It’s All in A Name!

Years ago one of us had a patient named James Dick. He was a great guy who referred his wife and kids and then his brother and his brother’s entire family. Some cousins and other assorted members of the family tree followed. One day an insurance company clerk called, saying to Carole at the front desk “I’m calling about the treatment for Mr. Dick,” to which she replied…

“You’ll have to tell me which one – we have a file cabinet full of Dicks!”

So we have to thank Mr. Dick for a few things:

  • He was a great patient who referred many family members.
  • He provided us with a very memorable laugh.
  • His name was easy to pronounce!

We all know it is great to call a patient by name as frequently as possible. But what if you are shying away from doing so because you don’t know the proper pronunciation? Or even worse – what if you have been mispronouncing a patient’s name for years and they haven’t said anything about it?

If you are even slightly unsure about the way a patient’s name is pronounced, just ask! They will appreciate it. Then, write it phonetically inside of the chart and review it during the morning huddle.

Don’t try to use those fancy phonetic characters that no one understands – just write it out in a way that cannot be mistaken. (Example – the name of a French dentist we know would be phonetically spelled as “PEE-AIR SHY-THEED.”)

While the sound of a patient’s name may be the most beautiful thing to them, hearing it pronounced incorrectly is just the opposite.

How would you read this sentence: “I think you need that crown.”

We all love email. And we love social media! We have been recommending regular communication with your patients for quite some time now, right? One thing we never discussed is how careful you need to be with your words in an email or anywhere else online.

Question: Do you know how to read music? If you do, you know that when you’re reading music, you’re actually reading at least two things simultaneously. Written music tells you what note to play and when to play it.

Written language, on the other hand, only tells you one thing – what letter to pronounce. Of course, punctuation helps indicate pacing – pause at a comma, stop at a period (no one is sure what to do at a semicolon), but it’s still up to the reader to interpret how the author wanted the piece paced.

Look at the sentence below:

 “I think you need that crown.”

What does it mean to your patient?

Be careful, because it may mean different things to different people.

For example, read the following sentences aloud and place the emphasis on the bold-faced underlined word. You’ll see how the pacing and the meaning can change based on where you choose to place the emphasis.

I think you need that crown.

think you need that crown.

I think you need that crown.

I think you need that crown.

I think you need that crown.

I think you need that crown.

You see, written language does not retain the intonation or have the inflection that spoken language has.  That’s why sarcasm and irony seldom works well in print or static online advertising. (Be careful with your Facebook posts – we have likely pissed many people off without meaning to do so!)

It’s one thing for you to add your own inflection to a treatment plan presentation when you have the patient right in front of you. But if you are communicating in writing or electronically, please be super careful.


Ten Things That Are Wrong With Your Office!!

Over the last few years we have visited many practices for full day consults.

We have watched closely as “flies on the wall,” attended and led team meetings, have had intimate (and sometimes emotional) one on one meetings with doctors, spouses and team members, and have even interviewed patients.

We’ve also spoken to thousands of dentists and team members at our one-day “Love Dentistry” and “Boot Camp” seminars.

There is no doubt that every office is different and possesses its own unique blend of strengths and weaknesses.  But there are ten traits that we see in practically every single office we have ever visited! Simply improving some, all or most of these things will improve any practice significantly.

It’s pretty much guaranteed that at least seven or eight of these things, and possibly all of them, are taking place in your very office!!

So without further ado, here are, in no particular order……

Ten Things That Are Wrong With Your Office!!

1. There is a “Million Dollar File Cabinet” of undiagnosed treatment that has not been performed.

2. The “back” and the “front” don’t get along.

3. The perio program is inadequate and not enough soft tissue treatment is being diagnosed and performed.

4. Telephone skills need serious help.

5. Infrequent and disorganized team meetings.

6. Refusal to spot or fire a “bad apple.”

7. Some marketing but no true marketing plan.

8. Inconsistent branding or message.

9. Clinical bottlenecking – not enough quadrant dentistry and too many “watches.”

10. Inadequate fee raises.

So how did you do? Wait a minute – not so fast!! Most offices which we visit have no idea that this stuff is actually taking place until we prove it to them. So take some time, take a good look at this list, and objectively see how you stack up.

As always – we are here to help you!!