Dentists Who Make an Impact

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Dentists come to us because they want to implement a marketing strategy that helps them attract more new patients to their practice. After diving deeper into their vision and goals, we often uncover additional core motivations and desires, all of which drive these marketing needs. Most often, our dental clients want to spend more time doing what they love, practicing dentistry, and less time running the business.

When the marketing, operations and financials of a practice are buttoned up, time can be spent actually practicing dentistry, enjoying time with family and friends, and giving back to the community.

Dr. Thomas Jennings and Dr. Bradley Perrett of Pinnacle Dentistry in Colorado Springs, Colorado, believe and emanate excellence in everything they do, both inside and out of the practice. Dr. Jennings served in the US Army, providing dental work to his fellow service men and women.

Dr. James Kearney of Austin Bluffs Dental, also in Colorado Springs, runs annual drives at his practice to give back to his local community. He and his talented team are currently collecting donations for people with Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Clarke Stevens of Braces Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska, has been on several dental and healthcare related mission trips, one of his most noteworthy being a leadership seminar in Togo, West Africa in 2015.

Dr. Brett Kessler and his team at Town Center Dentistry and Orthodontics in Denver, Colorado, complete free dental work, including full mouth reconstruction, for addicts in recovery each year.

Without a comprehensive and automated marketing strategy and business plan, these dentists may not have the opportunity to let their philanthropic passions thrive.

How are you building your business so that your potential can span well beyond the dental chair? Speak with a dental marketing expert today.

Fortune Management Guest Blog: Five Things Every Dentist Needs to Know about Their Finances

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By Don Khouri // Managing Director, Fortune Northeast

The financials of your practice are one of the key business engines in your dental office. There are five components of your financials that every dentist needs to know.  As the CEO of your business, understanding your financials is critical to your overall success.

1. Profit and Loss (P&L)

The best way to keep score in your practice is your Profit & Loss Statement. Some dentists may not always have a solid understanding of their profit and loss statement, but we’re here to help. Your P&L is divided into three sections: 1. Revenue (which is your patient collections), 2. expenses, and 3. net profit. Revenue minus expenses is profit (or loss if expenses are greater than profit). Make sure that your revenue matches what your practice management software is reporting for the same time period. Regarding expenses, there are six key expenses to compare to industry guidelines. You calculate the expense percentage by dividing the expense amount by collections. See table 1 for industry guidelines.  These will differ slightly from region to region and specialty to specialty.

Expense Category

Industry Guideline

Payroll (including benefits and matching taxes)

20-25%

Lab (non-CEREC)

8-12%

Dental Supplies

5-6%

Rent

5-7%

Marketing

3-4%

Office Expense

1-2%

 For net profit, the industry guideline is 35-40% and this includes the doctors paying themselves for the dentistry they produce. Net profit will be higher for some specialists. 

The other components of the financial engine consist of:

2. Third Party Financing.  We don’t recommend that dental practices act like a bank and create custom payment plans for patients (except when it comes to orthodontics). We do recommend taking advantage of third party financing options, like CareCredit, for the following reasons.  It will be easier for the patients to accept treatment with a monthly payment versus a lump sum.  The practice receives the cash up front.  There is much less administrative work of billing and following up with patients.

3. Fee Strategy.  If you have not raised your practice fees in more than one year, it is time to review them. Fortune Management recommends setting your fees above market averages for your zip code.

4. Accounts Receivable.  Measure the health of a practice’s A/R by looking at two metrics: 1. the total A/R should be less than one month of average collections, and 2. no more than 5% of that total amount should be overdue more than 90 days.

5. Financial Policy and Arrangements. Document your financial policy and have patients sign a financial arrangement for any treatment plan.

When a practice focuses on all of these components of the financial engine, it increases its likelihood of growth and success. 

 

 

Fortune Management Guest Blog: Hiring the Right People

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By Paul Gomila / Executive Coach

Hire slow, fire fast.

At Fortune Management, we believe that the only way to grow a practice is by growing the people, specifically the right people. We get questions and concerns from nearly all of our doctors about how to find, hire, and onboard the right people, or how to solve urgent issues with troublesome or difficult staff members. Building an extraordinary practice (as well as an extraordinary life) begins by surrounding yourself with people who are positive, skilled, capable, trustworthy, willing to learn, and fit the culture of your office. You can have the most state-of-the-art building and equipment, or be the most talented dentist in your area, and still struggle to have a growing practice that you love if you have a team you can’t trust.

The primary factor for building a team that can take your practice to new heights is, you guessed it, hiring the right people from the very beginning. Here are some essential first steps to take.

Step 1: Vividly imagine the person you need. You are never just hiring an assistant or a hygienist, you’re hiring a person! Who do you need that person to be? What kind of person would fit in well at the office? Should they be more serious and stern, or easy going and fun? Should they be very detail oriented, or more “big picture”? Imagine the exceptional, not just the ordinary.

