How Socially Connected is Your Practice?
The numbers are in and in case you missed it, as of mid-August, Facebook reported that some 40% of Americans visit the online social networking site daily. And nearly 80% use a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone to do so.Certainly, there are many, many social media “channels” beyond Facebook. The last “official” count recorded nearly 200 sites, and there are likely more today. In addition to Facebook, there are websites, blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Vine, and the list goes on and on and on. Why the explosion? With the Internet came the evolution of online communities and Internet forums. Human beings are social creatures, and we are drawn to these “social” sites.
While social media platforms abound, Facebook remains the most popular among your current and prospective patients. How popular? Facebook was the first social network to break the 1 Billion users mark. And many of these users are checking their Facebook newsfeed more often than they are brushing their teeth.
If you’re still thinking that Facebook is for kids, think again. They’ve moved on to other sites, such as Vine. Rather, Facebook has become the online gathering site for adults - the same decision-making-wage-earners that accept and pay for your treatment. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Pew American Life Project, adults have replaced teens as the primary users on Facebook. It is where families, friends and acquaintances gather to share news, photos, opinions, recommendations, and yes, a fair amount of useless information. Regardless of your personal feelings about Facebook, its content, or social media in general, this is where the customers are talking.And the comments, recommendations or complaints that people share about products, services, brands, and local businesses carries weight. Just how much? According to Sesame Communications, nearly 50% of U.S. social media users say Facebook has the greatest influence on their purchasing behaviors. On the other side of that equation, a report released by HubSpot found that 41% of businesses that use Facebook acquire new clients through this social networking site.
There are multiple compelling facts and statistics that point to Facebook as an essential component for seemingly any small business marketing strategy, but what about dental practices? How much are they actually using Facebook in their practice marketing? A 2012 survey conducted by the Chicago Dental Society found that in 2012, 67% of dentists reported that their practices have a Facebook page, a full 50% more than in 2011.
Social media is what websites were years ago. Today, it’s practically unheard of for any legitimate business not to have a website. More and more, that same sentiment is being expressed with regard to a business’ social media presence. After all, when selling a product or a service, you have to take your wares to where the people gather. And in our ever busy, totally connected world, the people are gathering on social media sites.
But where do you begin? It all starts with your practice website. This is the cornerstone of your social media presence. “But Sally, why can’t I just create a Facebook page? I hear it’s all I need.” Facebook is simply one piece of the well-designed and effective marketing plan that includes an online presence that makes it easy for prospective patients to find you and your practice. It also creates a framework to establish meaningful dialog and build strong relationships with your existing patients.
“But Sally, who has time to do all this?” You don’t. You are running a small business and managing a team and making sure you are diagnosing and delivering dentistry to the patients in the chair. Nonetheless, you have to maintain a steady flow of new patients and create lasting relationships with existing patients so that they will return. This is where Sesame Communications comes in. They are setting an entirely new standard for effectively and affordably marketing dental practices using today’s digital marketing resources. They will ensure that your website is optimized. They will write and post your blog each week, and maintain your Facebook page. The best part, they have the research and the data to back up virtually every marketing recommendation they make for your practice.Next week, what effective social media marketing can do for your practice.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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Itís Just a Dental Office Job
Being a dental partner means having the opportunity to be something more than an employee. Gigantic possibilities lie ahead - to grow as a person, in your career and in your community. To live the Dental Practice mission and to be a leader. It’s the opportunity to become your personal best. To be connected to something bigger. To be meaningful to the world. And to be recognized for all of it. It’s all here for you. The text above could be from a recruitment advertisement for a dental office employee, but it is not. The bolded text replaced the word “Starbucks.” It’s just coffee - but after visiting their website you believe it is much bigger than that.
As healthcare professionals, dental teams improve the lives of their patients and can have as important a mission as Starbucks. Unfortunately, many dental team members do not see the big picture of their work and careers. Whose fault is that, when there are enormous opportunities for growth, education and advancement available for all who seek it?
As Senior Instructor for McKenzie Management’s Office Manager, Front Office and Dentist CEO training programs for over ten years, I have witnessed the frustration of those asked to deliver performance when they don’t know how to get there. Lack of training and leadership bring down what could be a thriving career to nothing but a mundane, uninspired job where you punch in and punch out at the end of the day.“I want my front office person to have ‘ownership’ of her position” lamented a dentist in conversation. Creating the “ownership” attitude involves more than just showing up and doing the minimum to earn a salary. As CEO, the dentist must provide more than a paycheck. The dentist must bring value to the position and back it up with ongoing training and guidance for the employee to achieve excellence. I have heard over and over again how there is a “limited pool” of skilled dental workers in many areas of the country, including Canada. Why is that? Could it be that careers in dentistry are not promoted by dentists?
