Your Patients Aren’t Nostradamus

Your Patients Aren’t Nostradamus

This week on Wednesday we [my family] decided to drive on a day trip to Goulburn.

Goulburn is about an hour’s drive west from our home, and it’s a good highway drive for most of the way on a dual carriageway motorway. Goulburn was settled as Australia’s first inland city, so it’s a big town, located just over two hours’ drive from Sydney.

One of the reasons we like to go down to Goulburn is to visit the Argyle Emporium, a very impressive second hand bookstore with tens of thousands of books available for purchase to fanatic readers and collectors.

My daughter visiting us from Sydney always looks forward to any chance to visit this bookshop should an opportunity arise. And since she was down from Sydney for Christmas Day lunch and a few more days, it made sense to plan an excursion to the bookstore in Goulburn.

And plan we did.

The first thing we did was to check Google Maps in advance, to make sure that the Argyle Emporium was actually going to be open on the day we planned to visit, which was the Wednesday of the short working week of three days between Christmas and New Year.

You see, this short week presents a good opportunity for a lot of small businesses to close for three working days between the Christmas Day and Boxing Day public holidays and the New Year’s Day long weekend, and with the addition of the three public holidays and the two weekends, they pick themselves up an extended ten day break.

On the day of our excursion, we planned to arrive at the bookstore at 11:00am and spend the morning there, before dropping in at our favourite Goulburn café for lunch.

The café that we usually visit is very popular, so we arrived at 12:30pm to beat the lunchtime crowd.

To our surprise, when we arrived, the café was closed.

There was no sign.

The door was locked, and no chairs and tables were assembled outside.

I felt as though I had let my family down, because I had failed to check in advance as to whether the café was going to be open on this day…. I just simply assumed that it would be open…

But it wasn’t…

Stunned, we stood on the footpath outside the café and went to Google Maps on our phones to double check, and to see whether we should have checked in advance [as if that was going to result in the café magically opening before our eyes…].

Google Maps informed us that the café was meant to be open.

But it wasn’t…

And that didn’t change the fact that we now needed to make some alternative plans for lunch.

Funnily enough, while we were there in front of the café recomposing ourselves and our agenda for the day, in the space of five minutes, four other dining parties turned up to be surprised and disappointed that their favourite café was not open for lunch.

How does this relate to your dental practice?

The thing is, the café knew they were going to be closed, and  yet nobody at the café bothered to advise Google Maps…

And nobody at the café thought it would be a good idea to put up a sign in the doorway to inform visiting patrons that they were closed for the day…. and to wish those patrons who turned up there a Merry Christmas or to wish them to “have a good day.”

Now, I know that nobody really will begrudge the café the time off…

But there might be a few patrons whose noses might be put out of joint by the café’s lack of attention to detail…. and their presumed apathy towards the needs of their patrons.

In dentistry, any “presumed apathy” towards patients can be a real practice killer if it’s not eliminated and eradicated.

Patients will leave your practice if they feel that your practice:

  • Continuously runs late and does not respect the patients’ time
  • Regularly phones their patients and reschedules previously made and confirmed appointments for treatment
  • Regularly puts phone callers to the practice on hold for long periods of time. And they do this mostly without first checking who the caller is and whether the reason for the call is easy to address or not…
  • And worse still, the practice chooses to default incoming phone calls during business hours to an answering service, presuming that callers will all be OK with that, and that callers will happily leave a message to be phoned back when the practice feels like it…

As Austen Tayshus used to say…

“How much can a koala bear?”

How much presumption and apathy will your patients tolerate, before they say that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, and they decide to leave your practice, and to take their patronage elsewhere?

And go to another dental practice that respects its patients’ time, and is grateful for their patronage, where staff continuously goes out of their way to tell their patients how much they appreciate them and respect them.

Because, in reality, that’s all your patients want…

They want to know that your dental practice values them, and respects them, and understands them.

And they just want to hear you say it.

And say thank you.

Because none of your patients are Nostradamus….

They can’t always guess what your practice, and your team, are thinking.

Your patients can FEEL apathy.
Your patients can PERCEIVE apathy.

But when you tell them how much you value them, they can FEEL that gratitude.

And it feels great…

*****

Need your phones monitored?

