Get Your Team on Board with Your Vision

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You didn’t get into dentistry to be average or just the same as the rest. Somewhere along the line, you established a strong, clear, and amazing vision for your practice and imagined the impact you wanted your dental care to have on your patients. In order to bring that vision to fruition, you need to have a driven, inspired, and equally amazing team backing you. Even more so, that team needs to be on board with your vision for your practice and your business.

A dedicated and hard-working employee can remain dedicated and hard-working without even being aware of your vision. In most cases, though, their dedication and hard work may be intrinsic. The first step, of course, is sharing your vision with your team. Beyond just reciting it, explain to them the reason behind the vision, how you came to it, and why it matters.

The next step is ensuring that each employee’s head and heart is connected to the business, the goals, and the vision. Show them how they have skin in the game – how they’ll benefit and advance both professionally and personally when the vision is achieved.

Further, people feel more fulfilled when they know the work they are doing is impactful. Working in the dental industry, this may seem obvious at times, but by keeping it top-of-mind and a main point of conversation, it will remain much more front and center. The work that you and your team do is changing lives; celebrate the successes, how you’ve impacted a patient’s life for the better, and how everything you do adds value to their lives.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, always be listening. By establishing a culture of listening and understanding, communication will evolve and trust will naturally develop. All of the aforementioned traits allow for a positive working environment, which naturally fosters growth, unity, and success. Allow your employees to come to you with questions, concerns, thoughts, ideas, and inspiration. This reciprocal relationship is exactly what you need to build, maintain, and achieve a unified vision for your practice.

Top Challenges for Dentists (And Tips for Resolving Them)

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Affordable Care Act

March 23, 2010 – Date enacted

January 20, 2017 – Date an executive order to begin repealing it was signed

Dental patients are confused and/or fearful of these changes

“Dental insurance, for the most part, isn’t covered under the Affordable Care Act. However, children’s dental coverage is a required benefit included on all ACA-compliant plans and cost assistance can be applied to any Marketplace plan that includes dental.”[1]

Resolution: Education

Dentists are going the extra mile to over-educate patients on how dental benefits work and what plans are accepted. They are also offering in-practice plans to better serve patients.

Consolidation of Providers


Percentage of dental practices with 10+ employees accounting for percent of total receipts in 1992

 Independent dentists have trepidation about this growth.

“Though dentistry has traditionally been referred to as a ‘cottage industry,’ not only are the cottages increasing in size, but they are more likely to be part of large multi-unit dental firms.”[2]

Resolution: Differentiation

Now more than ever, independent practices are investing in target market research, professional brand development and reputation management efforts in order to differentiate themselves in the market.

Encroaching Competition


Number of dental schools in 1950


Number of dental schools in 2013

This means that the marketplace is flooded with new dentists.

“In addition, several universities around the country are in various stages of planning to open a new dental school, although there is a great deal of uncertainty as to the number of these plans that will come to fruition.”[3]

Resolution: Collaboration

Gone are the days of the single practitioner working as a lone wolf. Independent dentists are pooling marketing budgets for broader and deeper market penetration, starting small group practices and collaborating in other creative ways to stay ahead of the growing competition.

Shift to Digital Marketing (and More Marketing Needed)

2008 – ADA marketing guidelines for dental practices were still quite strict

2016 – The year that the ADA published a Managing Marketing Module

“Where is your next new patient coming from? Do you know why patients are loyal to your practice? How can you avoid losing patients to another practice? The one answer to most of these questions is likely an easy one: ‘Marketing.’”[4]

Resolution: Marketing Prowess

Practices are no longer cobbling together marketing solutions, but are now hiring full-service marketing agencies to drive patients and production into the practice.

Bring Passion Back to Your Practice and Your Life

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Do you wake up and feel the weight of the day you’re about to have? The weight of the day before? Does each day drag on, yet the weeks fly by? Are you or your team feeling stagnant in your roles?

The passion and initial spark that drove you into the dental industry are still there and deserve to be reignited. Reenergize your work, your team, and your life, so that each and every day can unveil a new adventure, excitement, and learning opportunity. Below are three tips to help you get off the treadmill of your day-to-day sameness to revive your special spark.

1. Take Back Your Excitement
Remember your first day of school, the day you opened your practice, or the start of your most recent vacation – what were you most excited about? What are you lacking today? Are you missing the challenge of doing something new? Is there less opportunity, less growth? Manifest that feeling you’re lacking, and focus on that excitement.

2. Learn, Learn, and Learn Some More
The brain thrives on education, knowledge and learning. By constantly learning and challenging yourself (and your team) you are able to exercise your brain, practice critical thinking, deploy your leadership skills, and constantly improve yourself both personally and professionally. It doesn’t have to be something overly complicated; learn how to utilize shortcuts on your computer, take a new way to work, or practice long division with your children. Watch excitement return to your life by continually learning.

