Create an Effective One Sheet to Increase Practice Referrals

A One Sheet is a powerful marketing tool for any dental practice, serving as a concise and visually appealing overview of what you offer and why referral partners should choose you. Craft a One Sheet that not only highlights the unique aspects of your practice and providers but also effectively attracts your ideal patients. Make it easy for practices to refer to you.

The layout should be clean and engaging. Use professional graphics, your practice’s color scheme, and high-quality images of your team and office. A One Sheet should not only inform but invite referring practices to visually understand the atmosphere and professionalism of your business.

Begin by showcasing the areas of expertise that distinguish your practice from others. This could be advanced technology you use, specialized services like cosmetic dentistry or orthodontic care, or a unique approach to patient comfort. It’s important to clearly articulate these strengths to resonate with referring offices so they can identify who would benefit from seeing you.

Include notable achievements, certifications, or accolades that your providers have received. This could range from community awards, special certifications in dental specialties, or even high ratings on review sites. Achievements help build trust and credibility with prospective referring offices. As a provider, spotlight one or two standout abilities that set you apart from the competition.

The backside of your One Sheet should focus on your ideal patient. Who benefits most from your services? Specify what type of patients you are looking for based on your practice’s expertise and patient care philosophy. This ensures referrals align well with both practices, leading to improved quality and quantity. For example, if you specialize in pediatric dentistry, your ideal patients are children and their care providers. Describe the characteristics of these patients to ensure that your message reaches the right audience

Testimonials are a powerful tool for building trust and appealing directly to potential referring offices. Choose testimonials that speak to the strengths and benefits in your One Sheet. This not only adds authenticity to your claims but also personalizes the experience for prospective referrals

Examine your business reviews, using AI, and pick three standout comments, especially those that highlight what patients love about your service. This might include your friendly staff, your efficient procedures, or your state-of-the-art facilities. These reviews should reflect the sentiments that are important to your current patients.

Transform these positive comments into an eye-catching infographic. This visual should be easy to read and attractively designed, featuring quotes with star ratings. Place this infographic prominently on your One Sheet to catch the eye of prospective referral practices.

The final product should be a compelling One Sheet that serves as both a promotional and informational tool for your practice. It should effectively communicate the unique qualities of your practice, directly reveal your ideal patient, and leverage positive feedback to attract new referrals. By following this structured approach, your practice can enhance its visibility, attract more ideal patients, and grow in a competitive market.

Once created, distribute the One Sheet to your existing and potential referring practices, on your website, and through social media channels. The goal is to make sure that whenever someone thinks of a specific dental service, your practice comes to mind first.

If you are interested in crafting a practice one-sheet for boosting referrals.

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.

Unlocking the Enigma of Generation Z: Idealism Meets Pragmatism

Exploring the Unique Qualities of Gen Z Allows Us to Navigate Generational Dynamics

In a Newsweek article, journalist Adam Piore unveiled some intriguing insights into Generation Z, often perceived as idealists and dreamers. However, Gen Z distinguishes itself through a blend of global and local concerns that set them apart from previous generations.

Breaking the Stereotypes

Before delving into Gen Z’s distinctive characteristics, it’s worth noting that Newsweek has featured cover stories about every generation. Frequently, these stories touch upon familiar themes such as entitlement and work ethics. But Gen Z is challenging these stereotypes in unexpected ways.

Gen Z’s Top Concerns

Contrary to the image of carefree youth, Generation Z has its sights firmly set on the future, with specific concerns dominating their thoughts. Gen Z’s worries are highly practical and include money (67%), securing a job (64%), and affording college education (59%). These concerns reveal a pragmatic mindset and a clear focus on personal well-being and financial stability.

Defining a Generational Cohort

What truly defines a generational cohort? According to the US Census Bureau, it’s the events they encounter during their formative years. These events, whether global, technological, economic, or social, interact with the life cycle and aging process to mold people’s worldviews. Often, these moments are accompanied by fear and uncertainty, leaving an indelible emotional impact.

