2.9.07 - Issue # 257 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague
Treatment Endorsement
Break Old Behaviors
Hygiene Time Management

Treatment Acceptance
Creating the Buzz
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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It’s one thing to provide superior dentistry. It’s another for patients and staff to talk about it, to “create a buzz.” Create a what? And that would be the all too common refrain in all-too-many dental offices. Sure, lots of practices provide quality care. Lots of teams from coast to coast are friendly. The majority of dentists are quite competent. But nice and competent alone do not improve a practice’s bottom line.

Most patients trot in for a dental appointment about every six months and aside from a daily spin with the electric toothbrush, they’re not giving more than a passing thought to dental care opportunities. Maybe they look at their smile and wish it could be brighter, but settle for dull. Maybe they envy their colleague’s new veneers, but assume their dentist doesn’t offer that. Perhaps they look at their mouthful of black fillings and blue-lined crowns that they’ve had for years and years and simply assume that’s still the best available.

Patients do not know what their dental options are because practices don’t take the time to educate them. Or, dental teams are so afraid their efforts to inform will be misconstrued as “selling” that they settle for treatment acceptance nowhere near the 85% benchmark.

Create a buzz! In other words, get staff and patients talking about what’s available, and you can create a desire for care. Create the desire for your care and you create greater case acceptance. Start by maximizing the opportunities you have to communicate with patients. Collect email addresses and develop a quarterly newsletter designed to educate and inform patients about practice services. Spotlight a specific topic, such as implants or veneers, and feature it in the newsletter. Include information, such as, what implants are or what veneers are. Explain what types of patients make good candidates for the procedures, time involved, special considerations, etc. In another issue, feature treatment financing options, such as CareCredit. In another, feature a specific case showing before and after photos. Keep copies of the quarterly newsletter at the front desk for patients to pick up and read while they are waiting or take with them when they leave

Use appointment confirmation mailings to create a buzz. Rather than sending the extremely low quality preprinted reminder postcards, some of which come complete with grammatical errors, send a professionally designed appointment correspondence in an envelope. Include information about a service the practice offers that might appeal to the patient, such as composite restorations, whitening, veneers, or anterior splints, etc.

Create a buzz about routine staff accomplishments. Keep an 8.5 x11 frame at the front desk. Each month, insert a new information sheet about a practice or staff accomplishment. For example, “Dr. Vann recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of her certification from the American Association of Cosmetic Dentistry.” Or “Dr. Vann and her staff will be visiting Pleasant Park Elementary School Feb 5 as part of National Children’s Dental Health Month.” Or “Please join us in congratulating our hygienist, Ann, for completion of continuing education in the area of Advances in Periodontal Treatment.” 

Make sure the buzz carries over to your team as well. Each employee should be well-versed and prepared to answer basic patient questions about services and do so with enthusiasm. If Mrs. Carter leans over and in hushed tones asks your Scheduling Coordinator if she’d ever consider having implants, she should be prepared to answer with an enthusiastic “absolutely.” And then go on to tell Mrs. Carter precisely why she wouldn’t hesitate to have doctor perform the procedure.

In addition, each staff member should be advocates for practice and the doctor. If they don’t believe that the quality of care merits such an enthusiastic endorsement, they probably don’t belong in the practice. Sustain the buzz each day with close attention to the smallest of details. Look for opportunities to improve service, enhance patient interaction, and to build both interest and enthusiasm, among both the staff and the patients,

Create a buzz, generate desire, enjoy the treatment acceptance.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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Dr. Nancy Haller
Dentist Coach
McKenzie Management
coach@ mckenziemgmt.com
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Leadership Lessons from Groundhog Day

Last week, we ‘celebrated’ Groundhog Day. According to legend, each February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil – a woodchuck - comes out of his burrow on Gobbler's Knob to predict the weather. If he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather. If he does not, there will be an early spring.

The event is humorously portrayed in the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. He plays a self-absorbed weatherman who has been assigned to cover the occasion but then gets caught in a snowstorm. Forced to spend the night in the small town, he finds himself trapped in a time warp living the same day over and over again. When he does nothing different, circumstances repeat themselves as they were on the original day. But as he changes his behavior, people respond to his new actions, opening up all kinds of possibilities.

So what does this comedy have to do with leadership? Well surprise, every day is Groundhog Day! The majority of the time we do the same things on any given day. We see the same people, eat the same foods and even engage in the same types of conversation. And we do this month after month, year after year, with very little change.

Marshall Goldsmith, world renowned leadership coach and author of the #1 best selling business book - What Got You Here Won’t Get You Thereaddresses the fundamental problems that hold people back from where they want to be. He notes that success actually prevents ambitious people from being more successful. And since high flyers commonly believe it is their own contribution that accounts for great results, not those of their team, they rarely see themselves as the obstacle. They just continue to do more of the same.

Here are his 20 habits that hold successful people back. How many apply to you?