3. Use Your Practice to Live Out Your Ideal Lifestyle
If you really want to make a difference in your practice, consider attending the Get Off The Treadmill Summit, featuring Chuck Blakeman and Craig Spodak, DMD, in Dallas March 31 and April 1.

This event will help you and your team make more money in less time, smile more often, and get your brains back. Having your own practice doesn’t need to consume your life. This unique learning experience will revolutionize everything you know about success as a practice owner. In this two-day seminar, you will learn how to:
– Evolve your already thriving practice into a time and money producer
– Reignite your passion for dentistry
– Increase revenue, reduce expenses, and attract the best talent
– Build an environment where everyone is held accountable and is working toward unified goals
– Develop and evolve your network and community within the dental industry

Register Here!

From “Meh” to Amazing: How the Dentist Affects the Marketing

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Everything that the dentist does has a trickle-down effect on the team and the practice.


And as Fred Joyal famously said, “Marketing is everything.”

When the dentist is in chaos, the practice feels hectic, team members are disjointed and patients may be confused and disloyal.

When the dentist is apathetic, the practice becomes slow, team members have a sense of lethargy and it may become difficult to attract new patients, earn treatment acceptance or keep patients.

When the dentist is passionate and visionary, the practice comes to life and team members are animated, open and willing. People love this energy, and patients naturally flock to it and stick. This is where true growth, success, and prosperity happen.

Here are six ways to go from “meh” to amazing:

  1. Decide what you want – and why. It’s not enough to simply say, “I want more new patients.” Why do you want that? What impact will you have had on your corner of the world 100 years from now? What are your biggest dreams? Write down a decisive statement about what you want and why. For example:
    1. “I have decided to grow a multi-million dollar small group practice because the dental industry needs more dentists like me.”
    2. “I have decided to hire the best and brightest associates right out of residency because they deserve the experience of working for a practice like mine.”
    3. “I have decided to attract two implant cases every month because I am passionate about transforming smiles and the world.”
  2. Take action. Next, write down the specific actions you will take to reach your goal. Oftentimes we feel like we are in action, but we may not actually be, or we may be taking the wrong action. By outlining your action steps in written format, you will be able to regularly review your plan and adjust it as needed.
  3. Inspire your team. Regularly share your decisive statement and plan with your team. Invite them to help deploy the action plan. Delegate as much as you can so that you can stay focused on the big picture rather than getting lost in the weeds. Revisit the plan together at least twice monthly in order to stay on point.
  4. Find your tribe. Add to your plan a list of people who you can call on when the going gets rough or when you want to celebrate wins. Your team is certainly on the list. You might add mentors and coaches or consultants with whom you have worked. Consider including any spiritual advisors you may have in your life. And don’t forget your children, parents and/or significant other. Once you complete your list, contact each person in your tribe to share your decisive statement and plan. Ask if they will each support you in your journey to success. And reach out regularly to prevent isolation as a practice owner, which is very common and catastrophic to momentum.
  5. Mind what you feed your brain. Next, add a list of books, podcasts, TEDTalks and other media will best support your plan. If your plan is centered on growing a large practice and team, consider reading Total Leader, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and How to Win with People. If your plan is focused on creating wealth, you might read Think and Grow Rich, The Law of Success and Secrets of the Millionaire Mind. If your plan is about attracting more implant patients, try KABOOM!: The Method Used By Top Dentists for Explosive Marketing Results or Marketing Implant Dentistry.
  6. Go to night school. Keep your entire plan with the decisive statement, specific action plan, delegation notes, tribe list and reading list in a place where you can read it every day. The best time of day is at night just before lights out.

In working with hundreds of dental practice across the nation over the last 10 years, we find that the ones enjoying the best results from marketing are those that are lead by a visionary dentist. And by following the steps above, that can easily be you!





Track Your Results in Real Time

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We often hear from dentists and teams that they have a hard time seeing where their marketing dollars are going, and if their marketing efforts are providing a return. Dentists don’t have clarity on the new patient inquiries coming into the practice, and dental teams don’t see how they are progressing towards annual production goals.

A personal online dashboard can help with all of that. Personal marketing dashboards accurately track results and allow all key players to see exactly how their marketing tactics are performing and where they are in terms of meeting the goal. This allows both your dental team and your marketing team to use actual data to make sound decisions about when to refine your marketing program, where to invest marketing dollars and how to get the very best results. Plus, your personal marketing dashboard updates in real time, meaning you can check the status of your marketing success 24/7, 365.

What should your team be measuring to make sure they’re on the right track with marketing?

  • Revenue and production goals
  • New patients per month
  • Online advertising results
  • Online forms submitted
  • Website visits
  • Top keywords
  • Calls from direct mail
  • Social media statistics

Utilizing a custom dashboard to see how your marketing efforts impact your new patient numbers and move you towards your production goals can make or break your marketing plan’s success. Interested in learning more?