Step 2: Get your team involved. You aren’t hiring someone to work with you, you’re hiring someone to work with your team. Sit down with your team and ask them the types of questions from Step 1. Make sure you’re all on the same page about who it is you’re looking for and who will be the best fit. Involving your team will ease the onboarding process for the new member and facilitate their success.

Step 3: Write a job description and post it. Once you have a clear and collective vision for your new team member, write it down in the form of a job description. Be very clear about the tasks and responsibilities the new member will take on, and the traits you’re looking for.

The Bottom Line: While there are no right or wrong answers for what type of person will work best for you and your practice, one thing we have learned from helping many clients with hiring is that it is best to hire for attitude, not experience. While there may be a few cases in which experience is a hard requirement, it is much easier and cost effective to hire someone who is trainable and positive than someone who has all the talent but is a terrible team member.

Take it slow. Even if it feels like the pressure is on, it can be catastrophic to your practice financially and emotionally to hire the wrong person. The right person, however, can make all the difference.

Create a Home Within Your Practice for You and Your Team

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Those working in the dental industry spend a great deal of time at the office. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average adult spends over eight hours a day at the office. This means you may be spending over 2,080 hours at the practice over the course of one year. If you don’t love your office environment, that figure may be a tough pill to swallow. It is important to create a home and a family within your office, so that you, your team, and your patients feel happy and at ease while there. Patients will be able to feel that warm, welcoming energy and will in turn, be more likely to return for their appointment, accept treatment and refer others.

Connect with your staff and connect with your patients. According to Dentistry IQ, one of the top reasons that patients don’t accept treatment is because they don’t feel a connection. Create a warm, family-like culture within your office and urge your staff to not only empathize with each other, but to empathize with patients. Your patients will be able to sense this familial environment and feel more comfortable.

Plan events outside of the office. This is one of the most successful ways to bond with your team. The day-to-day activities of a dental office can be fast-paced, leaving little time to build relationships. Try planning a lunch, summer barbeque, or monthly book club. Make sure its something that isn’t related to work. At these events, ask the staff questions and encourage them to get to know one another on a personal level. According to Forbes, socializing with coworkers is essential to a more efficient workplace. Knowing coworkers on a deeper level contributes to communication, trust and overall happiness at the workplace. After all, we’re humans; we live to connect with others. 

Enhance the office space. One’s environment can have a huge impact on behavior. Create a home within your office by decorating it as such. Hang up photos of happy patients, paint the walls a fun color, and invest in comfortable, fun furniture that the entire staff has a hand in choosing. Not only will this create a cozy environment for your staff, but it will also put your patients at ease.

Reward your team. Make sure your dental staff knows how much you value their hard work. On occasion, reward them with a small bonus or a gift card. It doesn’t have to be huge, just enough to let them know that your appreciate them.

You spend so much time at work, so make sure that time is enjoyable. You, your staff and your patients will be happier for it.

Cookie Cutter Content is Hurting Your Practice Website

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Have you heard of cookie cutter content? It is website text that is derived from the same outline as many other dental websites, often including word-for-word duplicate sections. Many website and SEO companies will offer a one-size-fits-all solution, giving the same content outline or even the same exact words to many different practices. From an SEO perspective, this will ultimately be detrimental. Your content must be more than informative, it must be unique, original, and let the practice’s personality shine through. Why? Read below to find out.

  1. It can lead to poor rankings. Search engines such as Google and Yahoo do not know which website the duplicate content belonged to first, so each website may be at risk for penalization. When you publish content that is very similar in wording to another website, Google crawls your website and sees the text as duplicate content. This can put a big red bulls-eye on your website to be penalized by Google and hinder your listings.
  2. Content may be stuffed with keywords. Much of the time, we see that cookie cutter content is stuffed with keywords, which can get your website flagged by search engines and removed from listings altogether. While it is important to have keywords throughout your site, be sure the content reads easily and is not saturated with keywords. It should read as naturally as possible, as if you were conversing with a patient in your office.
  3. Potential patients may look elsewhere. If your potential patients find your website organically and it’s full of cookie cutter content, you will likely be providing them with very little unique information about you and your practice. Topics like, “Why to floss your teeth?” and “Worst foods for your teeth” are everywhere. Content topics such as these can be found anywhere and are usually monopolized by bigger corporations such as Colgate and WebMD. And while those can work well for blog inspiration, the meat of your website content should be about your specific offerings. Feature content that is unique and enticing, and that answers all of your patients’ burning questions.

Remember that cookie cutter content is not always obvious. That is, it’s not always word-for-word blogs or service descriptions. Look for similar titles, meta data, descriptions and keyword tags. Identical page outlines may also be flagged. Share your dental expertise while letting your personality, writing style, and practice culture shine through. Ask your SEO provider if your content has been used elsewhere and do your research. Take some time to write your own unique words and do some investigating on how to produce impactful and engaging content.

