It has been said that the sound of someone’s name is the sweetest sound they ever hear. It’s also true that mispronouncing someone’s name is the most annoying.
So what if on this afternoon’s schedule you had these three patients coming in?
The schedule would look something like this:
2:00 PM Koch, Ed (former NYC Mayor)
3:00 PM Koch, Jacob (orthodontist in Lawrenceville, GA)
3:30 PM Koch, Sam (punter for the Baltimore Ravens)
That would be a hell of a schedule! But how would you pronounce their last names? “Kotch?” “Coke?” “Cook?” Turns out you would be correct if you did it in that order. But the odds are slim! Many times they will not correct you – and mispronouncing someone’s name is a horrible way to start an appointment.
We suggest spelling out each patient’s name on their record phonetically. It doesn’t have to be actual phonetics – just something simple that everyone will get correct.
For example – if your patient happens to be the one and only Dr. Louis Malcmacher, right next to the actual spelling of his name you could write “Maltz-mocker.” Or you can always do the old “rhymes with” trick if necessary.
When we are introduced before speaking at seminars, we provide the host with an introduction that clearly says at the top:
MADOW (rhymes with SHADOW)
A few months ago someone introducing us actually thought that was part of the spoken introduction and read it out loud!!
“We are excited to have with us today The Madow rhymes with shadow Brothers!”
The point is – mispronouncing a patient’s name is a no-no and should absolutely never happen. It’s easy to eliminate the situation by placing these little pronunciation hints right on the chart!
We were standing in line at the local deli a few days ago and overheard a pretty amazing conversation.
“What kind of bagels do you have here?”
“We have plain, sesame, poppy seed, garlic and everything.”
“You don’t have wheat bagels?”
“No. A lot of people ask for them, but we don’t have them.”
Well duh!! If a lot of people ask for them, why don’t you have them? Surely the same people who deliver the other bagels could hook you up with some wheat.
How many people will go somewhere else, or at the very least not be 100% satisfied with their experience because you refuse to carry an item that your customers are telling you they want?
So how about you? Is it possible that your patients are telling you they want something that you don’t provide?
Maybe it’s Saturday hours. Or the chance to get orthodontics in your practice without being referred. How about offering better financial options through Care Credit? Maybe tons of patients have asked if you take a particular insurance plan but you refuse to look into it due to a pre-conceived notion.
Whatever the case – in so many instances our patients tell us ways to improve our practices. So don’t fail the bagel test! Listen to your patients, give them what they want, and watch your practice grow!!
One of us was driving down the road recently when we noticed the little “check engine” light had suddenly illuminated on the dashboard.
Don’t you just hate that?
Do you know what it means when that light goes on?
Neither did we.
A call to the dealership did not seem to help much either. There must have been a new employee answering the phone. Because it wasn’t an extremely difficult question that we asked.
The convo went something like this:
Brother: Hello, this is one of The Madow Brothers calling. I noticed that my check engine light just came on. I have a really busy schedule and I am not sure what to do. Do you have any idea what it means? Is it safe to drive my car?
Car person: No way to tell. It could mean that something just needs to be looked at or it could mean that something is really f*cked up. Can you bring it in? (Yes, he really used the ‘F’ word)
Brother: I don’t know when I can get it in. I am leaving in the morning to speak to a group of dentists. I won’t be back until Sunday. What do you think is going to happen?
Car person: Like I said, no way to tell. You got to bring your car over here.
Let’s talk about this one. First of all, it sure doesn’t sound like that the person who answered the phone was a graduate of the esteemed “Appointment College.” He was of no help. Now we’re not car experts or anything, but don’t you think he could have mentioned that we could drop the car off and use the night time drop box? All car places have them!
But more importantly, there was absolutely no warning leading up to the “check engine” light illuminating. Wouldn’t it be really cool if there was a light or a warning system that let us know we were getting close to a “check engine emergency?”
But there was nothing. No warning. It just happened.
Then we started thinking. (Because our minds always wander!)
There is no “check engine” light in dental practices either. No warning light.
What does this mean? It means that things could be getting really messed up and you have no idea. You get no warning when the “engine” of your practice is overheating! Well, maybe your warning is that you can no longer pay bills or meet payroll. But it’s too late at that point, right?
But believe it or not, you do have something that is similar to a check engine light in your practice. It’s called a profit and loss statement. And if you have a good accountant, you should receive a detailed one every quarter.
Do you ever look at it? Our guess is you have taken a quick glance every now and then.
Our advice for the day is to totally understand your profit and loss statement. There is actually a TON of useful information there that will let you know how your practice is doing. Once you understand what all the geeky accounting stuff means, you are very likely to avert a disaster from ever occurring.
So get together with your accountant. Don’t do it now… wait until tax season is over. He or she is crazy busy right now. But sometime after April 18 (yes, we get three free days this year), set up a meeting and ask your CPA to explain everything. You will actually be amazed at what information can be gleaned from this quarterly report!
