Associate Issues

Welcome back to Coaches Corner! We are happy to share our years of experience working with dental offices all across North America.

Here is today’s question:

Dear Coaches Corner,

We just hired a new associate dentist to work two days a week. He graduated dental school in 2015 and finished his residency in 2016.

He is a very skilled, capable, and ethical dentist and patients like him.  However, like all of us just out of school, he doesn’t understand how the practice of dentistry works. He hovers over the staff annoyingly watching every move they make and repeatedly questions them as to the billing, supplies, paperwork, etc. He just doesn’t understand that if he lets the front desk do its job and assistants do their job, everything will be done properly.

Our staff has been together for more than 10 years. We are trying to guide him but he can be stubborn. He also changes his gloves at least 8 times while doing a single procedure on a single patient. Do you have any tips on how to work a new associate into the practice?

Name and location withheld

Dear NALW,

Thanks so much for your question. You are experiencing something we have seen many times – an associate who is clinically quite capable but just does not get the “big picture” of the dental practice.

But first we need to pose this question. (Disclaimer: We are NOT psychiatrists, although many days we feel like it!)

Is it possible your associate has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? He changes gloves constantly. He hovers over everyone and everything. He constantly repeats this annoying behavior. Does he have any strange rituals? Will he not see a patient unless all the rubber dam clamps are aligned in a perfect circle? Does he only do things in sets of three? (That could be good for production.) Does he store dental supplies in alphabetical order?

This could actually be a serious issue. But again, we are dental coaches, not shrinks. In any case, all of this needs to start with a very frank discussion. The good news is that your associate is skilled, capable, and ethical. So he could be a keeper. But remember, he may know absolutely nothing about how a dental practice functions in the real world. Teaching him these things is crucial at this point.

He needs to be told in no uncertain terms that in order for the dental practice to operate at its peak, we need to truly be a team. That means when we have capable staff, we need to let them do their jobs without interference. No one likes to have everything they do scrutinized, and it can lead to major conflicts. So ask him – can he recognize and understand this?

Many times the best thing a dentist can say to a patient is something like:

“Mary – that’s a great question about your insurance and payment options. My job around here is to keep you comfortable and do the best dentistry possible. Carole will be glad to discuss the other stuff with you – she is the best!”

And you can’t just say it – you gotta believe it.

So use these things as teachable moments. Explain. Demonstrate. Lead by doing. But the eight pair of glove thing is a little worrisome. You may be dealing with a more difficult issue here. The only way to find out is to ask.

Please keep us posted.

Coach Rich
Coach Dave

 
Dr. David Madow and Dr. Richard Madow are actual dentists who have been helping dental offices become more successful for over 28 years. They are down to earth, real people who personally connect with their clients and are proud to call them friends. If you have a question for this column, please write to them at coaches@madow.com. We are now offering a complimentary 30-minute coaching session! Please CLICK HERE to schedule yours. Doctors only please.

A Question From A Down Under Dentist

Welcome back to Coaches Corner! We are happy to share our years of experience working with dental offices all across North America. Here is today’s question:

Q: What are the three most common things that once implemented have the greatest effect on the bottom line? What is the one simple thing you see missing most often that would make the greatest impact for a practice?

Dr. David O’Malley
Bendigo, Australia

A: Great question Dr. O’Malley, and so nice to hear from one of our Australian followers. Of course we did a little research and learned that Bendigo is in Victoria, Australia, not all that far from Melbourne. It was once a gold rush town and is now a bit of a financial centre. Sounds like a great place to live! It’s also home to Frank McEncroe, inventor of the Chiko Roll, whatever the heck that is.

Okay – on to your question. It’s a tough one because there are so many things that impact the bottom line, and of course, every practice is different. However, these are three things that we see in just about every practice we visit. Of course, they are simple, obvious, and rarely mastered.

1) Answering the phone every single time it rings (dental practice phones go unanswered over 40% of the time during normal business hours!) with a well-trained front desk team that knows how to get the patient off the phone and into the appointment book.

2) Analyzing and understanding dental practice overhead and taking the proper steps to reduce it.

3) Effectively mining the “Million Dollar File Cabinet” and getting those patients signed up for treatment. (The “Million Dollar File Cabinet” is our term for patients with recommended treatment that has not been appointed.)

Of course this is just the start – there are so many more things that can be improved in just about every practice!

Part two of your question is: What is the one simple thing you see missing most often that would make the greatest impact for a practice?

This may sound self-serving, but it is honest. The one simple missing thing that would have the greatest impact on dental practices is professional and effective coaching. Most dental practices are too busy cranking out dentistry and putting out fires (especially putting out fires, sometimes with gasoline!) to really see what is going on inside their own walls.

Coaching is an investment in the practice that pays off big time, but too many people are afraid to make that investment. Or, they are afraid of having an outsider come in to “shake things up.” But remember the old adage…

If you keep doing what you’ve always been doing,
you’ll keep getting what you’ve already got!! 

Thanks for writing in. We hope to meet you one day!
 
