These 4 Marketing Mistakes Are Ruining Your Patient Flow

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1. Failure to embrace a hyperlocal SEO strategy

Where local SEO focuses on cities, districts and regions, hyperlocal SEO gets more granular, focusing on neighborhoods, towns, streets and areas surrounding well-known landmarks. The benefits of embracing a hyperlocal SEO strategy include:

  • A simpler search journey for the patient
  • Reduced competition among other practices in your location
  • High-intent phrases such as “near me” or “near to” are more often paired to hyperlocal locations

2. Missing out on voice and mobile search trends

A Forbes article noted that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, citing a ComScore projection. With the rise of smart home devices and with voice assist technology becoming more advanced, more users are turning to voice search. Local searches are now leading around 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day, 18% of which convert to a sale.  It is more important now than ever to adjust SEO and PPC targeting to capture search phrases associated with voice and mobile search.

3. Following up less than 5 times

In a perfect world, a patient would contact your practice and schedule an appointment after one interaction. Sadly, that’s not always the case. In fact, nearly 80% of sales require five or more follow-ups after initial contact. In a recent report survey by Propeller, they discovered that nearly 92% of salespeople gave up before the fifth try! Getting even more granular, 44% of most salespeople gave up after the first attempt, 22% gave up after just two rejections, 14% after three and 12% stopped after four. That leaves only 8% of salespeople who followed through to the most important touch point for converting a potential patient. The “one-and-done” days of scheduling a potential patient are done.  This is why also why lead nurturing is so important as an internal marketing strategy for new patient increases. According to Propeller, nurtured leads typically resulted in a 20% increase in sales opportunities and tended to spend 47% higher on services in comparison to non-nurtured leads.

4. Focus on vanity stats

Although it’s not bad to monitor and track keyword rankings, traffic sources and engagement statistics, such as bounce rate and time on a website, the most important metrics are those that correlate to actions that result in added revenue to your practice.

  1. The Initial Action (a click) – When a user sees your brand or service do they take an initial action by clicking on the link?
  2. The Intent Action (a conversion) – Once a user performs the initial action, are they compelled enough to perform an intentional action? By intent action, I mean a call, a download or a form submission. In other words, this prospect has shown intent to become a patient of your dental practice.
  3. The Final Action (an acquisition) – Now that you have converted a prospect by getting them to call or submit a form, can you turn them into a paying patient?

Where a keyword ranking or changes in page views may be difficult to measure, action stats are easily quantifiable and relate directly to return on marketing invested (ROMI).

Eager to learn more? We’ve helped hundreds of dental practices just like yours increase patient inquiries.  Contact a dental expert for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. 

Get Patients to Yes!

By | Blog

Last week, Big Buzz had the pleasure of speaking with Elliott Carson of Patterson Dental about how dental offices today are competing with consumer expectations now more than ever.

Consumers do not necessarily buy things for logical reasons. In many cases, it’s more emotional, which is a trend we’re more commonly seeing in the dental industry.

In the past, being clinically trained, taking CE courses and having a place to practice dentistry was enough to equal success. However, today’s patient seeks instant gratification – convenience, high-tech tools, quick turnaround. Simply put, today’s patient has high expectations.

There is a disconnect between how treatment plans and cases are presented by the doctor, and how they are received by the patient. Dentists live in a clinical world, which is likely not understood by the patient and may leave them feeling confused, fearful or anxious. When doctors find a way to communicate the patient’s situation, needs and plan of action in a way that resonates with them and is understood by the patient, acceptance rates skyrocket.

The environmental and cultural experience at your practice can set the tone for quality, and ultimately impact the buying decision that way. Compare this to any given restaurant’s environment: they may have the best food in the world, but if the environment is dirty, falling apart, not taken care of, or is misaligned with expectations in any other way, the restaurant will not succeed. In the same breath, how can you expect a patient to invest thousands of dollars in a single procedure if the environment does not align with that expectation?

Presently, the most successful dental practices have these traits in common:

  • The team is connected to the vision of the practice. They’re clear on who they are, what they do and what the practice is about. This team dynamic breeds success and a progressive culture.
  • The physical footprint of the office is up-to-date. It has stayed current with trends, techniques, procedures, offerings, etc.
  • The doctor and the entire team have an understanding of the evolving customer expectation. They have found a way to work in a manner that resonates with the consumer.
  • The doctor or owner is investing back into the business each year in a strategic way. Any business that refuses to evolve with market trends will suffer to stay relevant.