Generational Experiences: Shaping Perspectives

For instance, consider the Vietnam War era, a defining event for the Baby Boomer generation. During this period, older adults felt fear and worry, having experienced the horrors of World War II. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, exhibited mixed emotions—fear coupled with a sense of excitement, as they anticipated sharing this experience with friends. For Generation X, like me, it was the stress of living through this uncertain time.

The Generational Lens

This generational lens allows researchers to explore not only how older adults felt about a particular issue in their youth but also how views evolve across generations. It helps us understand how events shape the way we perceive the world and how these perceptions transcend age boundaries.

Gen Z: The Emerging Giant

Gen Z, the cohort succeeding the Millennials (aka Gen Y), comprises an astonishing 25% of the US population, making them the largest generation yet, surpassing both Baby Boomers and Millennials. But it’s not just birth years that define a generation; geography also plays a substantial role. Additionally, Cuspers, individuals born within three to five years of the beginning or end of a generation, offer unique insights. They straddle two generations, making them exceptionally empathetic and adept at understanding the generational “DNA.”

Generational Context: Different Experiences, Different Impact

Generational context is vital in comprehending how different generations react to the same events. Events can impact generations differently, leaving a lasting imprint on their collective consciousness.

Audience Check-In: Do You Know What Cohort You Are?

Now, let’s see where you fall. Raise your hand if you identify as a Baby Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y (Millennial), or Gen Z. The more you understand about yourself and how you are perceived, the easier it is to adapt to other generations.

Gen Z’s Workplace Revolution

When it comes to being employees, Gen Z is poised to revolutionize the workplace. They seek more than just superficial alignment with company brands. Their expectation is that companies and brands will transcend marketing buzzwords and make tangible, measurable differences in society. This pragmatic approach resonates not only in their expectations of employers but also in their personal concerns, reflecting a generation that values real-world impact.

Conclusion

Generation Z, the largest cohort yet, defies stereotypes with their forward-looking, pragmatic mindset. They are defined not only by their birth years but also by the unique experiences that shape their worldview. Cuspers, those straddling two generations, offer a special perspective, making them invaluable bridges between age groups. As we continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of generational dynamics, understanding the distinct qualities and concerns of each cohort is crucial for fostering empathy and building a more inclusive society.

To deepen your comprehension of generational cohorts and enhance collaborative efforts across age groups, I invite you to arrange a discovery call with me. This session will provide an opportunity for us to delve into the intricacies and investigate the specific aspects that pique your interest.

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

Intentional Words Increase Engagement and Profit

Communication Profit Poem

The way we communicate to one and all,

Can make or break a 1:1, a consultation, or a call.

Be thoughtful when selecting certain words and phrases…choosing the ones that can pay,

Or you could end up having an abrupt ending to a conversation… and a very long, bad day.

If we insert the right word in the most effective place…we will set a better tone,

Small generational verbal changes lead to communication profit…in person or on the phone.

A profession that uses the word BUY… it may behoove you to switch,

INVEST implies a profit, or a win….and much less of a sales pitch.

SELL is a word that many dislike… when using or hearing it aloud,

A CUSTOMIZED RECOMMENDATION, however…leaves the patient feeling special and proud.

PATIENT terminology is universal… but overused and dated,

CLIENT is one level up from that and very highly rated.

To make the best impression…a title that will ensure comfort, trust, and ease,

Refer to everyone as a GUEST… and include an abundance of touchpoints, thank you and please!

Word Solutions

WAITING ROOM vs. RECEPTION AREA or LOUNGE …either has a more calming implication,

If your schedule is delayed and the guest awaits…treat them like they’re on a vacation.

CLOSING, as in closing the deal…can imply termination or the end,

OPEN means the beginning…a partnership in the relationship trend.

EARNINGS gives you an accurate number…and practical information,

PROFIT indicates you have a gain…a positive interpretation.

A BILL is added to the stack on the desk…to get around to it when you can,

An INVOICE has better credibility… and details the payment plan.

SIGNING a document or APPROVING a treatment plan…which has a better feel?

If you selected APPROVING, you’re on the right track…to better guest appeal.

Select one or two words…three if you’re feeling quite smart,

Practice replacing the good with the better…a perfect place to start.

