This Is Guaranteed To Make You Feel Good About Dentistry!

One of the great things about dentistry is being able to enhance patient’s lives so significantly. Allowing people to look better, smile more readily, be free of pain, chew and function normally, live longer and have nice fresh breath for speaking and kissing are just a few of the things we do to improve the lives of everyone we touch. Even the most basic dental procedures are incredibly important – without good dental hygiene and regular cleanings millions more teeth would be lost every year.

Unfortunately even in the United States there are many citizens who have little or no access to oral health care. Many of these people, especially children, will have their futures dampened due to dental disease and lack of care. At The Madow Group, we are huge believers in helping the less fortunate achieve excellent dental health. We urge you to make 2010 the year that you help a few members of your community by providing free or low cost dental treatment. It will make you, the entire team and your patients feel even better about what you do.

Want to get involved on a larger scale? There are ways that you can touch thousands of deserving people from traditionally underserved parts of the country. For over fifty years, Oral Health America has been improving public health by eliminating oral disease through educating and empowering communities to provide access to care, and advocating for policies that create oral health parity.

Here are just a few examples of their great work:

ACCESS: OHA is close to their goal of providing 1,000,000 dental sealants to 225,000 children by 2010.

EDUCATION: Their messages of dental hygiene, proper professional care and healthy food choices have appeared in news sources which have reached over 170 million people.

ADVOCACY: For every American that lacks medical insurance, approximately two lack dental insurance. Only about one third of children covered by Medicaid obtain dental services each year. Oral Health America is advocating for the mouth to be included as one of our nation’s healthcare priorities, and is working in partnership with other oral health leaders to educate policymakers about disparities in access, social and economic equity, workforce, and effective community-based interventions.

We support this fantastic organization and hope that you will too. Please visit their website at www.oralhealthamerica.org to learn about the multitude of things they are doing to educate and improve the oral health care of so many in this country. While you are there learning about the fantastic work of this organization, we urge you to donate whatever you can afford. It’s guaranteed to make you feel even better about the great things we do in dentistry!

Why 2010 Will Be Better Than 2009!

As 2009 comes to a close, many people are saying “Good Riddance!” And why not? It marks the end of a decade that some are actually calling the worst in history. Are they right? Well, here is the evidence.

After the non-event of Y2K, we were witnesses to a horrific terrorist attack on American soil followed by wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of course we also had anthrax letters and the DC sniper.  Mother Nature was not very kind either as Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc and is still affecting many Americans. It was the largest and most expensive natural disaster in our country’s history.

Financially things were certainly no better. The Wall Street scandals of Enron and WorldCom made us realize just how vulnerable we all were. Then the housing market, artificially inflated by cheap money and easy credit, came crashing down like the house of cards it was. The major markets experienced their worst decade in the history of organized trading, and the economy pretty much had a total collapse.

Our infamous poster boy, prisoner No. 61727-054, a.k.a. Bernie Madoff, rots away in a Butner, N.C., jail cell, doing 150 years for orchestrating the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of humanity. Yes – it was quite a decade.

Naysayers are still using every format possible to scream bloody murder and predict the collapse of mankind, as others are positive that the world as we know it will end on December 21, 2012. But believe it or not, there is lots of room for hope, and much of that is even based on fact! Here are a few tidbits to get you in a positive spirit as the next decade begins to emerge.

The economy is improving. That’s right! The unemployment rate dropped last month, the economy grew by 2.2% in the third quarter of 2009 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up a full 60% from its bottom in March! Practically every economist is predicting a huge upsurge in job creation next year. The release of a new Taylor Swift CD followed by a tour may also pick things up by a few percentage points. Things are pointing to a decent or possibly even great year ahead.

Banks are actually repaying their bailout money. Many major banks (even those that were predicted to “ghost”) have either paid back or have announced their intentions to pay the government (and taxpayers!) back. The Treasury Department has stated that just about all of the $700 billion will be returned. Who ever saw that coming?

Crime is down. Violent crime rates have not been this low since the early 60s! Criminologists have many theories and can’t seem to agree why this is true – but who cares? This has to be a good sign.

The Swine Flu wasn’t all that bad. With apologies to those who had serious health problems from H1N1, this was not nearly as bad as many health experts predicted. Put the masks away! (Keep using the Purell though.) The world is not coming to an end quite yet.

So there you have it – some positive signs at the end of a bad year and a pretty rough decade. Still, even with much of this bad stuff still lingering, many dental practices continue to grow and thrive; some are closing out the decade with their best year ever. But even if things have not been so stellar for you, we are excited about the year and decade ahead. Signs are pointing to great things for our profession and for the country as a whole. Keep going – don’t lose faith. We will prevail! We have to.

What’s Your BHAG? You Need To Know!

Yes – it’s that time of year again- the time when you get stuck with a really stupid white elephant gift from the annual gift exchange, drink too much at the office party and reveal a really embarrassing moment  from your past, get all nostalgic for something that wasn’t all that great anyway – and maybe, just maybe, begin thinking about next year.