Imagine that each time you present a treatment plan, the patient is engaged and ready to move forward. Imagine what production and profitability would look like. Get your patients to “Yes!”

Elliott Carson is the General Manager for Patterson Dental’s Denver Branch covering Colorado and Southern Wyoming.

How to Maximize Your Per Patient Value

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Big Buzz had the pleasure of speaking with Robert Taylor of BuzzyDoc about the evolutionary shift of a patient acting solely as a consumer that is happening in the dental industry, and how practices can create brand loyalty to maximize per patient value.

Presently, there is a macro-shift in patient experience taking place across the entire healthcare industry. With the implementation of ACA, constantly changing and evolving healthcare rules and regulations and a great shift around fee-for-service environments to value-based care, now more than ever, there is an emphasis on taking care of the patient. That said, this allows and maintains the complete control of care to be in the patient’s hands, which may or may not enhance compliance.

Breaking it down a step further, in private practice, the patients are the consumer, the end all be all, and the ultimate decision maker. Because of the ability to infinitely shop around, utilize technology for instant gratification and constantly compare options, it is imperative for private practices to enhance brand loyalty and make patients feel like a VIP to retain and remain successful.

This consumer behavior shift in healthcare has caused a cultural and societal shift, much like that found in a retail setting: special offers, promotions, discounts, etc., that allow for patients to easily and affordably hop around from provider to provider. However, as patients, people would still prefer to stick with a single provider that they trust, someone who knows their medical history and who they have a relationship with.

Additionally, private practices don’t have the infrastructure to generate reward and loyalty programs like the big retail players – Target, Costco, etc.

There is an inordinate amount of time and resources being spent in dental practices to get foot traffic in the door, yet closing the back door, anchoring patients, and treating them like gold often falls by the wayside.

The answer is three-fold: enhance patient loyalty, engagement and compliance. Once you get patients further engaged in the practice and they intrinsically realize the benefits of staying with your practice, it helps them hurdle the budgetary boundaries of accepting treatment and they already trust and know you. This benefits your practice, but even more importantly it benefits the long-term health of the patient.

Robert Taylor grew up understanding the nuances of the dental industry living with his father who ran an orthodontic practice for over 30 years. Robert and his team’s efforts at BuzzyDoc to increase awareness about their platform, which provides the technology infrastructure for dental practices to engineer patient engagement programs, stems from their deep knowledge of the healthcare industry and business acumen necessary to help practices increase their bottom line through alternative marketing and patient retention strategies.

The Pros and Cons of Content Marketing

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Content marketing is the act of creating and delivering timely, relevant and valuable material consistently to one’s database in order to change their behavior without necessarily selling.

It is different from the promotional marketing you may do on the radio or the humorous posts you write for Facebook. Content marketing is a powerful tool that can change someone’s thoughts or behavior without them even knowing it. That said, it can also involve a lot of manpower.

Below are three pros and cons of content marketing for you to consider if adding this tactic to your strategic marketing plan has been on the brain.

Pros:

  1. It positions you as the expert. Associating your name with educational and relevant content shows your audience that you are experienced, skilled and knowledgeable, which gives them the confidence to take that next step with you. More casual posts on Instagram will help them to like you, but content marketing will help them to trust you. In order to do this, you need to be writing expert content. Content should not be promotional and should rarely even mention your practice by name. Share insights on the most common questions you receive or the fears you see in your patients on a day-to-day basis. Reaching deep down to hit on those emotions that are holding your patients back from proceeding with treatment will truly get those thoughts and behaviors to change. For example, if you want to attract more dental implant cases, skip the part about your state-of-the-art technology and share a case study about a patient who received a full-mouth-makeover and in turn got a new job or a new love – essentially a new life! These are the stories of transformation people can believe in.
  2. It helps with SEO. Adding new content to your website on a regular basis shows search engines that your website is alive and well. Among other metrics, Google looks at how long website visitors read your content to assess if your website is trustworthy. While straightforward topics such as “What You Need to Know About Dental Implants” are important, think creatively about how to engage your patients. How-to manuals, product reviews and videos are a few examples of content that will really help you stand out.
  3. It keeps patients engaged when they’re not seeing you face-to-face. Similarly to social media, content marketing can help readers to stay engaged with you and your practice well beyond the walls of your office. Consistent email blasts will make your name part of your database’s inbox on a regular basis. And when the time comes for them to make an appointment or finally get that nagging tooth checked out, they will think of you.

