Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Piece of the Pie or of the Universe?

Do you remember when you were a kid and Mom took a hot pie out of the oven? You couldn’t wait. But if you were like me, the last of 6 children, you might have had some concern if you would get any pie at all. After all, it looked like there was only so much pie to go around.

The “Pie” mentality – that there is only so much to go around so I have to get mine while I can, is one of the most destructive attitudes in dentistry and business. As you look around, it might seem like there are only so many patients to go around, only so many good team members available for hire, only so many good places to advertise or position yourself in the market. Despite those appearances, more often than not, the universe is one of ample supply typically providing more opportunity than meets the eye. The “Universal” mentality is one that believes that there is plenty to go around for everyone if you know where to look and have the right attitude.

Here are some common examples of a “Pie” mentality that are in reality “Universal” in nature. It all may be in the way you look at it:

1. Who is your competition? This is a question I often ask groups of dentists. The easiest, most common response is “The dental office down the street.” But, look further. When you consider that only about 50% of the population goes to the dentist on a regular basis, you’ll realize that ½ of the available market does not have a current supplier! Now there’s opportunity. What can you do to attract those who are not currently going to the dentist? It is a HUGE market. But if you only focus on the piece of “pie” that your neighbor has down the street, you’ll miss the “universe” of available patients that are just waiting for someone to make them an attractive offer to come to a quality dentist and improve their health.

2. Clear Choice. In many major markets around the country, Clear Choice has moved into town offering immediate load implants to the market and spending thousands of dollars in advertising to attract patients. Other dentists in the market who offer implants might be tempted to see this as a competitive threat because Clear Choice is taking a big piece of the “pie.” But think again. Maybe Clear Choice is not taking a bigger piece of the pie, but baking a bigger pie! With all of the marketing dollars they are spending, they are educating thousands of people who otherwise might not have ever considered implants. As a result, those patients start asking questions to their own dentist who then has the opportunity to further educate them and give them what they have just discovered that they want! In other words, a large competitor that is willing to spend the dollars to educate the market can many times benefit the entire market by creating a larger “universe” of prospective patients for the service.

3. Powerful Position. A dental office down the street grabs a powerful position in the market that commands attention and gets the office noticed. Many might see that that as a big piece of the pie that has just been gobbled up. But maybe they just created a whole other pie for you! When one business takes a position in the market, it opens up opportunities for others to grab an opposite or different position. Think about it, you can’t be everything to everyone. For every patient that is attracted to a practice that has grabbed that initial powerful position, there are probably 10 others who have no interest. They are, however, good prospects for someone else that has a different market position with a different set of patient benefits. There are a lot of niche markets in dentistry.

So which do you have, a “Universal” or “Pie” mentality? The good news is that it is a choice. So catch yourself the next time you find yourself grabbing for what you think is the last piece of “pie.” Maybe there is a much larger pie out there. On the other hand, maybe it is not a pie at all. Maybe there is a vast “universe” out there that is so big and so filled with opportunity that you would never run out of market if you just looked at it for what it is: An unending “Universe” with vast supply for the person who thinks creatively and acts accordingly.

Have a great week in this exciting “Universe!”

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hygiene Re-care Activation

In response this week to an inquiry about re-care activation scripts, I offer the following short list of suggestions:

Preface: If the right system is in place, a hygienist will know enough about each patient that will be documented in the chart that she will be able to talk to the patient's heart, not just the head. They really don't want to come in and get their teeth cleaned! They do want something that they perceive the cleaning will give, peace of mind, no pain, etc. All of that should have been discovered when the patient came in the first time. If that is not in place, then there are some prerequisites that need to be added to the practice protocol in order for any re-care program to be successful.


Step 1: If someone from the office calls and has to leave a message, the message simply says: "Mrs. Smith, this is Pam from Dr. Dentist’s office. Dr. Dentist asked me to give you call. Would you please give us a call back at: (Phone #)"

It is important that she says it just that way. The call needs to have its origin with the dentist. Patients will take it more seriously that way.

This accomplishes 2 things:

1. It is HIPAA compliant. You are not disclosing any sensitive information in case anyone else hears the message. (Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it is a good reason to do it this way.)

2. Most people are going to return a call to the "Doctor" especially if the reason is unknown.

Step 2: Conversation with the patient:

"Mrs. Smith, this is Heather from Dr. Dentist’s office. How are you? Dr. Dentist asked me to give you a call to schedule your necessary dental hygiene appointment and check up. Do you have your calendar handy? Which day of the week, Monday thru Friday (or whatever days your practice is open) are more convenient for you? Are mornings or afternoons better? Great, we have ___ o'clock next ______ available or _____ o'clock on _____ available. Which one of those would work the best?"

A couple of points here on why we do it this way:

1. Again, the call is originating from the highest authority in the office - the doctor. Most people are going to be more respectful of a request that is coming from the highest authority they trust in this area.

2. Assumptive close. Don’t ask them if they want to come in, assume that they will schedule by stating the purpose of your call and then asking if the person has a schedule close by. More people will respond to this than the tentative alternatives to this.

3. If more information is available about the patient, use it during the conversation. For example, if it is a perio maintenance appointment, then a discussion can be had about the importance of staying on track with the regularly scheduled appointments in order to do everything possible to prevent more extensive perio treatment in the future, etc.

4. Always give them a choice, not a chance. At every step in the conversation, choices are going given between alternatives:

“Which day of the week?”

“Would this day or this day work better?”

“Morning or afternoon.”

Those are just some tips that come from a much bigger system. There is as much to learn here as there is about many parts of clinical dentistry. Everyone can benefit from some great training in this and all the other related areas of case acceptance training. It makes a HUGE difference every day when everyone on the team is trained in the best ways to help the patient say “yes!”