The Key to Sustainable Practice Growth

By Dr. Mark T. Murphy

When asked what would solve their lack of busyness problem, most dentists respond by saying they “need more new patients.” Although a steady increased stream of clients would help fill the hygiene and dental schedules in most practices, it is expensive and the most difficult to quickly achieve. Acquisition of new business requires either a strong social and public media blitz (tougher to effectively target market without spending a lot) or steady referral growth (which takes time). Fortunately, there are diamonds at our feet that we can take advantage of, but it requires a bit of a paradigm shift in thinking.

How we look at the problem sometimes is the problem. That’s why a shift in perspective sometimes is needed to move past a recurrent obstacle. By looking at the problem differently, we may be able to see solutions that were previously limited by our point of view. “More new patients” is not always the right answer.

The single biggest opportunity for sustainable growth in most practices is right under our nose. In the average practice that we have worked with or researched, a little more than 70 percent of the existing patients are leaving with a re-care appointment scheduled for a specific date and time. Most of us think we are better at that, but when you actually stop and measure it for one month, you will feel differently. It is easy to significantly increase the percentage and impact how full your hygiene schedule will be.

1. Measure: Just by measuring, your team will become more attentive to this behavior (prescheduling re-care) and the results will improve.

2. Track: By setting an improvement goal and tracking how many patients leave with a next hygiene appointment in real time (using notes on the day sheet, an excel spreadsheet or software like funktionaltracker.com), your future schedule will be more full.

3. Speak: Rehearsing verbal skills around this helps to get more patients to schedule. “Mrs. Jones, I know how you feel. Sometimes I don’t know what I am doing in six months, either. But, let’s do this: Let’s book something for now that looks like it might work. If you have to change it as it gets closer — no big deal. But, it is so much easier to trade a one-hour time slot for another one if you already have an appointment than if you don’t have one.”

4. Celebrate: Re-measure the result each month and share the success with your team. Reward them appropriately so they know how much you appreciate their effort. It is way less expensive to pre-book and stay busy than to try to fill an empty schedule a few days ahead of time.

The obvious part of this story is that it works! The bonus is that when you have more hygiene patients and a fuller schedule, you will de facto have more dentistry to do from that. Most practices range from 25-35 percent of their production from hygiene visits and the rest from restorative. So, for every dollar you find by pre-booking better, you should find $2-3 more of restorative need. Helping more patients have healthier mouths and getting to do more of the dentistry that is fulfilling drives these behaviors. Money never leads, it only follows.

 

Dr. Murphy is the principal of Funktional Tracker and lead faculty for Clinical Education at Microdental, and can be reached at mtmurphydds@gmail.com. He will be speaking at FDC2016 on Thursday, June 16 and Saturday, June 18. “Introduction to Treating Sleep Apnea in Your Practice: From Getting Started to Medical Billing” will be on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. and “Evidence-based Shade Communication in Restorative Dentistry” will be later that day at 2 p.m. On Saturday, he will present, “Improving Case Acceptance, Moving Past Insurance Entitlement,” at  10:45 a.m. during the New Dentist Program, “Success is your Future: The New Dentist Practical Guide for Success.”

Encouraging Online Reviews

By Jackie Ulasewich, Founder, My Dental Agency

By now, you’re sure to understand the importance of managing your online reputation. We know dental practices are faced with two major threats regarding their online reputation. The first, of course, is negative reviews. However, as we’ve discovered, these can be mitigated and handled appropriately in such a way that they have minimal to no impact. But the greatest threat is a negative reputation — by which we mean not having a researchable reputation at all. In fact, not having a robust reputation online can be even worse than having negative reviews! As Oscar Wilde said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.”

In order to generate, enhance and maintain your online reputation, we prefer using our own tried, tested and true approach: the COME ON!” Approach. Here are tips and guidance on how this approach can best help you manage your dental practice reviews:

C: Consistently ask for reviews.
We understand that directly asking patients for online reviews might not be the most comfortable thing in the world. Fret not, though; you needn’t ask every single patient to leave an online review. We’ve discovered that the best approach is to take a few minutes during a morning or weekly meeting before the doors have opened to identify which patients would be optimal to ask to leave a review. Then, identify the staff member or doctor with the best relationship with those particular patients to ask for an online review. This is perhaps the most natural and results-producing method of getting these reviews. This helps minimize awkward situations, while at the same time maximizing the number of favorable reviews.

When done with sincerity and openness with a pleased patient, you’d be surprised how willing they are to give back and leave a review as a way of saying thanks. And your patients — just like everyone else — might get a bit busy and forgetful, so this little nudge is usually all that’s needed to get the online feedback you want.

O: Office signage that motivates patients to leave reviews.
In addition to verbal requests, it really does help to have an eye-catching sign at the front desk asking your patient to leave a review. It serves as a nice, simple reminder without having to ask (or in addition to your verbal request). And with the way smartphones are used to kill time these days, it’s pretty likely that while a patient is waiting a few minutes to be called back they will take that opportunity to write a review. Get creative and put something together that catches their attention.

M: Make it easy for your patients to leave reviews.
There are many ways you can provide your patients with the steps needed to leave an online review on the platforms you’ve targeted as the most relevant to your practice. You can shoot them a text message with a link to the review page of your preferred platforms, or even send them an email that directs them to the appropriate page. Since people are busy, the last thing we and many of our patients want to do is try to figure out how to leave a review on Google, Facebook or Yelp. This is why it’s best to simply send them directly to review pages on these platforms. This eliminates the need to provide verbal step-by-step instructions on how to arrive on those sites.

