Fortune Management Guest Blog: Creating the Ultimate Doctor Hygiene Exam

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By Deanna M. Goodrich, RDH/Hygiene Mastery

Hygienists serve the entire population in every dental office and it’s one of the reasons why we see patients saying “yes” to their dental needs. A typical exam “in the good-old days” used to look like: Doctor comes in and says hi to the patient and catches up on the latest camping trip taken with the kiddos. The dentist then would take a look at the X-rays and see if there was any new decay and let the patient know what needed to be done. There is much to be gained and learned from these past experiences. The number one reason why case acceptance was high had little to do with the equipment, facility, or hours. It had everything to do with the experience. Competition can be fierce or so it may seem to many. The reality is the practices that are successful are the ones that have created powerful distinctions by living their word and vision with patients.

Let’s consider one of the most valuable tools in bringing both depth (committed patients) and width (new patients) to the practice: The Ultimate Doctor Hygiene Exam. If every patient is touched or connected to the practice through the hygiene exam, then a serious look at that process is extremely important. The 20/20/20 rule is an excellent guide in bringing case acceptance to 85%, up from an average is 25%.

The 20/20/20 Rule

The first 20 minutes of every hygiene visit should be dedicated to getting to know your patient and updating all diagnostics. Consider how it would feel if you were greeted by name with a warm handshake before being escorted back to the operatory. The number one value patients seek in dental care is trust. The real power of influence comes from knowing your patients and it starts with a simple smile and handshake. As a hygienist, I know we are not allowed to make a diagnosis but we certainly can share our concerns.

After we have built a relationship the rest of the first 20 minutes should be a time in gathering diagnostics. Creating value comes from receiving more than what is paid for in services. We can create value by developing a co-discovery relationship. For example, while using the intra-oral camera a hygienist could say, “Mrs. Jones, I’d like to show you a picture of your tooth on the upper right side. It has a large silver filling that appears to be breaking down around the edges. I know Dr. Smith is going to be concerned about this area, as well. The bacteria that is found in our mouths are sneaky little creatures that will creep into those areas and often times we will find decay around those margins. Has that tooth had any sensitivity that you are aware of?” If they say no, you can then follow up with “That’s a good sign that we have caught this early and you are not experiencing any pain.” Having the hygienist take an active role in pre-framing possible treatment by uncovering concerns is an important part of the Ultimate Doctor Hygiene Exam.

The second 20 minutes is the called the window of opportunity to see the results you want in creating value for recommended treatment. The traditional model has the doctor coming in the last five minutes of the hygiene visit for the exam. Too often, there is a diagnosis but the patient is ready to get on with their day and is, therefore, less likely to make a commitment to care. By simply moving up the time to complete the exam during the second 20 minutes allows:

  • Time for the patient to ask questions
  • The doctor does not feel rushed and knows the hygienist has already pre-framed the patient for possible care
  • The hygienist stays on time and does not run late for their next patient
  • Case acceptance significantly improves
  • The administrative team has time to prepare an estimate without the patient being present and becoming impatient
  • The process becomes seamless and the patient’s experience is greatly improved

The hand-off takes place when the doctor comes in for the exam, has had a few minutes to visit with the patient, and then askes the hygienist “Susie, what have you and the patient been visiting about?” Now is the time for the hygienist to shine. They will let the doctor know of any changes in the medical history and what their findings and concerns are. Be sure to include any periodontal concerns. There is a good rule of thumb; a patient needs to hear something seven times in seven different ways to truly understand and feel good about committing to treatment. This can be accomplished through the co-discovery process and the hand-off. We want patients to be a part of the choice for their dental care. Perfecting the hand-off process allows patients to hear why the diagnosis is important and gives them time to make a commitment.

The final 20 minutes is to finish the hygienist visit, schedule the patient’s next recare appointment, and answer questions relating to the recommended treatment. To avoid “I only want what my insurance covers,” it’s important to have the patient’s commitment in the hygiene room before the handing them off to the treatment coordinator.

Discover and discuss ways to implement the 20/20/20 rule and then measure the results by monitoring your case acceptance.

If you would like to have sample scripts for the hygiene exam please reach out to Deanna Goodrich at deannagoodrich@fortunemgmt.com.

