Enhancing Referral Networks: A Generational Approach

Remember the joy of opening a pristine box of colored pencils as a child? Each pencil, vibrant and uniform, offered endless possibilities for creativity.

Similar to the way those pencils elevated our coloring adventures, incorporating tailored generational strategies can have a beneficial effect on referral sources, providing unique and memorable avenues to explore new referral opportunities.

We are all immigrants to other generations’ cultural territories. Each generation brings unique experiences, values, and traditions. Adapting communication styles to meet generational expectations builds stronger relationships and trust.

As we navigate the landscape of generational categories, it’s essential to recognize the diverse perspectives and communication preferences each group embodies. Baby boomers may appreciate direct and formal communication, while millennials and Gen Z might prefer informal and technology-driven interactions. By understanding and respecting these differences, dental practices can effectively tailor their outreach efforts to resonate with each generation.

Changing demographics within the dental profession also influences referral dynamics. Understanding these shifts is crucial for nurturing referral communities and adapting marketing strategies accordingly.

In 2022, the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) reported that 50.5% of dental school first-year students were female. This demographic trend is reshaping the dynamics of dental practices, with many women opting for part-time roles, especially after starting a family. Additionally, there is a growing preference among younger dentists, particularly millennials (Gen Y) and Gen Z, to forgo solo practices in favor of collaborative models. These changes influence the way referrals are managed and highlight the importance of adapting referral marketing strategies to accommodate evolving provider demographics.

A blended marketing effort, combining passive and active marketing strategies, yields the best results in establishing and maintaining a successful referral program.

Passive marketing efforts serve as subtle reminders of a practice’s presence and expertise. Branded gifts, delivered by a third party keep the practice top-of-mind among referral sources. Additionally, informative blogs can showcase the practice’s knowledge and capabilities, positioning it as a trusted authority in the field.

Active marketing strategies, such as face-to-face meetings and personalized presentations, facilitate deeper connections with referral partners. These interactions allow for meaningful dialogue and the opportunity to align services with the specific needs and preferences of each referral source. By sharing insights into the practice’s ideal patient profile and unique offerings, practices can effectively communicate their value proposition and foster stronger referral relationships.

In today’s competitive landscape, it’s essential for practices to differentiate themselves by identifying and leveraging their unique strengths or “superpowers.” Rather than attempting to be a jack-of-all-trades, practices should focus on defining their niche and becoming known as experts in a particular area of care.

Identifying a practice’s superpower involves introspection and an honest assessment of its strengths, weaknesses, and areas of expertise.

Whether it’s a specialized treatment modality, innovative technology, or exceptional patient experience, every practice has something that sets it apart from the competition. By defining and marketing this superpower effectively, practices can attract patients and referrals who are precisely seeking the services they excel at providing.

Taking active marketing efforts one step further by developing tailored presentations for referring offices and potential referral sources. These presentations provide an opportunity to showcase the practice’s expertise and educate referral partners about specific treatment modalities or services. By delivering targeted presentations focused on areas of mutual interest or need, practices can deepen their relationships with referral sources and increase the likelihood of receiving quality referrals.

For example, a periodontist may develop a presentation on grafting procedures and their benefits for patients. By collaborating with referring offices to better educate them about these procedures, the periodontist can increase awareness and referrals for this specialized service. Additionally, personalized presentations allow practices to highlight their brand culture and ideal client profile, reinforcing their value proposition and differentiating themselves from competitors.

In recent years, there has been a decline in the membership of traditional dental study clubs and associations. This trend is indicative of broader demographic shifts within the dental profession, with younger generations assuming leadership roles as baby boomers retire. To remain relevant and attractive to a diverse membership base, study clubs and associations must adapt their offerings and event formats to align with generational preferences and demographic trends.

By diversifying event agendas and incorporating elements such as recorded live and virtual sessions, expert panels, and interactive workshops, study clubs and associations can appeal to a broader audience and provide greater value to their members. Offering flexible scheduling options, such as breakfast or lunch meetings instead of evening events, accommodates the busy schedules of modern dental professionals and enhances accessibility.

By embracing generational diversity, adapting marketing strategies, and varying meeting formats, practices can cultivate meaningful connections with referral partners. Implementing action plans such as identifying practice superpowers and drafting inclusive event calendars empowers practices to thrive in an evolving dental community. Let’s embrace these strategies to enhance our referral networks and foster continued growth and success in an evolving dental landscape. Connect with me if you’re interested in strategizing ideas for crafting your practice’s unique selling proposition one-sheet or boosting your association/study club attendance and membership.

Communicating with Patients Through Google Business Profiles

🌟 Exciting News: Special Edition Guest Blog with Adrian Lefler! 🌟

At Communicate With Influence, we’re always seeking fresh insights, and today, we’re thrilled to introduce a special blog by Adrian Lefler, CEO at My Social Practice – a dental digital marketing expert. Adrian is joining us to share an exclusive article on leveraging Google Business Profiles for patient communication. Get ready for a unique perspective on marketing your dental practice! 💡🦷

Communicate Through Google and Win More Patients

These days, consistent and accessible communication is more important than ever for patients. When people feel seen and heard, they feel like a valuable part of your practice and are less likely to take their business elsewhere.