E: Email and marketing campaigns that ask for reviews.
Email campaigns are great for many things, including online reputation management. You can use your email campaign to give patients a friendly reminder that if they haven’t already left a review, it would be tremendously appreciated if they did so. Be sure to include the instructions or, better yet, links directly to the review pages in the email. However, it’s best practice to send these friendly reminders only every so often. You don’t want to bombard them with these messages every month and seem desperate or needy. Also, you can use social media to ask your followers and fans to leave a review. Great creative with the way you ask that will be sure to get the best response, in terms of quality and quantity.

O: Ongoing monitoring and moderation of reviews.
Online reputation management requires heightened vigilance. You never know when a negative review might strike. And, if and when this happens, it’s imperative you don’t let it linger.

N: Never leave a negative review unaddressed.
Let’s face it, negative reviews may happen. But don’t worry — it’s not the end of the world. By constantly monitoring and moderating your reviews, you can publicly respond to any unfavorable ones before any damage is done. In doing so, you will prove to patients — potential and current alike — that you truly care about their experiences and are actively working to resolve any issues they made have had. In this way, a negative review becomes something positive, as it allows you to address specific issues in a personal, caring manner for all to see. Moreover, as long as you are proactive and diligent in asking your patients to leave a positive review, the few perhaps misguided negative ones will be vastly outweighed and overshadowed. In comparison to your vast amount of positive reviews, they’ll appear as mere dismissible outliers.


With more than a decade of experience in corporate dental laboratory marketing and brand development, Ms.
Ulasewich decided to take her passion for the dental business and marketing to the next level by founding My Dental Agency. Since starting her company, Ms. Ulasewich and her team have helped a wide variety of business owners all over the nation focus their message, reach their target audience and increase their sales through effective marketing campaigns. For more information, she can be reached at Jackie@mydentalagency.com or 800.689.6434.

 

Reducing Aligner Challenges and Increasing Patient Compliance

By Dr. Payam Ataii

A Case Study Using the Propel System® with Invisalign®

In the following case study (Figs. 1a and 1b) I used the Propel System® (Propel Orthodontics) in conjunction with Invisalign® clear aligner therapy (Align Technology) (Fig. 2). Through a scientifically proven, patented process called micro-osteoperforation, the Propel System® stimulates the alveolar bone to induce an inflammatory response, accelerating tooth movement in the treated areas — 50-60 percent faster movement when compared to traditional orthodontics alone1 (Fig. 3). As a result, I was able to intercept an Invisalign® case that was not tracking properly by using Propel in order to get the case back on track. Using Propel helped ensure that all challenging orthodontic movements were achieved as planned avoiding additional treatment time, patient inconvenience and cost (Fig. 4). The patient could resume treatment with her current aligners once the case went through a refinement process (Fig. 5).

During my presentation at the Florida Dental Convention (FDC) this June, I will review clinical factors such as clinician experience, patient compliance, attachment engagement and interproximal reduction accuracy using cutting-edge technology such as the Propel System®. In my opinion, the Propel system is a powerful tool to help recover the aligner protocol and finish with beautiful results on challenging cases.

Dr. Ataii will be speaking at FDC2016 on June 18. His course, “Using Micro-osteoperforations to Increase and Accelerate Aligner Cases for General Practice,” will be at 2 p.m. For questions or support in Florida, contact Jim Sieg at jsieg@propelortho.com.

(To view the photos below, click to enlarge each image.)

Figure 1A
Fig. 1a

Figure 1B
Fig. 1b

Figure 2
Fig. 2

Figure 3
Fig. 3

Figure 4
Fig. 4

Figure 5
Fig. 5       

 

1 Alikhani M, Raptis M, Zoldan B, Sangsuwon C, Lee YB, Alyami B, Corpodian C, Barrera LM, Alansari S, Khoo E, Teixeira C. Effect of micro-osteoperforations on the rate of tooth movement. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop. 2013; 144 (5):639-648.



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A Beginner’s Guide to Volunteering in Dentistry

By Dr. Natalie Bustillo, FDA Foundation Board of Directors

Volunteerism is an honored tradition in the United States and around the world, touted as a celebration of the spirit of community involvement. Certainly, our community is familiar with philanthropic work. In fact, it’s estimated that Florida’s almost 10,000 dentists may donate as much as $15,000-$30,000 in free care and treatment each year.

Some people volunteer because they want to help people, others do it for a particular cause and some volunteer to make new friends. Whatever your reason, it’s clear that volunteering provides a number of benefits.

Trying to figure out what volunteer opportunity to choose can be a confusing and time-consuming process. How do you know that the organization is doing good work? Will the project be the right fit for you? If you’ve contemplated volunteering but don’t know where to begin, ask yourself the following questions:

1. How much time do I have? It’s always better to wait until you know you have the time for community service. Consider whether you are seeking an ongoing, a short-term or a one-time assignment.

2. What causes or issues are important to me? Look for opportunities that meet your interests.

3. What skills and experience do I have to share? Many organizations are looking for qualified professionals to serve communities in need, whether overseas or right here in the United States.

4. What level of physical activity can I manage? It’s important that you be honest with yourself regarding the types of volunteer positions that are a good fit for you given your health and well-being.

5. With whom do I want to work? Do you want to work independently or with a team? Do you want to work alone, or with a group?

Once you have identified your expectations, ask your friends or colleagues about their own philanthropic activities. It’s likely that your friends will have similar interests and can suggest opportunities that are a good fit for you. The Internet has great online volunteer referral services as does your local library. If your interest is in providing dental care to underserved populations or dental health education to youth, I suggest you start with the FDA Foundation — the 2016 Florida Mission of Mercy is right around the corner and we still need volunteers! This is the perfect opportunity to sign up to volunteer your time and services to those in greatest need!

For more information and to sign up to volunteer, go to www.flamom.org. Don’t delay — volunteer registration closes on March 1!