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That would be a very strange way to practice dentistry…

Hey guys-

I have been reading Coaches Corner since the very beginning and love every one of them. I appreciate the straightforward style. My question is – how are you different from all of the other coaches and consultants out there?

Dr. Steve Sief
Matawan, NJ

Hey Steve-

Is it just us, or are 90% of the questions we get from New Jersey? It is a great question though, because if you are sincerely looking for some practice guidance and growth, it is important that the people you work with are a good fit for you.

So since we are all dental folks here, imagine this scenario. You hire a “clinical coach” to help you with the clinical aspects of your practice. And that coach says something like: “Here is the Gold Level Clinical Program.” The first month, all of your patients get a complete exam and a full set of x-rays. In the second month, they all get crown preps on teeth #s 2, 14, 29 and 30, with long term temps. In the third month, they all get four quads of scaling and root planing. Then in month number four, which is our favorite, they get four implants, with a sinus complication on the upper right. Blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda, dot, dot, dot….”

This makes no sense at all, does it? Every patient couldn’t possibly have the exact same needs.

Well, nothing against our fine coaching colleagues (and there truly are a lot of great dental coaches out there), but most of the coaches or consultants have pre-written plans or modules. They teach them to their coaching staff (typically a burnt-out hygienist looking for greener pastures) and then it is delivered to your practice by rote. Well, that is not how it works around here!

Every practice is different, every person is different, and everyone has different goals. So how can dental coaching be done correctly with a bunch of already planned systems? It can’t!

When we work with a practice, our first step is to find out what they REALLY need. This is not just based on practice performance, but on the individual goals of the dentist. And it doesn’t just end at the dental practice; often there are lifestyle goals and issues as well. After all, you need to be happy in all aspects of your life. If your practice is cranking and you are unhealthy, miserable, and in debt, what good is it?

Then we work on a truly custom basis to deliver what you need. The crazy thing is, most of the time it is not what you even thought! Does that make sense? Our team takes a personal interest in every one of our coaching clients. That’s why you won’t find our name on the side of a huge building, or why you don’t get three boxes of generic written materials when we work together.

Okay – we could go on and on, but this answer was not intended to be an ad for our coaching! But as you can see, this kind of stuff just gets us going. And yes – we are different!

Want to find out HOW different we are, and if working with The Madow Center For Dental Practice Success would be a good fit for your practice? Just click here and we can chat! No pressure, no obligation. That’s the way we roll!!

And do you like our new picture???

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 Does “CDA” Really Stand For?

Dear Coaches,

I am at the end of my rope. My dental assistant has been with me for six years and the patients love her. She is a decent enough dental assistant – she is not always on the ball but she knows the procedures pretty well and after six years she knows my clinical routines. 

The problem is her attitude. She shows up late several days per week and cruises into the morning huddle like she didn’t do anything wrong. She refuses to do work that is “below her,” such as confirmation calls, even if she has down time.

She can also be a bit of a rabble-rouser with the other members of the team. I have noticed that everyone else has a great attitude and are real team players, but as soon as Diana enters the picture everyone starts fighting and pointing fingers. Last week she threatened not to attend the annual team Christmas dinner unless we changed the location to a fancy steak house, even though it was already on the schedule. She also bad-mouths other team members (and me!) in front of the patients. She won’t attend CE courses even though I pay her to do so. I have warned her about all of these things several times and she promises to change but never does. It actually seems like she is getting worse. I am wondering if CDA stands for Certified Dental A-hole! What should I do?

Dr. R Fader
Bayonne, NJ

 
Dr. Fader,

You sure ask a lot of questions for someone from New Jersey. So we have a few for you.

1) Who owns this practice?
2) What kind of dirt does Diana have on you?
3) Why are you so afraid of this person?
4) Are you out of your mind?

As coaches, we rarely go into a practice and recommend firing a team member. That is the reason some people are afraid of coaches, and we recognize that.

However, the situation you describe, if it is indeed accurate, is pretty horrendous. Unacceptable behavior. Multiple warnings. One person bringing down the entire practice. You know what to do. We know what to do. So stop being a wimp. It’s time Diana gets the opportunity to “contribute” somewhere else!!
 
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.

The Letter

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 Dr. Alan Chilton of Memphis, TN

Dear Coaches,

I haven’t raised my fees in over three years and realize this is long overdue. But I don’t want to scare my patients and chase them away. Do you have suggestions for a letter I can send them that explains everything?

Thanks for you help.

Alan Chilton, D.D.S.
Memphis, TN

Alan-

First of all, congratulations on the decision to raise your fees. It is one of the easiest ways to increase your revenue overnight, and three years is way too long to wait.

Here is our suggestion for a letter to send to your patients. Don’t do it. Did you hear that?

DON’T DO IT!

As far as we know, there is no legal or ethical reason to do this. And should you choose to notify everyone, it will cause more harm than good. When is the last time you got a notification from the grocery store that the price of a jar of mayonnaise is on the rise? An oil change at your car dealership? Has your physician announced that the fee for a colonoscopy is going up? (“Going up, my ass!!” “Yes, that is correct, sir.”)