One way to increase communication with current and prospective patients is to take advantage of Google’s chat feature for small businesses. It’s also a great strategy for dental marketing because it provides more opportunities to gain new patients.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about Google messaging, how to get set up, and what you can do to make the process as easy as possible.

What is a Google Business Profile?

First and foremost, in order to use Google’s messaging feature, you must have a Google Business Profile (GBP).

A Google Business Profile is your official listing on Google and one of the most important first steps when establishing proper SEO for dentists. It is your practice’s online calling card and a way for you to gather reviews, manage your business, and connect with potential patients.

Google Business Profiles provide important information about your business. When setting up your GBP, make sure to include as much detail as possible. A GBP includes:

  • Business name
  • Phone number
  • Physical address
  • Reviews
  • Business category
  • Hours of operation 
  • Link to your website
  • Link to Google Maps directions
  • Photos of your business
  • A “call” button that links to your business phone number
  • Question & Answer section
  • “Chat” button that opens up a messaging window

Why is a GBP So Important?

Without a Google Business Profile, your practice will not show up on Google Maps, and your local SEO will suffer. With 77% of consumers using Google Maps to search for local businesses, getting your practice on the list of search results with a GBP is crucial.

When searching on Google, GBP results are the ones with the yellow star ratings next to them (as long as a business has reviews). These search results are also called a Google Map Pack or Google Local Pack, and they show up right below sponsored listings. Local Packs receive about 44% of total clicks on a Google search results page.

Google Maps SEO

Once you’ve set up your Google Business Profile, you can implement Google Maps SEO to improve your search rankings. By doing simple things like adding relevant keywords in your business description, finding the right business category, and updating your GBP regularly, you can beat out competitors for a coveted top spot in the search results.

Google Reviews

Along with Google Maps, a Google Business Profile also includes Google Reviews. The more positive reviews your practice has, the better because people value social proof very highly—like advice from a friend.

If you’re wondering how to get more Google reviews for your practice, you can always recruit help from a dental marketing company.

Communicating with Patients Through Your Google Business Profile

There are several ways to communicate with patients through your Google Business Profile. You can respond to reviews, answer Q&A’s, receive phone calls, and get connected through a link to your website. These are all crucial functions of a GBP, but the chat feature can be one of the most important ways to communicate.

Imagine a patient searching for dentists in their area. The top three results might all have several 5-star reviews, photos, and even great websites, but yours could be the one to stand out with the addition of a chat button.

Rather than delving into each practice’s website, the patient might choose to chat right away with your practice—the practice with the most accessible communication option.

How To Turn On Chat Notifications In Your GBP

Now that you understand the Google Business Profile and its messaging feature, along with why having access to these tools is so important, it’s time to turn chat on and start chatting!

Enabling messaging through your Google Business Profile is simple.

For Mobile Devices:

First, open the Google Maps app

On the bottom right corner, select “Business”

Select “Messages”

Select “More” then “Message Settings”

Turn Chat on or off

For Desktop

Open your Google Business Profile Manager

Select “Messages”

Select “Menu” then “More” followed by “Chat Settings”

Turn on or off Chat

Once the chat feature is enabled, you can begin receiving messages directly to your Google Business Profile. On a mobile device, you can access these messages in the Google Maps app, and on a Desktop, you can read your messages in the Google Business Profile management center on a web browser.

How To Respond to GBP Messages

Responding to GBP messages should be pretty straightforward. Google includes an automated feature that allows you to pre-fill some questions and answers for instant responses, but otherwise, you will need to access your inbox and respond ASAP.

When responding to messages in your Google Business Profile inbox, remember that you are representing your practice as a whole. All responses should be professional, courteous, and timely. 

  • Be Prompt

One caveat of the GBP messaging feature is that you have to respond to messages within 24 hours in order to keep the button on your page active. If you fail to respond, the chat feature will automatically be disabled.

Potential patients will be able to see a response time estimation for your practice such as “usually responds within 24 hours” or “usually responds in a few hours.”

  • Be Professional

It’s also vital to match the tone of your dental practice when responding to GBP messages. Be polite and professional, avoid slang, and answer to the best of your ability. As a dental professional, you might get questions about things like insurance coverage, cost of procedures, holiday hours, or anesthesia.

  • Be HIPAA Compliant

Another important factor to keep in mind any time you’re communicating on behalf of your practice is to stay HIPAA compliant. Never divulge Protected Health Information. This includes things like confirming the names of patients, personal details like phone numbers or addresses, and billing information.

