The tree man

Just last week one of us called a tree service for a free consultation to take a look at a tree on our property that was of concern. It was leaning over and many of the branches in the higher areas appeared to be dying.

When the tree service arrived, the guy took one look at the tree in question and said that it needed to come down. He quoted a fee of $645 and said his crew could get to it either Wednesday morning or Thursday afternoon. He asked which day would be better.

The first thought that came to my mind was why don’t we just keep an eye on it? It didn’t look terrible to me. Maybe we could check it in a year and see how it was doing.

So I asked him if we could watch it.

The tree man looked at me very confidently and responded, “Watch it? Watch it do what? This tree is not going to get better on its own and besides that, it is a danger to you, your house, your cars, and anyone else that may be on your property. This needs to be taken care of now.”

And then he said something that totally hit home.

He asked me if I had a tooth with decay in it, would I just “watch it?”

The crew was out on Wednesday and they took care of the tree.

Are you still “watching” things in your practice? Next time you say “let’s keep an eye on it,” please remember the tree man!

“Hey – I heard flossing doesn’t do anything!”

You are probably aware that last week the latest dietary guidelines issued by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services quietly and without notice dropped any mention of flossing . At the same time, The Associated Press reported that officials had never researched the effectiveness of regular flossing, as required, before cajoling Americans to do it.

Chances are your patients don’t read anything printed by the Department of Agriculture, but they certainly watch The Today Show and all of the other “light news” outlets that seem to delight in reporting the story. After all – everyone likes to think that their hocking hygienist was wrong all along.

This is just what we need – one more reason to get people not to floss!

A close look shows they are not saying flossing is not effective; just that there have never been any really good studies on the subject. But although this is anecdotal – as dental professionals we see first-hand the benefits of flossing every single day!

So how will you answer the inevitable question:

“Hey Doc! I heard that flossing doesn’t do anything! Do I even need to do it?”

Try something like this:

“Well Melvin, every day in this office we see that flossing does a great job in helping to prevent gum disease, and gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. There is no question that flossing removes plaque and debris lodged between your teeth, and that is certainly good for your overall health.

It’s kind of like showering every day. There may not be any great studies showing that it’s good for you, but it should be part of your hygiene routine – and flossing should too! All of us do it, and we still highly recommend that you do too!”

Or you could just say:

“No problem – don’t floss. May we set up your denture appointment?”

Think about it

Picture this. You are presenting a treatment plan to a patient. Everything is going great. You think you have it wrapped up. But then they pull out the dreaded excuse…

“Let me think about it.”
You know from past experience that whenever you hear this objection there is a 99% chance this patient will turn into a ghost, not to be heard from in ever again.

Up until now you have tried all of the crappy comebacks that the two-bit consultants have taught you over the years but you know in your heart they just don’t work.

Today we are going to give you a new response to “Let me think about it” that should take care of this problem once and for all. It has proven to be very effective in our testing.

Can you guess what the best response to  “I need to think about it” may be?

Here is our suggestion:  DO NOTHING!

That is correct. When a patient tells you that they need to think about it, you know damn well it’s simply a stall tactic. There is something else on their mind but they are not saying what that is. Maybe it’s financial. Perhaps they are worried about the actual procedure. Pain. We are not sure.  If you just let them go and tell them it’s ok to think about it, you will not hear from them in 99% of the cases.

So try this. When they tell you they need to think about it, don’t say a word. That’s right… just keep quiet. You can look at them or look down a little bit. Or a combination of the two. Your body language must convey that you are concerned. But remember…

Do not say anything!

So what will happen next?

After a short time, your patient will feel very uncomfortable with the dead silence. Human nature is such that we want to fill in silence with words. So he or she will begin talking.

Once he begins talking, he will normally make his objection very clear and oftentimes come up with a solution without you even getting involved.

For example after a period of silence he may say “I don’t have the money at the moment but I am getting a fairly nice inheritance in October so would it be okay to wait until then?”

Bingo! You win.

Your response is “Sure Mr. Jones, why don’t we have Madge set you up right now for mid October?” Then have Madge give Mr. Jones two good options on dates and times and you are all set. You have treatment scheduled that in the past never would have happened.

Understand this. The silence at least gets them talking. Then it’s up to you to take the objection that comes up and turn it around and come up with a solution.

Will this work 100% of the time? Of course not. But we do guarantee it will increase your acceptance MUCH MORE than what you have been doing up until now.