How to Impact Your Team and the Dental Industry

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You are more than just a dentist. Your thoughts, your work, and your insights have ripple effects on your team, your community, and the dental industry on the whole. Here are five ways to positively impact everyone in your sphere of influence.

  1. Hire the best of the best. The very best dental team members attract and retain your patients, and thereby bring in more production to the practice. Beyond that, they are great to work with, which means you are more fulfilled. And when you have the production and fulfillment that you want, you are more able to have a positive impact on the world around you.
  2. Implement a rewards and incentives program. Even the very best employees get sidelined without clarity, direction, and incentive. Articulate your vision for the practice in writing and share it with the team. Help them develop individual action plans for helping the practice reach its goals. Work with each of them to develop clear benchmarks for success. (They will be different for each role.) Finally, show them what they will get when they reach and exceed those benchmarks. The rewards could be bonuses, gift cards, time off, etc. Once the action is tied to an outcome that directly impacts them, watch production and engagement soar!
  3. Learn and teach leadership. Read texts such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Think and Grow Rich and The Power of Positive Thinking. Immerse yourself in podcasts and videos to learn leadership skills such as proactivity, openness, willingness, big-picture thinking and inspiring others. Get into coaching with one of the masters at Fortune Management. (We don’t get anything for recommending them; we just love them.) When you truly learn leadership skills, you can then teach them to the dental team. A whole practice full of leaders is a high-impact practice!
  4. Become known for one thing. Maybe you want to be the implant dentist in your market. Or the go-to cosmetic dentist. Or the sleep apnea expert. Fine-tune your marketing strategy to attract just the right patient to your practice. Take it a step further by developing podcasts, videos, and lectures on your area of expertise.
  5. Back a cause. One dentist that we know started a dental clinic in Africa. Another sits on the board of Kids in Need of Dentistry. Another rehabilitates the mouths of recovering methamphetamine addicts. Find the one corner of the world that you wish was better and explore how you can get involved to inspire change.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”




Win The Battle For New Patients

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Here’s a dirty little secret about dentists… the majority of them figure that if they just throw enough dollars at what’s hot in marketing, they will get ahead of the competition in the battle for new patients.

They are dead wrong.

The name of the marketing game is not to attract new patients. The goal is to attract your ideal new patients: those who pay on time, accept treatment, welcome your dental benefits policies and refer family and friends.

The right marketing solution is not that shiny new approach that the last sales rep called to promote. It’s a strategic marketing plan: the exact mix of everything possible in marketing expertly whittled down to precisely what is right for your practice right now.

And that strategic marketing plan is not an expense. It is an investment: it works on the practice’s behalf to more than pay for itself.

It’s a plan that cuts off “price shopper” patients at the pass before they waste your time and resources.

It’s a plan that honors potential patients and makes clear to them that they will feel right at home at your practice – even before they cross the threshold.

It’s a plan that attracts patients from miles away who are willing to pay fee-for-service and who respect you as the expert that you are.

It’s a plan that has the right patients flocking in the door on a regular basis.

It’s a plan that will make the competition obsolete.

More than all of that, it’s a plan that makes your practice more prominent and more profitable than ever before.

Your peers may not know that there are 50 possible marketing tactics that practices use to attract patients. They may be narrowly focused on only a few that they are trying on a darts-in-the-dark basis.

Many don’t know that there is a simple and quick way to strategically define which of the 50 possible marketing tactics will make their practices soar.

But dentists nationwide are making use of just such a strategy.

Want one?

Yes! I want a complimentary initial marketing strategy!

Keep Patients from Leaking Out the Back Door

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The name of the game for a successful dental practice is to attract and keep your ideal patients. Patients leaking out the back door can be just as detrimental, if not more, than not driving enough new patient traffic to the practice.

Keeping your ideal patients is all about building relationships, staying top-of-mind, and making it as easy as possible for them to schedule and show up for their next appointment.

Build Relationships

From the moment an established patient walks into the practice, they should feel welcomed and remembered. Even the tiniest gesture can make a world of difference. A simple, “How was your vacation?” or “How is your daughter doing?” allows the patient to feel special, valued, and at ease.

Additionally, the importance and value of the patient’s treatment should be communicated every step of the way. If they are clear on their treatment plan and the necessary steps to achieve and maintain optimum oral health, and all of their concerns have been addressed, returning for their follow-up appointments will be a no-brainer.

Stay Top-of-Mind

Keep patients engaged and reminded of your practice in between their appointments. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as posting practice updates and photos on social media or sending educational emails each month.

Engaging with your practice’s community via social media is extremely cost-effective and easy to manage. Share practice updates, celebrations, patient milestones (with the patient’s consent), updated hours, etc., so that the practice is always top-of-mind for patients.