 

Why Marketing Doesn’t Work

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Marketing is a balancing act with many moving parts, and it can sometimes feel fragile and fickle. We often hear from dentists that the marketing they’ve tried in the past or are currently running isn’t working, but the fact of the matter is, marketing is like a science. Like a science experiment, for marketing to work best, it needs to be controlled, monitored and adjusted as needed. Like a scientist, a marketer must take into consideration their location, the size of their practice, target market, surrounding competitors, and many other important factors. If one variable changes, it can throw off your whole platform. Below, read why marketing doesn’t work and what to do about it.

The Online Market is Changing

Our cyber world is perhaps the most diverse marketplace. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2011 only 51% of American adults used their cell phone regularly to get information. Just six years later, 95% of adult Americans own a smartphone and use it to search online. Is your website not working? Redeveloping your website so that it is responsive and mobile friendly is likely the change you need to make in your marketing lab to see results.

Your Messaging Isn’t Targeted Enough

Each potential patient is going to respond to your marketing differently. In order to attract more of your ideal patient, you need to target that exact demographic. For example, if your ideal patient is fee-for-service and visits the dentist every six months then survey those kinds of patients. This will help you to learn more about how they make health care decisions, including why they select certain providers and what types of marketing they pay attention to most. If you are discounting your prices and offering low-cost specials, this will attract a certain demographic, likely different from your ideal patient. Be smart with your targeting so that your marketing works to attract the kinds of patients you desire.

You Don’t Have a Strategy in Place

Great marketing requires research. To get started, survey your patient base by generating a list of 20-50 of your most cherished, ideal patients and ask them what your practice is doing best, why they chose this office, what marketing they pay attention to, etc.. Based on those answers, you can create a marketing strategy. For example, if 80% of respondents tell you that they found you on Facebook, invest in Facebook advertisements and make sure your page is constantly being updated with your smiling patients and happy staff. Potential patients don’t want to see drills and latex gloves. They want smiles, laughter, and a comforting environment.


Examples of a Strategic Marketing Plan


 

You Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

You could be seeing lackluster results if you view marketing as one and done. If you send out 5,000 mailers every few months and wonder why there isn’t a consistent up-tick in monthly new patients, it is worth reassessing your marketing tactics. An effective marketing strategy is diverse and comprehensive. Most practices require a marketing mix of three to five different tactics. For example, one of our client’s ideal marketing mix includes Google AdWords, SEO, referral training and Facebook mobile ads. Another practice may need a new website while another might need internal communication support. Putting all of your marketing eggs in one basket is a way to ensure your marketing won’t work.

You Think You Can Do It All Yourself

Our clients have a true passion for dentistry and see marketing as an obligation they must fulfill. While marketing is necessary, it does not need to fall in your day-to-day operations. If you take on both dentistry and marketing, both areas may suffer. Not to mention, you will likely miss out on family time, fun with friends, and activities that you enjoy due to massive overwhelm. In order for your marketing to work, you need to delegate it to an expert. Higher a marketing coordinator for the practice or outsource to an expert marketing agency.

There are so many moving parts to a strategic marketing plan. At Big Buzz, we make it our priority to know these trends and how they relate to your unique practice. When marketing doesn’t work, don’t lose faith. Recalculate your strategy so that it is precise, calculated, and backed by real patient research. If your marketing isn’t working, schedule a call with one of our marketing experts today.

Maintaining Your Patients in Times of Transition

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During a practice transition or acquisition, it can be difficult to keep patients updated, informed and loyal to the practice. Much of the time, there is confusion and some sort of inconsistency that unintentionally causes patients to venture elsewhere. If you’re going through a transition at your practice, follow these four tips to maintain not only your most loyal patients, but all of your patients.