On the Starbucks website there is a Starbucks Career Center where job seekers can explore the opportunities and perks of working at Starbucks. Dental websites can provide Career Centers and information about careers available in dentistry too. There could be a dropdown that lists the positions and educational and licensing requirements along with an application form. Jobs available can be listed at this site along with the job description.
To attract talented people, dental employers must be willing to give more in order to receive more. Many office managers and front office team members are left out of continuing education, except when updating the practice software. Continuing education for front office personnel should be mandatory. There are changes happening in dentistry that must be understood and implemented such as HIPAA, digital technology, and OSHA compliance. Employees should also be taught how to improve customer service by answering the phones correctly and interacting on social media, proper coding of dental claims and cross coding for medical/dental claims, and improved methods of presenting treatment and the process of “sales” to patients considering purchase of dental services. The knowledge of the basics of dental systems and being able to monitor the numbers is absent in many front office employees because they have never been taught.
Few dentists give performance reviews or feedback to their employees, except when there is a problem. This type of communication stifles those who want to grow because there is a risk of feedback that is usually negative. As a result, “flying under the radar” or doing the minimum is common behavior. This type of approach does not inspire “ownership.” Knowledge is power, and power creates a drive to succeed. Drive to succeed thus creates “ownership.”
McKenzie Management provides ongoing professional training and development for the dentist and the business team. We support the career path of the entire team and provide the training and support necessary to succeed. Call us today and make it a career path toward success with courses in Business, Leadership, Telephone Skills, Treatment Acceptance and Practice Assessment and Consulting Services.
What? Youíre Leaving? But Why?
So you’ve lost another good employee. It’s one of the most frustrating and unpredictable situations that dentists face. Everything is humming along just fine. The schedule is full, production is solid, collections are good. The doctor is happy! Then, as they say, the other shoe drops. A long-term employee – the one who is the expert on treatment presentation, “the closer” if you will, hands in her two weeks’ notice. There’s no hiding your shock and disappointment. WHY is she leaving? She’s one of the good ones! And how is it that you didn’t see it coming? What happened to trigger this?
The scenario is all too common in dental practices in every major city, small town, and growing metropolis. Employee turnover is nothing new; in fact it happens about every 18 months in most dental offices. After the initial shock and feelings of betrayal subside, most dentists shrug their shoulders and resign themselves to the “good help is hard to keep” attitude. As most of you know, it’s even harder to find. Estimates for replacing an employee range from $20,000 to 1.5 times the team member’s annual salary. And when it comes to quality personnel, you’re losing far more than money when they walk out the door.In working with practices for more than 30 years, we’ve found time and again that when employers ignore problems, it’s the good team members that silently fume and eventually leave. These team members watch as the doctor doesn’t address the negative behaviors of other staff. They become hurt, disappointed, and angry. Eventually they reason that the doctor would prefer to tolerate the bad behaviors at the expense of loyal dedicated staff, so they start looking for job opportunities elsewhere.
Typically, the high-turnover workplace has a culture that breeds negativity and even sabotage. Interesting research from the University of British Columbia showed that employees are more likely to undermine their peers if they do not feel connected to the group. These individuals can do serious damage. They withhold useful information, spread nasty rumors, and secretly damage their colleagues’ work.
If the doctor/manager isn’t paying attention or is dismissing expressed concerns, s/he is paving the way for good employees to exit. Oftentimes, the doctor simply doesn’t know how to deal with the issues, and neither do the employees.
In most practices, there’s no mechanism or process in place for employees to effectively share concerns or grievances. Typically, most doctors or office managers mistakenly believe that if they claim the office has an “open door policy” they’ve done all that’s necessary to encourage employees to come forward with issues. But team members need to know that if they have concerns or complaints, there are procedures in place in which they can voice them, without fear of punishment.
We encourage practices to implement an “Employee Concerns Policy.” This is a defined procedure in which employees complete a form that is available to them and give it to the doctor, anonymously if they choose. Rather than saying, “We have an open door policy,” the policy needs to say that the employee will be protected if they come forward with a concern. There will not be any retaliation. The purpose is to encourage discussion about the issue. It may be as small a concern as how staff breaks are handled to the more serious issues, such as reporting harassment.
The most important aspect of this is that there is a section in which the employee writes down her/his concern and the doctor writes down the practice’s response to the employee’s concern. The employee knows that the problem will get a response, it won’t just be ignored. A key benefit of this type of process is that it enables the doctor or office manager to learn much more about what’s happening in the practice and among the team. But the greatest benefit is that both employees and the doctor genuinely appreciate the policy because it makes it much easier for the entire team to deal with problems as they arise.
If you have not purchased McKenzie Management’s Performance Measurements for The Dental Team Book and CD, consider it. It is an easy and effective method to measure your dental employee’s performance.
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