Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Marketing 101 … Packaging is 95% of the Sale!

When my oldest son was looking at colleges we attended a seminar on college admissions. The speaker was the Dean of Admissions at St. John’s University in New York and he talked about real world college marketing. One comment he made stuck with me, he said “when visiting the dorms you walk in the front door, when you leave go through the back, colleges never clean up around the back door. Also, ask for a few copies of the college news paper, they may not want to offer it because it may not fit “the package”.

My personal marketing GURU is Stu Leonard. His family started with a dairy farm and created the most unique food store in the north east. Stu Leonard once said “retail is detail & packaging is 95% of the sale. There is nothing special about Stu’s food, it is the way it is presented.

Packaging is 95% of the Sale … The average patient doesn’t know if you are a good dentist or a bad one. Remember the old joke “what do you call a dentist that finishes at the bottom of the class? Doctor!” They just know if they like you and your team. If they like you they trust you. Ask your team members if patients ever asked if you are a good dentist or when you leave the room they ask your assistant if they really need the work done. That brings us to “The Package”.

The Package … Everything your patient sees is part of the package. It starts with the name of your organization and goes though reappointing the patient. Let’s start with the name of your practice. I believe in using names that the local population can relate to, they are easy to remember. Piggyback off a popular name. I call my marketing program “Cliff’s Notes”, why do you think I do that? How your office physically appears to patients is a major factor. If it looks old patients think it’s old. Dental practices should up-date there office decor every 5 years and keep current with local style and colors. Team members should be color coordinated to look like a team, it makes a difference, and have name tags. Give your team a uniform allowance, talk to your accountant about the write-off, not only will you look like a team but you will feel like one and that “ORA” will effect your patients. Now we need to talk about the clinical package.

The Clinical Package … How old is your dental equipment? How old is your car? Your dental equipment is less expensive than your car. Your dental equipment pays for your car. Again, old will be thought of as old. Do you have video monitors in view of the patient? Can you display your digital images and pictures? Do you use your intraoral camera? Your patients see these things everywhere they go. Every retailer uses digital technology to market customers. What is you clinical WOW factor? Digital radiography is old news, everyone has it and the patient can’t relate to it, the sensors hurt. However, intraoral cameras and digital trans illumination really impress and initiates referrals if used correctly. Please feel free to contact me at any time with questions or concerns.


April 23, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Where Have All the Dentist’s Gone? “Enter The Millennial”

The cultural revolution of the 1960’s brought on many changes, that’s the first one I remember. Being at the back end of the baby boomer generation has given me the opportunity to see the future in the past. There is an old saying, History repeats its self and change is inevitable, but are all changes for the best? Are we forgetting how to think?

Last week I had the opportunity to sit in on a restorative update sponsored by Asteto Dent Labs with Dr. Stace Linde from Colorado. Dr. Linde lectures throughout the United States and after the program we had a chance to sit and talk. His observation were the same as our mutual friend Dr. Howard Glazer, where is the clinical advancement of the Millennial Dentist going?

The Millennial Dentist … This is something new and it will take 10-15 years to gauge the effect on dentistry. Several months ago over a fast lunch with Dr. Glazer, he noted that the average age of seminar attendees was getting older. Dr. Linde agreed with his observation and shared a few stories of his own. Millennial Dentists are getting more of their information on products and techniques through on-line chat rooms and are avoiding physically attending lectures. But, is this a good thing? Physical interaction with speakers and groups is essential to a better understanding of a subject. Hearing questions asked and seeing the response of the speaker, watching their body language, and interacting with other practitioners is quickly becoming a lost value. Millennials are so caught up in technology that I sometimes wonder how they will continue to provide quality customized medicine for their patient base.

Customized Medicine … Dentistry is a medicine that requires a unique approach to every patient. On-line forums, due to their format, can only provide case scenarios and solutions where as face to face group interaction raises questions and various solutions can be discussed and debated without distractions. At Dr. Linde’s restorative program there were questions asked that raised other questions steering the discussion into a different direction and then circled back. Every procedure is an action and for every action there is a reaction. Physical group interaction can give you a scope of reactions to a single procedure and you can’t put a value on that. Technology is a wonderful thing but it takes free thinking, discussion and debate to advance the diagnostics and techniques.

What Makes a Better Dentist … Professional athletes get better by watching, directly competing and communicating with athletes better than them. Healthcare professionals get better by interacting with clinicians that are more experienced than them. How many times have you heard a seminar participant ask a speaker about a unique case that would vary from the technique?

Life Gets in the Way … The demands on today’s healthcare professional take a lot of time away from family and friends. However, taking a few hours here and there to sit in on a quality subject may be very enlightening. Try it, you just may be energized.



April 16, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You’re Getting Sued & You Don’t Know Why? Risk Management?

It happens everyday. In the litigious society we live in protecting your practice and your family from the bad guys needs to be a priority. The great Vince Lombardi said “The Team with the Best Defense Wins”.

Throughout the 20 years I coached baseball I always told my team that they worked hard in practice, were good and that we would score runs, but we can’t let the other side score. Don’t let the run cross the plate (baseball terms) and we can never lose. The same goes for your business, prepare for the game and you won’t get burned, too bad.

I have the highest respect for attorneys and our legal process, however, sometimes the law overrides a defendant’s best intentions and good people get hurt. So what are your exposed liabilities? Do you know?

Healthcare Practice Liability … I could go on for hours telling stories of litigation and out-comes with patients, employees and business associates. Most of the stories end financially painful because proper documentation was not in place. The law is complicated and requires professional assistance. You wouldn’t suggest that an attorney work on their own teeth so what makes a dentist think they can develop a risk management program?

What Patient Risks Need to be Managed? … Do you have a written “Patient Bill of Rights” that is signed by the patient? Do you have a written “Office Policy” statement? What about procedure consent forms? How current are your medical history up-dates? Are you prepared to handle medical emergencies?

Medical Emergencies …. Yes, they do happen. As a matter of fact, let me give a shout-out to Dr. Dan (don’t want to give his last name) for saving the life of a Henry Schein service technician that collapsed in his parking lot just a few weeks ago. A structured plan and a good team went into action and did everything possible while waiting for EMS to arrive. Here is the question, is your team prepared and practiced in emergency response? Probably not, but it should be part of your risk management program.

Clinical Liability … This one you know well. A failed procedure, poor infection control protocol, improper emergency protocol. If a healthcare issue arises, for whatever reason, it’s your fault.

Employee Management … You are responsible for everything your team members do. Are you protected from your employees? Have you protected your “intellectual property”? Have you thought about it?

Risk Management … Every business, especially healthcare, must protect its self as best it can in as many arenas as possible. From medical emergencies to clinical liabilities to employee management, procedure and protocol must be established and maintained with consistency. Your best intentions may be useless in a court of law. Don’t be foolish, engaging with qualified professionals is the best insurance you can buy.



April 9, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment