TBSE Tips # 2

2017 is going to be a great one, and we are here with you all the way to make sure it happens!

Let’s start the year with our next series of “TBSE Tips” – simple strategies from one of last year’s TBSE speakers that are sure to get things off to a good start.

For the start of the year it makes sense to hear from personal change specialist Linda Edgecombe. Linda had the room rocking at TBSE and gave everyone memorable strategies to move their practices and lives in a positive direction.
1.  The first step in “Breaking Busy” is to write down all the roles you currently play in your life.  Acknowledge each one and ask yourself if this role energizes you or drains you. Choose one role you will drop for the next month and one role you will drop off your plate completely.  You are creating opportunities to open a space and clear your mind.

2.  The number one tip to re-energize, re-engage and build your own resilience is MOVE YOUR BUTT. That’s right, get more oxygen flowing through your blood system more often. Walk, bike, hike, run, garden, take the stairs… it doesn’t matter.  Make movement a part of your everyday routine. Ten minutes here, 20 minutes there, 3 minutes NOW!

3. Sell your shares in the “Deferred Life Plan.”  *THERE*  does not exist!  If you are waiting for “There” to happen before you celebrate, you will never open that champagne.  All we have are benchmarks, and we need to get better at celebrating them. Big and small, that’s all there is. If you are coveting a special bottle of this, or something special for that…  Celebrate now.

Thanks so much Linda!! Let’s get the new year off to a great start!!

How would MacGyver handle 2017? How would you?


The name is synonymous with many things. Resourcefulness is one.

Look up resourceful in the dictionary. There’s his picture. Okay – we’ll do it for you.


[ri-sawrs-fuh l, –sohrs-, –zawrs-, –zohrs-]
able to deal skillfully and promptly with new situations, difficulties, etc.

The original MacGyver was a 1980s American action-adventure television series character. This guy could get out of any life or death situation with his trusty Swiss Army knife and a roll of duct tape.

He was the master of improvisation. In minutes he’d craft a bomb out of a paper clip and his own earwax if necessary.

MacGyver was resourceful to the max.

With all due respect there’s an unmentioned and perhaps non-apparent Achilles heel in his story.

MacGyver was constantly getting out of bad situations with the grace and skill of a ninja. Yet you have to wonder why he didn’t avoid some circumstances altogether.

MacGyver is the model for resourcefulness, no doubt. And that is a skill that will help every doctor and team member. But an even better skill is…

Don’t get into difficult situations to begin with!!

Be honest with your patients. Keep them comfortable. Anticipate their questions. Speak in plain English. Make sure patients understand their insurance and financial arrangements ahead of time. In short – solve problems before they happen!

But how about some different types of problems? Dentistry is evolving, and the evolution of dentistry demands that you be on your toes. Insurance changes, the increasing rise of corporate dental structures and systems, the abundance of dental providers in your region, and an often apathetic patient base are a few of the things we can look forward to.

So what can you do? One thing is for sure – doing nothing is sure to get you nowhere fast.

Marketing challenges? Insurance margins encroaching?  Competition on every corner squeezing you?

What would MacGyver do? He would probably wait until his practice was sinking and then magically solve everything with a 204S scaler, a bib clip, and a couple of old amalgam capsules. But (fortunately) you’re not MacGyver…or MacDentist…or MacTeamMember.

Now is the time to identify potential problems and plan for them.

Failure isn’t the issue. Not trying is.

The best teacher you and your team have on occasion is failure. Perhaps even better is to anticipate where it can and potentially will occur and have a ready Plan B.

Plan B thinking gives you hope, help, and heroic opportunities.

Here’s a thought…

While you’re closing the books on 2016 in a few weeks do something different.

List some bold initiatives for 2017. Then go a step beyond.

Picture where failure could occur. Stare it down and…

Plan B the crap out it!

That’s enough to make Mr. MacGyver (and those competing voices of fear) stand up and take notice.


Everyone loves some good and simple tips to help their practice and their life, right? That’s why we asked some of our TBSE 2016 speakers to share some of their favorite ones with you! We will be presenting them from time to time throughout the year.

For the first stop in this series, we will visit Dr. Ric Zambito. “Dr. Z” was a surprise guest speaker at TBSE 2016, and even though he wasn’t on the stage for a long time, his incredible message really resonated with everyone there! Ric is a general dentist who has one of the most successful, productive and happy practices we have ever seen. His figures easily put him in the top one percent nationally, and he does it all in the small and depressed town of Wheeling, West Virginia!

One of the best things about Ric is his leadership abilities and the way he deals with his team. These four tips from Dr. Z will give you some insight into how he accomplishes this – and how you can too!!