Look. Your patients think your fees are too high anyway. When is the last time you presented a fee and the patient thanked you for providing such a bargain? It just doesn’t happen.

So please – give your fees (and yourself) a hefty raise. After three years you deserve it. After all, the price of everything else has gone up. No announcement is necessary. It is totally fine, and hardly anyone will notice.

Or, you could do this…..

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.

 

Quickies In The Office?

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

Today we will be sharing some “quickies” from our Coaches Corner mailbox.

Q: How do you get Google to remove fake reviews?  I have tried contacting them but have gotten nowhere whatsoever. There are three fake reviews on my google review page, two stating I am young and inexperienced. I am 62 and have been practicing dentistry since 1979!

None of them are my patients. The thing I did do is to respond to the reviews, stating they are false and that they are not patients of mine, but it would be good if Google can remove them to keep my 5 star rating intact.

Thanks,
Ira Biderman DDS
Howard Beach, NY

A: Ira,

We just checked your reviews. You handled the responses to the poor ones very well, and your many five-star reviews speak for themselves. The thing you don’t want to do (and what you have avoided) is to get into a “pissing contest” with an unhappy or fake patient.

Our advice – getting Google to drop the fake or poor reviews is nearly impossible (the old freedom of the press thing!!), so stop driving yourself nuts. Your reviews are fantastic – just keep getting more good ones. If we were looking for a dentist and saw those reviews we would go to you in a second!! Remember, the more positive reviews you get, the more buried the fake ones are.

Q: Hi guys, my name is Fredric Siegel, a Promail user for 20+ years.  When a patient does not have the funds and doesn’t qualify for Care Credit, I would offer a ” lay-away” type arrangement.  Patients make payments till almost paid, then do the treatment.  This way it’s done and paid, a win win situation.

Best wishes,
Dr. Fred Siegel
New Rochelle, NY

A: Thanks for a great tip Fred. And we are pleased as punch that Promail is helping you get new patients! Check out our New Patient Postcards as well. And please give our regards to Rob and Laura!!

Q: Great rebranding of “The Madow Brothers” to “The Madow Center For Dental Practice Success.” What made you want to make that change?

Michelle Lynn,
Boca Raton, FL

A: Hello Michelle – and thanks for noticing.

Maybe it came from our reluctance to “toot our own horns…” but we realized that of all the people we have the honor of reaching through our e-letters, live seminars, articles, blogs, etc. – many do not really know what we do!! So it just made sense to utilize a name that says it all, and we feel The Madow Center For Dental Practice Success does just that.

After all, we LOVE coaching individual dental practices – but many folks didn’t even know we do that!! We produce in-office training programs, have new patient marketing programs, and more – and they are all designed with one thing in mind – the success of YOUR dental practice!

So it’s not just a name – we are proud to be “The Madow Center For Dental Practice Success!”

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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!!!”

How to Effectively Answer the Dental Office Telephone

Hey guys, I have been very frustrated with my front desk team member. She thinks she is great on the phone but my appointment book does not share her opinion. Ideas?
Dr. Sei Nguyen, Orange County, CA

Dear Dr. Nguyen,

This problem is one that we see all over and it does not seem to be going away. Even with the expensive “institutes” that are popping up. Sometimes it’s best to get back to basics. We would love to share some ideas from our lead coach, Betty Hayden:

Do we really need to keep talking about how to answer the telephone? Absolutely!  This is one key to your success. All of your marketing efforts lead people to the phone first. Don’t waste your money by losing the potential patient or aggravating current patients due to poor telephone skills and habits. Your entire team (clinical & admin) should be trained on how to properly answer the phone and handle the call. Answering the phone is a privilege and a great opportunity!

Here are a few tips:

  • Smile before you pick up the phone.
  • Answer the phone within the first couple of rings.
  • Answer the phone with a thank you for calling, identify the office and give your name. (ex: Thank you for calling Dr. Smiles, this is Betty. I can help you)
  • Do NOT let the caller go to voice mail (or a busy signal!) during business hours (including lunch hours). People hate leaving messages. Oftentimes, they’ll hang up and call the next office on their list.
  • Never, ever answer the phone with “hold please” or “can you hold?” Take a quick second, find out who they are and what they need. People hate to be put on hold. If you are habitually needing to put callers on hold, you need more people answering the phones.
  • For the few times when you do need to put a caller on hold – please, consider having a great message on hold service.
  • Get the caller’s name and use it often. Find out how they heard about your office (document the referral source!). “What type of insurance do you have?” shouldn’t be the first thing you ask. In fact, let the caller bring that part up. Your goal is to build a relationship with the caller, to get to know them and their expectations.
  • Offer an appointment. Sounds obvious right? You might be surprised to know how many office’s I have called as a “shopper” and was never offered an appointment.
  • There are words/phrases that should never be used on a call. Make a list of the words/phrases you want to eliminate from the office vocabulary.