Communication strategies can positively impact your day-to-day profit and plan,

You’ll see changes in relationships by implementing positive chatter…and quickly become a fan.

Intentional vocabulary starts with awareness…and a willingness to adjust,

Begin by having a communication plan and a system that you trust.

Bonus: Watch How to Increase Treatment Case Acceptance from a Generational Approach

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

Specialty Practice Communication: Challenges & Solutions Part II

Part II of this blog series will address the communication challenges and solutions with our Team Members and Practice.

Part I revealed details about the Patient interactions.

While presenting at AAOMS, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, we began the day with a group activity to identify daily communication challenges. The focus was on three areas: Patients, Players (team members), and Practice.

The diagram above reveals their responses in each category.

Players Challenges & Solutions

Expectations of the Team Are Not Well Defined or Communicated

When communication is not well defined or delivered, we become less impactful as a team.

Team communication starts with active listening by all members. Ask thought-provoking questions, be empathetic, and be flexible to increase understanding and decrease misinterpretations. Times are stressful and that impacts morale, health, wellness, and individual performance.

Build a team-centric culture so everyone is 100% involved and committed. Culture is the pulse of your practice! It is the tangible actions and beliefs of your team. It’s also what happens when the leader (not the boss) leaves the room.  A strong culture continues to gain momentum by inspiring everyone to participate and indivisibly links everyone together, no matter their department.

Here are a few team-centric ideas to try:

  • Attend team CE courses, live or virtual, all year.
  • Set goals for attending conferences and share information after the conference in a team meeting.
  • Assign a volunteer “wellness officer”, someone to check in on employee health and monitor the pulse of the practice.

Empower your team with problem-solving skills.

  • Have an SOP developed by the team members as a guide to handling specific situations:  team member conflict, difficult patient, HIPPA, OSHA…
  • Because the guidelines are rapidly changing, you need to have a leader to constantly study and update the APPROVED guidelines to keep everyone informed.
  • We can’t anticipate every issue that may occur, but you can prepare your team with diverse problem-solving skills, which are crucial when facing an unanticipated situation.

Negative Team Feedback

Negativity is contagious and impacts everyone. What started as ONE now becomes many negative experiences. Getting to know each team member and their communication preferences is a great place to start.  Communication interpretation is generational as well.

There is a communication process that needs to occur regularly to promote teamwork.

During daily, weekly, monthly, and annual meetings, a facilitator/leader in the practice (not always the DDS) is responsible for making sure each staff member brings completed reality checks, acknowledgments, and quality requests.

Your team relationships benefit from increased meetings and intentional communications throughout the year. I offer a presentation to dental teams focusing on meeting structure and customized outcomes which can improve your productivity significantly

Practice Challenges & Solutions

Bi-Directional Miscommunication Between the Doctor(s) and Team Members

Levin Group’s 30-year ongoing study of the top 10% producing practices revealed that they all had a culture of accountability within the practice.

The study indicated six ways to improve accountability:

1. Deadline/CTA – No deadline = No accountability

2. Realistic Time Management – How long, relative to the deadline

3. Deadline Flexibility – Allow for positive negotiation

4. Encourage Comments – Creating new strategies for completing the task and allows for renegotiating a deadline

5. Explain the desired results – Understand the task assigned

6. Encourage Questions – Thoughtful questions save time and energy. The desired result is more likely to be achieved.

The more accountable the team, the more efficient the practice, and the better the systems are followed. This all typically leads to higher profit, performance, and productivity. Happy culture and satisfying careers for everyone. Every team member does what they agreed to do.

Incomplete Information from Referral Practice

Make it easy for practices to provide a complete referral document. Assign one person to spearhead the referral process so things don’t fall through the cracks.

Starting with the patient handoff in the referring office. Discuss the communications that occur before the patient meets your practice. Make it personal, positive, and professional.

For example:

Hygiene to Office Manager in a General Practice

“Sharon, this is Linda our office manager. She will be taking care of you to schedule your next appointment with the oral surgeon and answer any questions you have about the implant treatment we recommended today”.

Design a handoff blueprint that referring offices have as a template in their software. Hint, make all the fields required so they don’t skip any information. Referral information should be sent promptly and include all the information needed. Request that the patient schedules the appointment with your practice while they are in the referring office.

