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Archive for category: New Patients

Brand It: Don’t Be “Just Another” Practice

Brand It: Don’t Be “Just Another” Practice

Every dental practice is unique and should be able to identify a number of distinctive selling points. The following list can help you get started:

  • Doctor and Staff (schools attended, family, interests, charitable activities, etc.)
  • Location (easy to reach, free parking, near major shopping areas, etc.)
  • Environment (furnishings, refreshments, wi-fi, reading materials, etc.)
  • Technology/Services (the best, the latest, the fastest, etc.)
  • Financial (insurance accepted, financing options, free services)
  • Praise from other patients (testimonials)
  • Educational (home care instructions, advice on dental issues, etc.)
  • Scheduling (special hours, staying on schedule, etc.)

It makes sense to involve the whole team in identifying possible differentiators and then selecting those which are likely to be most appealing.

Getting the Word Out

Once your practice has determined what sets it apart from others, come up with a marketing plan that will effectively communicate your differentiators. The strategies you choose will depend, in part, on your differentiators. For example, to promote your practice’s engagement in the community, attend local health fairs and other events, submit dental health articles to local papers and websites, etc.

Many differentiators relate to customer service. Patients who experience them first-hand can then be encouraged to refer family members, friends, neighbors, fellow workers and others to your practice. This kind of word-of-mouth advertising could prove to be the most effective element in your marketing plan.

 


Additional Resources

Read “Turn Your Facebook Page into a New Patient Generator.

Learn more about Levin Group’s marketing consulting program.

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Surprising Advice for Dentists from Sgt. Pepper

Surprising Advice for Dentists from Sgt. Pepper

It was 50 years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. What can the Beatles’ classic album released five decades ago teach us about practice management? You’re probably thinking not much. After all, there are no songs about dentists on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But as with every Beatles album, there’s a lot of great music and plenty of good advice. And some of it applies to dentistry. Let’s take a look…

With a Little Help from My Friends

It can be lonely at the top, but it doesn’t have to be. Even with the growth of DSOs, the majority of dentists still operate solo practices. That means you wear a lot of hats… you’re the main producer, the team leader, the CEO, the CFO and the CMO. Some days, it can seem overwhelming.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Study clubs represents one of the greatest resources for practice owners. You can learn a lot from your colleagues, many of whom have experienced similar issues and challenges. You’ll get pertinent advice, learn about new clinical procedures and develop a support network that can get you through the tough times.

Good Morning, Good Morning

Morning meetings matter. Never underestimate the power of this brief gathering. Sharing information about the day’s schedule, patients, treatments, and emergences keeps everybody on the same page. Start your day the right way with a morning meeting!

Getting Better

That should be the goal of every practice. How can we improve? What’s not working and what could be working better? What are the solutions? What are the costs? What can we accomplish with the budget and manpower we have? As the practice leader, you don’t want to settle for the status quo. Because when you stop improving, you eventually start declining.

Fixing a Hole

A full schedule drives practice growth. Gaps in the schedule are missed opportunities. To combat last-minute cancellations, keep a list of patients who are looking to move up their appointments. Contact them as soon as you have an opening. Also, use social media to get the word out. If patients have a break in their schedule, they often come in to catch up on their dental care.

When I’m Sixty Four

Are you saving enough for retirement? When was the last time you looked at your retirement plan? Are you currently working with a dental-knowledgeable advisor? Even if you’re a younger dentist and believe retirement is decades away, you need to start planning for it now.

A Day in the Life

Like any job, dentistry can become a grind… if you let it. As the practice owner, you have the power to create a fun, productive work environment. Don’t just put in your time. Create the practice you want. Sure, it takes time and effort. But the sooner you start working on it, the sooner it will happen.

Conclusion

It’s been called everything from the greatest album ever made to the most overrated record in the history of popular music. Wherever your opinion falls on that spectrum, there are still some surprising lessons Sgt. Pepper can teach us 50 years after its release.