Coach Rich
Coach Dave

 
Dr. David Madow and Dr. Richard Madow are actual dentists who have been helping dental offices become more successful for over 28 years. They are down to earth, real people who personally connect with their clients and are proud to call them friends. If you have a question for this column, please write to them at coaches@madow.com. We are now offering a complimentary 30-minute coaching session! Please CLICK HERE to schedule yours. Doctors only please. 

Yelp Yikes!!

Welcome back to Coaches Corner! We are happy to share our years of experience working with dental offices all across North America.

Today’s question comes from Alissa Haber in North Platte, Nebraska

Q: A former patient left a horrible review for us on Yelp. What they said isn’t even true. What should we do? How do we respond?
Alissa Haber
North Platte, Nebraska

A: Great question Alissa! First of all, take a deep breath and relax. Bad reviews happen to everyone eventually. Everyone knows that, including the people who will be reading your reviews.

So first of all – here is what NOT to do. Do not, under any circumstances, get into a debate (or what some people would call a “Pissing Contest”) with the reviewer. Even if what they said is totally inaccurate, they are going to stick to their guns. Remember you are dealing with an unreasonably angry patient with too much time on their hands. They would love nothing more than to get into an online sparring match.

Should you choose to respond, make it clear that you are sorry the patient had a negative experience, it is not the norm in your practice, and you would like to be given the opportunity to make it right.

But the bottom line is – the best cure for a negative review is a SLEW of positive reviews. They will push the bad one further down and pretty much negate any power it had. So ask for reviews constantly. Text or email your review links to people. Identify your top 50 patients and ask all of them to review you on a variety of sites. Then sit back, relax, and provide the best customer service you possibly can.

If a large percentage of your reviews seem to be negative, that’s a different story altogether though.

Coach Rich
Coach Dave

 
Dr. David Madow and Dr. Richard Madow are actual dentists who have been helping dental offices become more successful for over 28 years. They are down to earth, real people who personally connect with their clients and are proud to call them friends. If you have a question for this column, please write to them at coaches@madow.com. We are now offering a complimentary 30-minute coaching session! Please CLICK HERE to schedule yours. Doctors only please.

What do we do With THESE Patients?

Welcome back to Coaches Corner! We are happy to share our years of experience working with dental offices all across North America.

Today’s question comes from the beautiful Midwest!

Q: What do we do when someone wants to get treatment but doesn’t have the funds and doesn’t qualify for CareCredit? We are losing a lot of production because of this.

Thanks for your advice.

Jenna Feldski, Office Manager
Overland Park, KS

A: Hello Jenna, and thanks for your great question. There are two important things you need to consider here.

  1. Outside financing companies like CareCredit, while pretty liberal in their qualification process, are doing the work for you. They are the professionals and the experts. If they don’t approve someone, they are telling you this:

BE CAREFUL – THERE IS AN EXCELLENT CHANCE THIS PERSON WILL SCREW YOU OVER!

So beware. Any kind of “payment plan” you make with this patient is likely to wind up as an unpaid collection headache and eventually a writeoff.

2. While we always recommend being ethical, law-abiding, etc.. remember that you are not obligated to treat every person who steps into your office. Pain, bleeding, swelling, infection  – those are different stories altogether. But someone who needs routine dental treatment, (and that could include crowns to repair rotting amalgams, perio disease that is smelly and gross, missing teeth, poor function, etc…) are not under our ethical obligation.Sure – it is great to treat everyone we can. But they gotta pay! And if an outside financing company is telling you don’t treat them – don’t do it!!

Now does that mean we should stop doing “in-house payment plans” for old Mrs. Goldfinch who has been coming here since Eisenhower was president and has never missed a fifty dollar monthly payment? Of course not. But those are rare exceptions.

Does that make you feel like you are not being generous and charitable? It shouldn’t. Remember, doing charity dentistry is YOUR choice! Don’t let a patient screw you over and then tell yourself it is charity. That is not the way it works!

Charity dentistry is a beautiful thing, but it needs to be decided upon ahead of time!

Coach Rich
Coach Dave

Dr. David Madow and Dr. Richard Madow are actual dentists who have been helping dental offices become more successful for over 28 years. They are down to earth, real people who personally connect with their clients and are proud to call them friends. If you have a question for this column, please write to them at coaches@madow.com. We are now offering a complimentary 30-minute coaching session! Please CLICK HERE to schedule yours. Doctors only please.

 

 

 

Coffee

Okay – time for another restaurant story. It’s a quick one that can have some serious implications for your practice!

At checkout in a local Baltimore lunch spot:

“Would you like anything to drink?”

“Yes – coffee please.”

“We don’t serve coffee here – but a lot of people ask for that.”

Okay – just for effect let’s repeat that line again.

“We don’t serve coffee here – but a lot of people ask for that.”

If there ever was a “duh” moment – this is it! Buy a commercial coffee maker for a few hundred bucks, or even easier, call a coffee service and tell them to set it up today!!

When our practices were young we both had a “policy” – no cleanings on the first visit. Yes – we knew that clinically that was the best decision. After all, how can you properly appoint a patient with the hygienist without an examination?