When things in the office slow down a bit due to the holidays and you have a few more days off than usual, it is a good time to think about the future, namely your BHAG. So just what is a BHAG?

A BHAG is a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” – a long term picture of where you see things going – not a one year plan, but a futuristic vision of what you would like to accomplish many years from now. When you do your short term planning you need to keep your BHAG in mind.

What are some examples of BHAGs? Here’s one.

“By the end of the decade we will send a man to the moon and have him return safely home again.”

Most people know this was one of the BHAGs of President John F. Kennedy. He didn’t say that first we would develop the Mercury space capsule and have someone orbit the Earth for a few minutes. But that was certainly one step of many that had to be taken.

Or how about this one from the business world?

“A computer on every desk in every home.”

When Bill Gates said that in 1982, most people, including the big shots at IBM, thought it was ridiculous. What use could the everyday consumer possibly have for a computer in their home? They certainly never pictured that right now this blog would be written on a laptop at 30,000 feet. But Bill Gates did. (Of course, he probably did not think it would be a MacBook!)

So while those are great examples of Big Hairy Audacious Goals, how well do they translate to the dental office? Actually, very well.

Bill Gates had so much work in front of him and his colleagues to get a computer in every home. Things like writing code for an operating system that normal people could use, making processor chips small and powerful enough to fit into a compact enclosure, and tons of other things we now take for granted had to be created for that BHAG to be achieved. But without it, they may never have happened.

So let’s take it to the dental office (or chiropractic, podiatric, medical office or any type of business if you happen to be one of our growing numbers of non-dental followers). Pretty soon you will be sitting down to set your goals for 2010 – or you certainly should be anyway. And in it you will have all of the normal stuff, things like:

  • Increase production and collections by 22% over last year.
  • Obtain 45 new patients each month.
  • Begin the interview process and hire a second hygienist by March 2010.
  • Complete a course and have a Social Media Marketing program up and running in the first quarter.
  • Ask every single patient if they would like whiter teeth.

Okay – you probably get the picture there. And that is all great stuff. But without the BHAG, you really don’t know where you are going with this. So take off your loupes for a second and put on your binoculars. What do you want to be doing ten years from now?

Maybe you want to sell your practice and work for the new owner, netting enough money on the sale that you can comfortably retire. Or perhaps you want to develop your practice from a one-person show into a multi-specialty group practice. Maybe you want to buy your own building and lease out space to other medical professionals.

Or how about this one – maybe you want to grow your practice by converting associates into partners so that you may be involved clinically just one or two days per week, take off the months of April and September to stay at your resort condo in Hawaii, and keep your income high and your retirement plan funded. Sounds pretty good! That goal is really big, kind of audacious, and pretty hairy too. And the only way to make that happen is to start now!

Team members – does this involve you? Absolutely!! Remember, the more the practice changes and grows, the more you will be rewarded (or should be rewarded anyway). So feel free to pitch in with the BHAG. And you can also have a personal BHAG, so please take some time to contemplate that.

Here is the point. Many offices will be doing their 2010 planning around this time of year, and that is fantastic. But to REALLY know how to plan, you need to know where you are going long term, and for that you need a BHAG.

So go ahead and make one! Make it super big, pretty darn audacious, and really hairy. Don’t worry – you can always modify and change it, so dream large! And then, when you begin your 2010 planning, keep the BHAG in mind.

SCARY STUFF GOING ON IN YOUR OFFICE!

There is something very scary going on in most dental offices across the country – probably yours. Learning what it is and taking the proper steps to correct it could be one of the biggest things you ever do to help your practice grow. What is it? Please read on.

But first – want to have some fun? Pull out the Yellow Pages – oh wait a minute – no one uses the Yellow Pages anymore! Go to your computer and Google “Dentist” and the name of any city or town. Find a listing that you like and then go to the telephone and give them a call, asking one of the following questions:

 –         How much do you charge for a cleaning?
 –         Do you take dental insurance?
 –         Where are you located?
 –         Do you do cleanings and crowns?
 –         Are you accepting new patients?
 –         I just moved here from out of town and my previous dentist told me I need some gum treatment, six crowns and a root canal. I would like to pay in cash. Is that alright?

After they answer the question, just say “okay – thanks for the information.” What will happen? Over 90% of the time they will not put you on the schedule! How do we know?

Since 1995 we have been doing “secret shopper” calls at our live events and as a service to offices that we work with. And it is amazing how most team members simply have not been properly trained in converting a caller into an actual patient. The scary part is that your office could be losing nine out of ten potential new patients because of this!

Think about all of the questions on that list. What they are really asking is “May I become a new patient in your practice?” And ninety percent of the time the answer is “NO!”

Think this is happening in your office? Do you want to know? You should. After all, you need to know if you are losing potential new patients! Well, we would love to help you find out with a

FREE SECRET SHOPPER CALL!!

That’s right – our expert team will secret shop your office and record the call. We’ll give you a grade from zero to one hundred with an explanation of what went wrong (or right!) and some fantastic suggestions to help you increase your telephone skills. We will also include a detailed report to let you know exactly what you need to do in order to be scheduling many more new patients in 2010!