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Success Story: Dr. Cynthia Banderet

Success Story: Dr. Cynthia Banderet

Dr. Cynthia Banderet wanted to break through to the next level. She owned and operated a successful general practice in Belleville, Illinois, for more than 10 years, but she knew she could be doing better. After much deliberation, she chose Levin Group as her management and marketing consultant.

Six months into her consulting engagement, Dr. Banderet saw a dramatic difference in her practice’s performance. “Our gross production has increased by 20% over six months,” she said. “We have fewer cancellations, a higher percent of our patient base is scheduled and case acceptance has increased. I’m thankful to be in Levin Group’s care.”

At the end of her 12-month management and marketing programs, Dr. Banderet and her team achieved outstanding results, including in these key categories:

  • Production – up 34%
  • Production Per Hour – up 38%
  • Collections – up 19%

Summing up her experience, she said, “I love working with Levin Group. Everyone is very professional, friendly and caring, always going over the top! They gave us the tools and guidance to create an office environment for success.”


Additional Resources

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What’s the Quickest Way to Lose Patients?

What’s the Quickest Way to Lose Patients?

That’s an easy one––don’t listen to them. People find it infuriating when they’re ignored especially by the person they’re talking to. In a dental practice, this happens when staff members fail to give patients their undivided attention by multi-tasking, answering phones, texting, talking to their colleagues, looking at their computers, etc.

Active listening is a physical activity. It takes focus and energy to listen to someone and not do anything else. Even routine requests require active listening. If patients feel that the practice doesn’t value their time, there’s a good chance they won’t be back.

The Impact of Not Listening

I recently spoke to a dentist who was upset because his front desk coordinator had cost the practice a patient and her family. The mother was trying to schedule her three children for appointments. She told the staff member that she needed to leave quickly to pick up one of her kids. The front desk coordinator kept stopping to answer the phone and talking with callers before returning to the waiting patient. After the third call, the mother canceled all of our appointments and stormed out of the office. It’s obvious that the mother felt that customer service was less than satisfactory, but she also felt she wasn’t being heard.

Scenarios like this happen every day in dental practices. During interactions with dentists and staff, patients want to feel they are your #1 priority. They don’t want to repeat things two or three times, be put on hold endlessly, or be left in the treatment room unattended for 10 minutes. All of these are great ways to lose patients quickly.

How do you actively listen? Here are a few key tips:

  1. Always look directly at patients when they are speaking. This will keep you from multi-tasking and reassure them that you are focused on them.
  2. Repeat and summarize what they said. For example start the sentence with “So what I hear you saying is ….”
  3. Ask questions if clarification is needed. For example, “So you would prefer a Tuesday afternoon over a Thursday morning?”
  4. Nod and smile at patients when they are speaking. Even leaning forward creates a positive energy and a sense of listening.

Additional Resource

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper Stage III Customer Service by clicking here.

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The Top 3 Reasons New Patients Are Avoiding Your Practice

The Top 3 Reasons New Patients Are Avoiding Your Practice

Every practice wants more new patients. You need them to grow your production and help maintain your current level of revenue because every year you will lose patients. That’s a fact!

Your practice may have the greatest team in the world and you may be the most beloved dentist in the tristate region, but you’re still going to lose patients because people…

  • Move away
  • Become sick or incapacitated
  • Die

There’s nothing you can do about those patients. Then there are those other patients who decide to stop coming in due to a variety of reasons:

  • They lost or changed their dental insurance
  • They had a bad experience at your practice
  • They switched to another dentist

Depending on your customer service and patient outreach, you and your team may be able to persuade some, but not all, of them to return to your practice. But that’s not enough. You’ll always need a steady stream of new patients coming in the door to ensure practice success.

Where Have All the New Patients Gone?