Educational email campaigns are also a great way to keep in touch with patients. Producing insightful (not promotional) content will position you as the expert and keep you front-and-center for patients as their go-to dental resource. A simple once monthly email with valuable, relevant content (easing financial concerns around implants, the difference between crowns and bridges, which type of tooth whitening will work best, etc.) will allow you to educate your patients and stay in touch with them in a meaningful way.

Make Appointment Scheduling Easy and Effortless

Each time a patient visits your office, schedule their six-month follow-up appointment, right then and there. Very rarely does anyone know what they are doing six months from now, and sifting through one’s calendar can be a hassle. Schedule the appointment six months out, at the same time of day as the appointment they just had, and let them know that if they need to reschedule they can always do so at a date closer to the appointment.

Send email and text reminders and call to confirm the appointment as the date approaches. If they specify a preferred method of communication, stick to that. Follow up one month, one week, and one day before to confirm the appointment. That way, the pressure is off the patient, essentially creating a “How can I not show up for this appointment?” situation.

Attracting and keeping your ideal patients doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. Develop meaningful relationships with your patients, establish rapport, and make coming to the dentist as easy, welcoming and comforting as possible. Do so and your practice will continue to thrive.

5 Minutes to Better Benefits Communications

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Patients are confused about dental benefits. They think dental benefits work like health insurance, and they have extremely high expectations about what will be covered.

At the same time, the dental team knows all of the ins and outs of dental benefits. This may sound like a good thing, but it can backfire: patients may feel overwhelmed by rapid-fire information or intimidated by insider jargon.

In just five minutes, this read will help clarify what to say (and what not to say) when communicating dental benefits details to patients.

“These are benefits as opposed to insurance.” It can be worthwhile to share with patients a simple and upbeat explanation of the difference. Louise Norris, a contributor to the website got it right: Dental benefits “differ from dental insurance mainly because they don’t pay any dental expenses for you. Instead, they provide discounted prices from participating dentists. There are generally no deductibles, no waiting periods and no annual maximums.” I also like the simplicity of, “Dental benefits are like a savings plan for the patient. If you saved each month the money you pay the plan provider, you would break even on paying for your dental care out-of-pocket.” Simplicity is key.

“We are happy to navigate this for you.” A patron walks into a restaurant and orders the finest steak on the menu. The restaurateur carefully explains how the cows are raised, what they are fed, the slaughter, the processing of the meat, the delivery of the raw steak to the restaurant and the precise way in which it was prepared. The patron is disgusted and leaves the restaurant. A second patron walks into the restaurant and orders the finest steak on the menu. The restaurateur isn’t available, so the maître d' seats the patron then promptly brings out from behind closed doors a perfectly prepared, sizzling steak. The Elmer Wheeler old adage goes, “Sell the sizzle not the steak.” Less is more when explaining dental benefits. Wheeler encouraged communicators to appeal to the senses and emotions. Talk about how easy the process will be for the patient since you will handle it for them, how you will see to it that they will be reimbursed the maximum possible, and, where you can on larger cases, offer to pre-submit the claim and provide an estimate of what the patient can expect out of pocket. Take it a step further by offering a payment plan for out-of-pocket expenses.

“We can show you a better alternative.” (Not, “We are no longer accepting your plan.”) From the practice’s perspective, there are plenty of reasons to drop plans. But from the patient’s perspective, it can be perceived as disappointing or even catastrophic. They may have been patients of the practice for years or even generations, and if they think dental benefits work like health insurance, it can be an instant relationship killer. Consider this: you never even have to mention that you dropped the plan. (And certainly, don’t send a canned letter announcing it that way.) Instead, work with your team or marketer to document at least 2-3 ways that the patient can stay. For example:

  1. Let us help you get on a better plan
  2. Pay up-front and get a credit toward more services
  3. Finance through CareCredit (or similar provider)

These communications should present to the patient new opportunities and the practice saying, “Yes!” – not the other way around.

At some point, certainly, you will need to tell the patient that you no longer accept the plan. If you have any intention of keeping the patient this should be a face-to-face conversation.

The boldface phrases outlined above work face-to-face and can also be expanded into text for the practice's website and marketing materials. Communicate up-front, clearly and often and both the patient and the dental team will benefit.

Year End 2017 Starts Now

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You have a big production goal for 2017, and getting to that goal starts today.

 Your competitors are still in a holiday-induced fog. They might start thinking about their goals when the taxman comes knocking in April.

Not you.

You have decided to hit and exceed your goal this year, and you are ready to take any and all action to get there. That single decision means more patients, faster than ever before!

To help kick things off, get your free social media team training kit and initial marketing plan from the dental marketing experts at Big Buzz. Simply click the button below, fill out the short form and we will get in touch by phone to jumpstart your brand new year with you.

Yes! Get my Marketing Materials!