Set aside some time to meet together as a team – everyone in the office should be trained on how to not only answer the phones but they should know how to handle the calls. At the very least, professionally & courteously direct the caller to someone who can help. Role playing will help all to feel more comfortable handling different types of calls.

Worried about your team members sounding like robots on the phone? Don’t be. This is what you do – create as a team your Telephone Principles (your goals & expectations for each call.)

Be Firm In Principle – Flexible in Procedure

The procedure may vary but the principles remain the same. This will allow the team member’s to customize their words to the individual caller’s. However, professionalism is always a must!

A few more things to consider during your meeting and training with your team:

What times are your phones being answered? Examine whether or not the times you’re actually available to answer the office phone is when your patients and potential patients are actually available to call the office.

What happens after hours? Ringing? Voice Mail? Answering Service? Here’s your chance to exceed expectations by answering the office phone after hours! (Forward calls to a cell phone.)

The Greeting – First impressions matter!!

Shopper Callers – Great opportunity! Typically, the shopper caller has a need and is ready to “buy”, that’s why they are “shopping”.  Don’t blow it by refusing to quote fees over the phone. By all means, offer them to come in for a complimentary consultation.

Insurance Questions – (Have a great response to: “Do you take —-ins?)

Wrong Numbers – offer an appointment anyway.

Sales Calls – Be kind, they’re just doing their job. Maybe they need an appointment. Plus, you don’t know who they know. It’s simple – always be kind.

Moms calling for donations or any organization that asks for donations – Empower your team to fulfill their request. At the very least, offer them an appointment.

Certainly, handling the phones is a big responsibility but it’s an even bigger privilege. Don’t miss out on any opportunities to set your office apart from the others by always exceeding the caller’s expectations.

If you have questions about how to successfully handle telephone calls or need help training your team, don’t wait, ask for help. I’m ready to help you.

Yours for Greater Success,
~Betty

Betty Hayden is the lead coach at The Madow Center For Dental Practice Excellence. 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 has been labeled “The Idea Woman” by many of her clients!

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.

 

 

His Fly Was Down

Recently our friend Sally got to meet a Nobel Prize nominated physicist.

She said that he was incredibly intelligent, articulate, funny, charming, and if that’s not enough, really good looking! But what was the main takeaway – the think she mentioned first and couldn’t stop talking about?

His fly was down.

There is a thing called “Negativity Bias” – a psychological phenomenon by which we have greater recall of unpleasant things than positive ones. It was first proposed and published by psychologists Paul Rozin and Edward Royzman in 2001 and has been confirmed by many follow-up studies. It’s why, for example, five minutes of turbulence and a screaming baby are what someone would remember from a five hour flight that arrived on time and landed safely.

It’s also why a cranky, unhappy patient is more likely to write a review online. And it’s why we have to do so many little things right, or the patient will remember mostly the bad.

Run late, cause pain, estimate insurance incorrectly, etc…. and there is a great chance negativity bias will undermine your otherwise excellent treatment.

What are you doing in your practice to cause negativity bias, and how can you correct it?

The Most Common Mistake


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

Today’s question comes from a doc in Atlanta.

Hey guys, would you be willing to share the most common mistake or problem that you have observed from the offices you have worked with over the years?

Dr. Mike H., Atlanta, GA.

 

Dear Dr. Mike,

Great question. There are so many things we have observed over the years, but one thing stands out in our minds for sure. The most common problem we see even today is offices that are overly concerned with how many new patients they are receiving. Everyone wants more new patients. But most docs think that more new patients are the panacea – the answer to all of their problems.

So we get into a conversation and we ask why they want more new patients. It always comes down to wanting to earn more money. Then we ask questions. How is your cash flow? What do you mean you can’t pay your bills? Why aren’t your current patients making appointments for their recommended treatment? Why did you just go into more debt to purchase that new piece of equipment? A salesman told you it would increase your production? Do you really think it’s going to help you? Why do so many patients owe you money? You have an associate doctor who is making more money than you? Can you explain why? Do you even need an associate? What is your overhead? You don’t know? Well let us share this – it’s about 90%. Why aren’t you treating any periodontal disease in your hygiene department? Is it that your hygienist doesn’t own a perio probe? Or is it that she has no time to use it or discuss perio with your patients? Do you think your front desk person is actually getting patients to make appointments? Doesn’t look like it. She needs help badly. Have you looked through your file cabinet lately? No you haven’t. It’s FILLED with patients that need to come in. Do you know how to get them in? You are taking a course to treat headaches and you can’t even treatment plan a crown? REALLY? Do you honestly believe that dropping all insurance is the answer? Your problem is NOT new patients!

Dr. Mike – Sorry about the rant. But you asked. We see this situation almost every 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, please write to them at brothers@madow.com. If you would like to ask a confidential question, please CLICK HERE to schedule a free call.