As you get the hang of responding, you’ll also learn important information about what patients in your area are interested in. You can use that knowledge to improve your marketing strategies and draw more potential patients.

Plus, the more responsive you are with GBP messaging, the higher you’ll rank on Google Maps. This dental SEO guide provides more tips on Google Maps ranking.

Integration with The Dental Social Media Publisher

If your practice uses the Dental Social Media Publisher, managing GBP messaging will be even more accessible. GBP chat functionality integrates into the Dental Social Media Publisher, so you can publish your dental social media content and respond to Google queries all at the same time.

Social media for dentists can get overwhelming. From planning content to execution and scheduling, many dental professionals start to feel stretched thin. That’s why tools like the Dental Social Media Publisher can be so beneficial to your marketing strategy. The Dental Social Media Publisher allows your practice to automate, multitask, and see results in real-time.

Conclusion: Communicate Through Google and Win More Patients

Whether your goal is to improve your Google Maps ranking or get more reviews, using the messaging feature on your Google Business Profile can be a great way to bolster your practice’s online presence.

Try turning on the chat feature on your Google Business Profile, integrate the service with the Dental Social Media Publisher, and see what kind of questions come rolling in. You might be surprised how much this tool can help patients in your area, and help your practice grow.

Bonus

Seeking ways to enhance team communication while enjoying a winter retreat? It’s time to kick off your preparations for the CE In The Mountains all-team event, scheduled for February 23-24, 2024, in the picturesque Park City, UT.

This event will center around improving communication and boosting productivity through engaging activities in the stunning mountain setting.

Watch the short video below for more details.

5 Strategies for Improving the Patient Experience in Your Dental Practice

The patient experience is a critical factor in the success of any dental practice. Patients who have positive experiences are more likely to return for future appointments, refer friends and family, and leave positive reviews.

In contrast, patients who have negative experiences may not return and can potentially harm the reputation of the practice. Here are some strategies that dental professionals can use to improve the patient experience in their practice.

1. Focus On Communication

Clear and effective communication is key to ensuring a positive patient experience. Dental professionals should take the time to listen to their patient’s concerns and explain procedures and treatments in a way that patients can understand. Providing patients with clear instructions after treatment can also help improve the patient experience.

  • Listen: Dental professionals can demonstrate active listening by repeating patients’ concerns back to them and asking intentional follow-up questions to ensure that they understand the issue.
  • Use plain language: Avoid using technical jargon that patients may not understand.
  • Provide written instructions: After a procedure or treatment, provide patients with written or text instructions on what to expect and how to continue care at home.

2. Improve The Welcome/Reception Experience

Waiting rooms can be a source of anxiety for patients, so it’s important to make them as comfortable and welcoming as possible. A Reception Area is a much more appealing name. Offer amenities such as video loops, relaxing music, magazines, comfortable seating, complimentary beverages, and fresh flowers (be careful of strong scents), and diverse artwork.

Keeping patients informed about wait times and updating them on any delays can also help reduce anxiety. Use technology such as text messaging or a digital display to keep patients informed.

Smile, be personable, and check in frequently to keep the patient in the know.

3. Personalize The Experience

Every patient is unique and has different needs and preferences. Dental professionals can improve the patient experience by taking the time to build relationships with their patients and tailor their care accordingly.

  • Offer sedation for anxious patients or provide special accommodations for patients with disabilities.
  • For patients with disabilities, provide accommodations such as a wheelchair ramp, accessible restroom, or sign language interpreter.
  • Ask patients about their preferences and needs, such as whether they prefer a certain type of music or would like a blanket during treatment.

4. Use Technology To Enhance The Patient Experience

Technology can be a powerful tool for improving the patient journey. For example, online appointment scheduling can make it easier for patients to book appointments at their convenience, and digital patient portals can allow patients to access and update their health information and communicate with their dental team.

  • Allowing patients to schedule appointments online at their convenience means you’ll never miss an opportunity.
  • Offering patients a secure digital portal helps keep patient records and information secure and up to date.

5. Solicit Feedback From Patients

The best way to understand the patient experience is to ask patients directly. Dental professionals can use surveys, feedback forms, or focus groups to gather input from patients and identify areas where they can improve.

  • Send patients a survey after their appointment to gather feedback on their experience and identify areas for improvement.
  • Invite patients to participate in focus groups where they can share their experiences and provide feedback on how the practice can improve.
  • Always reply to ALL patient comments. The interaction provides one more touchpoint to keep your practice top of mind.

Improving the patient journey requires a commitment to ongoing communication, personalization, and continuous improvement. By focusing on these 5 strategies, dental professionals can create a welcoming and supportive environment that encourages patients to prioritize their oral health and return for future appointments.

Bonus:  Watch 4 Tips to Improve the Patient Journey

Patient Retention vs. Acquiring New Patients

Don’t get me wrong, new patients are important for practice growth, but retaining existing patients has a greater practice impact.

They know the drill…pun intended.