Are you concerned about the number of calls that are not being answered as best they can be?

You need Call Tracking Excellence.

For the cost of a less than one cleaning per week, you could have your phones being answered much much better….

Convert more calls into appointments…Click the link: http://www.calltrackingexcellence.com

Call Jayne on 1300 378 044 or email Jayne@theDPE.com for more details.

*****

Have you read my book , How To Build The Dental Practice of Your Dreams [Without Killing Yourself!] In Less Than Sixty Days.

You can order your copy here: Click Link To Order

*****

The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at david@theupe.com

 

Here’s A Great Customer Service Tip To Keep Your Appointment Book Full…

Here’s A Great Customer Service Tip To Keep Your Appointment Book Full…

Here’s one of the easiest things to do to keep your appointment schedule full.

For your hygiene department, or for those dentists still doing their own hygiene, all you need to do at the start of each morning is this:

Look at the schedule of hygiene appointments for this day, and then take that schedule and go to the same day of the week in 28 weeks’ time [six months and two weeks] and enter those patients in on that future day at exactly the same times.

Then, as today progresses, all that your hygienist or dentist needs to do is say to the patient at the appropriate time during their appointment:

“I’m scheduling you in again in six months’ time…looks like this time and day of the week works for you?”

And BAM!

The appointment is already there in the schedule anyway.

In all cases, the hygienist or the dentist have already pre-empted the reason for the next visit for this patient, saying:

“I want to check on that early onset recession in the top left molars”

Or

“I want to be remeasuring and checking on those pocket depths”

Or

“I want to review the amount of bone loss we’re seeing, and make sure that we’re doing the right things for you…”

For 95% of patients this will be OK, and we’ll have avoided the playing of “appointment tennis” in trying to schedule their next necessary hygiene visit.

That presumptive advance pre-scheduling of the next hygiene visit in the treatment room saves your front office team a lot of time that can then be used by those astute team members to spend “visiting and schmoozing” with the departing patient.

Also, it’s a proven fact that the scheduling of the patient’s next hygiene visit by the practitioner who has just completed that treatment results in a greater personal commitment from the patient to attend their next hygiene appointment.

And it’s a measurably far greater commitment than when the next hygiene appointment is scheduled at the front desk during departure.

Follow this simple improvement to skyrocket your patient acceptance rates.

*****

Need your phones monitored?

Are you concerned about the number of calls that are not being answered as best they can be?

You need Call Tracking Excellence.

For the cost of a less than one cleaning per week, you could have your phones being answered much much better….

Convert more calls into appointments…Click the link: http://www.calltrackingexcellence.com

Call Jayne on 1300 378 044 or email Jayne@theDPE.com for more details.

*****

Have you read my book , How To Build The Dental Practice of Your Dreams [Without Killing Yourself!] In Less Than Sixty Days.

You can order your copy here: Click Link To Order

*****

The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at david@theupe.com

 

It Is Extremely Difficult To Be In More Than One Place At The Same Time.

It Is Extremely Difficult To Be In More Than One Place At The Same Time.

Earlier this year I had a discussion with a dentist who owned two dental practices.

As you know I recently posted an article where I shared an interesting perspective from Simon Bowen about the downsides of trying to grow a business in a second location.

In that article, I touched on the fact that I personally, had almost purchased a second location dental practice but withdrew from doing so because I couldn’t be guaranteed secure tenancy on the second location.

Interestingly, my withdrawal from purchasing that second dental practice helped me to avoid a potential second error of judgement and that error is simply this:

IT IS EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO BE IN MORE THAN ONE PLACE AT THE SAME TIME.

The other primary concern with operating two dental practices at one time is that in the initial stages, the principal dentist can often find that the income of the two locations is limited by the number of hours the principal can share between the two sites, while the overhead of having two locations is usually double the overhead of operating from only one location.

And so the success of the dual location practice relies imperatively on the business being able in the very first instance to have reliable and productive associate dentists seeing patients at one location whenever the principal dentist is working at the other location.

And as soon as possible.

The trouble is….

The trouble is that in theory, a model like this works very well, but in reality, a model like this can sometimes be nothing more than a pipe dream.

And sometimes this is because there are factors affecting our practices that are totally outside of our control.