Cons:

  1. It can feel cumbersome. If you’re stumped at where to even start, begin with an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar will list all the topics you intend to write about and share over the next few months. It is best to schedule out a whole year, but if that feels overwhelming start with a quarter. Think of 12 topics you can send out weekly over the next three months. Again, think about frequently asked questions, challenges or fears your patients face before/during/after treatment or success stories you can share (with a signed consent form for HIPAA). Once you have that initial outline, you just have to sit down and actually write, which leads to con number two.
  2. It takes time. Content marketing is not one-and-done; it needs to become part of your weekly or monthly schedule of activities. This can sometimes feel like a task too big to bear for a lot of busy dentists. One way to make it easier is to crank out a significant amount of posts all at once. Spend an evening or Sunday morning with your laptop writing 5-10 posts that can be delivered over the next few months. Have another member of your team proof the content, add it to your blog page and send it out to your database on a weekly basis.
  3. It is a long-tail approach to lead generation. Content marketing is similar to SEO in that it is vital for success but can be hard to associate with new patients right away. It may take up to 12 months of educational and insightful content for a patient to realize that dental implants are right for them, but when that big case comes through your door, spending a few hours each month on content marketing will be 100% worth it. Don’t give up on content marketing if you don’t see immediate rises in new patient inquiries. It is a long-term approach to building brand awareness for your practice and establishing trust in your care.

If you are interested in content marketing and would prefer to have an experienced marketing agency handle it for you, contact Big Buzz today!

Beyond Page 1: What Truly Matters in SEO

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There are so many SEO (search engine optimization) “facts” that circulate the internet that it can be hard to distinguish the hype from what truly matters. Dentists are constantly inundated with marketing offers and exposed to new trends concerning search engine optimization. It is easy to get caught up thinking that getting “on page one” is the end all and be all of SEO. Many of SEO facts, including that one, are actually not facts at all.

Here are a few SEO myths debunked:

SEO is one-and-done. Continuous SEO management is critical to achieving a successful online presence. Search engines like Google and Bing are constantly changing their algorithms. Your website, and each individual page, are in constant competition with millions of other dental websites. The content of your website should always be up-to-date and accurately reflect your dental practice, the services offered, your team, hours, etc.
Being one page one is all that matters. There are so many varying factors that impact the ranking of search results. Search results vary from person to person, depending on each individual’s search history, location, exact keywords, etc. Having high-quality, pertinent search results based on keywords is much more beneficial and important to the long-term success of your online presence than just being on page one for a seldom-searched term or two.
SEO is a quick fix. There are several “black hat” techniques, like keyword stuffing and use of duplicate content, that may appear to be quick fixes for high website rankings. These techniques are unsustainable and will likely be flagged by search engines. If Google or another search engine suspects these techniques, the website will very quickly be pushed to the bottom of search results, and getting back on Google’s “good side” can be a very long, nearly impossible process. It’s best to be sure that your provider is offering “white hat” SEO practices, such as content marketing and backlink strategies.
Social media doesn’t impact SEO. Consistent and engaging social media activity (posting regularly, gaining positive reviews, etc.) can greatly impact SEO. Social media activity increases your web presence, increasing the opportunity for potential patients to land on your practice’s online profiles over a competitor’s.

SEO myths are plentiful and should always be addressed by a trusted SEO expert. If you have specific questions regarding your online listings, rankings, content, or website in general, our search engine marketing expert would be happy to help. For more SEO expertise, download the complete SEO Guidebook today.

Beyond the Doctor: What Makes a Practice Thrive

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Big Buzz had the pleasure of speaking with Kim McCleskey of Avitus Dental about the vulnerability of private practices as the dental industry evolves, and how the entire dental team is absolutely necessary to a practice’s success.