Customize the information you need specifically for the treatment recommended. Expand on this list in an all-team meeting.

  • Date seen
  • Pt Name
  • Pt Age
  • Special considerations
  • X-rays-sent electronically
  • Pt history of the area
  • Diagnosis
  • Instructions

Every office is unique in its communication challenges. However, some common, repetitive issues occur. The more organized we are in preparing our team and referring offices, the better the outcome for all.

Watch Communication Tips on Study Club Referrals

The Power of Social Media Reviews for Practice Growth

Never has it been so important for us to create a positive experience for every patient! If an unhappy patient decides to leave your practice, they can taint your reputation very quickly.

Everyone has a mobile phone and can effortlessly leave negative feedback about your practice across multiple social media platforms with the click of a button.

In the past, if a patient had a negative experience in your practice, they would email, write a letter, or call. Now they’re more likely to post a review online and send a single message that may receive thousands of impressions.

What’s In a Google Search

Google search “dentist near me,” and one of the first things you will see are practice reviews. Online reviews influence the way patients think about your practice. Your reputation is shaped by what patients are saying in online reviews. Patients look at online reviews to vet how and where they find healthcare.

According to research from 1-800-DENTIST, 70% of consumers indicate online dentist reviews are equally important as a dentist’s professional credentials! While this may make you feel like you have little control over how potential patients perceive your brand, you can, and should be, actively participate in improving your online presence. One of the best ways to do so is by responding to your reviews.

By responding to positive, negative, and neutral reviews and applying best practices, you can make a positive impact on your brand reputation and even boost financial outcomes.

CURVE published a helpful blog for AADOM about reviews. Here are a few highlights.

Start with the three “A’s”:

ASPIRE to create a patient experience that people feel compelled to let others know about.

ASK for a review.

  • 70% of consumers said they will leave a review for a business if they are simply asked to do so.
  • It’s an all-team sport! All team members should be requesting reviews from patients before they are dismissed.

AUTOMATE

  • Make the process easy for both you and your patients.
  • Can patients easily click a link on their computer or smartphone to leave a review and/or comment?

Responding to Negative Reviews

Respond directly in the review platform with a thank you from you and your team for all reviews. Negative reviews are humbling and difficult to respond to. However, they give you the opportunity to improve your patient experience. Respond directly in the platform to show other potential patients that you value feedback and remain HIPAA compliant.

Create a 4-step formula to respond to any negative review.

  1. Thank you
  2. Minimize apologizing
  3. Focus on customer experience
  4. Provide CTA (Call To Action)
Social Media Review Template

Response Template

1. Thank you for sharing your feedback.

2. We’re sorry your experience didn’t match your expectations.

3. Because of privacy regulations, we cannot discuss the specifics of your comments publicly. However, we are committed to providing you with high-quality care and take your feedback very seriously.

4. Please review the private message we sent to you. Our Patient Experience Manager will call you to discuss your recent appointment. We would love to make things right if you give us another chance.

The Power of Answering Social Media Reviews

Responding to reviews while maintaining confidentiality demonstrates professionalism, patient dedication, and the provider’s action plan to make things right. By offering to take the conversation offline your practice indicates a genuine desire to solve the problem or misunderstanding.

Reversing a Negative Experience

According to Dr. David Rice, Co-Founder of Ignite DDS, every patient experience should have zero bias and influence from the previous patient! Furthermore, it takes ELEVEN or more positive experiences to overcome ONE negative.

Negativity is contagious and impacts the team and patient.

What started as one now becomes many negative experiences.

More Communication Tips About Negative Reviews

Watch the video below.

Principles of Building Team Wellness and Patient Relationships

Relationships are the bridges that lead us to success, build trust, and loyalty. Practice high-quality communication first, followed by our technical excellence for patients to understand their needs. Communication consistency is the key.