• Maintain practice loyalty
• Keep appointments
• Show up regularly
• Accept treatment
• Book next appointments

What Should You Do to Retain Your Loyal Patients?

Patients are looking at healthcare providers and practices differently. 

Prosites, a dental marketing company, outlined 25 ways to Get Patients to Love Your Dental Practice. By implementing some of these ideas into your marketing strategy, you will attract and retain more patients and experience faster practice growth.

  • Demonstrate Honesty, particularly when   relating to insurance acceptance
  • Offer Financial Assistance
  • Provide Flexible Scheduling
  • Deliver Same-Day Dentistry
  • Maintain 5-star Online Reviews
  • Recognize / Appreciate Patient Testimonials
  • Appointment Reminders
  • Incentivize Patient Referral
  • Run On-Time
  • Friendly Team

Solutions

Times have changed and patients are not as dedicated to our practices.  They are looking for an uber-customized experience.  If we are not providing that, they will look elsewhere.

How can we adapt?

  • Customize communication software to meet specific needs, generationally for example.
  • Engage the team in creating videos and messages. Use humor to increase patient engagement
  • Personalize texts
  • Always reschedule a broken appointment
  • Wellness calls work! Pick up the phone and chat!
  • Improve the patient experience at every opportunity

Cancellations and No-Show Solutions

This is a common theme for dental practices lately.

Communication: verbal, written, and virtual with continual reinforcement of the importance and value of the services our practice provides is essential. Creating a script, together as a team, with verbal skills that everyone uses regularly improves patient loyalty.

Try a few of these ideas to reverse the problem:

  • Rate your patients, A, B, and C based on reliability and payment status.
  • No-shows, cancellations, and outstanding balances should be lower-tier patients.
  • Create a  scheduling template for every provider and stick to it! It makes scheduling and filling holes much easier for everyone! Plus, it helps with practitioner efficiency. Such as three hygienists waiting for an exam at the top of the hour 5-6 times a day.
  • Allow one ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ pass for any scheduled procedure the patient cancels within 24 hours. Explain that the practice is busy, and patients are wait-listed to be scheduled. Respecting your practice time is appreciated.
  • Charge the patient a % of the scheduled procedure each time they cancel
  • Allow time in the schedule to provide same-day treatment. Your practice revenue will increase significantly.
  • “All hands-on deck”! Be persistent and consistent once you create a policy.

Dental practices are facing many challenges over the past few years with team shortages, turnover and a decrease in patient scheduling.  Doing the same thing we have always done will not change the way things are going.  A commitment to change is necessary to keep the boat from sinking and get all the entire team rowing in the right direction. It all starts with  communication and systems.

Bonus:  Watch Attracting and Retaining Dental Patients

Resolve to Evolve by Embracing Generational Differences

We Are All Immigrants To The Other Generations!

The more generations on your team, the more the Generational Friction Factor becomes a reality. If we get customized communication right, we can create a harmonious, highly productive team. This also results in higher treatment case acceptance from our patients!

Having four, and possibly five, generations working side-by-side is not a new concept. It began when Gen Y, aka the Millennials, entered the workforce. The outstanding beliefs and values of each generation are VERY different! Understanding and respecting each generation’s expectations will significantly impact our practice success in all aspects.

Workforce and Patient Snapshot

Traditionalists (1927-1945) Small percentage of the workforce

Baby boomers (1946-1964) Retiring

Gen X (1965-1977) Currently holding leadership roles

Millennials (Gen Y 1978-1999) Largest % in the workforce in the next 5 years

Gen Z (Globals 2000-2016) Largest, fastest-growing cohort beginning to enter the workforce

Clinical Practice Impact of Gen Z

Gen Z, the youngest generation entering the workforce, is the future of our dental practices.  They are the patients and employees that will contribute to practice growth. COVID-19 has impacted them significantly.

Gen Z has not reached critical mass as patients or employees. They are already disproportionately driving changes in dentistry. Their ability to connect instantly and disseminate information globally is impacting us all at an accelerating rate.

Understanding who they are and what they want NOW gives us insight into what to expect in the future. For any practice leader, the pandemic creates a critical opportunity to understand and respect how all generations are experiencing this challenging time through their own generational lens.

If you’d like to learn more about Gen Z and the influence they are having on dentistry, let’s chat.  I designed a new team workshop:  Embracing Gen Z in Dentistry Today.

Who Are Gen Z?

Adam Piore wrote an article in Newsweek that revealed interesting qualities of Gen Z. They are often thought of as idealists or dreamers, but their top concerns and priorities are both global and “local” in nature.

By the way, Newsweek has published cover stories about every generation since Traditionalists. The common topics may sound familiar,  “They are so entitled”, “They don’t have any work ethics”.

Gen Z worry about the future, specifically their own, including:

  • Money (67%)
  • Getting a job (64%)
  • Paying for college (59%)

When it comes to being an employee, they want to truly embrace the practice brand. Their expectations are that companies and brands will go beyond marketing to truly measurable impact.