The dental industry has evolved significantly in recent years. Practices are not competing like small town dental offices anymore, doctors are dealing with increasingly complex cases and the dental staff (practice administrators, treatment coordinators, financial advisors, consultants, etc.) is tasked with running a business: operational, financial, internal, medical and dental billing/insurance, and more. Each member of a dental team is wearing multiple hats and stepping outside of their comfort zones.

The catch is, these team members are not taught these highly technical skills in school, yet they are absolutely vital to the success of a practice. Beyond the hard skills and knowledge necessary, the empowerment of education allows these players to be elevated to the highest level of professionalism.

The other key to a successful small business, such as a private practice, is getting creative with what success looks like and knowing where and when certain services or tasks should be outsourced. The most successful practices maximize their internal strengths – the innate and fine-tuned strengths of the doctor and his or her team members – and then surround themselves with professionals and experts that can complement and supplement their weaknesses, as well as take tasks off their plate that are disinteresting or tedious. Oftentimes, these may include marketing, payroll, billing, HR, accounts receivable, etc.

The future of private practice dentistry depends on strong independence and sustainable growth, both of which need to be thoroughly considered, strategized and made agile as the industry continues to evolve.

Kim McCleskey is a dental practice management consultant with over 25 years of experience administering and leading large dental practices. She has managed individual practices as a practice administrator and has overseen multiple practices as director of operations. She has also founded and run her own consulting firm. Kim specializes in practice management, strategic business planning, leadership coaching, team development and post-acquisition consulting.

Avitus Dental has created Mastery Courses for practice administrators, dental consultants and regional operations directors. These are jam-packed, education-filled, coaching-based yearlong training courses to learn the business of dentistry.

The 3 Best Questions Your Team Can Ask to Improve Treatment Acceptance

By | Blog

The dental team is overwhelmed tending to patients’ needs, scheduling new appointments and helping with daily operations. A treatment coordination conversation in the midst of it all may feel to them like one more thing to do.

Arm team members with three simple questions to focus the conversation, engage the patient and more likely turn the inquiry into that next big case.

Question #1: What is your understanding of your situation?

Does this image depict a young woman or an older adult?

The young woman has a scarf over the back of her head and a feather in the front. Her silhouette barely shows her eyelashes and nose. Her jawline is visible above the choker she wears around her neck.

The older adult’s headscarf is pulled over the left side of her face up to her left eye, and there is a feather on the other side. The younger woman’s jawline and choker become the bottom of the elder’s nose and her mouth, respectively.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey wrote, “Two people can see the exact same thing, disagree and yet both be right.”

As a dentist, you might describe your patient’s case as, “Implants suggested for patient missing 7-9 in the upper jaw, missing 23-26 in the lower jaw with significant decay on the adult molars.”

Your treatment coordinator might refer to that as, “An all-on-four.”

But when you ask your patient what their understanding of the situation is, they let down their guard, open up and describe life with this condition. He might reply, “We were on our family vacation. My brother challenged me to a race down the driveway with the kids’ skateboards. As we came around the bend, the whole family was standing there. I wiped out, face planted and knocked out my front teeth. It was a horrible experience. I woke up the next morning thinking it was a nightmare. Walking around with no teeth was terrifying…”

This is your team’s opportunity to speak directly about how treatment might actually make life better. After all, that is the heart of the matter.

This is the golden opportunity to ask more of the right questions: What foods does he enjoy eating? What does he do for a living, and how important is his smile to his success? What does his spouse think he should do? The answers to these questions may help him to draw some new conclusions for himself.

The goal here is to ask open-ended questions to get him talking, help table topics that can’t yet be agreed upon and assist him in seeing commonalities in other viewpoints, which may lead to a signed treatment agreement.

 

Question #2: Why is that important to you?

As your patient shares thoughts and insights, listen closely to what motivates him.

Self-confidence is a big motivator for dental patients, of course. But go deeper. Your prospect may equate a transformed smile with achieving a certain career path, financial freedom, even finding new love.

Freedom is a big motivator for people. They just want to be sure that they will be able to preserve the autonomy that is at the core of being human, and being able to properly smile, speak and eat are integral to personal freedom.

As your prospect shares the situation with you, it is critical to ask at several points during the conversation, “Why is that important to you?” Watch carefully what happens. Typically, people let their guard down and get vulnerable. This is the soft, lovely place where relationships are built.