  1. Keep them informed. A practice transition is an exciting time; it means growth, development and even prosperity. Share this excitement with your patients! Send out an email campaign, a press release, or letter. When your patients are in the office, let them know of the upcoming changes and be sure to answer any and all questions they might have. In every interaction, make sure the true value of this transition is conveyed to the patients. More specifically, demonstrate how it directly benefits them.
  2. Offer an incentive. In order to keep your patients during this sometimes-uneasy time, offer some kind of special. It shows that the practice is excited about the change and is sharing that excitement with its patient base. Offer a family special for cleanings, complimentary X-rays during their next exam, or a free teeth-whitening kit.
  3. Post your news on the practice website and social media pages. This is a great way to advertise and inform those who have liked your page, for free. Post photos, updates, and exciting transition information for all who follow your practice to see. Make sure to add your practice’s telephone number and/or email address so that patients can contact you with questions.
  4. Hire a coach. Fortune Management is a great resource for transition coaching, and all things internal or operational. Your regional representative will be able to give you individualized guidance, support and action plans that are specific to your practice’s unique circumstance.

A transition or acquisition within your practice should be a very exciting time, yet it may leave feelings of unrest. The most important thing is that your patients remain happy and informed. It is also important to maintain marketing consistency throughout the transition. If your practice is going through a transition and you need assistance in communicating and marketing this change, schedule a call with a marketing expert at Big Buzz!

 

How to Maximize Efficiency for You and Your Team

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While your dental practice’s systems, structures, and software may feel entirely buttoned-up, there are likely windows of opportunity to maximize efficiency for both you and your team.

Technology

There are hundreds of different software solutions, newsletter and content automation systems, appointment reminders, apps to generate online reviews, and more. Essentially any part of your practice’s daily routine can likely be automated and enhanced with technology. Put yourself in your patient’s shoes. Determine the most user-friendly, efficient and effective course of action for every process they go through as a patient of your practice. This will free up time and energy in your staff so that their efforts can be maximized and used to their highest and best ability.

Set Goals and Track Them

After weeding through your current systems, structures, and software, set goals that you want to accomplish collectively. Grow your online reviews by five per week. Get through the entire recall list and schedule 75% of patients. After goals are set, determine how you are going to track them and who is responsible for doing so. Celebrate milestones and wins, and go back to the drawing board when necessary.

Keep the Conversation Going

Technology, patient preferences, and best practices are constantly changing. Reopen the conversation with the entire team at least once quarterly, to see where there is further room for refinement and automated efficiencies. Should you automate your social media posts? Is your new patient intake procedure consistent, and is it helping to build rapport and patient retention? Are patients leaking out the back? If so, how can we keep them? Remove steps that no longer apply, and revamp others that can be improved. What does everyone’s ideal day look like, and how can we make that happen?

Create Processes for Emergencies

Even the most efficient system can fault you – your computer crashes, your Internet goes out for six hours, an employee has a family emergency and has to leave early. Systemize everything and write it down, step-by-step, so that anyone can jump in and help keep things moving along, even if they never have before. You can also include a point person to contact, if necessary. Brace your internal structures and your team for the worst to set you and your team up for the best.

By maximizing efficiencies within your practice, it will open up time in the schedule to boost production, expand human capital, and allow everyone to enjoy their job even more.

Identify and Engage with Your Ideal Patients

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As a dentist, you see a variety of patients come through your doors. Some are price-shoppers, some don’t return for treatment, and some are what you would call, your ideal patient; they keep their appointments, they refer others to the practice, they pay on time, and you have great rapport with them. An ideal patient looks different for each practice. For example, some practices may desire more implant patients while others are looking for more families and general dentistry patients. Whatever your perfect patient may look like, it is essential to the growth of your practice to first identify this patient, and then determine how to market to them based upon their behaviors and preferences.

The first step is to identify. When you think of your favorite patients, what do they all have in common? Where do they live, work, and play? What do they do in their free time? Do they have a family? Are they dog-lovers? What kinds of cars do they drive? Do they need cosmetic work? Are they older, perhaps in need of implants or dentures? What kind of insurance do they have? Get as granular as you possibly can. Write it down. Create your practice’s wish list.

The next step is to identify real life patients that fit your criteria. Who do you get excited about when you see them on the schedule? Which patients are loyal, responsive, and pleasant to be around? If you are looking to book more high-ticket procedures, look to the recent high-ticket treatment plans you’ve completed. Generate a list of those ideal patients.

Help Me Find More of My Ideal Patients

Always keep your list top of mind. Nurture your list and nurture the patients on the list. Make sure your staff is aware of the definition of your ideal patient and treats them like gold. Reserve early morning or lunch appointments for them or send them a thank you card after they make a referral. Oftentimes, we find that referrals from ideal patients will generate more patients of that nature.