  1. The need to win at all costs, even when it doesn’t matter
  2. The overwhelming desire to add your two cents into every discussion
  3. The need to rate others and impose your own standards on them
  4. Making destructive comments
  5. Starting with ‘no’, ‘but’, or ‘however’
  6. Telling the world how smart you are
  7. Speaking when angry
  8. The need to share negative thoughts even when you weren’t asked
  9. The refusal to share information in order to gain advantage over others
  10. The inability to praise and reward
  11. Claiming credit you don’t deserve
  12. Making excuses
  13. Clinging to the past
  14. Playing favorites
  15. Refusing to express regret
  16. Not listening
  17. Failing to express gratitude
  18. Punishing the messenger
  19. Passing the buck
  20. Exalting your faults as virtues simply because ‘that’s how I am”

The fact is that as successful people become more successful, the more their problems are behavioral. I would bet my last dollar that the most difficult challenges you face in your office have little to nothing to do with your technical skills as a dentist. The problems are more likely due to YOUR behaviors. And it is only when you come to this realization that you can gain mastery over your practice.

Ahh but where to start?

If you’re not sure, or even if you think you are, ask the people around you, at the office and at home. Since it’s difficult to hear negative feedback and the likelihood is that you’ll get defensive, stack the deck in your favor.

       “I want to improve my skills as a boss (husband, father, friend).
        What can I do to be a better boss (husband, father, friend)? 
        I can’t promise that I’ll be able to do them all, but I will try.”

No matter what people tell you, just say thank you. Don’t argue. Don’t explain. Just say ‘thank you’.

The only real change that will ever be possible must happen within you. Stop repeating the same old behaviors and expecting different results. Like Bill Murray’s movie character, empathize with other people and the way they see you. Like Murray did in the film, create a routine that betters yourself as a person. Do something new each day to expand your competency as an effective leader.

Be aware of how you impact people rather than wandering through each day mindlessly. Be willing to breakthrough, to transform what you do. Be willing to learn and to grow. There is no ‘going back’ but there always is ‘going forward’. I urge you then to make Groundhog Day matter - whether Phil saw his shadow or not.

Dr. Haller is available for dental leadership coaching and development. Contact her at coach@mckenziemgmt.com to find out if you would benefit from one of our leadership programs.

Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental society or study club? Click Here.

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Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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Managing Your Time Wisely

Hygiene appointment times…is it 60 minutes? 50 minutes?  40 minutes?  Is every patient the same time?  And when you really think about it……how can every patient be for the same time?  Patients and treatment needed are not created equal.  But you have taken the time to calculate exactly how many ten minute units the hygienist needs in order to provide quality of care, and see as many patients as possible in a day in order to meet your goal.  If only the schedule were that easy. Not only do we have the gaggers and the constant expectorators, but we also have the ones that need to go to the restroom in the middle of the procedure and let’s not forget those times when a patient decides to not only update their health history but also tell you about every moment in their life leading up to the health history that you just need to get recorded into their record.  Don’t get me wrong…we all love our patients, but we are on a time schedule and we do have a goal to reach.

It is a fact that most recent graduates of hygiene school, as is true with recent dental graduates, are generally slower than veterans. Time and motion efficiency then becomes a management concern of both the doctor and hygienist.  Unfortunately, the focus in school is quality, as it should be, but time is a critical factor that needs to be addressed once you are practicing hygiene.

As the Hygiene Director for McKenzie Management, I believe hygienists should have flexibility and know how to make it work when it comes to their schedule. Good time management during the hygiene appointment by the hygienist is very important to not only a productive day, but also a less stressful day for other team members, the doctor and patients.  Running behind in schedule is not positive.  Going to the reception area to greet the next patient that was supposed to be in your chair 30 minutes ago is stressful.  You see them firmly place the magazine in the rack and follow you back and you are apologizing for seeing them late.  Tension between you and the patient does not make for a pleasant experience.

Just today, a patient took ten minutes to dig out of her purse a list of medications she eventually found in her wallet. Of course I needed them or I would not have had the ability to update her medical history accurately. Instead of just sitting there in frustration while the patient looks for the list, see what could you have done or rather what did you do? 

My recommendation is that the hygienist proceed with those duties that do not involve the patient. For instance:

  • Opening the package of instruments
  • Placing the disposable air water syringe tip and saliva ejector
  • Putting on your glasses, and mask
  • Entering any other information in the patient’s record that you can
  • Reviewing over the patient’s treatment plan and casual discussion

Meanwhile, the patient will continue to look for that tiny medication list that we need before starting the actual invasive treatment scheduled for that day.

If your office protocol is to take blood pressure, before starting the hygiene appointment and the patient’s blood pressure is too high to begin treatment, the hygienist may want to proceed with the same duties above while you wait for the patient’s blood pressure to be appropriate to start treatment. This is one good reason to take the blood pressure before the x-rays. That way the hygienist can take the x-rays, give oral hygiene instruction and/or perform an oral cancer exam while giving the patient’s blood pressure time to decrease.

For those of you that work in states where the doctor has to come in and do the anesthetic, going over oral hygiene instruction, and answering any questions the patient may have is a great way to be productive while waiting for the doctor. You may even want to consider scaling supra-gingival in the meantime. Then, as soon as the patient is numb, you can start immediately in the deeper pockets where you really want to spend a good portion of your time.

Even with all of the above information, the number-one thing hygienists can do in order to manage their time is to have sharp instruments. Not only will sharp instruments help with time management, it will also help with patient and operator comfort. Sharp instruments help reduce the amount of working strokes needed to effectively clean an area.

Instrument choice and sharpness is so critical when it comes to time management and performing quality of care. Utilize your time wisely. There is always something that can be done during a time that may otherwise be thought of as downtime. Flexibility with the order of events in the time allotted will help to reduce stress for the entire office.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Jean speak to your dental society or study club Click Here.

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