The answer to this question is gold in getting the patient to make the right choice for himself. Your team now has the insight needed to truly demonstrate that they can help him maintain that sense of freedom and self-confidence.

 

Question #3: Are you ready?

So often it is forgotten to actually ask for the sale. A great way to test for readiness is by framing this question as, “If money wasn’t a factor, how would you proceed?”

The reply will give both the dental team and the patient himself the ultimate clarity on what to do next: proceed, or table the conversation. Either way, everyone involved gets to focus energies on the highest and best use of their time, even if that means moving to the next patient and not pushing this one any longer for now.

Simply by asking the right questions, you open up all of the possibilities for all of the involved parties.

The Magical Marketing Funnel

By | Blog, Uncategorized

Back in 2015, Big Buzz published a blog titled The Funnel on the Top of Your Practice, which would go on to become one of our top-read blogs of all time. Because it was so helpful to so many of our 5,000 avid readers, we thought we’d publish a freshened version of it.

Imagine that there is a big funnel on the roof of your dental practice. At the bottom is a hole leading through the ceiling and right into your waiting room. Every day, even every hour, new patients flow steadily into the practice through this magical vortex.

Sound like make believe?

Well, it’s not.

The marketing funnel is one strategy that Fortune 500 companies and large healthcare organizations use to frame, measure and report on marketing. Here’s how you can do the same.

Have your office manager and/or dental marketing firm run reports that show four sets of data for 2017:

  1. How many people knew about the practice. This includes lapsed patients, people who visited the practice website, those that followed the practice social media pages, total number of online marketing impressions, account of drive-by traffic (the city or county can provide this detail), etc.
  2. How many new patient inquiries were made (calls, online forms, etc.)
  3. How many new patients entered the practice
  4. How many patients accepted treatment

The first set of data shows how many potential patients were in the top of your marketing funnel. They may not have an immediate need for dental services, but they know about you and may keep you top of mind when a need arises if the

y trust you and your team. That’s a big if. Educational marketing like content marketing, webinars, podcasts and lunch-and-learn events at the practice can help build that trust and move these folks down to the second part of the funnel.

The second set of data, or part of the funnel, represents those patients who may be curious about the practice’s services but need more convincing to actually enter the practice. For stable and mature practices, this is a great place to invest marketing dollars. Nurture marketing tactics include re-engagement email marketing and a website that clearly shows that the practice is available, affable and able. Be sure to include prominently on every page of the practice website: locations, directions and hours; warm and professional photos of the staff; the dentists’ accolades and accomplishments, including awards; patient testimonials and before-and-after photos. Ask your web provider to build your site to be responsive so that potential patients can easily request appointments by calling or messaging directly from their mobile device or tablets. This allows patients to smoothly transition from the nurture section of the funnel to intent.

The third set of data, or section of the marketing funnel, is full of patients who are intentional about finding a dentist right now. They are often, or often become, lifetime and even generational patients of the practice. So many dental practices negate this section of the funnel, thinking that marketing starts with awareness and nurture. This is your hidden goldmine! Bottom of the funnel marketing tactics include an internal referral program and patient loyalty strategies.

The final set of data shows those patients who are the most valuable to the practice. This is another often-neglected area. These people pack the most power to refer high-quality patients into the practice, if prompted. Again, a big if. The most savvy dental practices deliver highly strategic referral and loyalty programs to these patients in particular, thereby investing less in the other areas of marketing and earning more in terms of cost-per-acquisition. Even more, these patients’ referrals are the crème de la crème of future patients.

The magical marketing funnel functions best when all parts are worked  simultaneously and consistently.  For complimentary recommendations to improve your current marketing funnel, contact us now.

The Fourth Pillar: Beginning With the End in Mind

By | Advertising, Blog, Case Studies, Top Blog Posts, Uncategorized

A few weeks ago on our blog, we mentioned the three pillars that need to be buttoned up and maximized for a practice to survive and thrive:

  • Marketing
  • Operations
  • Finances

Upon reviewing the blog, a fellow dental expert and friend of ours, Kyle Francis, of Professional Transition Strategies, kindly, respectfully, and knowledgeably brought to our attention The Fourth Pillar: Beginning With the End in Mind.