Don’t forget to ask them questions. It’s okay to be candid with your patients. Ask them, what brought you to the practice? What keeps you coming back? What is the best way for you to schedule appointments? Do you pay attention to any promotional materials? Jot down their answers and use these as low hanging fruits for how to target more patients similar to them. For example, if your excellent chair-side manner stands out as a top reason why patients love your practice, take note of that and make sure every single patient you see experiences it.

Lastly, keep them engaged. Make sure that you are keeping your practice top-of-mind for your ideal patients (both current and potential) through media they prefer most. For example, if your ideal patients came to you through your Facebook page, then keep posting on Facebook, engage with as many users as possible, and continue to grow your following. Really try to hone in on what your ideal patients find relevant.

You don’t have to do this alone. If you’re swamped with running a dental practice and caring for your patients, don’t panic. Big Buzz has worked with hundreds of practices and has surveyed thousands of their ideal patients. If you need assistance identifying ideal patients, asking them those top questions, and implementing a strategy based on real research, contact us today. We can help your unique practice to grow your perfect patient base. Get your free call now.

The Importance of Tracking New Patients to See ROI

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The most effective and consistent way to grow your practice is to track where your new patients are coming from. The facts that lead to trends are imperative to record, so that your practice’s production, revenue, and profitability are clear and in your control.

The key to effective marketing is two-fold: consistency and accurate tracking. Once you have determined what types of marketing resonates with your target audience and what channels they pay attention to, keep going. Radio commercials aren’t successful after airing for just one 30-second spot. Take your practice’s unique brand messaging and continually put it out to market, over and over again.

Once the marketing is deployed, it is imperative to tediously and religiously track where every single new patient is coming from. Implement systems and structures within your practice to ensure every single team member is on board, knows what questions to ask, and knows how the information is going to be documented. One simple way to document new patient sources is to do so when the patient schedules their appointment and to note it in their file. Additionally, keeping a running document of different patient sources will help you and your team to see trends as they grow and evolve over time.

If after one month, you see that the majority of your new patients are coming from referrals, it may be worth your time to boost and optimize your team’s internal referral strategy, as to capitalize on this already viable new patient source.

If after six months, you see that not a single new patient has come from the TV commercial you are running, it may be worth your while to reallocate that budget elsewhere, to a marketing tactic that is driving new patient traffic.

Watch these trends closely month over month. Soon, the question of what marketing tactics you should be running will become obsolete. Eventually, as tracking becomes second nature to your team, you will have much more time to sit back, relax, and watch your practice thrive, knowing you are investing in the tactics that really move the meter.

Big Buzz offers clients their own custom online marketing dashboard so they can clearly see marketing results, new patient numbers, production potential and ROI.

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Marketing is an Asset to the Practice

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The question of marketing valuation often surfaces when the dentist is ready to transition. However, it can be a worthwhile exercise to measure the marketing efforts as an asset to the practice, even when an acquisition or merger is not on the table.

Here is a sample valuation letter to illustrate this point:

December 2, 2016

To whom it may concern:

[Practice Name] has been working with Big Buzz to strategically market the practice in order to consistently attract 50-70 new patients per month to the practice. In order to reach and sustain that goal, we have been running an online advertising campaign. The following is an overview of that service, as well as total valuation:

Overview: Online Marketing Services: Google AdWords
Big Buzz has been delivering online marketing services in the form of Google AdWords, designed to attract the ideal target patient and convert them to quality and lasting patients. In 2016, the practice website saw an average of 441 sessions per month, and 78% of website traffic was from new visitors.

Valuation: Monies invested in online marketing with Big Buzz over the past 12 months total $16,500. The campaign is designed to attract 50-70 new patients to the practice each month. The practice has seen an average of 93 new patients per month over the past 12 months. The average value of a patient is $2,000 per year. Therefore, net of marketing is valuated at $2,215,500, or $2,232,000 in returns less the $16,500 investment.

Articulating a valuation like this one is a great way to objectively measure marketing. Any marketing efforts that are expenses are simply not working. Successful marketing efforts always produce a healthy return on investment.

