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My hygienist is retiring – what should we do?

Dear Madow Brothers,

After 21 fantastic years in the practice, my hygienist Susie is retiring. She has treated several generations of patients here and everyone loves her.

Should I send an email blast out to our existing patients (coming from her) telling everyone of her retirement, or just inform patients the day before their recall appointments that “Susie retired, Ms. Schtupalot will be seeing you today!?”

On one hand I don’t want my patients to claim I did “not inform them”, but on the other hand I don’t want to give them an opportunity to start calling around to find someone else “closer to home” for their cleanings.

Thanks for your advice,

Dr. Mitchell Josephs
Palm Beach, FL
 
Dr. J,

This is a great question, and the answer could go one of two ways.

You could just do nothing, and inform your patients when they come in for their appointment by saying something like,

“Mrs.Yenta, Susie has retired, and although we didn’t think we would ever be able to replace her, we were so lucky to have found Linda. She is fantastic and you will love her!!” To avoid the “you never told me” syndrome, you could also inform patients of this during their confirmation. 

Or….. you could use this opportunity to proactively introduce your patients to the new hygienist and get some excellent goodwill out of the situation!

Have an open house retirement party to honor Susie and introduce everyone to your new hygienist. Thank all your patients for their loyalty and friendship. Have some giveaways, etc…. After doing that, why would they go anywhere else?

The decision may rest on the character of your practice. Although this is a gross generalization, an insurance-dependent practice where most patients are there because of “a list” would be more likely to go with option number one. In a pure FFS practice – the second plan would work better.

The bottom bottom line is – if you have done all of the “little things” right and have developed a high level of patient loyalty, patients understand that changes in personnel happen, and should be more than willing to give the new hygienist a chance.

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 is THE most important skill everyone in the dental practice needs to know?

Coaches,

My New Year’s Resolution is to keep things more simple. Talking to patients, training my team, doing procedures, whatever it is, my motto for 2018 is “Keep It Simple!” So here is my question.

What is the ONE most important skill in the dental practice for both the dentist and team?

Dr. John “Simple Simon” Murry
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

John –

That’s a great question and a nice way to start the year. It’s a tough one too because there are so many skills necessary to running a successful practice.

But there is ONE skill that will absolutely make everything you do better. It will improve your treatment plan acceptance, your collections, your new patient counts, your clinical outcomes, your team relations, and just about everything in your practice and your life. This goes for docs and team members. And it can all be summed up in one word. The skill is this.

Listen. 

Really listen. Do it before you speak. Before you treatment plan. Before you interrupt. And do it with both ears and a clear mind.

Think about it this way. How can you ever know what is really best for a patient if you don’t listen? How can team members settle their differences fairly if they don’t listen? How can a dental practice function if people don’t listen? You can’t. They can’t. It can’t. So listen!

One of the things about our coaching that separates us from the rest is that we don’t have pre-written modules, or phases, or policies. We can’t. Why? We listen!!

So want to do one simple thing that will make 2018 amazing? Listen!

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.

Coaches Corner Mailbag – Our readers write!!

At “The Corner,” we welcome your questions, and we welcome your opinions too! Today’s column features some interesting reader comments.
 
Re: What does “CDA” really stand for?
 
Madow Bros.,

I find myself in a similar situation.
 
One of my DA ruffles feathers, stirs up the group. The reason I have not fired her is out of fear. Fear because the one thing she is good at is showing up. She will always fill in for someone or do double duty. She is loyal in that way. From time to time she just ruffles my feathers. 
 
Name and city withheld
 
Rich and Dave,

“The Gospel According To Michael” states that if you have a gallon of water and you put in one drop of poison then you have a gallon of POISON !  Get rid of her!
 
Dr. Michael O’Brien
Auburn, AL
 
My best advice – hire slowly and fire quickly. If every single day you are contemplating whether or not someone belongs in your practice, they probably don’t.
 
Dr. Darren Ho
The Great North Woods
 
Re: The Letter
 
Hey guys-
 
The best thing I did last year (based on your advice) was to raise my fees significantly. It automatically brought in more money with no extra effort. And guess how many patients complained? ZERO!
 
Of course it didn’t do anything for the PPO patients, but maybe it will change my profile and I’ll eventually get more. In the meantime (based on your suggestion as well) I am considering contacting Apex to have my PPO fee schedule negotiated. Can’t hurt, right?
 
Thanks for everything,

Dr. Simon Bernstein

Editor’s note: Visit www.apexreimbursement.com to learn more about negotiating your PPO fees. They are the best!
 
Coaches,
 
About ten years ago I made the mistake of sending out a letter to my patient base informing them of a fee raise. A few people called immediately to schedule treatment before the raise took effect, so I thought it was a good idea.  Then I got some angry calls, and a few patients actually left the practice. One came in to the office, letter in hand, and told my OM that I was a “greedy, rich dentist!” (Oh – if they only knew the truth!!)
 
I’m doing it again for 2018, but this time no way am I sending a letter!!
 
Dr. Don Lay
Overland Park, KS
 
Re: Quickies In The Office?
 
Madow Brothers,
 
I see that in this letter “Quickies” meant some quick tips for the office, but my first thought was a different subject. Maybe this is not a term you know, but to me the term “quickie” refers to a sexual liaison. I just would like to advise you that with everything going on in the news these days you need to be careful about the terminology you use or you risk offending someone and possibly incurring legal issues.
 
Respectfully,
 
Dr. J. Singleton
Hanover, PA
 
Re: Should we take the team to a strip show?
 
Great advice guys. We don’t do any out-of-the-office activities unless the entire team is “all in.” This also means staying away from situations where someone may feel uncomfortable but they are afraid to speak up. Inclusiveness is key. If you want a “team” and not a “staff” they need to be treated respectfully.
 
Dr. V. Estes
Denver, CO

Dear “Coaches”

This is ridiculous. Why would anyone hold an office party at a male strip show? On the other hand, if everyone wants to go, is this really a problem? So many other things to worry about….

Anita Auerhan
Mississauga, Ontario

So there you have it! We welcome YOUR questions and comments too!!

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.

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.

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.

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.