Feedback or Coaching: Which is More Effective?

The younger the generation, the higher the expectation for ongoing coaching and mentorship.

Feedback focuses on the past; Mistakes that have already occurred and cannot be fixed. To put it simply, traditional feedback is one direction and typically a negative experience.

  • Manager to employee
  • Episodic (i.e., infrequent, and isolated)

What you really want is an open, honest, two-way conversation to strengthen relationships rather than a one-sided dialogue and criticism. Coaching conversations are collaborative and create mutual solutions that focus on the employee’s strengths and future potential.

In many professional situations, a successful outcome is based on emotional factors:

  • How a person feels after interacting with you
  • How a team feels about a new initiative or product implementation

Consider being a coach and a mentor vs a boss or a senior colleague.

Generational Dress Code

Enjoy this short video recorded for the Seattle Study Club: Dental Tips for Generational Dress Codes

Evolution for Survival: A Dental Team Guide  

HOW DO WE ADAPT WHEN WE GET DISCOURAGING NEWS?

I learned last month that I needed a full hip replacement.

My lifetime of athletics and 30+ years of dental hygiene, pushing the chair with my left leg to pivot around the patient, caught up with me.

I knew I was heading in that direction from a diagnosis in 2018.  After denying there was a problem, classic response! I dove into researching what I could do to improve the situation. 

I devoted time to months of PT, learning exercises, which I still do daily, I made adjustments to how I get on/off my bike and changed my approach to getting up off the snow when I fall on my board. Yes, I do crash occasionally! I delayed the inevitable as long as possible.

Fast forward to 2022, the pain has increased, I can barely tie my left shoe, and it is really impacting my snowboarding and mountain biking! I now need to evolve further to maintain the lifestyle I love.  This means I have a big decision to make and an evolutionary change is in my near future.

EVOLVING TO SURVIVE is the name of the game in dentistry now. 

We can no longer continue to do things the way we always have and expect the same results.

I have heard the phrase, “The 2022 great resignation is actually the great discontent” and I believe there is truth to that statement.

Here’s what we know about our current situation related to team retention and engagement:

  1. Fair pay and benefits are only two parts of the equation to incentivize employees.
  2. Employees are feeling burnt out and undervalued.
  3. Negative team culture is spilling into employees’ home life.
  4. Teams are not being included in the strategic building of the practice.
  5. Lack of gratitude is contributing to the downward spiral of team culture.

HOW DO WE EVOLVE?

Consistency is the key when expressing gratitude. Think of it as an ala carte menu, varying the ways you engage on a regular basis.

  1. Stay competitive with market value for dental team positions.
  2. Get creative with benefits.  Younger generations (Gen Y and Z) are looking for a new spin on benefits: Day/Doggie care assistance, flexible PTO, revolving scheduling, expanded training with frequent progression,  
  3. Ask each team member what they need and want to feel safe and valued.
  4. Schedule a 10-minute pulse check meeting each week with individual team members
  5. A simple ‘Thank You’ means more than you think.

Watch the video below to learn 6 behaviors to create an emotionally safe community for your team members and patients.

What Do Eating Pancakes and Shoveling Snow Have in Common?

If you had done either of these activities with my father, you would know the answer is “Systems”.

Growing up in a small suburb of Scranton PA, with a Pennsylvanian Dutch dad, we learned about systems and processes to be more effective and efficient in all of life’s tasks.

That included eating pancakes and shoveling snow.

In my opinion, the proper way to eat pancakes is to stack them up and cut a hole, my preference is square, in the center through the stack. Remove the pancake pieces from the hole and set them alongside the stack. Here’s the fun part, fill the hole with overflow syrup so it oozes down the stack. Start eating by dipping the pieces into the well of syrup. As you cut into the stack, leave the ‘syrup well’ in tack and work your way around the stack. Finally, break the syrup dam and enjoy several bites of pancake sponge! The last bite is always the best!

Snow shoveling followed a similar step-by-step process, in an organizational pattern, to finish quickly so we could play in the huge snowbanks!

Dentistry without systems is chaotic.

A successful practice is a product of the quality of your systems and the team’s ability to implement them.

Structuring systems is not an easy task. But the investment you make upfront will show in your practice productivity.

Systems should be non-negotiable, yet fluid, to allow for continual monitoring and updates. 

Get started by investigating some of your systems:

  • Practice Software:
    • Scheduling, communication tools, confirmation variety – customized to the patients preference
  • Telecommunications: 
    • Calibrated, consistent conversations
  • Lab Case Tracing
  • Referral Tracking
  • Marketing Strategies
  • Ongoing Team Communication / Systems Training
    • Consistent daily, weekly, monthly, and annual department/team meetings
    • Measure what is working, or not, and adapt accordingly

Now is the time to get more productive by revving up your systems.