No matter how buttoned up, planned out and strategized your marketing, operations and finances are, your practice will not be as successful as it could be unless all options are understood, you are set to grow with a purpose and the end result is mapped out.

As your career unfolds and evolves, there are countless options down the road: merger, acquisition, expansion, outright sale, DSO, affiliate with a DSO, associateship, partnership, the list goes on. The first issue is that many dentists are not fully aware of and do not fully understand all of their options, the pros and cons of each and ultimately which one fits into their dream and long-term plan the most seamlessly.

A practice “transition” can mean many different things, but without understanding all of your options, you’re indirectly and unknowingly limiting your pool of options.

As doctors look toward the last chapter of their careers, there are several moving pieces to consider:

  • Do you want to phase out of the practice over time?
  • Do you enjoy the business management side and want to have a hand in it?
  • What aspects of your practice are appealing or unappealing to a potential buyer?

These are just a few of the questions you can begin to ask yourself as you map out and plan your ideal exit strategy. By getting your ducks in a row as early as possible, the clearer and more seamless your path will be.

Take this doctor, for example, who purchased a practice in 2010 for $800,000 and has grown it over the past 8 years to over $3,000,000, almost entirely organically and without conscious effort. Now, this doctor is looking to sell his practice and his options are rather limited. His plan and desire was to mentor a doctor and train him into full-time, ultimately taking over the practice. However, not many single doctors at that stage in their career can afford this size of practice, nor would they thrive in a mentorship program built on this foundation. His options now are limited to an affiliate DSO or private equity investors.

There are worse problems to have, though. If this doctor would’ve mapped out his exit strategy and grown his practice with that intention, he’d have more options at this point in time.

Another often-overlooked option is a shared space practice. In locations that are more densely populated and with greater competitive saturation, this is a fantastic option. In many cases, just by joining forces, consolidating operations, minimizing facility costs, bundling overall expenses and maximizing production, an additional 14% can be made on the bottom line.

Kyle and his team have seen a $1,200,000 shared-space practice (with three doctors total) reduce overhead to 42%. On the flip side, they have seen a single doctor-practice doing $1,200,000 with overhead never dipping below 65%. By scaling strategically and making conscious business decisions, you can bring your career dream to fruition and bask in the power of being out of debt.

Kyle and his team are practice transition specialists, dedicating their lives to helping doctors maximize their careers, fulfill their dreams and live a debt-free life. Professional Transition Strategies offers complimentary consultations to effectively and realistically map out your exit strategy and end result.

4 Quick Fixes for Your Social Media Marketing

By | Blog

Social media can play a large role in your marketing plan. When done correctly, social media marketing can boost new patient numbers, production and brand awareness. Take your social media marketing to the next level by implementing these four quick fixes:

  1. Change who you are targeting: Social media appeals to the young and trendy, but that’s not the only demographic using it! According to a Pew Research study, mentioned here, Facebook users aged 45-54 are spending more time on the social media website now than ever before. That same age group is likely your target demographic. These patients also have children and parents that can become your patients, too. Market to this group with content, imagery and information to which they can connect. For example, if they are busy getting kids to soccer practice while also having to take care of their aging parent, be sure to mention you offer CEREC same-day crowns. Quality care and convenience is exactly what they’re going after.
  2. Post smarter. Posting to social media regularly can feel like a task, especially when different users are posting at various times or login information is in several places. Use a tool like Hootsuite to house all your social media pages and to schedule posts throughout the week. Hootsuite allows your team to use one login to access all your social media pages, and to see exactly what has been posted and what’s scheduled to go out.
  3. Remember to listen. In the book, Social Media is a Cocktail Party, authors Jim Tobin and Liza Braziel connect social media to a social gathering. Just like you wouldn’t do all the talking at a cocktail party, you shouldn’t do all the talking on social media. Spend just 10 minutes each week looking at other people’s posts to see what’s happening in their world. Are you a specialist? Look at the pages of the general dentists who refer to you, and share their relevant posts (i.e. share posts about their canned food drive or the new technology they just installed in the office). They will likely reciprocate.
  4. Try something new. The video trend grew immensely in 2017, and it’s not stopping. One way to keep video fresh? Live video! Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow users to post live broadcasts about what’s happening in their lives. Use live video feeds at your practice by giving tours of the office, sharing a tip of the week, or introducing new staff members.