Remember – there is no “check engine” light that illuminates when things start getting whacked out in your practice. Maybe one day but no one has invented that yet.
So in the meantime perhaps the profit and loss statement is the next best thing. Take advantage of this piece of equipment! It really could save your practice and perhaps your life!
The Madow Brothers have spoken with many practices that are finding themselves in the difficult position of searching for a new team member. Whether it is due to practice growth (congratulations!) or natural attrition from retirement, relocation, pregnancy or dismissal (or as we call it – giving a “job opportunity”) – the dynamics and style of an existing dental team can make finding the right person very difficult.
One of the big mistakes many practices make is looking for someone with “experience.” While it may be ideal to hire a dental assistant who knows mesial from distal or a business team member who is familiar with dental insurance and knows your software, oftentimes “experience” translates into hiring someone who did not work out in another office or multiple offices. Anyone who complains about their former boss in a job interview is waving a red flag that can be seen from the moon.
While it may be scary to hire a complete neophyte and ask them to jump right in, our experience has shown that it is better to hire the right person and tough it out during the break-in period rather than having to modify someone’s bad habits and horrible attitude. (Of course, an experienced person with a great attitude and work ethic is a different and better story!)
It is almost always better to follow the old chestnut “hire for attitude and train later.” As challenging as working in a dental office may be, someone who is bright, enthusiastic and has excellent people skills combined with a good work ethic can become a fantastic part of your team – someone with experience who is a whining pain-in-the-ass or queen bee will have you paying unemployment or cursing the day you hired them.
So where do you find this wonderful person? One good rule is to always be on the lookout for an excellent team member, even if you don’t think you need one at the moment. Sometimes adding the right person to your staff will be a move that pays for itself many times over even if you think the timing isn’t right.
An excellent and often overlooked place to search for team members is in your existing patient pool. Think about it – you already know so much about them.
A patient who is responsible with their appointments will probably be the same with their job. A patient with a trucker’s mouth will probably not work out. You know who cares a lot about their smile and dental hygiene, and most of all, you know if someone is a “people person.”
You also know who is bright and pleasant. And here is the kicker – many times you even know the employment situation of your patients. If someone meets all of the criteria and is a recent graduate with no set career path, a young retiree looking for a second career or a stay-at-home Mom who no longer wants to stay at home, it may just behoove you and your team to ask them if they have ever considered a career in dentistry.
Have them come into your office for a few days and see how they like it (and how they tolerate the blood and guts!). This can be the easiest, cheapest and best way to find that next fantastic addition to your team. Now is a good time to start!
Does Everyone Know You Are A Dentist?
Ask the expert marketers what the best return on investment is when it comes to increasing the visibility of your practice and grabbing more new patients. Many will say it is a well lit sign in front of your office, visible from the road and as large as legally possible. Great advice for sure, and the sign will be worth every penny.
Why? The answer is easy – visibility. Everyone who drives by will soon know there is a dentist there.
But there are some other things you should be doing that may increase your visibility even more and are completely FREE!!
Simply stated, every single person you come in contact with on a day to day basis needs to know that you are a dentist. Now that does NOT mean every single person that you see face to face, although that is important too. This is actually about circles much larger than that.
Think about this. How many emails do you send and receive all day? How many are “group” emails that are seen by many people? Probably hundreds. Do all of those people know you are a dentist? They should. It’s so easy. Simply make all of your emails have an automatic “signature.” You can set this up in whatever email program you are using in just a matter of minutes. The “Signature” is the line or lines that are automatically generated at the end of every email – and if yours doesn’t have your name (with degree or “Dr.”), office phone number, tag line (such as “Creating Smiles In Eastern Wisconsin Since 1984” or “General, Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry”) and website – you are simply missing thousands of opportunities each year.
Along the same lines, even though in this electronic age the printed word seems to be vanishing, there are still chances to let those in your community know that you are a dentist for free using good old paper and ink. Here’s an example. Let’s say that you have volunteered to be coach of the 8th Grade girl’s soccer team, and at the first practice all of the parents are given printouts with the names and phone numbers of the team members.
Do it on your office stationary! It’s a simple little thing, but now everyone on the team knows that Jenny’s Mom or Dad is a dentist! So what will they do at the next practice when they have a little dental question? They’ll give you a chance to say “You really should call the office so I can have a look!” Or they will know someone they trust and respect when the need for a new dentist arises.
Okay – one more simple one. Carry your business card everywhere and give it to everyone!! Make sure that every restaurant owner, dry cleaner, bank teller, gas station owner – every single person in your community who you do business with – knows that you are a dentist! After all, you are giving them business – the code of good will says that they will do the same for you! It’s so simple to do. And, as with the rest of these, it’s free!!
So sit back, relax, and get ready for your phone to ring. Oh – by the way – when your phone rings, it’s crucial to have the skills to convert that caller into a patient!! If you don’t, nothing else matters! So to be sure, check this out: http://bit.ly/2mtu95