Most practices don’t have enough new patients. There are a lot of reasons why, but based on what we see in new consulting client practices, here are the top 3 reasons why new patients aren’t coming in…

1. Your Team’s Phone Skills are Terrible

Your marketing may be top-notch, but if your front desk team doesn’t know how to talk to prospective patients, it doesn’t matter. If your staff isn’t enthusiastic… isn’t building value for your skills, your team and your practice… isn’t motivating callers to schedule and show up for their appointments, then all the money you’re investing in marketing campaigns is going to waste.

Solution: Give your front desk the scripting and training they need to excel at what they do.

2. Your Website is Older than Betty White (and Far Less Interesting)

Does your website make people flashback to the days of AOL, Geocities and dial-up? If so, it’s like you posted a giant neon NO TRESPASSING sign on the internet, warning prospective patients not to visit your practice. If you don’t care enough to keep your website current, what does that say about the care and treatment patients can expect to receive at your office?

Solution: Work with a web design company to bring your website into the 21st century.

3. Your Customer Service is Worse than the Cable Company’s

In reality, your customer service doesn’t have to be awful to keep new patients from calling… it just has to be less than great. Because if your current patients aren’t singing your praises about the amazing customer service they experienced, you’re sabotaging your new patient outreach activities. You don’t want to be perceived as just another dental practice that “cleans” teeth and fills cavities. You want to stand out in a crowded field, and WOW customer service is one way to do that.

Solution: Review the entire patient experience through the eyes of new patients. Be as critical and thorough as possible, listing deficiencies and opportunities for improvement. Implement customer service upgrades for all noted items within two months.

Conclusion

Many practices are their own worst enemies when it comes to growing their patient base. They send mixed signals to prospective patients. A powerful marketing message is undermined by the front desk’s team poor phone skills, a lackluster website or less-than-stellar customer service. Take a hard look at your practice. If you have any of these issues, correct them now.


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s popular book The 31 Biggest Mistakes Dentists Make by clicking here and then hitting the Read an Excerpt button.

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Dentistry According to the Rolling Stones

Dentistry According to the Rolling Stones

What do Mick, Keith and the boys know about running a dental practice? Actually, more than you might think, judging from some of the songs in their catalogue. Let’s dust off a few classics as well as a few deep cuts and see what practice management lessons can be gleaned from the world’s greatest rock’n’roll band…

Start Me Up (from Tattoo You)

Kick off your day with a brief morning meeting. This keeps your entire team on the same page about what will be occurring in terms of new patients, patients with unaccepted treatment, patients who owe money, openings in the schedule, etc. The meeting should last 10 minutes or so. If you’re experiencing some customer service issues, the morning meeting is a good forum for reviewing practice policies, creating new scripts if necessary and role-playing different scenarios.

Miss You (from Some Girls)

Patients aren’t as loyal as they once were. They’ll jump to another practice if they see a coupon for a new patient exam or they’ll stop coming in for regular care for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s economic. They changed jobs and they no longer have dental insurance. Sometimes, it’s something you or your staff did. Your front desk coordinator was curt or you had an emergency and couldn’t spend much time, catching up with them.

Treat your patients like VIPs. Pretend your patients are actually the Rolling Stones or whoever your favorite musical artist is. Make every patient visit to your practice a special one.

Stop Breaking Down (from Exile on Main Street)

When systems are old, they constantly break down. When systems aren’t documented, team members don’t know what to do. When team members aren’t trained on the systems, things don’t get done the right way.

Practicing with outdated systems is like trying to run a marathon with 20-pound weights tied to your ankles. You’re going to expend a lot of energy trying to accomplish the simplest tasks. As those systems continue to age, those weights get heavier and heavier.

So, you have choice… tolerate old, inefficient systems or replace them.

Gimme Shelter (from Let It Bleed)

Some days, it’s hard being the boss. There are times when you’ve got to interact with unhappy patients, upset team members and difficult colleagues. As the practice owner, the buck stops with you. Of course, you should delegate all the small, non-clinical stuff to your team. But the big stuff still falls on your shoulders. And that makes it incredibly challenging to leave the job behind when you go home for the day.

