Thursday, February 23, 2017

Four Ways to Boost Your Internal Marketing Efforts

No matter where we run our business, we have to remain relevant in our communities. I believe in branding — creating some type of image or logo that represents you and your office. Once you have established your brand, you can really start to create an image to share with the public, which will communicate what your mission is and what it is that your office has to offer. If your brand expression is clear, then your marketing will be powerful and effective. Then, you simply need to decide how much money will be allocated toward your marketing strategy and the vehicle: internal (within your office) marketing, external marketing (using outside resources, such as print ads or radio), or both.

Throughout my years of gaining business experience and education, it has been proven that you get the most return on investment through internal marketing. So, here are four ways to boost your internal marketing efforts:
  1. Send informative emails. Most of us are using some form of computerized patient relationship-management system to aid with scheduling. All of these services offer a library of fact sheet templates with information in areas such as Invisalign®, VELscope®, the importance of hygiene and so on. You can send informative emails to your patients to promote specific procedures you want to do more of or products you are trying to sell. If you are creative, you can customize your own emails. Regardless, these emails can establish you as an expert among your patients, who may forward them to a friend. Be careful not to inundate your patients with too many emails, though.
  2. Ask for team support. Ask your team to approach patients for referrals. If you have a supportive and cohesive team, this will be easy because your team members know which patients are the best ones to approach. There are so many opportunities during each appointment to do this. For example, let’s say patient “John” just got married, and he is in for a routine hygiene visit. In this scenario, anyone in your practice can ask, “So, John, when are we going to meet your wife?” However, when these moments arise, they need to feel natural. 
  3. Provide rewards or gifts for referring. Anytime a person refers a patient to your practice, the referring patient must be thanked. We have done this in many ways throughout the years, and each time, patients are so often surprised and grateful to be recognized. It also indirectly incentivizes them to refer more patients to us.
  4. Smartly display print advertisements in the office. I am not a fan of placing posters and display ads promoting random dental products throughout the office. What I have found to be effective is having a dedicated space to let patients know what is new in our office or whatever it is that we want to be promoting. This creates a focus toward what we want to highlight, rather than a “store” full of generic advertisements that people are likely desensitized to.

We all know that the best referral source is our own patients. We know that if a potential patient calls us who has been sent to us from an existing patient, it’s almost guaranteed that he or she will make an appointment. This same patient will come to us with a built-in trust that will make treatment acceptance much easier to attain. So considering external marketing can be unpredictable and extremely costly, why not invest most of your marketing strategy into internal marketing?

Pamela Marzban, DDS, FAGD

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Career Choices

My parents grew up during the Great Depression. My father, an exceptionally bright man, never went past grade 10 due to the financial pressures and costs associated with trying to keep him in school. He dreamt about being a lawyer but never became one; instead, he became a salesman in the men’s and boys’ fashion industry.

My parents grew up in a time with many others who were immigrants who had left behind professions and careers in other countries, only to do more manual labor and hold lower paying jobs in Canada due to their lack of English language capabilities. They instilled in their children the need to study hard and become a professional (a doctor, dentist, accountant, lawyer or engineer), and I grew up amongst peers who were driven to do just that.

Today, I continue to find the children of immigrants to be hardworking and driven to excel at school, in an effort to become a professional.

My children, however, are the progeny of the generation of people driven to excel in school. Our parenting style is more relaxed (I am generalizing here; of course, there are exceptions), as we live in a society that allows people to dream and offers them the opportunity to realize their dreams. Neither of my daughters have any interest in science, math and engineering (the so-called STEM subject: science, technology, engineering and math). One daughter would like to study art history and possibly curate a museum or art exhibit. The other would like to be an actress. Many of my younger patients now dream about becoming a chef. One cousin loves working with glass art. A nephew is an illustrator working on TV and movie productions.

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a society that has matured to the point where we now value art in all of its forms — visual, auditory, gustatory and tactile — and are willing to pay a reasonable fee to access it. Now, people can dream, work toward making that dream a career and anticipate they will be able to make a living wage pursuing those goals.

When I talk with my patients and learn about their careers, I am amazed at the variety of opportunities that are out there. We don’t learn in school how to do what most people do in their careers, and I think that is very cool.

One thing I am fairly certain, though, is that the pace of change is so rapid that I am starting to see people start in one career and, 15-plus years later, they need to go back to school and retrain to do something else completely different. I see the near future of people having two careers in their lifetime, without company pensions. The idea of retiring at 65, or another artificial number, will fall away as irrelevant. The focus seems to be turning toward staying healthy and productive, regardless of age.

And our success will be all based on the relationships we grow and cultivate. It is a fascinating time to be alive.

Larry Stanleigh, BSc, MSc, DDS, FADI, FICD, FACD, FPFA

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Transform Your Life by Setting Goals

A goal often has been defined as the terminal point of a journey or a measurable and observable end result. When we think about setting goals, the first thing that usually comes to mind is making a new year’s resolution. If you are like me, then you probably have multiple goals for 2017 and beyond — goals that incorporate your business, family, health and finances and a yearning to serve others; goals that are derived through a type of self-awareness that incorporates your vision both near and far; and ideas, thoughts and dreams that provide clarity and meaning for the legacy you will someday leave behind. What are your goals in 2017, and where would you like to be in five years? 

