Friday, April 29, 2011

What’s Your Guarantee?

The article “Is Your Dentist Ripping You Off”
that appeared on Yahoo this week written by Sarah Lorge Butler for CBS Money Watch, quotes Matthew Messina, DDS , a “spokesperson” for the ADA. Since Dr. Messina’s recommendations take up the vast majority of the article, he might as well have written it himself!

In the article, Dr. Messina gives seven suggestions for patients when they are “shopping around” for dental work. (Good luck with that one by-the-way, but that is a whole other topic.) Suggestion number 6 in the article is: “Is the work guaranteed? Messina says five to seven years is typical for a crown. Will your dentist stand behind his or her work for that time?”

Typical? Really? So what is your “guarantee?” Do you guarantee your crowns for five to seven years? I would like to see the survey on that! It is an interesting statement coming from a spokesperson from the ADA.

Here are some facts:

If you are going to “guarantee” anything, you better be very, very clear and you better have it in writing. Any legitimate guarantee has provisions that validate or invalidate the guarantee. For example, would you guarantee your crown for 7 years if the patient came in and never came back to see you or any other dentist for 5 years and then showed up wanting you to replace it because there was some type of problem? That would be the equivalent to your car manufacturer saying that they would guarantee everything in your car for 7 years, even if you never changed the oil or did routine maintenance.

I get nervous when any dentist starts flippantly throwing the word guarantee or warranty around. It carries with it a heavy responsibility and liability if you don’t know what you are doing.

For example, a practice in one of the largest cities in the country widely advertised, in print, a “life-time guarantee” on all of their work. They did this for years. Now imagine when they try to sell the practice. They have created what is called a “contingent liability” meaning that the buyer is assuming the liability for all of the potential repairs, remakes, and redo’s that may come back to the practice in the future. It could amount to thousands and thousands of dollars of work for which the purchasing doctor could have to do. That fact alone will make the practice virtually unsellable. It is bad practice and bad business.

When I ask most dentists if they “guaranty” their work, there is usually a pause and I get a weak answer like, “”Well, yes. We stand behind our work.” But when the questions get more pointed, the dentist gets more uncomfortable.

Take Dr. Steve Titensor for example. Dr. Titensor practices in Flowermound, Texas just outside of Dallas. Steve is a highly qualified cosmetic and implant dentist. Patents come to him for full-mouth cosmetic work as well as extensive implants. Several years ago, one of Dr. Titensor’s patients, who had his entire mouth redone, had an accident that fortunately resulted in no permanent damage to his body or his smile. The event, however, did raise some questions in his mind. During his next dental visit, he started asking some pointed questions. “Do you guarantee your work?” “For how long?” What if I get in a bar fight and break my veneers? Is that guaranteed?” The questions went on and Dr. Titensor started to get visibly nervous. He, like most dentists, had always stood behind his work. But when it got down to the specifics of what it meant and to what extent, things got a little more fuzzy!

From that conversation, Dr. Titensor and his patient created the first, third-party warranty in dentistry.
Dental Warranty Corp
, (www.DentalWarran is the only third party warranty program that stands behind the work a dentist does for an extended period of time. No matter if the dentist leaves or sells the practice or if the patient moves to a different part of the country, the work is still covered. It protects the patient and the practice.

Here are the advantages:

1. The patient is 100% clear on what he or she can expect in case anything goes wrong with the dental work that was done. It is all in writing and backed by a third party.

2. If the patient moves to a different part of the country, the work is still covered.

3. If the covered restorative work has to be repaired or replaced, not only is the lab work covered, but the chair time is covered as well up to the amount that the patient originally paid for the work. In other words, the dentist gets paid for repairing or replacing the work where in the past, the dentist was working for free to make the repairs.

4. The practice builds an asset instead of a contingent liability. With all restorative patients being covered, the purchasing dentist is paid through the warranty for any repairs or remakes on work done by the previous dentist.

5. Preserved relationship. The patient is more loyal to the practice because the guidelines and expectations are clear for the future in case anything happens.

6. Peace-of-mind for both the practice and the patient because everyone knows what to expect in case of the unexpected.

So if you want a higher standard of care that protects your patient and the practice, the third-party warranty from Dental Warranty Corp. is THE highest standard of care available today.

For more information on Dental Warranty Corp. visit or call 1-877-452-2009

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Secrets of Being a Mentor

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is no such thing as a “self-made” man or woman. We are all the product of the people we have met, the books we have read, and the mentors from whom we have learned. Sharing what we have learned with others is one of the responsibilities of the learned. Once you possess, it is in the giving away that you gain even more.

In Latin, “qui docet dicit” means, “who teaches, learns.” In other words, the best way to learn more is to teach and share what you already know. Thus comes the wisdom and benefit of mentoring others.