For example:

  • Imagine opening a second location branch dental practice and then having your trading hours restricted at both practices because of an unforeseen pandemic, such as COVID-19, causing your industry to have to close down?

It hardly seems fair?

  • Sometimes it can be difficult to find and locate and train dental practice staff.

When you double your location numbers from one to two, obviously there is a significant increase in manpower required to ensure that both practices are adequately staffed.

And both facilities are appropriately utilised…

You see…

You see, there are no guarantees in life any more for business owners when it comes to securing long term employees who are dedicated to their employer.

Be those employees dentists, therapists and hygienists, or they are office staff and assistants, the employment pendulum has swung so far to one side that planning any sort of long term business future can be quite difficult.

In dentistry, a lot of the success of dental practices is built around the creation of long-term relationships between the patients of the practice with the team members, and the owners.

And that’s because of the personal nature of the processes of delivery of dental services…. it is a very personal and often emotional experience for the patient, most of the time.

I saw a dentist comment recently in an online forum that the successes that he had in building a multi-practice organisation was done by adding one new practice at a time and SEQUENTIALLY building his organisation, rather than trying to go from one practice to many in a very short space of time.

I think paramount to his comment is the fact that each practice should be independently productive and profitable before seeking to add more locations.

And additional locations should be only added on a foundation of data and due diligence, rather than on raw hope.

Get one location right firstly…

As I mentioned previously, rather than spread myself thin in two locations with double the overhead, I decided to refocus my dental practice ownership goals on my original location in Parramatta, and the rest, as you know is history.

And I did grow that one location.

In 15 years I grew my dental business’s turnover by a multiple of 8.5x.

That’s an 850% increase in turnover in fifteen years.

And I did it by:

  • Focusing on creating a World Class Patient Experience for all my patients that they had never experienced at a dentist ever before…
  • Once my patients had experienced THE DIFFERENCE in service and attention at my practice, compared to anything they had ever experienced anywhere else, they never wanted to go anywhere else for their dentistry.
  • And once I had both these factors in place, I was able to market my practice as THE ONLY PLACE to choose when it came to wanting a WORLD CLASS DENTAL EXPERIENCE.

And in the end, the growth and production that I experienced in my business at my primary location was more than enough to satisfy me compared to the efforts required in managing multiple practice locations with a variety of achievements and outcomes.

In the end, however, it’s really horses for courses.

The beauty of owning multiple successful practices is that each should run as a successful and profitable stand alone entity, without being propped up by other practices within the empire.

Remember, if you do choose to become a multi-practice owner, to always keep that thought front of mind as your binding principle…

*****

Need your phones monitored?

Are you concerned about the number of calls that are not being answered as best they can be?

You need Call Tracking Excellence.

For the cost of a less than one cleaning per week, you could have your phones being answered much much better….

Convert more calls into appointments…Click the link: http://www.calltrackingexcellence.com

Call Jayne on 1300 378 044 or email Jayne@theDPE.com for more details.

*****

Have you read my book , How To Build The Dental Practice of Your Dreams [Without Killing Yourself!] In Less Than Sixty Days.

You can order your copy here: Click Link To Order

*****

The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at david@theupe.com

 

Is This How They Talk To Everybody?

Is This How They Talk To Everybody?

Last week I phoned a dental office to speak to the lady owner, and a male voice answered the phone.

The male did not identify himself clearly, so I began by introducing myself by name, and asking if the lady owner [let’s call her Dr. Jones] was in the practice on this day [that I was phoning on]?

The male who answered the phone, replied to my question [with a very loud and aggressive tone]:

“What’s this about?”

Guess what?

That wasn’t the answer to the question I asked.

In fact, it was nowhere near the two most common answers I receive when I phone dental practices and ask about the owners.

Those common answers that I normally receive are:

“She is, but she’s with a patient at the moment.”

Or

“I’m sorry, Dr Jones isn’t in today.”

So I replied politely, to the man with the hostile tone:

“Will she be in tomorrow?”

To which the male voice replied aggressively:

“She won’t be in until Sunday! What’s this about?”

I replied politely:

“That’s OK. I’ll phone back on Sunday.”

Well actually, that was a lie.

I really just wanted to end this call as quickly as possible because I had decided already that my life was too short to ever want to speak to this person ever again, nor to speak to anyone who employed someone who behaved this rudely ever again.