Did you like this tip? Our goal is to make you more profitable! Please stay tuned for more answers to some of the most common objections in dentistry! We want you to be incredibly successful, and knowing the best responses will be a tremendous help to you and your practice! Stay in touch!

Simple Referral Tip

After over twenty-five years of teaching, we have learned quite a bit. And one thing that we have definitely learned is that most people will not take action, even on a good thing.

It’s pretty safe to say that if we wrote:

“Fax us your address and we will send you a crisp new twenty dollar bill” most people would not do it.

The odds get even worse with something like asking a patient to refer someone to your practice. No matter how many courses you take with some great script that is supposed to do the magic, the reality is most patients simply will not do it.

One of the problems is that when it comes time to ask for the referral, the doctor or team member makes it about them and not the patient.

Picture the typical scenario. A patient is happy with the new crowns you just cemented. They are glowing and say:

“Oh Doctor Pickles – I just love my new teeth!”

Boom! You know that’s the best time to ask for a referral. But why doesn’t it work? Because we say something like:

“That’s great Lucinda. If you have any friends or family who could benefit from the same type of dentistry, we would be glad to see them here at Pickles Dental Care.”

Okay – Lucinda knows that at this point it’s all about trying to increase your practice.

When asking for a referral – it’s crucial to work with human nature. Make it about the patient. Engage in a little conversation first before jumping on the referral question. Let’s do an example.

“Oh Doctor Pickles – I just love my new teeth!”

“Lucinda – thanks for saying that. It really made my day! But actually, you made it easy. It’s a pleasure treating you here.”

“Oh – thanks!”

“As you can imagine – in the dental field we hear all kinds of crazy stories, so it’s our goal here to make every single patient as comfortable as possible.”

“Yeah – I know what you mean. My Mom went to the dentist and they started drilling before she was even numb!”

“Oh – so sorry to hear that Lucinda. We would be glad to make room for her in our practice and would be sure to treat her extra gently. Debbie will even give you a few cards.”

See the difference? We engaged Lucinda in a valuable conversation before jumping to the referral issue. It was about her (and subsequently her Mom) – not about the practice.

And most importantly, the conversation was tailored to lead to the referral of a specific person. This is SO much more powerful than asking for a referral of generic “friends and family.”

So yes – asking for referrals can work, especially if you put a little bit of extra oomph into it, make it about the patient not the practice, and try to hone in on a specific referral.

The point is, don’t get discouraged. It’s normal for people to not take action on anything! Just keep the gentle reminders coming and don’t be too pushy, whether it is asking for referrals, treatment recommendations that have not been completed, or anything else. The goal is not always instant gratification, but the fact that when the patient is ready to refer or have their treatment completed, you are the beneficiary of the action.

Trust us – it works!!

Independence Day? Maybe so or maybe not…..

Today in the United States we are celebrating Independence Day – the anniversary of the day we declared our independence from the British in 1776.
The British did not invade us again until December 17th, 1963, the day that 15 year-old Marsha Albert from Silver Spring, MD finally convinced a local DJ to play The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on the radio. WWDC’s telephone lines lit up like never before, and the rest of the second “British Invasion” is history!
But that’s another story for another day.In the US, today is the day that we celebrate by watching fireworks, drinking domestic beer, singing the National Anthem off-key, and hopefully remembering that many brave people fought a horrible and bloody war so that we could have our freedom.

And so far it’s worked out really well! Same goes for our Canadian friends (July 1st), our Mexican buddies (September 16th), those wild and crazy Sri Lankans (February 4th) and billions more across the globe. So on this July 4th, relax, watch some Chinese fireworks, and don’t forget to honor our independence and those who made it happen.

But how about your dental practice? Have you declared independence? If you are not sure – ask yourself this question.Is there anything about my practice that makes me unhappy?

If you’re like most dentists, chances are you said “yes.” So what is it? A crazy patient or two? Saturday hours? Some insurance plan you hate? A bad apple team member? Not enough income? Something else?

Hey you! Today is Independence Day!! Make this the day you figure out what is making you unhappy, and come up with a plan to get rid of it!! After all, it’s a free country!!

Are you the greatest? You can be!!

What are you known as?

Muhammad Ali, who passed away on June 3, was known as “The Greatest.”

Is anyone calling you the greatest dentist, dental assistant, dental hygienist, or dental business team member? If not, they should be!