Are your efforts producing healthy returns?

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Connecting the Dots between Social Media and Social Networking

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The terms “social media” and “social networking” are often used interchangeably. This is not entirely accurate, though, as both are different necessary steps to creating, engaging and maintaining meaningful relationships in this growing and changing social world. Connecting the dots between the two is imperative to your practice’s success with social engagement.

In short, social media entails the actual content that is posted and put in front of your following. Social media can include an article, podcast, blog, video, or photo. In the case of social media, you own the content and you are communicating it out to a mass of people, at a fairly regular frequency.

Social networking involves engagement and relationship-building with your following. Whether it is Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube or LinkedIn, the focus is to connect with your audience and keep them engaged with your content.

For maximum effectiveness, a strategy must be created to align social media with social networking.

  1. Determine your method of connecting with your audience. Best practices say to vary the type of content you’re pushing out, as different media will draw in different people; an article one week, a video the next, a photo series later in the month, and so on. Consider who your target audience is (prospective and current patients) and what types of media will resonate with them.
  2. People gravitate toward what is relevant and relatable, and so will their peers. Think of your ideal patient, what burning questions they may have or what they are particularly interested in, and post about that. Their peers will follow.
  3. Keep in mind the ultimate goal: engaging users, remaining top-of-mind, positioning yourself (and your practice) as the expert, and building your following.
  4. Focus on interacting with your following and creating a sense of community. Once you have your content nailed down, all that’s left is the execution.

It is important to keep in mind that social media engagement is a long-term awareness tactic. While it will pay off in time, and the momentum will continue to grow, it will not necessarily result in an immediate influx of new patients. Stay the course to grow your online presence, build awareness around your services, and attract more potential new patients to your practice.

Make Your Team Their Team: How to Establish a Relationship with Your Patients

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As a dentist and owner of a practice, your dental team may feel like family. Perhaps they helped you establish and grow your practice. Or maybe they have worked alongside you for decades. You likely see them as an extension of yourself and your brand.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that to new patients, your dental team is a group of strangers. It is vital to establish trust and rapport among your team and patients, especially when the patient may be signing on for a major procedure.

Let’s use implants as an example. As a dentist, you know the life-changing effects implants can have on a patient. You likely want more implant cases and get excited about the procedure. From the patient’s perspective, he or she is likely nervous about the procedure, worried about the pain, and concerned about the large financial investment.

By creating a bond between your team and your patients, you will establish a sense of trust and confidence. And that will result in increased case acceptance rates and long-term success for both parties.

Here are five ways to make your team, their team.

  1. Find common points of interest. Upon meeting with your patient or potential patient, engage in small talk to find common points of interest. Ask if he or she has kids or pets. Ask about what they like to do. Get excited. Introduce them to members of your team who may have similar likes and dislikes. Take five minutes to really engage with them. It will be worth it in the long run.
  2. Educate them. Show your patient your expertise. Talk them through the procedure with great detail and explain which members of your team will be doing what. Offer them web links, videos, and other material that you think will help them to make the right decision for their health. This will establish trust between the patient and your practice.
  3.  Let the patient talk. Ask questions and let the patient answer. Practice empathic listening – really putting yourself in the patient’s shoes to feel their challenges and concerns. It may sound obvious, but many of us tend to interrupt or zone out. Ask open-ended questions and listen, listen, listen. You’ll be surprised at how appreciated your ear will be.
  4. Repeat their concerns back to them. When you get into the nitty-gritty about the proposed dental procedure, make sure you repeat any concerns so that they know you are aware of any and all apprehensions. Use their language when answering any questions so that dental speak doesn’t overwhelm or confuse the patient more.
  5. Follow up. Have a team member follow up with the patient before and after their procedure. Beforehand, ask if there are any last minute questions they can answer. Reiterate pre-procedure instructions. Reassure them that they are in capable hands. After the procure, ask how their recovery is going and if they have any lingering questions. This attentive follow up will show your patient that you and your team genuinely care about his or her well-being.

A positive relationship between you, your team and your patients is likely to yield more positive results and outcomes. Bottom line: establish a connection between you, your team and your patient and something as simple as a cleaning will be easier, less stressful, and more successful.

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?

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