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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.

How Can I Lower My Overhead?

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.

Hey Coaches!

My practice is doing pretty well, but I always sweat it out when payroll comes around, or there is a large bill of some type. How can I cut my overhead and get a little breathing room?

Dr. James
Enid, Oklahoma

Dr. James-

First of all, is that your first name or your last name?? We are not sure what to call you here.

Lowering your overhead is a great goal, but without knowing more about your practice it is difficult to give you truly effective pointers. When we do this for our coaching clients we have a fairly intense interview process and get really specific. But….. here are ten things that you can do, many of them starting tomorrow, that will surely help!

  1. Get on your collections! Make a list of everyone that owes you money for one reason or another and call them!! If you need to leave a voicemail, be somewhat vague. (In other words, instead of saying “I’m calling about the money you owe, you damn deadbeat!” say “We have a quick question for you that is very important…”) Get a credit card number from them right on the telephone! For those who don’t pay, send them a # 207 form!
  2.  Raise your fees! Do it now!! Don’t overthink it – just do it. And get paid more from your PPOs too! If you haven’t negotiated your PPO fee schedule, get in touch with Apex Reimbursement immediately!
  3. Offer fluoride to all adults. It’s not a huge money maker but it sure helps with cash flow.
  4. Offer sealants to all adults and kids. Both of these (fluoride and sealants) will bring in a little cash AND improve the health of your patients.
  5. Renegotiate your credit card fees. Establish a great relationship with your bank and let them know that you want to pay less for credit card processing. You may just be amazed!
  6. Renegotiate your lease.  Even if your lease is not up, with commercial real estate still down a bit, you can totally re-do your terms if you sign on for a few more years. This can immediately put cash in your pocket.
  7. Pay less for your lab bill!! Are you using our favorite lab, Maverick Dental Laboratories? They have extremely reasonable pricing and high quality. Plus – they will give you three free crowns – BruxZir, emax, or PFM –  just for trying them out! At the very least you’ll save a few hundred bucks, and probably more!
  8. Always get paid up front – don’t be a bank!! Never do in-house payment plans; you will get burned. That’s what Care Credit is for. Get the money in the bank and don’t look back.
  9. One bad apple DOES spoil the whole bunch!! A team members who saps everyone’s energy and positivity is costing you a TON! If you are in this situation, you know what we are talking about.
  10. Have a long talk with your accountant about the upcoming year. Now is the time! Are there deductions you should be taking? Things you can legally charge to the business that you aren’t? A good CPA can help immensely!

So there you have it – ten quick and easy ways to shave your overhead. While none of these are “home runs,” do five or more and we promise results!

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.

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. 

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.

 

 

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.

Slightly disappointed

Yes – we are slightly disappointed. In your office? Maybe. But it’s okay – it’s not too late.

You see, a few weeks ago we set out to call a bunch of practices that have attended“TBSE – The Best Seminar Ever” recently to get their opinions on some things. But the project was pretty much a flop. Why?

Fewer than half of the offices we called even answered their phones! And this was during normal business hours. Instead we received voice mail messages like:

“If you are hearing this message during regular office hours, we are currently serving other patients.”

CLICK!

“We are currently at lunch.”

CLICK!

Sorry to tell you – this is simply not acceptable. The phone is where 99% of your new patients make their first contact with your office. Way too many people tell us they need more new patients, but more often than not, that is not their real problem. If your phone isn’t answered EVERY time it rings during normal business hours (and yes – that means during lunch and during your day off) you are losing new patients you never even knew existed.

How do you make this happen? That’s a lesson for another day. And honestly – you are smart enough to figure it out!! But for now, listen to our friends from Sugar Ray, and answer the phone!!

Beer

Is there trouble brewing at your office in the form of patients not accepting their treatment? This may be the reason.

One hundred years ago, Schlitz Beer (remember Schlitz??) became the number one selling beer in the country by running a radical marketing campaign. Their ad detailed how Schlitz beer was actually made. Since no one reading the ad previously knew how beer was made, they assumed this was some kind of proprietary process – and Schlitz’s sales quickly rose to the top! It became known as “The beer that made Milwaukee famous!” (Or was it “the beer that made Mel Famey walk us?”)

Fast forward to 2017. Do beer ads describe the brewing process in detail? No way. They show attractive twenty-somethings at the beach. They show beautiful crispy-clear snow-covered mountains. They show majestic horses. The goal is to get a feeling attached to their brand, so when you pick up a six-pack of Budweiser you are transported from your dull, ordinary life to a place you would rather be. We all know it isn’t true, but with annual US beer sales topping $100 billion, it seems to be working!

So what’s the point? Your patient doesn’t want to hear about how the crown is made, how the implant surgery is done, and what their composite resin is made of. They want to know how it will look, how it will function, and how it will make them feel!

Get excited about how your dentistry will transform your patient! And if you can get them equally excited, go pop open a beer!