This blog is dedicated to my father, who passed away recently at age 96!  

Guess all those systems paid off for a long, productive, happy life! 

Thanks for teaching me in so many ways dad. (1925-2021)

Time to Change the Tires

Winter weather is upon us in Park City, UT. 

One of the changes I make every year is putting snow tires on my car in November. This year, the snow came early and I was not prepared.

For dental practices, the end of the year gives us the opportunity to make necessary changes that will prepare us for Q4 success and beyond.

Having a plan to finish off the year strong will help practices continue to recover. Below are a few strategies to consider.

7 END-OF-YEAR STRATEGIES

  1. Intentionally remind your patient data base to complete inactive treatment to fully utilize their benefits.
    • Keep it lighthearted and use your technology:  text, email, video
  2. Run a report indicating patients that still have remaining benefits to use.
    • Hint:  Many software programs have this feature.
  3. Thank your patients for remaining loyal and wish them well through the holiday season.
    • No strings attached.  Just a simple thank you.
  4. Add additional staff, days, or hours to accommodate the end of year “rush.”
    • Accommodate students on holiday break
    • Help patients maximize insurance benefits
    • Schedule the patients that were postponing due to COVID-19
  5. Thank your referring offices and vendors for the support they continue to demonstrate to your practice.
    • All team appreciation CEU
    • Charitable donation
    • Gift Basket
    • Pay for one month of their uniform cleaning service
  6. Celebrate your practice achievements and recognize / reward the team members for an incredible year under unprecedented circumstances.
    • Plan a fun, all team event
    • Bonus vs annual raise
    • Individual employee choice
  7. Schedule your annual strategic planning meeting with your team.
    • Time to make changes, BEFORE they are needed (think snow tires)

Creating Customer-Centric Experiences

A CUSTOMER SERVICE HERO

Harold opened the door for me at 6 am as I struggled to carry a 35-pound box, my computer bag, and supplies for my presentation that day. Here’s how the conversation went: Harold:
Good Morning Miss Lisa, are you ready for your big day? Me:
Good Morning Harold. How are you today? Do you have a cart that I could borrow to take my supplies to my room? Harold:
I am sorry Miss Lisa but we do not have a cart for you. You look very fit and strong. I know you can make it. The room is real close. Harold:
I am sorry Miss Lisa but we do not have a cart for you. You look very fit and strong. I know you can make it. The room is real close. Harold:
I am sorry Miss Lisa but we do not have a cart for you. You look very fit and strong. I know you can make it. The room is real close. Me: (In my head): He’s right! I can do this! So I off I went towards the stairs.
I got to the third step and my shoe started to slip off of my heel. I stopped, re-grouped, put the box on the railing, and slide it down as I navigated the steps. Harold: (watching and cheering): That’s it Miss Lisa, keep going.
When you get to the bottom of the stairs, turn left!
Now, turn right Miss Lisa and keep going down that hall…you are almost there!

MEET HAROLD
The master of creating a positive customer experience at the Colorado Convention Center.
He greets everyone with a smile and a positive attitude.
Harold knows all of the convention details, gives every person his undivided attention, and makes sure they get the answers they want and need. On the first day of the Rocky Mountain Dental Convention, he knew, and remembered my name.
By the second day, he knew: I was a speaker, where I was from, and how long I’d be in Denver! On the last day, he bid me safe travels and hoped I would come back to see him soon.

ATTITUDE
What if, we all had the customer-centric approach like Harold?
His positivism impacted me so much, I told this story during my workshop at the Rocky Mountain Dental Conference that same day.
He is a customer service hero and I will always remember him. If every one of our dental patients and team members felt that special every day, we would have an amazingly happy and productive practice.

Let’s commit to creating positive team and patient-centric experiences in our dental practice every day.

Copyright 2020 Lisa Copeland. All rights reserved.

It’s Time to Break Up

Dear Sugar, I am breaking up with you!
From late October to Jan 1, I typically develop a bad habit of eating more sugar, in every form imaginable.
Holiday cookies are my weakness. What’s yours?
As we start the new year, think about the habits that we have developed in our practices and ask your team:
• Why are we doing it this way?
• What can we do to improve?

BREAKING UP WITH OFFICE HABITS

First, we must be honest with ourselves as a team and reveal the things we are doing that may be toxic to our practice health. Below are two examples of what I call Detect and Correct.

Detect: Do you continually run late?
• According to Dentistry Today, research shows that if a patient waits more than 20 minutes for their scheduled appointment, their overall experience at your office is negative. They are also less likely to follow through with recommended treatment.

Correct:
• Use a scheduling template, and stick to it, that realistically schedules the amount of time needed for practitioner / procedure length. Keep in mind that we all perform procedures differently. This takes some thought and adjustment to get dialed in, but well worth it.
• Respecting the patients time is critical. Be honest. Let the patient know you are running behind as soon as you know. If it is, or will be, longer than 15 minutes, give the patient a gift card with a sincere apology. Continue to keep them updated. Offer to reschedule if necessary.

