well do for you.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Great Recoveries

During our ToPS “Total Immersion” course this week In Philadelphia, we talked about great recoveries. Sometimes things go less than perfect with patients. Those unfortunate situations can be great opportunities.

Pam Peterson, our lead ToPS Practice Advisor shared a “great recovery” that happened this last week in an office she was visiting. A patient had scheduled appointment that did not make it into the appointment book. When he arrived, the team was caught off guard and made an attempt to accommodate him, but before they could, he left in a huff swearing he would never return. Pam arrived on the scene just as he left. She called him and when they finally connected, she apologized and told him he had every right to be upset. He then apologized for over-reacting. Pam asked if he would give the team a second chance. He agreed. She then insisted on sending he and his wife to dinner, compliments of the practice. He was wowed. Needless to say, he will be back! And my guess is that he will be a loyal patient for a long time.

Every team makes mistakes. But it takes an extraordinary team to make a great recovery. So the next time things go less than right, make it right. Make a great recovery and you’ll create a patient for life.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Are you better off?

It is presidential election season here in the United States and I am reminded of a political campaign question from years past, “Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?” All politics aside...
  • Are you better off?
  • Is your practice doing better?
  • Are your results better?
  • Is your case acceptance higher?
  • Do you have a better team?
If you’re not better off, then maybe its time for a leadership change.

The quality of your practice and the quality of your life depends on the quality of your personal leadership. If you don’t feel like you are better off in every way than you were four years ago, maybe its time to take a serious look at the leader – you! You can either change leaders or change your leadership skill and ability. Since you are stuck with you, it is a good idea to continually upgrade your leadership skill.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What's Your Story?

What’s your story? I am always amazed that everyone has a story - things that have happened to them that have made their life experience unique and different. Knowing someone’s story helps you better understand them, their needs, and where they are coming from. Better yet, when patients feel that you understand their story, they will be more inclined to listen to yours - your clinical story for their improved health that is.

Take the time to ASK and LISTEN to your patients’ story this week. You’ll be amazed at the results.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Purpose or Pastime?

Take a tour today - through your reception area that is.  Sit down. Take a look at what there is to see.  What’s on the wall?  What is there to read?  Then just ask this one question:  How much of what you see leads your patients to more of what they need to do for their mouth and their health?  Or how much of what they see is a distraction?  Do the things you have in your reception room have purpose or are they just “pastimes” for your patients? 

The principle of “priming” says that we have a tendency to act on the things we have been thinking about most recently.  Give your patients the opportunity to get “primed” for their appointment by seeing and reading things that will educate, motivate, and inspire them to do what is best for their mouth and their health.         

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Practice vs. Playing the Game

The sounds of mourning could be heard recently all over the Dallas-Ft. Worth MetroPlex as the Dallas Cowboys lost in their bid to go the Super Bowl.  Nevertheless, the Cowboys have had a great first season under the leadership of head coach Wade Phillips.  Coach Phillips was initially mentored into coaching by another football coaching great, his father, Bum Phillips.

About 15 years ago I had the opportunity to meet and get to know Bum.  He taught me many football coaching principles that apply to business and to life.  One of those lessons was that in professional football, a player will spend 60 minutes of practice each week for every 60 seconds of actual game day play.  That is a lot of practice!

So how much “practice” have you and your team had in the areas that really count in your office? Areas like building your clinical protocols, improving your verbal skills, analyzing your numbers to see where quality care can be improved.  How much are you really “practicing” or are you just playing the game each day. 

Winning teams find practical ways to “practice” in the areas that make the biggest difference. 

Have a great week of “practice” as well as some great game days!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Stop Cancellations

One of the three basic building blocks of the ToP Team Strategy is “The Score Board.”  ToP teams know when they are winning and how the score is kept.  The score is more than just tracking production and collections.  It includes all types of “player” and “team” stats that contribute to the overall success of the practice.

One number, of many, that we track is the number of cancellations and no shows that accumulate throughout the month.  When you track that number on a daily basis, it is a wake up call to get back on track with the ToPS “Stop Cancellations” protocol.

One sure fire way to keep that number down is to prevent new patient cancellations by having the doctor call every new patient before that patient comes in for the first visit.  That’s right, the doctor is going to call the patient and say:

“Mrs. Jones, this is Dr. Amazing calling about your first appointment in our office that is scheduled for tomorrow at 10 AM.  I am just calling to welcome you to our practice and let you know that we are looking forward to meeting you.  If there is anything we can do to make your visit more comfortable, you are welcome to give us a call before you come in.  Otherwise, we look forward to seeing you tomorrow at 10.”

The impact of this call is huge in the mind of the patient.  It is unusual, unexpected and very memorable.  It has also been statistically proven to dramatically reduce new patient no-shows and cancellations.

So, if you are sick and tired of the hole in the schedule that new patients leave when they no-show or cancel, go back to something that works.  Just try it for a week or two.  Track your results and see if your new patient no-shows and cancellations don’t go down.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I'm just back from doing a training day with the practices of Dr. Ed White in Elizabethtown, PA.  I have known Dr. White for nearly 10 years.  One of the many things I admire about his management style is his habit of keeping his practice history present.  Every major event that helps build the practice is chronicled in some way so that it will be remembered by everyone on the team no matter when they joined the practice.  One way he does that is by painting the walls of the office lunch room with pictures of important events or concepts they have learned.  Whether is was the creation of their mission statement or a significant book that they read as a team, nothing is left behind as insignificant.  The past is kept in the present in order to keep the most important lessons implemented in the practice.

So what's in your history that that may have been forgotten?  How can you keep your history alive so that the most important lessons stay in the present in the hearts and minds of your entire team?  

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Keeping Score

One of my favorite pieces of literature is a speech given years ago by Albert E.N. Gray in which he said, “Successful people have formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”   He then commented that the things failures don’t like to do are the same things that successful people don’t like to do.  Successful people just do them anyway whether they like to do them or not!

So what are the success habits that create a ToP team?  For the last two weeks we have encouraged everyone to revisit the habit of goal setting by requesting and following the ToPS 2008 Goal Guide.  You can still request your free copy by giving us a call at 1-877-399-8677 or by e-mailing us at 

Once your goals are set, how do you know if you are accomplishing your objectives?  Great teams know what the “score” is all the time.  And the score is much more than just production and collections.  For example, to what extent are you really providing quality care?  Are you measuring it?  Do you know when you are “winning” clinically as well as financially? 

Keeping the right score is a habit that successful dental teams have formed.  As you work on your goals, ask yourself, “How are we going to keep score?  How are we really going to know if we are winning?”  If you would like some suggestions on how to really keep score that goes beyond mere production and collections, give our team a call and ask us how ToP Teams really keep score.