To be an effective CEO, you need time away from the practice and you need to protect that time or else you end up working 12–14 hours every day, which isn’t good for you or your family.

What’s the point of owning a practice that produces $2 million a year if you have no time to enjoy your success and no one to enjoy it with?

Every dentist needs a life outside your practice. That means spending time with family and friends. That means pursuing hobbies and taking vacations. That means having down time, where you do absolutely nothing. Owning a dental practice can be all-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.

Time Waits for No One (from It’s Only Rock’n’Roll)

Your practice may have been doing great five years ago. But not so much right now. Dentistry is in a constant state of flux, and you have to keep up. Your once-new systems five years ago are now outdated. They don’t perform like they used to. Your practice has changed in terms of services, technology, software, goals and personnel, yet you’re still trying to force those old systems to do things they’re no longer capable of doing.

Change is a constant in business and life. If you do nothing to keep up, you will eventually be passed by. Your practice is the best investment you ever made, but it’s an ongoing investment. You can’t expect a plant to grow if you never water it. The same is true for your practice. To grow your practice, you need to invest in it… that means new technology, equipment, software, training, systems, décor, etc. Maybe not every year, but not once every 10 years either. You don’t want to be the owner of a fixer-upper practice. That’s a hard way to practice, and in the future that will be a hard practice to sell.

Satisfaction (from Hot Rocks)

Are you happy with your practice and your career? While a certain amount of dissatisfaction acts as fuel for making positive changes, you don’t want to dread waking up and going to the practice every day. That’s no way to have a career and, most important, that’s no way to live.

If you are unhappy about how your practice is performing, make a list of everything you’re dissatisfied with. Examine the list. What do you have in your power to fix? Go for the low-hanging fruit first. Don’t like how the doctor’s office is set up? Stay late and rearrange it. Once you get the easy stuff done, move to the more challenging fixes.

If you don’t have the skills or the know-how to improve the situation, get help. Have a tax issue? Call an accountant. Want a new business structure? Seek the advice of a dental-knowledgeable attorney. Need help with your management and marketing systems? Get the assistance of an expert consultant.

Aftermath

Taking advice from the Rolling Stones may seem a little far-fetched, but how many musical acts have been as successful as the bad boys of rock’n’roll? The next time your practice is giving you the blues, crank up your favorite Stones album… you’ll not only get to enjoy some in-your-face rock’n’roll, but perhaps also some relevant practice management advice as well.


Additional Resource

Need an Emotional Rescue? Read a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s popular book, Get a Life and Keep It, by clicking here.
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The Power of Power Words

The Power of Power Words

Everyone learns to talk at an early age. Somehow we think this means we are all excellent speakers. Unfortunately, most of us are just adequate communicators. For dental practices, this is a challenge… because successful interactions with patients depend on clear, effective and positive communication.

Without superior verbal skills, staff members (and dentists) will find it difficult motivating patients to accept treatment, pay bills on time, and refer friends.

For 32 years, Levin Group has educated dentists on the importance of scripting. One key component of effective scripts is something we call power words. When used properly, they create energy. Why is that important? Because energy creates trust. People with high energy are more attractive to others, their energy is contagious, and what they recommend is acted on.

Can You Feel the Power?

What are some power words? Wonderful, excellent, terrific, fantastic, unbelievable, outstanding, delighted are all examples. What’s the most powerful power word? If you guessed power, you would be wrong. The answer is love.

Not love in a romantic sense, but rather from a viewpoint of appreciation. Let’s look at some examples of what I mean…You’ll love the way your new smile looks… You’ll love meeting our dentist and team… You’ll love our new extended hoursYou’ll love meeting our new hygienist.

Don’t believe me. Try adding a few of these phrases to your interactions with patients and see what happens. You’ll love the results. Sorry, couldn’t help myself there.

Power words are a life-changing concept that will attract other people to you and create far better results. As one dentist said recently, “I’m using power words in every aspect of my life, and it amazes me how much nicer people have become.”