Detect: How do you address patient apprehension and fear?
• Sometimes, we become casual about addressing patients fears. It may seem trivial to us, because we hear the same concerns quite often. However, the perception is very real and very important to our patients! We should be acknowledging their concerns.

Correct:
• Take the time to ask the patient “how are you feeling about the appointment today?” If they express any concern, dive a little deeper into the issue and assure them you will do everything you can to keep them comfortable throughout the appointment. Also, give them permission and a signal they can use at any time if they are feeling anxious.

CONCLUSION

Start the new year off right. Break up with old habits and develop new, healthy practice habits. Change takes recognition, accountability, and support from the entire team. Let’s do this together!

Dental Professionals: Serve, Don’t Sell

iRONMAN Communication Increases Business Productivity

Lisa Copeland RDH, CSP
GLOBAL SPEAKER  IRONMAN™COMPETITOR /GEN X

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iRONMAN Communication Tip

Focusing on the patients Wants vs. Needs serves the patient rather than selling to them.

How do we balance our approach to create a positive experience for our dental patients that makes it easy for them to say ” YES” to the treatment prescribed?

My latest blog gives you a template for treatment plan delivery that will increase your “YES” rate.

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Dental Drills

The “O” in iRONMAN is for Opportuniy

There are several ways you can transform patient treatment plan obstacles into opportunities.

1. Provide uninterrupted attention.  Unique qualities define each generation. Learning, understanding, and respecting each patients’ values is a powerful strategy to build your practice cliental. Applying a specific generational language to each patient will transform treatment plan obstacles into opportunities.

2. Switch things up!  Breaking the patterns of expectation with your patients will grab their attention! Now they are ready to actively listen and participate in decision making and taking action. 

3. Step outside the operatory.  Create a comfortable, private environment to present the patient with their treatment plan options.  The more relaxed a patient is when discussing treatment and finances, the closer you will get to “YES”.

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Are You Getting to the Root of Your Problem?

In order to increase your treatment case acceptance, everyone on the team should be participating in a regular “check-up” with their communication skills.  We update many of the office processes and products, and protocols regularly:  emergency medical kits, patient health history, instruments, equipment…you get the idea. An annual team communication refresher should be a part of that process. Here are a few ideas to get you started in leveling-up your team / patient communication strategies.

· The entire team attends a conference workshop targeting communication.  This means Dr. too!

· Carve out time at your annual planning meeting to have a communication specialist present a topic specific to your practice needs.

· Collaborate with your team to asses what conversations are working and which ones are not. Keep reformulating the conversations that are getting positive results.

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Where in the World is Lisa

When was the last time you faced a fear?  I seem to be tackling that challenge monthly lately, and I am beginning to like it!

Last month I tried downhill, mountain biking at Deer Valley Ski Resort, UT.  My first  challenge took me down memory lane, to the days of mastering loading onto a ski lift.                           

As I do with most new adventures, I:

· Observed other bikers approach the bike mount chair

· Listened to directives

· Acted by stepping up to the line to mount my bike on the chair lift. 

Success….insert happy dance here!

There I was at the top of the lift, ready to start riding down…yikes! 

My husband is a great mentor for setting me up for success.  He pushes me out of my comfort zone, yet  is always there to offer support, remind me to smile, and join in when I laugh at myself.

Not only did I survive, I really enjoyed learning something new, knowing it was a skill that will contribute to better overall mountain biking.

Lessons learned that we can apply to our dental practice.

1. In order to improve our business, we need to get out of our own way and comfort zone.

2. We all need mentors to enhance our success.

3. Challenge the office process and procedures.  Is the way we have always done it the best way, or should we  upgrade?

4. And lastly, one I have always been able to apply, keep a sense of humor.

Follow my lead and take a new challenge to level-up your team and your practice.

Good luck, I am routing for you!

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Read Lisa’s Blog

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What Communication Challenges Do You Have?


What dental communication topics would you like to know more about?
Share your ideas here and we’ll include them in upcoming newsletters.


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ABOUT LISA COPELAND, RDH, CSP

IRONMAN™ training taught me how to be successful in business communication.
As a competitive athlete, I effectively apply lessons learned to help clients transform business communication into profit, performance, and productivity.

My experiences allow me to share meaningful / memorable stories that positively impact your bottom line. In fact, my iRONMAN Principles of training drive my lessons on the importance of generationally effective communication in business.

If you’d like to learn more about Lisa or book her to speak at your event please email or call / text 206.465.1637

iRONMAN Communication for Business Success

Lasting First Impressions

June 26th 2005, I was about to compete in my first IRONMAN: 2.4 mile swim, cycling 112 miles, finishing with a full marathon, 26.2 miles.

