And Who Are You?

Have you ever visited a physician for the first time who just strutted into the room and got down to business without introducing themselves? We sure have. It happens in dentistry too. And while we may not be as smug as our medical colleagues, oftentimes a new patient visit is completed without the doctor ever saying who they are!

Without a doubt, the first thing the doctor should say on a new patient visit is some version of…

“Hello Mrs. Garcia, I’m Dr. Lesh – very nice to meet you. What may I help you with today?”

Don’t assume that the patient knows who you are – and even if they do, an introduction is nice.

Same with team members. They should always introduce themselves – and they should wear name tags as well. Knowing someone’s name is crucial to making them feel that they belong in your practice!

Little Word. HUGE Power.

It’s a small word. But learn to say it effectively and judiciously and it will save you aggravation, energy, time, money, and frustration. It’s a word that many of us are afraid to say, or feel guilty about. But learn how to say it with a smile on your face and kindness in your heart – and you’ll be doing yourself and others around you a favor.

The word is “NO.”

And it shouldn’t be adorned with a ton of excuses, convoluted explanations, or even worse, white lies. Just a simple nicety, and then “no.”

“I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to attend.”

“That sounds great, but I’m going to pass.”

“Unfortunately that won’t work out for me.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I’m going to respectfully decline.”

That’s it. No thank you. (When it comes to dealing with patients, it is of course wise not to actually use the word “no” – and to offer up alternatives.)

So don’t get over-committed. Don’t do things that won’t fit into your plans or goals because you don’t know how to say “no.”

Simple advice. But is it life changing?

Yes.

What’s Your Management Style?

You need to MBWA. Make Blueberry Waffles Artistically? Model Bikinis While Answering? Musically Break Wind Anally? While all of those may be fine (or at least the first two) – that’s not what this is all about. Here’s the thing. Most dentists hate managing their practices. So instead of being the true leader, we tend to hide in our private offices between procedures, hoping that everything on the outside is going well. It doesn’t work! That doesn’t mean we should micro-manage every detail; driving our team crazy and hurting productivity. But just about every dentist / manager / leader could stand to know more about what is really going on in their practice.
That’s why you need to MBWA. It’s a phrase used by business management guru and best-selling author Tom Peters, and it means “Managing By Wandering Around.” When you have a free minute, don’t hide in the private office. Go greet a patient in the reception room. Say something like “Hello Janet – great to see you! Dolores will be taking you back in just a minute.” They will love it! Walk around and listen to what your team members are talking about. You can learn a lot, nip some problems in the bud, and even diffuse some difficult situations you didn’t even know existed. Stop hiding in your office. Listen. Observe. Act. Manage By Wandering Around. You’ll be amazed at what you can see, how much you can learn, and most of all, how much your practice will improve.

 

 

When A Patient Leaves Your Practice, It’s Always Your Fault

Not counting moves, death, or other similar situations, when a patient leaves your practice, it’s always your fault.

 

Don’t believe it? It’s true.

 

Even if the patient is a complete jerk, didn’t pay, had crazy unrealistic expectations, or an insurance plan so bad that you lose money when they come in, if a patient is upset enough to leave your practice, their perception is that you did something wrong.

 

And remember – perception equals reality. So no matter what the truth may be, the patient’s view is that you somehow screwed up, causing them to leave your practice.

 

It happens. Shit happens. No matter how great you are, patients will come and go. So don’t react negatively. When a patient decides to go splitsville, the worst thing you can do is act all smug and righteous. No matter how silly their complaint, apologize and promise to do better next time. Then send them a beautiful hand-written note wishing them luck and letting them know they are welcome back at any time.

 

At best they will come back one day. And they probably won’t trash talk you to everyone they know. It’s always good to take the high road. The low road is usually flooded, dirty, and full of potholes.