Here are some tips for being a good mentor, no matter your age:

Be open. Look for those who are looking. There are sincere seekers of truth everywhere. Be aware of them. Watch for the look on their face. Be on the lookout for their questions. Be receptive to their inquiries.

Be interested. Find out what the other person’s hopes and dreams are. Find out the direction he or she has identified. The most valuable learning takes place when it is relevant to the situation of the student. Find out what matters most to him or her.

ASK. We are generally more convinced by the things we have discovered on our own than by the things pointed out to us by others. It is in the asking that others discover. Ask questions like, “Have you ever considered…? What would happen if…? ”Would it make sense if…? Have you ever heard of…?” Questions are the key that opens the mind.

Share, don’t advise. The best mentors share the wealth of their experience and what they have learned from it. They never, however, advise the other person what to do. That is for the mentored to decide. No one knows the exact situation that exists better than the person in it. Give that person the best of your wisdom. Then leave the personal responsibility to decide how it applies to the mentored. Besides, you don’t want the responsibility for their actions anyway!

Be clear about your preferred method of communication. If someone is sincerely seeking your help, be clear on the best way to reach you. Phone, e-mail, text, etc. Don’t leave the person wondering the most appropriate way to reach you next.

Be prepared to learn a few things yourself! You can’t share without learning something from the person with whom you are sharing. Each year at our LEAP program for high school and college students ( we hold a Mentor Round Table session where top professionals from different fields come in to be interviewed by the students. The students sit one-on-one with the mentors and can asking them anything they want in order to learn more about their profession, their success and how they accomplished it. Last summer we had as one of our mentors, the most successful residential real estate agent from one of the wealthiest areas of the country. The Mentor Round Table was a transformative experience for him. As the students interviewed him, one student in particular was inquisitive and bold. The student asked, “So where do you go from here? You are very successful at a very young age. What’s next? Is this it?” What that student did not know is that this particular mentor had been pursued by one of the largest brokerage firms in the country that was offering him the chance to lead their office in his city. It was a significant advancement in his career, but he had been putting it off for a reason he could not identify except that he was comfortable where he was. The pointed questions asked by this student pushed him over the edge. After the Mentor Round Table session, he drove back to his office, signed the offer and faxed it back to the company. He was on his way to the next step in his own career. He thought he was going to share and help young students that day. In turn, he learned something about himself that inspired him onto the next level in his own career.

You can’t help others without helping yourself. Make mentoring a more integral part of your life. You’ll be amazed at the difference it will make in the lives of others. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in your own life!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Art of Being Mentored

“It is a lot easier to copy genius than it is to create mediocrity.” We’ve been saying that for years. Too many struggle too long with too little accurate information on what will make their business and/or their life successful. If they would just ASK an entire world would open up to them.

Over twenty years ago, I spent nearly a year going around the country interviewing people I thought were doing things that I might want to do for a career. College graduation was nearing and I was unsettled as to the exact place I should start. So, I started asking!

Sixty mentors later I had made up my mind. With all of the research I had done and all of the people I had talked to, there was no question in my mind what I should be doing. So I packed up my Volkswagon and traveled over 1,200 miles headlong into the adventure in which I am still engaged…life!

My first conclusion after one year of eagerly pursuing mentors was that there was no better educational experience anywhere than asking those who had done it. It is a habit that I follow to this day. In fact, you can catch at least one of my monthly mentor interviews every month on the Crown Council Mentor of the Month Program. (

Here are a few tips from experience that will make any mentor search more successful:

1. Look for those who have “done it.” Search for people with a proven track record of getting the kind of results you want. If you ask people who have failed at what you want to do, they will tell you what not to do. In fact, they will probably tell you that it can’t be done. Some of that may be useful information, but what you really want to know is how to do it successfully. You are better off asking someone who has done it so you can learn and understand what was done to make it happen.

2. Do your research. Know a lot about your mentor before you meet. Look them up on the internet and every other source you can find. Live by the Natural Law of Knowledge: “The more you know about them, the more they think you know about what you are doing.”

3. Get introduced by someone who has influence with the mentor you want to meet. How you are introduced to someone sets the stage for the entire relationship. If you try to make the approach on your own, it may be a long, up-hill battle. If someone that your mentor respects and trusts makes the introduction, you will be welcomed with ease.

4. ASK the right questions. Having done your research, you are in position to ask well-positioned “how” questions. “How did you do it?” Etc. Most of your research will have told you “what” the person has accomplished. What you want to know are as many details of the “how” as possible.

5. Pay promptly! Mentors share because they enjoy helping others with no strings attached. So there is no money involved. The pay you give a mentor is gratitude. Send a hand-written thank you card within 48 hours of your meeting. Then…

6. Follow up. The biggest compliment you can give a mentor is applying what he or she shared with you. From time-to-time send your mentor an e-mail or note with an update of how you have implemented what you learned from him. Doing something with what he shared with you is the highest form of flattery and gratitude.