Unclear communication impacts relationships among team members, referring doctors, and vendors that we interact with regularly. By building communication bridges we grow our practice.  If we customize our language, and how we speak to our patients and each other, we will encounter fewer misunderstandings, less stress, and improve productivity. Customizing our language is achieved by standardizing and practicing scripts and guidelines collaboratively developed by the team.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Many practices deliver information the same way to every patient. This can lead to confusion and/or resistance. I frequently challenge teams to customize their language to meet the patients’ expectations. 99% of the time they have never thought of changing their delivery style.

Clarify with each patient their communication preferences.

Consider adding questions to your health history template, such as:

  • “What is your preferred method of communication?  
  • “Would you like me to text, email, or call you?”

A more senior generational patient will want a phone call because they enjoy speaking to people and they may not have advanced knowledge of technology. Gen X is all about efficiency and generally prefer texting. Gen Y/Millennials and Gen Z demand texting. They do not look at their email or check their voicemail. If you’re sending appointment reminders via email, you’re probably not getting a good response from younger generations. Nor is it creating a positive experience for them. For more generational guidelines click here.

Putting It All Into Practice

Building relationships is step one in educating and training the entire team.

When referring to the entire team, that includes the dentist. Too often, dentists send their team to an educational event, and they don’t participate. “The entire team” is all-inclusive.

All-team collaboration and learning builds a stable foundation that leads to increased engagement, productivity, and team wellness.

Each team member is responsible for understanding all of the procedures that your practice provides. We should be comfortable explaining and supporting every treatment opportunity we offer to our patients. Each department typically learns its own processes and procedures but doesn’t have an overall view of the practice menu of services. By developing guidelines for speaking the same language to patients, in reference to procedures, we will maximize the treatment case acceptance.

At your Morning Stand-up or Huddle, before you start seeing patients for the day, recognize specific needs of the scheduled patients. For example, “ Mr. Rogers is coming in at 11 am. We will need room #3 for treatment because he uses a wheelchair. He usually requires one or two bathroom breaks and has some special needs which are highlighted in his chart” Meeting the patient where they are and speaking the right generational language will positively impact their dental journey experience. Remember, relationships are the bridges that lead us to success.

Communication Consistency Is Key

Everybody should answer questions the same way all day, every day. That goes back to having guidelines. We know most of the questions the patients are going to ask:

  • How much is it going to cost?
  • How much does my insurance cover?
  • What are my other options?
  • Do you have payment options?
  • Is this treatment really necessary?
  • Can I wait to start the treatment?

As a team, we can come up with many different communications that we use regularly. Add onto this list at an all-team meeting and fabricate team answers for each question to guide the conversation. These scripts allow us to provide consistent information to our patients.  They are less likely to misunderstand or ‘test’ the team. If they ask a hygienist the same question that they ask an administrative assistant and get different answers, you’ve lost the patient’s trust. They probably will not schedule their next appointment until they understand the treatment better.

My Concern for You

If we don’t establish a relationship with the patient, they will not move forward with accepting the treatment plan. They may not refer patients because they aren’t as comfortable as they’d like to be in your practice. They don’t market your practice. They don’t contribute to your business growth or production.

If the patient says “NO”, the team should investigate why they are hesitant to commit to our practice and procedure recommendations.

  • What went wrong?
  • What was the first impression this patient had of us?
  • Did the patient have a negative experience?

Ask intentional questions and practice active listening to move the patient from “NO” to “YES”.

Want more communication tips?

Watch the short video below.

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

Are You Asking Intentional Questions?

Asking intentional questions takes preparation and planning. The good news is we become more skilled at it as we practice.

An intentional question should be thought evoking and create a pause that generates curiosity. To ask an intentional question, we start by actively listening. Then, ask yourself, are you clear with the statement/question? Next, move to ask clarifying questions to enhance communications and relationships.

For example:

  • I am curious what you mean by…
  • Tell me more about that…
  • Help me understand what that looks like…

Clinical Application

Take time to observe and understand the patients’ behavioral styles.

“Katie mentioned you shared with her that you were a little nervous about today’s appointment. Tell me more about that so we can address your concerns and increase your comfort today.”

Delivering a patient’s ideal dental experience starts by addressing concerns and fears, and then discuss the best approach to providing the dental work needed. Acknowledging the patient’s fear and discussing the approach is psychologically comforting. By involving them in the solutions we build trust and provide a safe, comfortable environment.

