My Prediction for 2013



Good news!  U. S. News and World Report has announced their list of the top jobs (those in greatest demand) for 2013 and topping the list at number one is dentist!  Following in the number ten position is dental hygienist! At the risk of angering some of you, I’m going to say it. No more whining! You can position your practice and seize the market. But you must decide to take a good hard look at your practice and make some improvements.  Look at these FIVE ELEMENTS and ask whether you are making the most of each opportunity:

1) Your Physical plant

Patients have very little in which to judge your expertise or competence and some will assess you by the appearance of your practice. From the exterior and signage to the decor, wall art and clutter, look at your practice with new eyes or ask a third party or professional to give you their honest opinion. And while you must like and be comfortable in your surroundings, the more important issue is who you are targeting and what will appeal to them.

2) How are patients welcomed?

The best investment you can make is to train the team members entrusted with answering the phone and welcoming new AND existing patients. NO AMOUNT OF ADVERTISING OR EXTERNAL MARKETING WILL BENEFIT YOU until your team members learn how to connect with people in the most effective way. The challenge is that you rarely know how your team members are engaging people because you are focused on doing dentistry. Enlist the help of a professional to both assess and train your team appropriately.

3) Work on building relationships

This may sound like a no-brainer but there is more to building a relationship than learning where your patients work, their children’s names or where they went on their last vacation. Everyone who works in the practice must be capable and willing to learn communication skills that will carry your relationships beyond the superficial. This requires learning why patients come to you, what they are asking and expecting of you, and how you can connect with them in ways that help them get what they want. The end result is more patients authorizing more dentistry sooner!

4) Fostering referrals

It stands to reason that if you manage expectations and give patients what they want, they will be happy and continue to come to your practice. Far too often, we don’t ask our best, most satisfied patients for referrals. Do you and your team know the art of asking for referrals in a genuine way? Do you have a referral program that encourages people to voluntarily share their experience in direct and viral ways? Enlist the help of a professional to AMP UP this highly overlooked goldmine.

5) Marketing

For you old-school guys and gals, WAKE UP!  It’s 2013 and if you aren’t getting your business out into the community, you will be left behind. For those of you who have marketing plans in place, now is the time to re-assess their effectiveness.  Keep these three essential elements in mind as you craft your campaigns:

Reach – who you are targeting

Frequency  –  how often you are sending messages out

Top of the Mind Awareness/Familiarity  –  being in the consumer’s mind when they are in the market or have a need

I encourage you to consider more non-traditional means of promoting your practice with a heavy emphasis on education and good-will marketing. Think creatively and out of the box. Don’t rely on a team member to try to implement your marketing when they “have time”. Instead, hire someone who can focus on it.

I predict that if you tackle all five of these goals this year, your practice will SOAR. I would love to help you with each of these areas to make 2013 your greatest year ever and be poised for success for years to come.


Do Your Patients Deserve an Upgrade?


First Class Status!

While skimming the Facebook statuses on my Home page, I noticed a colleague’s comment about how excited she was to get an upgrade to First Class on her flight. She went on to say it was the “simple” things in life that make her day.  Another friend commented that it isn’t a “simple” thing – “it is what we deserve but seldom get”.

With first class status, you get priority check-in. You get to board early. The seats are roomy and usually a buttery leather with lumbar support. You are greeted immediately and get to choose from a wide selection of complimentary pre-flight beverages. There’s exceptional meal service (love those warm towels!). Some feature individual media players and personal amenities. You leave the plane feeling refreshed and a little more special than when you entered. Is it likely that my friend will think of this moment the next time she books a flight? Absolutely.

In fact, this JetBlue TV Commercial from 2006 took the concept of First Class and applied it to every passenger across the board.

It made me wonder what patients think when they arrive at a dental practice.  What have they come to expect?  Do they expect an outdated or less than appealing reception area?  Have they come to expect to wait for an extended period of time?  Are they accustomed to being rushed through? Do they expect to be lectured on their home care? Is it their expectation that they will be “hassled” about doing the treatment they’ve put off? Do they expect to hear dental-speak that doesn’t make much sense to them? In other words, do they expect to fly coach class?

What if your patients came to your practice expecting coach but instead, receive first class treatment? Imagine how they might be thinking as they leave the practice? What would it take to provide each and every patient an upgrade – to provide them with what they “deserve but seldom get”?

As you embark on a new year, why not make this a team project?  Each team member could review their own performance and area of responsibility and ask the question; How can I make this a first class experience for my patients?. What additional effort would it require? Think outside the box of dentistry. Think five-star hotel. Think red carpet treatment. Bring the ideas to a group meeting.  Brainstorm as a team and experiment with your ideas.

Make sure your patients feel more special when they leave. After all, you want them to book their next flight with you.