7. Keep on asking. If you are applying what you learned, that opens the door to more opportunities to ask and learn. It is a continuous process if you manage and build the relationship.

Eight years ago, my then, 80 year old father, sent all of his children a letter that said in effect that a mentor of his had recently shared with him the fact that you never stop being a father. His mentor shared that with him. My dad was 80 at the time and he had mentors. He’s 88 today and he has mentors. He is learning and growing every day.

So no matter your age, continue the process of learning and growing by developing mentors. It may be some of the most powerful learning in which you will ever engage.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Managing Expectations

It is Friday night. You and that special person in your life have decided that it has been way too long since you treated yourselves to a nice dinner out. You have a favorite restaurant that you have not been to in years. As you drive up, you realize that the parking lot is packed. You manage to find a parking place near the back of the parking lot, quite a distance from the front door. After you walk by the line of people waiting to be seated, you ask the question that has been on your mind from the moment you saw the crowded parking lot: “How long is the wait?”

The first response from the hostess will ultimately determine your ENTIRE experience in that restaurant for the evening. If she says 30 minutes and you end up only having to wait 25, she is a hero. You are pleasantly surprised. She has exceeded your expectations. Conversely, if she says 20 minutes, you are pleasantly surprised at first. But your pleasure soon turns to disappointment when you have not been seated after 30 min. You have to go up and ask her again and again. When you are seated after 45 minutes, you are saying to each other, “If we had known it was going to be this long, we would have gone somewhere else.” Your server is now going to spend the next ninety minutes trying to overcome your initial bad experience. You may never recover!

Managing expectations may be the most important responsibility that a hostess has. It paints the entire dining experience from the very beginning. It could determine whether the dining guest returns and refers. It is one of the most important first impressions. Keep in mind, it is not the wait time that matters, it is your perception of the wait time.

Contrast a skilled hostess at a fine restaurant who knows how to manage expectations to my experience with one of our local orthopedic surgeons. One of our daughters suffered from several fractured vertebrae last fall as a result of her intense workouts on the high school swim team. On one occasion, we checked into the immense waiting room at the surgeon’s office. After 45 minutes, our daughter started to get restless and said that she really needed to get back home to study for her exams the next day. I went to the receptionist and asked how much longer it would be. She said she would check. Fifteen more minutes with no response, I returned to the front desk and inquired again. A nurse soon came out and reprimanded me by saying that they had no idea how long it would be and that we would just have to wait. “She (the doctor) is an orthopedic surgeon and that is just the way it is. If you want to see her, you’ll just have to wait until she can get to you.” It was almost as if she was telling us that we should feel honored to be in the doctor’s presence. Somehow she had forgotten, or was not aware, of the dozens of choices we have of orthopedic surgeons within five miles of their office. By the time we finally saw the doctor after nearly two hours of waiting, our expectations were so shattered that we could hardly hear anything the doctor said.

Managing expectations is one of the clear points of differentiation between surgeons who get sued and those who don’t. Surgeons who don’t get sued are very good about using “orienting comments” to always manage patients’ expectations. They say things like, “The first thing we are going to do is review your x-rays and MRI results. Then we will do an exam and talk about your treatment options.” In other words, they are good at looking ahead and letting the patient know what he or she can expect next from the experience. That simple information has the power to transform the experience into a positive one.

Every day, in every business, managing expectations is one of the keys to a “yes.” Even if the experience is going to be less that what I originally expected, the use of orienting comments can keep my perceptions positive.

For example, imagine how I felt the other day when I received a phone call about 45 minutes before my scheduled dental appointment. Desiree, the appointment coordinator, greeted me and said, “Mr. Anderson, we have had a patient that needed a little extra care this morning so we are running a little behind. We are going to be able to get started with you about 30 minutes after your scheduled appointment time. Do you have some errands you need to run on your way to our office? We respect your time and want to make sure this works for you. We should be able to have you seated at 1:30 and have you out by 2:30 PM. How does that work for you?

First, the disappointment of not being seen on time is overshadowed by the advance notice and the demonstration of respect for my time. Managing my expectations results in my being even more enthusiastic about my choice of a dental office. I’m going to tell everyone!

Managing expectations on the front end is just the start of using orienting comments. Their use is important throughout the entire client experience. Even though you go through the same routine with every patient every day, the patient has not had that experience. Let them know what they can expect. The motto in the office should NOT be “no unpleasant surprises.” It should be “No Surprises” at all. If the patient knows what to expect every step along the way, he or she will be more satisfied and more inclined to repeat and refer.

Every day, with every client, customer, patient or whatever you call the people with whom you do business, ask yourself in advance, “What is this person most likely expecting?” How can I manage those expectations to make sure he or she has a positive experience? That one skill may be the only difference between an enthusiastic client who repeats and refers and the person who never returns.