Ali’s style of “dancing” and defensive boxing had never been seen before when he won the world heavyweight championship at age 22. But the reason he became the most famous athlete in the world went beyond his three world titles and legendary bouts.

He was a voice for peace and for racial equality, sacrificing over three years of his career because he stood up for his beliefs. He was known as much for his quips and quotes as he was for his boxing. He always seemed to be at the right place at the right time. One way to sum it up would be to say that whatever Ali did, he made it memorable.

So what are you doing to make yourself memorable to your patients?

You may not “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” but you can certainly do your best to give your patients a top-notch experience every single time they visit your office or call on the phone. Sadly, but fortunately for you, in dentistry it’s not too difficult to stand out from the ordinary.

If you treat every patient like a friend, actually care about them, consistently run on time, perform truly painless dentistry, constantly check to make sure your patients are comfortable, speak in language your patients understand, make the financial and insurance part easy, and provide high-quality treatment – you are WAY ahead of the game!

It sounds easy and logical, but over ninety percent of dental practices simply don’t do it.

NOW is the time to call a team meeting with this topic:

What can we do now and in the future to make our practice “The Greatest?”

Do You Have ANY of These Thoughts?

If you are constantly thinking, this can be a wonderful thing. But it can be a dangerous thing as well. Do you have ANY of the following thoughts? Because if you do, they could be destroying you as well as your practice. Please be totally honest!
1. I don’t need to learn any new procedures right now, I am doing just fine.
2. I don’t need to put any effort into making my team better.
3. Our communication skills are good enough.
4, The office website seems to be alright. Let’s not update it.
5. There is nothing I can learn from the financial statement my accountant sends to me.
6. There are no good courses out there right now so I’ll sit on the sidelines until something comes along.
7. Just riding my time out until I can retire from this practice.
8. Social Media??? What a waste of time that would be!
9. My lab has been stressing me out but I am sure they’ll get better.
10. I am not making money from some of the insurance plans I participate with but I am afraid to drop them.
11. I wonder why my accounts receivable are so high right now.

WARNING: Doctor, if you have even ONE of these thoughts, it is time for you to sit down and do some type of a re-evaluation. We are here for you 24/7 if you have any questions!

Where is in the world is Chef Chai?

A few weeks ago we were attending a business dinner at a pretty cool seafood restaurant in Pittsburgh.

The menu was extensive and the wait staff was eager to please.

Before we ordered our main courses we decided to order some sushi as an appetizer. Of course with Dave being vegan, he had to specifically ask if the chef could make him up some sushi rolls that did not contain fish.

“No problem,” said Stephanie the waitress. “Chef Chai is wonderful and he will do anything for you.”

And of course Mark, the young new waiter who was shadowing Stephanie nodded his head and agreed.

A short time later the most wonderful sushi ever came out. It all looked and tasted delicious. And sure enough Dave was happy too with his vegan sushi roll!

Chef Chai was a genius!

Next came the drink orders. Rich ordered his drink from the bar but Dave ordered some Nigori (unfiltered) sake.

A few minutes after ordering, Stephanie (and Mark) came back to the table and Stephanie said to Dave “Chef Chai just wanted to let you know that the Nigori sake uses a distilling process that possibly involves an animal membrane so it’s theoretically not considered vegan. Will that be ok?”

Chef Chai really knew his stuff. Again, we were super impressed.

“Is Chef Chai Japanese?” Dave asked Stephanie.

“I know he is Asian but I am not positive exactly where he is from,” answered Stephanie.

We wanted to meet Chef Chai!

When we asked where the sushi bar was, Stephanie was kind of elusive.

“Well, actually you need to go down one flight of stairs and once you get down there it’s kind of like a maze. You’d have to go through a bunch of rooms. I wouldn’t recommend it because you probably won’t be able to find it,” she said.

OK, we understand.

“But could you please tell Chef Chai we really appreciate his attentiveness and expertise?”

“Well of course,” she said.

Sometime during the course of the evening Rich had to use the restroom. When he asked where it was, he was directed down that “flight of stairs.” Upon Rich’s return to the table he told us that he found the sushi bar and there was a man working there, but it was not Chef Chai.

“How do you know?” Dave asked.

“Well, if you have to go use the restroom you will understand.”

So of course Dave had to have a look. He went to the restroom and upon his return he explained to everyone at the table that yes, there is a guy working the sushi bar. But the guy he saw (likely the same guy Rich saw) was a Caucasian guy appearing to be in his late thirties with tattoos covering every available square inch of his body.  And piercings. Definitely not Chef Chai.