I signed up to compete in the Coeur d’Alene, ID Ironman one year in advance.  At that moment, mental training began and the physical soon to follow.  I joined a Triathlon team that specialized in IRONMAN training.  Together, the coach and I prepared a detailed customized plan.  One that accommodated my personal and professional lifestyle and took my travel schedule into consideration.  We agreed…it was a plan or a guide, which meant there was always room for adjustments and alterations as the training progressed.

After 72,000 yards of swimming, 800 miles of cycling and 400 miles of running, the event day arrived…and I was ready!

I walked to the front of the swimming pack and turned back to see 1,499 triathletes ready to stampede into the lake.  I whispered my mantra for the day, “Do what you can in the moment, things will get better”, and the cannon blast erupted!

Life offers us many challenges on a daily basis, but what drives us to accept a challenge?  And more importantly, what drives us to keep moving forward towards success?  My IRONMAN events have been a celebration of hard work and dedication.  The planning and the preparation is what played the biggest role in my success.

Having an iRONMAN communication formula for your practice will prepare everyone to deliver an impactful message to clients and patients all day, every day.

We’ll use the iRONMAN acronym to guide us through the process.

Impression

A first impression is a lasting impression. Carol Kinsey Goman, a leadership and body language expert, indicates that people develop an impression of you within 7 seconds.  She further states, “First impressions are more heavily influenced by nonverbal cues than verbal cues. In fact, studies have found that nonverbal cues have over four times the impact on the impression you make than anything you say”.

Relationship

The relationships you build with your clients from the very beginning are the cornerstone of your success.   Zig Ziglar once said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”.  If people like you and feel emotionally connected with you, they are more likely to follow through with your recommendations, which translates into company growth.  Consistency throughout the company is critical to build trust with clients and employees.

Opportunities 

Circling back to first impressions, where are the areas of opportunity we have to improve on in our practices? Phone conversations, reception area decor, office art, operatory / technology updates? Where else?

Needs 

We all can justify a “want”, that new pair of shoes or a new phone.  Conversely, a “need” is often an optional decision.

According to an article published in Dental Economics by the Levin Group, dentist typically focus on the technical and clinical features of cases, while the patients are more interested in lifestyle benefits. Focus on what the client wants with what they need as the end result.

When patients truly understand the benefits of the care they require AND / OR desire, your practice can deliver higher quality treatment and increase production.

Management

According to Gallup Research, only 25% of employees are happy at work, 51% of employees are actively looking for another job… TODAY!  These statistics represent the national average.  Is your company above or below the median line?  Chances are high that A LOT of lost profits are flowing through your business right now because these statistics lead to employee turnover.

While coworkers and peers can rely on each other, you need to make sure that they can function (and collaborate) without your constant involvement. Encourage bi-directional leadership to reduce turnover, improve employee engagement, and increase productivity.

Action

Always give your clients and employees a call to action with three W’s.

  • What’s next?
  • Who will be following up / completing any needed tasks?
  • When will you be contacting them again?

Nuture

The area I see communication consistently fall short is in the follow-up.  We all get busy and forget or put it low on the list and then never get to it.  It’s not intentional, it just happens.

A Zoom Info Blog published:  53 Sales Follow Up StatisticsBy leveraging a triple touch approach, you will reap the benefits of success.  A few highlights from each category are:

Email –More than 3 words in subject line open rate decreases by 60%

Phone – The average voicemail response rate is 4.8%.  80% of calls go to voicemail, and 90% of first time voicemails are never returned

Text – Call followed by text message converts at a rate of 40% higher

Social Media – The 2019 Yearly Tech Trend Report by investor Mary Meeker / BOND reports:

  • Americans spend more time on digital media than ever before: 6.3 hours a day in 2018
  • Image-sharing apps such as Instagram are growing in popularity.
  • Images are an increasingly relevant way to communicate!

The Grande Finale’

It’s 8:30 PM. I am running in the dark and I have been on the course 13.5 hours.  The temperature has dropped 20 degrees and the cold rain is stinging when it hits my fatigued muscles.  Every step takes mental and physical effort. My body is exhausted. My husband is riding along side of me on his mountain bike encouraging me to push through it.  “Lisa…keep moving forward”.  “You are so close”!  “I know you can do this”.  I turn the final corner into the finish line “chute” which is 5 blocks long.  I had a renewed jolt of energy as the crowd encouraged me to finish.  The announcer bellowed as I crossed the line.  LISA COPELAND…YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!  The grand total for the day 140.3 miles.  Which ironically, was my exact sequence of numbers on the clock as I crossed the line.

WHAT A DAY! The most common question people ask me is:  “What made you keep going”?  My answer to that is simple:  A smile, a positive attitude and a formula that prepared me for anything!

 

CDA IRONMAN 2009
CDA IRONMAN 2009

My challenge to you is:  

Develop a communication plan to cross the finish line and deliver an impactful message to your team and clients all day, every day.

Copyright Lisa Copeland, RDH, CSP 2019.  All Rights Reserved