But after losing hundreds of new patients due to this policy, we both loosened up a bit and realized the number one customer service lesson in history –

Give the people what they want!

What do you hear yourself saying on a regular basis?

We don’t have Saturday hours.
We don’t take that insurance.
We don’t do cleanings on the first visit.
We don’t have a financial solution for you (so you can’t afford treatment).
We can’t get you in today or tomorrow.
We don’t do even simple orthodontics here.
We don’t do cleanings on the first visit.
We don’t.
We can’t.
We won’t.

Want your practice to grow?

Do. Can. Will.

A Cool Way to Increase Production and Collections for the Holidays!

Welcome back to Coaches Corner! We are happy to share our years of experience working with dental offices all across North America.

The holidays are quickly approaching and one of the most common questions we get from our clients is something like “What can I do around the holiday time to increase my production and collections as well as get more people talking about my practice?”

Well that’s great timing! Our lead coach Betty Hayden has an answer that should help you with this! We are giving it to you a couple of months ahead of the holidays so that you will have time to do it right, as opposed to rushing to get it done. Enjoy!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Are you offering gift certificates for purchase in your dental office? If not, you should be. Certainly, you’ll have some patients looking for that perfect gift for their family members and friends this holiday season. Save them the awful trip to the mall. Make it easy for them to get their shopping done. Who wouldn’t want a beautiful, white smile for the New Year? Maybe even a beautiful, straight smile with Invisalign?

How do you do this? Place nicely framed signs in your reception room and treatment rooms with the suggestion that gift certificates to your office will make a great gift.  Have a tasteful display of a themed (ex: Happy Holidays) gift-wrapped box, or a teeth whitening product box wrapped in a bow… you get the idea.

Inform your patients and potential patients via your office website, social media sites, newsletters, and postcards about this gift idea.

Perhaps, offer special pricing on teeth whitening and/or Invisalign for a limited time as an incentive for your patients and potential patients.

In addition to gift certificates, you might suggest electric toothbrushes as a thoughtful gift. Wrap your electric toothbrush with a bow and gift tag and put it on display.

Additional tip: When these patients call to schedule their appointments to redeem their gift certificates and then come in for their appointments…wow them!  Exceed their expectations and gain loyal patients.

Yours for Greater Success,
~Betty

Betty Hayden is the lead coach at The Madow Center For Dental Practice Success. She has over 25 years of experience in the dental profession. Her expertise is in effective telephone answering techniques, profitable scheduling, marketing campaigns, communication, social media, new patient acquisition, practice growth, and much more. She is oftentimes appropriately called “The Idea Woman!”

If you have a question for this column, please write to them at coaches@madow.com. If you would like to ask a confidential question, please CLICK HERE to schedule a free call.

A simple lesson. Yes.

The answer is “NO!” Now what is the question?

A short time ago we were at lunch with a coaching client at a Chinese restaurant near their office. (Some of the best ideas are generated during lunch meetings!) They were excited to take us there because they were a “regular” and knew we would get great treatment.

“The lunch special comes with an egg roll. Is it possible to get a spring roll instead?”

“NO!”

“Can the Szechuan green beans be made with no sauce?”

“NO!”

“Can brown rice be substituted for white rice?”

(Care to guess the answer?)

“NO!” (At least they could have said the classic “One dollar extra!!”)

No exaggeration here – this really did take place. And then it got worse.

Someone came in and asked, “Do you sell gift cards here?”

“NO!!”

What if that customer bought five $50 gift cards for his co-workers? That would have meant a $250 sale. Then what if one of the recipients had never been there before, and loved it so much they became a regular customer, bringing in their family ten times a year for an $80 dinner? And then what if….you get the picture!

So, every time someone in your practice says “no” – you could be missing a similar opportunity.

Even if the answer is technically no, at least try to turn it into an opportunity. Here’s an example:

“Does Dr. Garvey have appointments on Wednesday evening?”

And he doesn’t. But instead of saying “NO!” – how about something like this.

“Oh – sounds like daytime appointments are tough for you, is that right? Well we start at 7:00 AM on Mondays and Thursdays, and our new doctor, Dr. Grant, sees patients on Saturdays. Which works best for you?”

A little creativity and positivity go a long way!!

One of the most typical examples is “Do you take my insurance?  It’s a PPO and I don’t see you on the list.” The typical response to this is “NO.” Then the conversation ends.

How about trying this instead?

“While we are not a member of that plan, we are an unrestricted provider with all insurance plans. That means you can still come see us, and we will give you the best dental care possible. You can pay us directly and we will help you maximize your insurance benefits with that company.

Would you like to come in for a no-charge consultation? That way you can meet the doctor, she can answer any questions you have, and we can explain exactly how we can make financial arrangements comfortable for you! Is tomorrow at 11:30 AM convenient?”

Granted – most people on a ‘list’ will say no to this, but nothing is lost. And sometimes someone will say yes, become a great patient, refer lots of others, and well – you can figure out the rest!

Sometimes it’s the simple, easy things that can help your practice grow. And to that we say “YES!!!”