1. Leadership is the process of getting everyone to the place they are supposed to be.  It is the opposite of controlling people.  No one can be a leader unless they are trusted and possess the number one characteristic that staff and patients want – integrity.

2.  The only way a team member will know what you expect is consistency.  You must constantly be teaching your staff, and be sure to compliment them when they achieve the success you expect.  Complimenting may be important, but so is helping your staff grow.  Making them aware and accountable when they have fallen short is equally important.  This will lead to improvement of your team.

3.  Why would anyone want to settle for being an average dental office? That is the best of the worst and the worst of the best.  Dreamers and achievers will never stop at this level.  It is always the doctor’s opportunity to help team members become the best they can be.

4.  Have you noticed that your dental office takes on your personality?  By speaking to just one employee, you should be able to decipher the tone of the entire office.  If you have a positive doctor, it will permeate throughout the office to the rest of the staff.

Want to hear more from Dr. Z and get his tips delivered to your inbox on a regular basis, including some fantastic ways to handle 14 scary situations that are probably happening in your dental practice right now?

Just visit

Are you just a pair-of-hands?

Henry Ford was a genius with automobiles. But with people, he had his limitations.

More specifically with the “worker-person.”

On one occasion he asked, “Why is it that I always get the whole person, when what I really want is a pair of hands?” 

You, friend…and dental professional are more than “a pair of hands.” Though there are days, chairside, bent over mouths, preventing, restoring, treating, diagnosing, treatment planning…that you feel like a “pair of hands,” right?

Years have gone by, and the Industrial Revolution mindset still rears its head. It gives you the idea that you’re a “production unit.”

It’s easy to see how your team can feel that way too. And if you’re not careful, that is how you can communicate to your patients (“production” instead of people).

Good news: you’re whole-y valuable! Chin up there, Sport!

Let’s talk value. Because that’s what you bring to every patient who trusts you enough to allow you to diagnose, let you treat, and part with their hard-earned resources to stay healthy (and remember…bottom line…it’s about health!).

Three L’s of Value (and Why You’re More than a Pair of Hands)

1)     Listen between the lines
Your patients are saying more than you’re possibly hearing. Value-based care listens between the lines where you’ll hear their deeper motivation for treatment.

For example…Remember it’s not about porcelain veneers – it’s about your patient’s confidence to smile in front of a crowd as they deliver a presentation. Or it’s not about orthodontic treatment –

it’s really about attending their 25th high school reunion next summer looking better than they did when they graduated.


2)     Leverage features into benefits
It’s Marketing 101. Features appeal to logic. But benefits connect emotionally.

That’s why no one cares (really) about your state-of-the-art thingamajig you invested in. Stop talking up the technology and instead talk up the benefits it delivers.

Do a feature-benefit assessment of every technology, procedure, product, or service you provide. Then present around the benefits.


3)     Look beyond today
Your ultimate professional responsibility is wellness. Patient priority one: prevention.

But won’t that diminish returns?

Hmmm…good question, but…

Maybe (with a long term perspective) you’ll begin to feel more “whole” and less like a “pair of hands.”

Just a thought…and a value-able one at that!

And the fact checker says…

Fact checking! You’re hearing a ton about that these days.

It’s a political season. Go figure.

It’s also a healthy kick-in-the-butt to monitor what you say.

But also…

How you say it.

Treatment plans. Financials. And the stuff that makes-your-world-go-‘round.

The facts speak for themselves but your priority is to make sure they’re heard, understood, and even better…accepted.

Facts aren’t always a guarantee of compliance. You’re aware that patients can stare them (the facts) in the face and deny their reality.

That is, after all, the “political” thing to do. But we digress…

It’s not enough to diagnose a “bombed-out” tooth and inform your patient that their infection is spreading a fast as the latest political gossip. Why?

Two reasons and two solutions

Reason 1-Facts don’t always connect with emotions.

Your patients are no different than the general population when it comes to a buying…um… treatment decision.

Fact: “People buy for emotional not rational reasons.”

Reason 2-Facts come with a price – good or bad.

Your patients want to trust your diagnosis but the cost can outweigh their willingness to make a decision. (Sort of like having to choose between the lesser of two…we digress yet again…dang politics!)

Fact: “People need to justify their emotional decisions with logic.”

We promised solutions. And we do what we say we’re gonna do (take that fact-checker).

Solution 1-Tap into your patient’s emotion.

All it takes is one…emotion that is. Refuse to diagnose and treatment plan without knowing at least one compelling reason they would accept the facts.

How? It pays to listen.

Solution 2-Guide them to a logical outcome.

Not every diagnosis and treatment plan sounds logical. It’s clear to you – you’re the professional.

Patients see it differently. What they need is some logical justification for following their emotion to a, “Yes, take care of that tooth today…!” outcome.

How? It pays to be perceived as the provider of solutions to problems that only you can solve.

That will stand the test of time and any ‘ole fact checker.

10 ridiculous things people say to dentists and team members

Here are 10 ridiculous things that people say to dentists and team members:

  1. “Ugh – I could never stick my fingers in someone else’s mouth. It’s gross!”

Which is usually followed by…

  1. “…but if you don’t mind, I think I chipped a tooth. Could you take a quick look?”

Sure! I’ll be glad to give you a free, ungloved, professional opinion in public!

  1. “Why is dental school four years? Is there really that much to know?”

Of course you idiot! There are 32 teeth, and we learn eight per year!

  1. (When sitting down in the dental chair) “I just had lunch and I didn’t brush…”

Glad I’m not your proctologist….

  1. “I hate needles. I hate dentists.”

Maybe you should have thought of that when you were feasting on sugar and not brushing or flossing…

  1. “I’d rather have another baby than get this root canal!”

Just let me know what you decide so I can adjust the chair properly.

  1. “There wasn’t any pain before you did the filling, but now my tooth hurts. I knew I shouldn’t have gotten that done!”

Hey buddy – if you had some diseased tissue in your arm bone and an orthopedic surgeon drilled it out and replaced it with a synthetic material, wouldn’t you expect that to hurt for a while?

  1. “I don’t want any x-rays.”

Great! How about if I just do the entire exam with a blindfold on?

  1. “I paid for your Porsche, doc!”

No you didn’t. You paid for my extreme professional expertise, intense difficult education, huge overhead, the write-off from your cheap-ass insurance, and a zillion other things. I think a modest profit is pretty reasonable. Besides, it’s not my Porsche, it’s the lawyer’s next to us.

  1. “I guess I just have soft teeth. It runs in my family.”

Actually, a soft brain runs in your family.

Pretty amusing – but what’s the point?

Patients (and other people) say ridiculous, annoying and stupid stuff to us all day long. It goes with the territory. But it’s our job to let these types of comments roll off our backs and give our patients the very best we can offer.

So the next time someone says “Nothing personal, but I hate dentists!” – instead of saying what we would like to say (e.g. “Nothing personal buddy, but I hate assholes!”) suck it up and say something like – “Well – it’s my goal to make your treatment here as comfortable as possible!”

“Hey doc – I paid for that Mercedes!”
“Thanks – it drives beautifully!”

And so on and so on. Treat your patients respectfully at all times, no matter what they say. And maybe one day soon you’ll here this…

“You know Doc, I used to hate the dentist, but I actually enjoy coming here!!”

Do your patients have a “Bill Of Rights?”

Do your patients have a “Bill Of Rights?” Everyone deserves one! How about something like this?

Dr. Jane Dylan’s Dental Patient’s Bill Of Rights
  1. You have the right to be personally greeted and treated with the highest level of respect and care by our team of dental professionals.
  2. You have the right to have your dental treatment fully explained to you in plain English, and to have any questions answered to your satisfaction.
  3. You have the right to have your dental treatment performed with first-rate materials, techniques, and technology.
  4. You have the right to be as comfortable as possible before, during and after any dental treatment.
  5. You have the right to understand the cost of treatment before it takes place, including an estimate of insurance coverage if applicable.
  6. You have the right to a clean, safe environment, including hospital grade sterilization of all dental instruments.
  7. You have the right to be seen as soon as possible should a dental emergency arise.
  8. You have a right to be educated in the proper methods to keep your teeth and gums healthy, including brushing, flossing, and anything else specific to your situation.
  9. You have the right to be treated by a team of dedicated professionals who are current in their licensure and strive to learn the latest and most important findings in the fields of dentistry and health care.
  10. You have the right to remain silent when we have our gloved fingers and three suction tubes in your mouth!

Patients love to know that they are in control and that you have their best interest in mind. So why not give them a “Bill Of Rights?”

Are we targets?

Have you noticed that there are more products, consultants, courses, seminars, supplies, gadgets, and services than EVER that are being marketed to you?

Just last week one of us counted 64 emails recommending that we buy stuff ranging in price from $17 to $85,000.  All in the name of making us “more productive” and “more successful.”

And there are webinars, targeted Facebook ads, live streaming videos… there is no end.

If you took everyone’s advice on what they recommend for your success you’d certainly be bankrupt.

Is the reason there is so much stuff being thrown at you because you are an easy target?