Period.

But he persisted, rudely and aggressively:

“I can get her to call you back.”

I replied:

“I’m sorry. I missed your name earlier…. What was your name please?”

He told me his name was Graham* [not his real name].

I replied:

“Graham, did my number come up on your phone?”

Graham replied:

“I’m out the back on a cordless. It may have come up on the reception desk set.”

I replied, curiously:

“Graham, do you have a pen and paper handy?”

Graham answered:

“No, I’m eating my lunch.”

I replied:

“That’s OK Graham. I’ll call Dr Jones back on Sunday.”

Another lie from me…. I’m never phoning Dr Jones’s practice ever again.

And we ended the call there.

What was wrong with this call?

Firstly, for all dental practices, if you are going to answer the phone while eating your lunch, or while away from your front desk, the caller doesn’t need to know this.

All the caller needs to know is that you can PROFESSIONALLY and empathetically solve their problem, and give them a solution they are looking forward to.

All Graham did was tell me that the practice was understaffed to take phone calls, and that the practice had no systems or protocols in place to disguise the facts that staff who were on a lunch break were being forced to answer the phone at the same time.

What Graham should have said [to any caller] is:

“Excuse me [name of caller], do you mind if I place you on hold for 15 seconds?”

And then walked to the reception desk where a computer and a notepad were handy, and resumed the call.

No caller to a dental practice is going to give your team member a medal when the team member tells them:

“I’m just out the back.”

There is absolutely no point in saying this.

Callers don’t care.

Secondly, the role of a receptionist is to take messages and pass them along. It is not their role to decide whether the reason for the phone call is something that they think they can play judge, jury and executioner on, and decide themselves whether the dentist should hear about the phone call or not.

When I was a dentist, there were a lot of times when I was treating patients that it was impossible for me to take phone calls.

All I needed to know was who called me [Name] and what were their contact details [usually phone number] and when was the best time for me to return their call.

Phoning the caller back, and finding out the reason for their call, well those duties were mine and mine only.

Not the duty of some little power hungry frustrated megalomaniac like Graham*.

Even if…

Even if your employer wants you to filter and screen his calls, as an employee, I’d hate to be responsible for making the wrong choice as to whether my boss did or did not phone somebody back who called…

When I was practicing, as much as possible, I always liked to be shown [on paper] the name of someone who was calling for me, just in case it was an important call that I needed to take at that moment, if I could.

But as the owner, it was my decision.

If I needed to take the call, and I could take the call, then I would.

But if I wasn’t able to take the call, I was able to instruct my employee as to when I would be able to phone that caller back… and to politely let the caller know…

There were a couple of life-changing moments…

During my life as a dentist, there were a couple of life-changing moments where I took an incoming phone call, or I went out to speak to someone who had knocked on my dental practice door.

And if I’d never done those things, if I’d never spoken to those people AT THOSE TIMES, my life would have certainly been worse for missing out on those conversations, and the opportunities those callers had shared with me.

So let me ask you a question:

Are there team members in your practice, who through their aggressive and belligerent behaviour, could possibly be adversely determining your destiny?

PS. As a dental practice coaching firm, we listen to recordings of incoming calls on our clients’ phones, and we help their team members improve their phone skills to become the best version of themselves for their employers.

It’s surprising what we REALLY DO HEAR being said by front office employees on the phones that actually repels and deters callers from scheduling appointments for necessary dental treatment.

And the sad thing is, a lot of dental offices out there don’t record and monitor their phone calls, and therefore have no idea at all as to what’s being said well, and what needs to be said better….

And in reality, that’s a serious and very expensive opportunity cost going straight out the window right there… every single minute of every single day….

Just like a leaky old pipe, or a dripping tap…

And just like a leaky old pipe, or a dripping tap, bad phone skills and bad phone etiquette don’t fix themselves….

*****

Need your phones monitored?

Are you concerned about the number of calls that are not being answered as best they can be?

You need Call Tracking Excellence.

For the cost of a less than one cleaning per week, you could have your phones being answered much much better….

Convert more calls into appointments…Click the link: http://www.calltrackingexcellence.com

Call Jayne on 1300 378 044 or email Jayne@theDPE.com for more details.