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from Dr. Roger P. Levin’s book Essential Scripts for Patient Communication. Go here and click on the “Read an Excerpt” button.

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Turn Your Facebook Page into a New Patient Generator

Turn Your Facebook Page into a New Patient Generator

Facebook is a missed opportunity for most practices. Dentists don’t know what to do with it. They started a practice page a few years ago and put a lot of initial effort into getting likes, but as time has gone by, the page now sits idle for weeks at a time.

A related scenario is that the practice doesn’t devote any resources to keeping its Facebook page updated. Our consultants have heard something like this many times: The marketing coordinator used to do it, but then she left the practice. Since then, Sheila at the front desk has been pitching in when she’s slow, but it’s been really busy lately. The dentist or the hygienist will throw something up on the Facebook page when they’re feeling inspired. But nobody has posted anything in over a month.

Facebook can be a marketing asset for your practice, but you’ve got to put it to use. Here’s how you can improve the performance of your practice’s Facebook page in four steps:

  1. Have a Consistent Presence – To get the most out of your Facebook page, you should be posting at least three times a week. If you’re only posting a once a month, then you have a “dead” page, which is worse than no page at all. It signals to current and prospective patients that you really don’t care. On the flip side, you don’t want to overwhelm people by posting 10 times a day either. You want to find a right balance. The minimum we recommend to our consulting clients is three times a week. If your office doesn’t have an official Facebook person, appoint one. Usually, it should be the marketing coordinator. If you don’t have a marketing coordinator, talk with your team to see who would be interested, who is the most familiar with Facebook, and who would be proficient at it.
  2. Be More Social – As the name implies, social media should be social. It’s not a one-sided conversation, but rather a dialogue. If all you’re doing is talking about your practice or talking at people, they will tune out. Make it about your patients and your other followers. Respond when they comment. Even if it’s negative, reply. Gather the facts and try to find a mutually agreeable solution. That kind of responsiveness shows that you’re listening and that you care.
  3. Think of Facebook as the technological equivalent of walking around your community, shaking hands, meeting and greeting people, sharing information and stories, and, ultimately, building relationships and rapport. Facebook allows you to do all of this online.

  4. Mix It Up – To engage current and prospective patients, you should post a wide range of interesting and informative content, including:
  5. • Oral health tips

    • Patient contests

    • Open appointment alerts

    • Testimonials

    • Treatment updates – educate patients about the different types of procedures available

    • Service promotions – such as a discount on whitening or the new patient hygiene visit

    • Fun information about staff members, such as hobbies and pets

    In addition, your posts should be visually interesting. Try to include photos and videos with the majority of your posts. They make people want to engage with what you’re saying.

  6. Promote Your Practice – With its demographic database, Facebook makes it easy for you to reach prospective patients through online ads. You can target your audience by age, gender, interests, occupation, geography and other factors. You can spend as much or as little as you want on your campaign. If it’s going well, add more money to it. If it’s not working, turn it off and try a different approach. But compared to other media, such as direct mail, Facebook is incredibly inexpensive. And when done well, it can be extremely effective.

Conclusion

It’s time to turn your practice’s Facebook page into a new patient generator. Use these four strategies to help you attract and win over potential new patients. Make 2017 your best year yet!


Additional Resource

For more on a related subject, watch Dr. Levin’s video “Internal Marketing – The Key to More New Patients” by clicking here.

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Marketing Lessons from Lady Gaga

Marketing Lessons from Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is one of the world’s most recognizable entertainers. In the span of less than a decade, she has become a household name, conquering the worlds of music, fashion and celebrity culture.

Since the release of her debut album The Fame in 2008, she has sold 146 million singles and 27 million albums, appeared on The Simpsons, had a recurring role on the cult TV show American Horror Story, made an album of duets with Tony Bennett, released a perfume, and is scheduled to perform at the 2017 Super Bowl halftime show.