Fast forward an hour or so later to the part of the meal where the manager comes over to the table to ask if everything is good.

“Yes, everything has been awesome this evening,” said the brothers.  “And in particular we want to let you know how impressed we have been with Chef Chai. He is such a delight. You are so lucky to have him here at your establishment. He literally made our evening.”

“Really?” said the manager. “How do you know Chef Chai?

“Well we have not gotten to meet him yet but he was very attentive to us this evening. We would say impeccable.”

“Very interesting,” said the manager. Chef Chai has actually been away for the last month. He has gone back to his country for an extended vacation. Some family matters to take care of I think.”


Why did our waitress and waiter they tell us something that was simply not true?

Maybe they felt they could get away with it. Or maybe it started as a little joke and it then escalated to a point where they could not get out of it.

Whatever the reason, these two were busted and we never looked at them the same way for the rest of the evening.

What about you? Do you ever try to get away with telling patients things that are just not the whole truth?

You may say “The lab totally screwed this up.”
But you know it was YOUR fault.

You may say “The insurance company is responsible for this mistake.”
But you know Madge at the front desk totally messed it up.

You may say “We had an emergency.”
But you know you ran late because the doc came back twenty minutes late from lunch.

You may say “No, we can’t do that.”
But you know you CAN do that.

Next time when you are thinking of not being 100% forthright with a patient, please remember Chef Chai. Don’t get busted. Just tell the truth!


This past Saturday we had the honor of being the featured speakers at a fantastic multi-day dental meeting in Canada. Last time we spoke there, it was a “standing room only” crowd in a packed room of around 800 super-cool North-of-the-border dental folks. So much fun!

So on Saturday they once again had us in the largest room in the house. After a great7:30 AM soundcheck, we took a break and came back to room at 8:25 AM, ready to rock the house for our 8:30 AM start time. One minor problem though… there were about 30 people in the room! We waited a few minutes and finally started at 8:40 with 65 attendees in a room set for 700!!

Turns out that Saturday is a notoriously slow day at this particular meeting; so slow that the entire exhibit hall was shut down. To add to the problem, it was an absolutely glorious day outside, and there was a major sporting event that afternoon right next to the convention hall, which many seminar attendees seemed to opt for. Also, there were major delays on the main public transport system that morning!!

It wasn’t just us, because in the room right next to ours was one of the most well-known and popular speakers in Canada, also playing to an empty hall. Sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you had them planned!

So what to do? Should we go in there with a bad attitude and be upset at the poor turnout? Should we cut some material and just try to get the heck out of there as soon as possible? Round up some homeless people to fill the seats? Tell the planning committee they had a lot of nerve to put us on a Saturday and we are never coming back? Cop a bad attitude and be insulted since we usually pack the house at every meeting? None of the above. When you are a pro it doesn’t matter if there are 3000 people in the crowd or 30 – you always give it your best shot.

So yes, the crowd was small, but the meeting turned out to be fantastic! It was actually cool to present to an intimate crowd. Everyone seemed to love it, and we met some fantastic people!! Despite some challenges, the meeting was a major success!! We dooze what we dooze!!

So how about in your practice?

It’s easy to be at your best when you have a patient who can stay open for five hours straight, has no gag reflex, gets numb just by being in close proximity to anesthetic, wants to get “everything done in one visit,” and pays up front in cash!

It’s a breeze to be nice to a patient who always shows up on time in a great mood and is in the “referral of the week” club.

But how about the patient whose lip is so numb you could ram a serrated Cutco right through it yet they scream in pain when a bur is an inch away from their tooth?

How about that patient who asks a million questions yet doesn’t understand anything?

The one who doesn’t need an estimate because their insurance “covers everything?”

The one whose mouth produces so much saliva and mucous you could sell it on the open market?

The one whose keeps saying their crown is “too high” until you grind it into an ugly stump?

Yeah – they are all out there, and it’s not always so easy to be on your “A Game” around certain types of people. But remember, as a dentist or dental team member it is your responsibility to give everyone your best.

Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes you have to bite your tongue and suck it up. And sometimes you have to say to yourself, “If I murder this patient I could wind up in the big house for a long, long time!”

But if you work in a dental practice, you gotta be a pro – and not just sometimes – all the time! Every patient needs to be treated with respect and get your absolute best effort every time. And don’t forget, many times the crankiest people just need the most loving! So be a pro!! Each day, every day.