Enhance Your Social Media Presence to Attract More Patients

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When a practice is yearning for more patients, social media may not be the first marketing tactic that comes to mind. But it should be! As one of the most cost-effective and simplest forms of online marketing, social media is a great way to capture new patient leads right away.

Here are 4 ways to maximize your social media usage to get more new patients now:

  1. Run a Facebook advertising campaign to get more likes on your page. Getting more likes is the first step towards broadening your audience so that you can get in front of more patients like the ones you have now. For as little as $5/day, you can target Facebook users based on location, occupation, age, gender and more. From that criteria, you can attract more of your ideal patients to your page. Once those individuals have liked the page, you can market to them for free, 24/7.
  2. Ask all your patients to write you a Facebook review. More and more patients trust social media when it comes to selecting places to eat, shop, and yes, receive their dental care. Because reviews are tied to actual people, the feedback often feels more genuine and those authentic praises can be what pushes a potential patient into becoming an actual patient.
  3. Post real photos of you, your team and your patients. The best social media posts and those that gain the most traction are almost always photos of real people. Social media was created to connect people with one another, no matter their location, so use it to stay in front of your patients even when they’re not in the office. If you went to Hawaii on vacation, post photos. If one of your younger patients visited you after crazy hair day at school, post a picture of her do, with written consent from her parent of course. Use social media to show the authentic you, and it will gain likes and comments that further your exposure on the digital platform. Need an example? Check out this page.
  4. Promote last minute openings. Do coveted morning, evening and lunch time appointments open up during the week due to cancellations? Post those openings to social media so that patients perusing their feeds see that they can get their cleaning done at a time that’s convenient for them. Boost the post for even more exposure.

Social media is a cost-effective marketing tactic that has the opportunity to garner real patient traffic. Someone in the practice just needs to have a pulse on the office’s happenings so that they are posted and seen by those who matter most – current and potential patients. Keep users engaged with your page, and they’ll continue to remember your practice.

Jump Off The High Dive

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Two days ago, I heaved a 100-pound bag of dental equipment and my own duffle to the airport for my flight to Africa. As you read this, I am settling into a small village in Nairobi.

I boarded alone. I flew alone. I arrived alone in good hands, with my mission group. Yet I knew no one.

It’s like jumping off the high dive.

Ten years ago, I embarked on a very similar journey: I started my own marketing firm. With no idea how to hire great people, no clue how to understand business financials, no inkling of how to run let alone grow a company, I dove right in.

When I told my husband I had decided to be an entrepreneur, it was like jumping off the high dive. And now that the agency is thriving, we laugh that I may have stronger job security than he ever did working for “the man.”

When I emptied my feeble checking account back in 2007 to pay for my first marketing efforts, it was like jumping off the high dive. And the friends who helped me get it off the ground back them still surround me these days, always cheering me on.

When I made my first job offer to a teammate back in 2009, it was like jumping off the high dive. And he’s still with my team today, producing amazing design for our clients every day.
When I had to make the very difficult decision to downsize back in 2012, I was despondent; the high dive was just awful. It all seemed so unfair after everyone’s hard work. And yet, the team members I had to let go continue to bloom elsewhere in their careers, are always in my heart and are ever a treasured part of the fabric of our history.

When, with the help of my father, I published my first book in 2015, it was like jumping off the high dive. And today, it is on Amazon’s top 100 list for books in its category.
When I made the decision to exponentially grow the firm in 2016, to help clients across the nation grow their own practices and businesses and fulfill their life dreams like I had, it was like jumping off the high dive. And yet they continue to flock to us for education, advice and service.
I am so grateful.

Jumping off the high dive over and over in my business has tried my faith in ways that nothing else in my life ever has, parenthood included.

And yet, more often then not, my dive is met with cool, calm water, with buoyancy and with a great sense of freedom. It’s almost never a swan dive and the water below is certainly never perfect, but this I know for sure: God’s got me. I am safe. I am whole. And all I have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other and making the next right choice.

And so, in celebration of 10 years in business, I am going off the high dive. I am traveling halfway around the world on a mission trip to provide free dental care to children in Kenya. I will also meet the beautiful and smart 7-year-old Parishina, who my family and I have sponsored for about 4 years.

I rose from my desk and left the spot where I now have grown to be most comfortable: at the helm of my agency. For the next few weeks, I will have no contact with my beloved team, whom I love without measure. I will entrust to them everything we have built together, and with good faith – they are now better at running this place than perhaps I ever was. I went home, finished packing, squeezed my family tight and said good night. The next day, I left.

I feel little again, like a tiny girl at the end of the diving board. I am humbled by all of the love and support I’ve been shown throughout my journey with my agency and up to today, the day before I dive. Again.

Are you ready to jump off the high dive with your marketing? Schedule a time to talk to our account manager right here

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!