Types of Questions

Distinct types of questions have their place in a conversation

Closed-ended question start with:  Will, Do /Does, Is, and Are

Open-ended question allow for conversation, increased knowledge, and information gathering. They begin with: What, How, and Why

Clinical Application

A clinical example of a closed-ended question looks like this.

  • Do you have any changes in your health or medications that we need to update?

Most people will say no so you can move on!

An open-ended question could be structured this way.

  • What medications, including OTC, vitamins, and supplements, you are currently taking?

When we use the right language, we get the information we need and more. This allows us to ask intentional questions, practice active listening, and guide the conversation to positively influence the patient’s dental journey in our practice.

Using Verbal Softeners

Clarifying questions should also include cooperative communication techniques. They are used both to prevent escalation and to defuse emotional situations.

Consider the way we say things to each other or your patients.

People don’t respond well to absolute, authoritarian, or harsh language.

Try using a sales training technique of inserting verbal softeners.

  • Phrases and words like “sometimes”, “it could be”, and “perhaps” state things in a less abrasive way.
  • Other softeners include “it’s possible,” and “occasionally.”

My favorite verbal softener is “perhaps.” 

  • “Perhaps we have had miscommunicated. Tell me more about your interpretation or expectations of the treatment plan we discussed last week.” 

Verbal softeners are valuable tools in helping you appear more cooperative and likable to prevent conflict.

Two actions you can clinically implement today are:

  1. Add an open-ended question to your health history requesting updated medications like above.
  2. Select a verbal softener and practice using it with patients during a conversation. It will become a habit very quickly.

16 Ways to Retain Dental Team Members

The time is now to pivot to what employees genuinely want in this employee-driven workforce. 

This chart summarizes ideas to consider that will influence your hiring and staying power.

The ultimate goal/outcome is to hire and continually engage a happy, healthy, and permanent team.

Benefits and Perks

Are only part of the equation to attract and retain team members. Retention requires having people-centric leaders. Influential leaders are experts in serving others and building a successful culture.

Most employees are looking for fair pay. You may think you fall into that category, but the best way to know is to look at the data. DentalPost released the 2022 Salary Survey. A deep dive into all team positions and salaries nationwide. If you want to know where your practice falls as far as wages, download the publication.

Diversifying benefits and customizing packages to meet the generations where they are at is particularly important, especially with the Gen Y and Z, the younger generations. They may want assistance with day/doggy care, flexible hours/days, and morning or evening revolving shifts. Administrative positions may request to work from home a day or two a week. Dentistry can and should adopt flexibility, but you need to know what potential and existing team members are looking for before you make a plan.

Educational growth is equally important. Whether it is CEU or institutional learning, give your team an opportunity to gain experience and apply new knowledge and skill within your practice.

Provide Career Opportunities and Growth

Empowering growth that aligns with their skills, interests, and goals will create more engagement and loyalty. Rethink the traditional career training and team progression. Create a mentorship program and cross-training department/function opportunities.

As employees continue to build their education be sure to award them with progressive titles, seniority recognition, and pay.

Provide More Face Time with Employees

One-on-one time with leaders is increasing in importance. Leaders should prioritize meeting with their team to discuss career path goals and growth opportunities. If you are only providing annual (or less) reviews, your employee pool will shrink quickly. Ongoing coaching and communication are critical.

Developing a visual progression plan paints a clear picture of each team members career evolution and development so they have an accurate understanding of their professional path.

Embracing and participating in team-building strategies quarterly will enhance professional and personal relationships. When team relationships thrive, the patients become loyal, and the practice grows without effort.

Communication Coaching

Every conversation has a consequence. Lack of communication is a primary cause of team disengagement and turnover.

Frequent, real-time coaching, not feedback, is necessary to keep our teams engaged. Feedback has a negative interpretation. The situation has already occurred and cannot be corrected. Coaching is ongoing with positive affirmations and collaborative solutions. Continual mentorship and coaching, by all team members, should be encouraged. It sets the office tone and creates a safe environment for all.

Want a quick recap?

Watch the video below 16 Tips to Attract and Retain Dental Team Members.

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.