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.


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”.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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?


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!



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