Friday, June 8, 2012


Happy Friday. Hope things are well. I have been just going crazy lately. I am so busy that I haven't seen my desk in about 3 weeks. I told my wife (okay, I screamed at my wife) about how I have a job and just saying goodbye to the last patient at 4 p.m. doesn't mean I can be home at 4:20 p.m.

Don't get me wrong; she is very supportive. But she will still ask if I can pick up son #1 at 5 or if I can home so she doesn’t have to take the kids with her to run errands. I agree, but when I leave, I leave a ton of charts and business stuff. I can usually catch up the next day when there is a lull in the schedule, but thanks be to God, my schedule has been pretty full.

I blew up. I cracked under the pressure. I told her that I NEEDED TO STAY AT THE OFFICE. I was here until almost 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday (I get here at 6:45 a.m.). I was about two weeks behind on my chart-writing. had stuff in my inbox that was a couple of weeks old. It was getting bad. Today, there is a little spot on my desk that Iooks like wood. I am getting there. But being busy is a good problem to have.

I want to talk about marketing today. What are you all doing? I have to tell you: I do nothing. I know, I know. I should be marketing. But to market, you need either time (to do it yourself) or resources.

Okay, let me back up. We have never been an external marketing practice. We have an office next to two very large communities. I put a full page ad on the inside front cover of both of these communities’ directories, and that is it. We have a website that we don't update. We have a Facebook page that I don't update. We have a Twitter account that I don't tweet on.

We have dabbled in external marketing, but most of the time we are just not consistent enough or we find that it doesn't bring in very good patients, so we lose interest. One thing this office does is internal marketing, but this is also very inconsistent. The entire internal marketing department is only one employee: ME.

Our office doesn't announce rewards for referring friends or anything like that. If a patient does refer someone, I sent them a hand-written card thanking them and telling them I am honored. I throw in a $20 gas card (I have been told you can't send a gift for referrals, so we call the gas card a random gift). One thing the external marketing department (also me) tries to do is use its ears. We all know that the best time to ask for referrals is when someone is complimenting you. I try to ask people for referrals all time, but it is so much more than that for me. For me, it is all about making people feel special. I want people to like this place enough to send their friends here. This is where it has to begin.

With external marketing, you never know what you are going to get. With our internal marketing system, I know that I most often get patients that are like the patients I have. And that is good. It is a good return on investment (which is nothing but time). I have told you before that EVERY new patient gets a hand written letter from me. The letter welcomes them to the practice and tells them I am glad they’re here. I tell them that our office tries to be a lot of things, but we want to be great at service. We try to be warm, friendly, great at teeth, professional and a little fun. I tell them I hope they liked it here and I hope they stay for a long time. There have been variations of above, but they all are written by me. This letter tells the patient that this office is different. We can't drop the ball after that.

It doesn't stop there. I call a lot of my patients after their appointments, usually the next day, to see how they are doing. I will sometimes call patients when they are having dental surgery at another office (say, perio surgery or an implant). I get the letter from the doctor and pick up the phone and ask them how it went. I am just letting them know that I care about them (this also is a great way to make sure your surgeon is taking care of your people).

Our external marketing department also gets involved in the community. You know my biggest marketing event of the year is Dentistry with our Hearts. People love when you get involved. Our community sponsors a lot of stuff: Christmas parades, art festivals, food truck events, health fairs, Taste of the Town. We’re there. My family is there. You will see us. You know what is way better than getting a post card in the mail? Meeting the dentist (me) face-to-face.

What do you think? Do you market externally? Is it working? Do you have an internal marketing system set up? Help me get better.

Have a great weekend.


P.S. I’ve got a big week next week. I am speaking at the FNDC, which is our state,s meeting. I think a lot of locals are coming to see me. Scary. There are 150 signed up for one of my classes. So I will probably not write a blog next Friday because I will be having a nervous breakdown.


Anonymous said...

Still charts to do? Morning huddle? Team meetings? Hand written letters? Office manager? Financial department?

Whoa. I'm a dentist not some needy freak show circus attraction that has to wow every tard that ambles in off the street looking to distance themselves from their pay cheque.

I repair broken mouths. I'm great with people and staff and I love the pursuit of excellence. It is a thankless job but I don't do it for the compliments which fortunately are a daily gift. I do it for me - I tell people "(jokinlgly of course) Hey I don't care if you appreciate how good this is but I gotta stare at this twice a year forever so it has to be just right".

Happily there is a hard stop to my job. I'm in a city big enough where I can be anonymous when I'm not a dentist. I advertise on a website and ratemd's where the minority of patients come from. The majority (half) is from patient referrals and we do thank patients for that. Otherwise patients just come and go - they move, they die, they bitch about a 30 dollar fee or I fire them. On balance our practice is growing but its still a tough slog when people want amalgams (which aren't easy thank you) because they save 40 per tooth.

I try to keep it simple and that has what has brought us great reviews online. And the way the net works, good reviews bring in more people which generate great reviews, and so on.

I settle for excellence every day.

Anonymous said...

There's a book about post traumatic growth after a breakdown - but you probably haven't time to read it.
Alternatively, learn to 'just' say "no".


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