Welcome to the Dentist's Office

Welcome to the Dental Office blog. On this site we will share information on how we conquer the real-world challenges that we each face in our pursuit of running high-quality, successful, profitable and harmonious dental offices.

The Dental Blog invites you to share your knowledge, successes, failures and crazy stories with fellow dental professionals. Sharing our combined knowledge, we can each create our own unique dream practices.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Staff Taking Advantage of Your Friendship

Being a dentist can be tough when it comes to staff relationships and I will admit that I have been exceptionally lucky over my career. On one hand you are the owner of the practice (or the boss) and on the other hand, you are a co-worker and an active part of the daily work flow.

Most dentist become very close friends with their staff. Luckily, most staff members treat the dentist as both a friend and still respect them as the boss at the same time. This fine line between the dentist being a friend and the boss can sometimes get strained.

The dentist is put into an awkward position of having to enforce his authority as the boss if the staff member tries to abuse the friendship relationship. I know a number of cases where experienced, long-term staff members have turned from respectful staff to taking advantage of their friendship with the dentist. The staff member starts to come in late, leaves early, takes longer breaks, doesn’t pull their fair share of the work load – in essence, the staff member starts leveraging their friendship with the dentist to take advantage of the long standing rules. The dentist typically responds by very low key requests for the staff member to go back to the correct behaviors. In some cases this is enough to redirect the pattern but in many cases it is not enough.

When friendly requests for the staff member to get back in line with their job requirements fail it is a tough moment in the friendship for the dentist and the staff. The dentist must now put on their ‘boss’ hat and have a serious talk with the offending staff member. This is a challenging conversation because the two have not needed this type of chat for a long time. The dentist must say how much he likes and values the staff member but that the individual must get back into the required office norms. You must say that this is a tough conversation for you to have but that you feel it is a talk that had to be had and that you expect a change in behavior.

Often this talk ends with an apology and a change in behavior – the staff member might even feel bad about taking advantage of the relationship once it has been pointed out. Other times the staff member is not at open to the coaching session and we learn during this conversation that the individual has many other issues they want to address with you and that these behaviors have been a sort of passive aggressive conduct. If the staff member’s complaints are legitimate – then it is an opportunity for you both to take corrective actions.

At the end of the day, you need to have your staff members follow the established rules of the office. In most cases the staff member will go back to their regular and positive working format. In the odd chance that the staff member continues to act against the rules of the practice it might be time for you to let that staff member go. Their acting up even after a conversation about the poor behavior might be their way of forcing your hand in ending the employment.

Sorry – no one ever said being the dentist / boss was going to be easy.

Dr. Corey Gold
President – advanced Continuing Education Systems

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Encouraging Referrals

Dental offices often spend tens of thousands of dollars a month in marketing efforts. While I am a big fan of external marketing for new patients, I am even a bigger fan of marketing for new patients INTERNALLY.

Nothing says more about the health of your practice than your office receiving patients from happy current patients!

Happy patients referring new patients should be the life blood of your business building efforts. I would spend lots of time and money in encouraging internal referrals and thanking patients who help build your dental business.

In my office we gave out Starbucks cards to our patients as a thank you for referring new patients. My patients loved them and my staff enjoyed sending them out. Very often my patients would bring me a coffee when they came for their visit and said they used the gift card we gave them.

Be creative. Find ways to thank your referring patients. Send thank you cards, gift cards, movie tickets, just do something!

Dr. Corey Gold
President – Advanced Continuing Education Systems

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Retention is the key to long term success

Most dental offices are very aware of how many new patients they acquire each month BUT most dental offices do not know how many patients they LOSE each month. When doing consulting for many dental offices I often found that offices with good new patient acquisition numbers often had a NET NEGATIVE patient flow!

Can you imagine paying large number of dollars in marketing to acquire new patients only to be losing patient base size each month? It happens all the time and the offices are blissfully unaware basking in the high number of new patient data – not realizing that they are actually shrinking in size.

The least expensive patient to acquire is the ones you already have. Let me say that another way – the most important part of the growth plan for your practice must be to keep your current patient base satisfied and STAYING with you.

Keeping patients happy is inexpensive and the easiest to accomplish practice growth thing you can do for your office. I know offices that spend over $10,000 a month on new patient marketing and don’t spend $1 or one minute on maintaining their current patients – a bad strategy and bad math.

A focus on current customer satisfaction is the key and most important step in growing and maintaining your practice size. Read other articles on this and other websites about customer satisfaction ideas and start implementing right away.
Dr. Corey Gold
President - Advanced Continuing Education Systems

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Would You Choose Your Office For Dental Treatment For Yourself?

One of the hardest and most revealing questions I often pose to owners of dental offices is, “would you choose your office for dental treatment” if you were just a regular person shopping for the best office in town? In other words, “are you the best office” in your area? If you can take the emotions out of the question, the answer to the question is quite revealing about what steps you need to take to improve your office.

When people are looking for a new dental office they want to choose the best possible office for their family’s needs. What constitutes ‘best’ is often subjective. We can look at the quality of the dental work, pricing, office facility, staff quality, friendliness of the office, ability to offer financing, location of the office, hours of operation, services offered…. the list of qualities to measure is quite extensive and subjective.

But ask yourself… how do you measure up to your competition in some of these metrics? Is my staff as welcoming as they could be? Are my hours of availability patient friendly? Does my office look clean, modern and what a patient would expect to see in a quality dental office? Does my staff make navigating insurance and financing easy? Are we offering the most up-to-date treatment care? Be honest in your evaluation!

A while back a friend of mine asked me to honestly evaluate his office. I came in as a pretend patient and went through a cleaning procedure. I took mental notes and wrote a ‘to do’ list for my friend afterwards. The list had a lot of action items… many of these items he agreed with and he fixed immediately. Other items he did not think needed adjustment and he made no changes. He said over the next six months he saw a 50% increase in new patient traffic without any additional marketing. The improvements that he made gave his current patients the confidence they needed to refer their friends to his office.

I suggest, at minimum, you take a personal survey of your practice from soup to nuts. Better yet, I suggest you have a dental friend make a list for you of areas they think you could improve. Then put your ego down, evaluate the suggestions, and make improvements to your office. The benefits will be staggering!
Dr. Corey Gold
President - Advanced Continuing Education Systems

Friday, June 20, 2014

Professional does not mean No Personality

I agree that all dental professionals should 'act professionally' but some dentists confuse that with acting in a sterile or cold manner. Our patients are more comfortable in our offices when we act like ourselves and show our personality.

This does not mean you run around acting like you would on a weekend away in Las Vegas but it means you should let your humor and caring nature come alive in your practice. You do not need to act cold and dead panned for your patients to take you seriously as a dental professional.

A survey of patients showed that one of the top reasons patients chose their dentist was their connection to them. They stated that they liked their dentist's personality and that of the staff. The survey also said that the lighter the mood of the office the less phobia patients experienced.

You and your patients will be more happy when you relax, be yourself and let your personality come out in your practice.

Dr. Corey Gold
President - Advanced Continuing Education Systems