Is there anything a dentist can learn from the woman who once wore a dress made out of meat to an awards show? You bet.

Here are three marketing lessons learned from Lady Gaga that will help you grow your practice:

1) Don’t Settle for What Everyone Else is Doing

Lady Gaga made a name for herself not by copying what others were singing but by creating her own unique blend of pop, dance and rock music.

To stand out in a crowded, competitive field, you have to look for ways to continually WOW patients. You can’t settle for just good customer service, because good isn’t good enough anymore. When you and your team amaze patients with extraordinary customer service, they’ll tell their friends and family about the experience, leading to an increase in referrals and new patients.

2) Brand Your Practice and Sharpen Your Image

What makes your practice different? Do you offer specialized services or a wider range of treatments than other practices? Are you a boutique cosmetic practice? Is your office the only one in the area that treats both children and adults?

What you don’t want to be is a bland generic practice. You don’t have to be outrageous like Lady Gaga, but you do want to be known for something. If you’re not sure what your brand is, make a list of all your practice’s attributes, including any special training or skills that you have. This exercise will help you zero in on your competitive advantages. Also, take a look at the competition––how would you describe those offices? What are they doing well and what not so well? Your answers should reveal additional opportunities for effectively branding your practice and positioning it against competing offices.

3) Inspire Your Fans (Patients)

As of this writing, Lady Gaga is the seventh most popular person on Twitter with 64.6 million followers. Ten years ago, she was a singer in a local band; now, she’s a worldwide media phenomenon. Talent and drive are important to her success, but so is her ability to engage with her fans––in person and online. She often responds directly to fan tweets, which wins her even more followers.

Let me get something out of the way… you’re never going to have a million Twitter followers. That’s OK, neither will I. But you can grow your social media audience by…

  • Fully engaging with your patients (and others) when they’re in your office and online
  • Sharing fun stuff happening in the practice, such as contests and patient appreciation events
  • Making it personal––let patients see your “non-dental” side by posting occasional pictures of your pets, your hobbies and your activities
  • Responding promptly to comments, reviews and suggestions

Conclusion

Lady Gaga has seized on opportunities––both traditional and digital––to grow her audience. In a crowded music field, she has found a way to stand out. She has a unique, recognizable brand identity and she continually engages her fans, directly and indirectly. All of which are good lessons for dentists to follow.


Additional Resource

For more on this subject, learn more about our Marketing Consulting Program by clicking here.

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Three Reasons to Host Referral Events

Three Reasons to Host Referral Events

One of the best referral marketing strategies is to host an annual educational seminar for referring doctors and/or staff. The day of the seminar represents an opportunity to build relationships and provide valuable information… all during a memorable and enjoyable event. We also teach host practices how to follow up after the seminar to further enhance referral relationships.

The top three reasons to host a referral marketing seminar are:

  1. A referral marketing seminar has real value. With the right speakers and topics, it provides immediate practical takeaways that can improve their practice. This creates strong bonds with referring offices.
  2. Referring doctors see it as positive “payback.” The referral process can feel like a one-way street, benefitting only the specialty office. An educational outreach event shows how much you appreciate their trust, by giving them something powerful in return.
  3. A referral marketing seminar is a wonderful way to say thank you. If a specialty practice wants to increase referrals, it needs to show appreciation… and a referral marketing seminar is one of the most powerful ways to do that. It also showcases the specialty practice for an entire day, enabling the doctor and staff to say “thank you” over and over again.

Educational seminars for referrers belong in every specialty practice’s marketing plan because it takes advantage of dentists’ respect for continuing education and has a direct impact on referral relationships.

Additional Resource

Need a Speaker for Your Next Event? Arrange for Dr. Levin to present a seminar to your referring doctors. A leading expert in practice management and marketing, he’s also one of the most dynamic speakers in dentistry. For details, click here or contact our Seminar Events Manager Rebecca Luwisher at rluwisher@levingroup.com or 443-471-3202.

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