More than 30 years ago, and prior to becoming a dentist, I was taught the importance of establishing goals and learning to focus on a vision. It was during this time and while working in the hospitality business that I discovered that goals originate out of a vision that begins with the end in mind.

Building hotels is a challenging and stressful business that requires tremendous coordination of architects, engineers, interior designers, general contractors, sub-contractors and the operating team all working to realize a vision for the grand opening. In many instances, the sales department has pre-booked the facilities 18 months in advance of the opening date, and there is little margin for error. Examples of this include pre-booking of major conventions, banquets, weddings or corporate meetings that may have upward of 3,000–5,000 attendees traveling from around the world.

It was during this time that I was mentored by great hoteliers and human beings who trained and empowered me to reach for the stars while learning to dream big. I learned that dreams (long-term goals) and vision are what inspire our heart and soul. I also learned that building beautiful hotels and setting schedules (goals) begins with a vision — a vision that leads to a blueprint and a blueprint that leads to a dream come true. As the founder of Hilton Hotels Corp., Conrad Hilton, once said: “To accomplish big things, you must first dream big dreams.”

Years later, and while completing my Master of Business Administration, I took the opportunity to research the key components of some of the most successful people in the world (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr., Conrad Hilton, the Wright brothers, etc.). My conclusion was that they all had the ability to dream, visualize and create realistic goals. These visionaries all knew “why” they did what they did, and it was apparent that their dreams, goals and passion were at the core of their very existence.

There are numerous research projects that have been conducted to measure the outcomes of goal-setting. Two of the most common include an MBA Harvard Business School study and subsequent Virginia Tech study that support the assertion that setting goals are a key component to one’s success, both professionally and personally. The Harvard study revealed that the student who had goals, wrote them down and measured them on a regular basis earned 10 times as much as their classmate did. The Virginia Tech study revealed similar results.

In summary, being happy is a byproduct of realizing our dreams and achieving our goals. When we commit to written goals, we prioritize living our best lives. We also learn to accomplish meaningful tasks, improve our self-confidence, and foster spiritual and meaningful growth that ultimately provides us with a sense of accomplishment. If our goals are not documented, refined and monitored, then we are leaving everything up to chance. It is also worth noting they cost little or nothing to initialize. As they say, be careful of what you dream for, as you just might get it.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

What Defines a Successful Practice?

After a reading some blog posts focused on what it takes to have a successful practice, I started to ask myself about success. I started to ponder what a successful practice looks like. Of all the things I read, there was one aspect I wasn’t seeing being discussed — how to set up a practice in order to be happy, not just profitable. Somehow, we have always equated success with making money and the bottom line. This is what we all seem to be chasing after: profit. Look, this is what I have chased and am chasing after. But I can tell you that money does not buy happiness.

I know, I know, you are saying that you know that, but you would like to try it anyway. Does having a practice that makes good money make it a little bit easier to buy happy? Heck yeah. But once you have earned a certain amount of money, the amount you thought would put you on top so you could easily pay for all of the tuitions and the cars and the loans, you always want more.

American industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller was once asked: “How much money is enough money?” He answered: “Just a little bit more.”

Take it from me, and from Mr. Rockefeller, the amount of money you have never seems to be enough. When I made $100,000, I thought: If I ever made $150,000, that would be it. Then I made $150,000, and I was still living paycheck to paycheck. I needed to make $200,000. And so on and so on. 

Because here is what happens: Once you start making $100,000, you start living like you make $100,000. You buy a house, and you buy a car, and the kids are getting older, and they start kindergarten, and that’s costly. Then they join the T-ball team, which costs more money. You want to start them in an additional activity, and that costs money.

Then you make $150,000. You start to buy into the practice. Now your first kid is 10 years old, and now you have kid No. 2 and No. 3, and you have to pay tuition for two kids and daycare costs for kid No. 3. You buy a minivan. Then there is tutoring, baseball and football, and at that level, you have to have a special coach for a couple days a week. Your 5-year-old daughter is in dance class, and the studio wants $350 for the dress for the recital. You have moved into a bigger house because you have outgrown your first house.

At $200,000, you have bought 50 percent of the practice, and you are paying a big mortgage and three tuitions. Then there is baseball (Little League and travel team), football (Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with membership at a football agility-only gym), dance, driving school, drama and voice lessons. You buy the oldest his own car to get to all of his sports and SAT prep commitments. Oh, and now you think, I better start putting money away for retirement.

Are you getting it? It is never enough. No one ever wins the rat race — and we all are in the rat race. But here is my philosophy: I want to own my rat race. I want to make my rat race fun.

I want to be happy.

After 21 years, I think I have my ideal practice. I have the practice that I dreamed about. But guess what? It is small. I work 36 hours a week. I work out of two rooms (but could really do it out of one, 75 percent of the time). I love my staff, and I love coming to work every day. Doesn’t that sound successful?

In my next blog post, I will tell you about my practice and how I practice. It is probably going to look a lot different than you think.

John Gammichia, DMD, FAGD


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