*****

Have you read my book , How To Build The Dental Practice of Your Dreams [Without Killing Yourself!] In Less Than Sixty Days.

You can order your copy here: Click Link To Order

*****

The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at david@theupe.com

 

Is Your Dental Practice Really A Business, Or Is It Just A Highly Paid Job?

Is Your Dental Practice Really A Business, Or Is It Just A Highly Paid Job?

Years ago I had the pleasure of seeing Michael Gerber, the author, speak on stage about his breakthrough philosophy and book titled “The E-Myth”.

Gerber spoke about the E-Myth [short for entrepreneurial myth], and how this title refers to the commonly held, and usually disastrous assumption that a person who excels at the technical and operational aspects of their employment should automatically succeed in running a business based on delivering that same skill and/or service.

Gerber is renowned and world famous for dispelling this misguided myth.

He explains why it is a myth… and that is because to become a successful business owner, not only is this person needing to still perform as a highly skilled technician, doing what they used to do when they had a job, they are also needing to be an effective business manager [who can excel at systemising the business’s profitable processes] and also somehow be an entrepreneur [who has a clearly focused vision for the business’s future].

Ultimately, Gerber says, all businesses created should be able to operate independently of the “doing” actions and efforts of the owner.

Sadly for most small businesses, the owner is most often the ONE KEY PERSON who knows everything and does most things, so much so that when that one key person is absent from the business, the business’s functionality grinds to a shuddering halt, and the business’s profits evaporate.

In a dental practice…

In a dental practice, what usually happens is that the principal dentist [i.e. owner] usually performs a significant part of the dental production of the dental practice.

And so it goes without saying, that when the principal dentist is away from the practice, and not doing dentistry, the dental production the practice needs to continue operating and paying its mandatory bills disappears into thin air. [These mandatory bills include rent, salaries, utilities, and insurances, amongst others…]

Only a small percentage of dental practices are run as true businesses, where there are sufficient [employed] dental providers doing enough dentistry on patients to pay the expenses of the dental practice and return an operating EBITDA or profit to satisfy the shareholders who own the dental practice.

A healthy EBITDA for a dental practice to show is around twenty percent.

What should happen when a principal dentist takes any sort of leave from the practice is that the remaining employed dentists can perform in such a way that the dental practice production continues at its same levels and therefore the EBITDA of the practice also does not change.

Sadly, what we do see in most dental practices is that when the principal dentist takes leave, even if there are associate [employed] dentists in the practice, for some reason the production of those associates diminishes, as if the whole dental practice just gets “stuck in second gear”.

When in reality, the amount of dentistry needing to be done on the practice patients should be maintained by the employed dentists continuing at their production rates, as well as locum dentists and employed dentists doing dentistry on the days that the principal dentist is not present.

Sadly, the reality fails to materialise…

For the contracting dentist on a facilities and service arrangement…

It’s very difficult and almost totally impossible to say that a contracting dentist engaged by a dental practice on a facilities and service arrangement is running a business as defined by the Gerber definition of a business.

The harsh reality is simply that nearly all contracting dentists are exchanging labour and time for a percentage of production [payment] from one or less than a handful of locations, and they don’t have a business plan or a business vision for their imaginary business.

The interesting thing is that 95% of [imaginary] businesses out there that rely on a key man don’t even have a written down business plan, with goals, and dates.

I take my hat off…

I take my hat off to dental practice owners who have removed themselves sufficiently from their practices such that their practices do run as true businesses, and not as examples of this imaginary entrepreneurial myth.

Which category of business does your dental practice fall under?

Real business?

Or imaginary?

*****

Need your phones monitored?

Are you concerned about the number of calls that are not being answered as best they can be?

You need Call Tracking Excellence.

For the cost of a less than one cleaning per week, you could have your phones being answered much much better….

Convert more calls into appointments…Click the link: http://www.calltrackingexcellence.com

Call Jayne on 1300 378 044 or email Jayne@theDPE.com for more details.

*****

Have you read my book , How To Build The Dental Practice of Your Dreams [Without Killing Yourself!] In Less Than Sixty Days.

You can order your copy here: Click Link To Order

*****

The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at david@theupe.com

 

Paste your AdWords Remarketing code here

Pin It on Pinterest