Perhaps yes.

OK, so knowing this, what do you do?
First thing is to take a step back and take a deep breath. We have the answer.

Secondly, do not buy anything on impulse. No matter what someone tells you, you do not need that “thing” today. We have found sleeping on important decisions is always a smart move.

Third, decide what you want. What would you like your practice and your life to be like? What are your visions?

A very effective way we have found to figure this all out is through goals.

Yes, goals. They work. We have both been tremendous believers and practitioners of goals for decades!

“Setting goals is the most powerful thing you can do in your life.”
~a very wise person
Docs ask us all the time if we have a goals worksheet that we can share. The answer is yes. Please CLICK HERE to get your copy. Totally free. A gift from us.

Dedicate a small amount of time every day to work on your goals and you will see them becoming reality sooner than you can imagine!

So remember, don’t live your life impulsively. Slow down and plan.

Both of us have always been fans of getting back to basics. We are simple guys. Because simple generally works best. And there are few or no headaches with simple.

Why you won’t join the AAFD. What the heck is the AAFD?

Last week we got an email from a dental organization called the AAFD. (It actually was called a different four letters, but we changed them slightly to be nice.)

We didn’t join the AAFD. You didn’t join the AAFD. Why not?

They were offering great pricing with a large discount. They sent a nice email explaining all of the excellent benefits AAFD members receive. They told us the AAFD was packed with leaders, innovators, and friends.  So what went wrong?

They never bothered to tell us what the hell the AAFD is!!
What are we supposed to do? Make up our own meaning? The American Academy of Fertile Dentists? Already Aging Frail Dentists? Albanian Association of Future Dictators? Antique Alcoholic Fiduciary Democracy? We just don’t know.

This frequently happens when you are so close to something or so wrapped up in something you overlook the fact that outsiders (in this case, non-members) have no idea what you are talking about.

Of course members and administrators of the AAFD know what it stands for. They live it. They love it. They inhale it. But the folks they are trying to appeal to have no idea what they are talking about.

So learn this and learn it well.

You should NEVER assume people (and this means your patients) know ANYTHING!

They don’t know what their insurance covers. They don’t know that treatment needs to be paid for at time of service. They don’t know what “crown” or “periodontal” means. And they certainly don’t know what “you have a five millimeter pocket on the distal of tooth # 30” means! (Yes – we heard a dentist say that to a patient once.)

So don’t be like the Academy of Assuming Friggin’ Dentists. Because surely you know what happens when you assume.

Quick one-question quiz and lesson

Okay – here is your quick quiz for the day:

Which car brand is the safest?

If you’re like most people, you said Volvo.

And while Volvo certainly makes very safe cars, according to the latest data by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety they are not even close to the safest. Of the thirteen categories ranked by the IIHS, only one Volvo, the S60, made it into the top five in any of the categories – and in that one it was number five!

One of the reasons Volvos are considered to be very safe is their dedication to safety research and innovation.

Way back in 1959 they were the first car brand to offer the three-point seat belt, the “shoulder harness” style strap which we all take for granted today.  This innovation is considered one of the greatest safety inventions of the last century and is estimated to have saved over a million lives!

A 1963 Volvo PV544, similar to the one owned
by our grandfather, Dr. Paul Schenker
So just what did Volvo do after all of their research, investment and inventiveness? Surely the patent on the three-point seat belt would put their cars in a league of their own, or possibly bring in billions in licensing rights from other manufacturers.

But our Swedish friends at Volvo were so dedicated to safety they decided to give away the license to any car manufacturer who wanted to use it – for free!

What did that do to diminish their reputation as the safest car? Not a thing! Over half a century later Volvo is still considered by most to be the leader in automobile safety.

Interesting story, but what does that have to do with running a dental practice?

Many times we tend to be guarded about information, fearing if the other dentists in the community find out about our latest marketing strategy or the great new seminar we discovered, it will diminish our success. After all, why share secrets with the competition?

In fact, the opposite is true. Sharing ideas with your peers, or “masterminding,” is one of the most powerful success concepts in the world.

We encourage you to contact some colleagues and form a “Dental Mastermind Group.” You can even give it a clever name like the one we started many years ago – “The Maryland Bridge Club!” (The only problem was when we showed up for our meetings the restaurant would invariably have tables of four with playing cards set up….)

But it doesn’t matter what you call it – the main thing is that you do it. Come on – someone has to take the initiative – it may as well be you!!

The meetings don’t need to be formal. Just have some kind of system like everyone brings one idea to share or one problem to discuss. Once the conversation starts to flow, you will be amazed what you learn. And then – everyone benefits!!