Please keep in mind that the purpose of this call is not to poke fun or belittle anyone – it is to help your team and your practice become a new patient scheduling machine!

Just go ahead and submit the following contact information and pretty soon you’ll be “secret shopped” – the first step on the way to significantly increasing your new patient flow! After all, potential new patients are calling offices all across the country and being turned down. Don’t let it happen in your office!

Please note – this request must come from the doctor or practice owner! By filling out and submitting this electronic form, you are giving The Madow Group permission to place a “secret shopper” call to your practice, record the call, and send a detailed report back to your office. Are you ready? Then just click this link:

I Want A Free Secret Shopper Call!

Remember, as a service to you this call is free! By taking this step, you will be on your way to scheduling more new patients than ever before! There is nothing to lose – and hundreds of new patients to gain!

I Want A Free Secret Shopper Call!

There is NO WAY a stupid song can help your practice in December!!

Here it is – the middle of December and you may already be sick of hearing holiday songs blaring from every corner of the Earth – from Sirius XM all the way to Quizno’s. Well here is a holiday song that can mean lots of income added to your bottom line before the end of the year!

Let’s face it – even the most highly productive offices can be a little bit slow this time of year. But instead of just shrugging your shoulders and saying “That’s the way it is” – here are five sure fire ways to either save lots of money or earn more before the end of 2009! Just to make you pay attention, we’ll gear the list to the first line of a popular holiday song – “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire.”

1)     Chestnuts:  Okay – the first one may be an old “chestnut,” but as you know many of your patients have dental insurance dollars just waiting for them, and it is “use it or lose it” before the end of the year. Some of them are not even aware of this situation. These days it’s easier than ever to get the word out. Simply compose an email to let them know that if they don’t take advantage of this benefit in 2009, they will lose hundreds of dollars that belong to them! In just a few minutes you can tell your entire patient base.

Also, go through the files starting with patients who were seen the most recently (they most likely have this treatment on their minds) and let them know that in order to maximize their benefits they need to start treatment before the end of the year. People who need multiple restorations can do some now and some at the beginning of 2010. You can easily schedule ten units of crowns or other high-end restorations this way!

2)     Roasting:  It seems like we are always “roasting” the government because all they want to do is tax us to death. So when the government wants to give us some money, we should go for it!! If you check with your accountant, they most likely will confirm that you can take advantage of IRS code section # 179, which allows dentists to take a deduction of up to $250,000 on equipment either purchased or leased before the end of 2009. This is free money from Uncle Sam – grab it!!! Not sure what to get? According to dental technology expert Dr. Larry Emmott, here are the top two choices:

My #1 tech investment recommendation is to make sure you have a good complete office network. No other tech investment will give you as fast a retun on investment or allow you to do so many more things with technology. So this is the year to add computers to all the treatment rooms, put a workstation in the lab, upgrade the server, improve your security, and anything else you may have been putting off. This will cost a typical dental office between $20 to $25,000. A big multidoctor office will of couse spend more.

#2 is digital radiography. If you have #1, that is a complete up to date safe and speedy network, then you need to have digital radiography. Adding a sensor system to an exisitng network will cost less than $15,000. Adding a digital panoramic will cost around $30,000.

Speaking of digital x-ray, we absolutely love the new Dexis Platinum Sensor. Check it out at www.dexray.com.

Just think about it – if you were planning on purchasing new computer equipment or a digital x-ray system (or even a few new sensors for your existing system) you can get a HUGE check from the government for doing it now!

3)     Open:  As the year comes to a close, more and more offices are taking vacation time, longer lunches, closures for holiday parties, and anything else to celebrate the end of the year. And we are all for that! But just make sure when your office is not technically open that it is “virtually” open by forwarding your office phone line to the cell phone of a team member or using a virtual scheduling service. The holiday season is actually a great time to pick up new patients and emergencies – unless they call your office and get an answering machine. Then they are lost and gone forever.

4)     Fire:  Okay – this may not be the nicest topic in the world, but the new year is approaching, and it is a great time to make a fresh start. Is there a team member who just is not “on the bus?” I know we all love them or feel sorry for them or for some mushy reason can’t face up to the fact that they don’t belong in our office. But someone who is not 100% on your team for all the right reasons and bringing their “A Game” into the office every single day is costing you tens of thousands of dollars and really ticking off the rest of your staff (and probably patients as well). This is a toxic situation and it needs to be remedied. Go ahead and do it – you will feel better when 2010 comes around.

5)     White Christmas:  Who doesn’t want whiter teeth for the holidays? Everyone does! But it is also a tough time when shopping for everyone else is on the minds of most patients. So take a tip from the marketing geniuses who invented Black Friday – have a sale! Give your whitening fee a significant discount and tell all of your patients that you are having a holiday sale. You will be amazed how many patients will just say “yes” at the end of their hygiene appointment when offered a great deal on whitening. Then just move ‘em on over to the next treatment room and get started! It’s December – you weren’t doing anything anyway!!

So please – don’t just write December off as a month where nothing gets done! All five of these things can add up to huge earnings and savings as the year comes to a close!