10.1.10 Issue #447 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Make the Most of the 21st Century “Yellow-Page Ad”
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Consider it the “Yellow Page Ad” for the 21st Century - Internet advertising. The good news: it’s far more effective in driving traffic to your practice than that tired and worn blurb in the old phone book. The bad news: between “SEO,” “bidding algorithms,” and “pay for clicks,” it can quickly become a lot more complicated than just throwing a few hundred bucks at another tired print ad. But the return on investment, say those in the know, is well worth a little extra effort.

Regardless of whether individual dentists understand the ins-and-outs of online advertising or not, in today’s market, virtually all of them are looking for an effective and powerful tool that makes the phones ring and brings desirable patients into the practice. Moreover, that tool better not be a drain on the dentist’s time or the practice’s resources. A tall order indeed.

According to the book “Local Online Advertising for Dummies” (Cunningham & Brown, 2010), the top 10 considerations when choosing a local online advertising partner are:

  1. How will your Website’s performance be tracked? This includes areas such as keywords, ads and click-throughs.
  2. How will those metrics convert to getting patients in the door and retaining them?
  3. How long of a contract or time commitment are you signing up for? The Dummies book recommends 6-9 months for search engine optimization results and 3-6 months on pay-per-click results.
  4. Does the company have dental industry expertise? There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel for the company.
  5. Is the company interested in your current Website layout and design and how it is performing?
  6. Does the company have a network with other local search engines besides the “big boys?” Look for a company that has a wide distribution.
  7. Are you given a dedicated account manager that understands SEO and PPC?
  8. Are there any hidden conditions or fees?  Read the small print.
  9. Is the company trying to sell you a specific number of keywords for PPC? It’s important to educate yourself so not to be taken advantage of. Obviously, we are not born knowing this information!
  10. What type of credentials do they have? For example, Google has levels of certification such as Google AdWords Authorized Reseller.

While many more practices have Websites today, they are competing with millions of other dental sites. The key to having an effective Website is ensuring that prospective local patients can not only find it, but are driven to it through various search engines, such as Yahoo!, Google, MSN, and others.

While various online advertising companies promote “pay for clicks,” clicks aren’t phone calls and they are not patients. It is important to rank the keywords on a practice Website that generate calls and patient traffic into the practice - not just clicks on the page. Take the word “veneers” or “fillings” for example. The click-rank technology that some online advertising companies offer can track both the number of calls and number of patients that those words generate. From there, bidding on the more effective keywords may be adjusted to allow higher placement of a practice Website on the various search engines.

I know that as the CEO of your dental practice, trying to understand all of this Internet jargon can be very foreign. But I also know that if you don’t stay on top of it, your neighbor may very well start taking your patients - very silently and without any warning.

“Local Online Advertising for Dummies”  is a great educational tool for those of us that feel a little “dumb” on the subject. According to the book, people tend to use organic search engine listings when they’re researching a particular kind of purchase, and then look to sponsored listings when they’re ready to buy. I had no idea that was the trend, but the more I thought about it, I realized that’s exactly what I do! Last week I had an office that emailed to say they received a lot of “shoppers.” I think that’s the nature of the economy right now - shopping for the best value, the best care and the best price is not beneath anybody anymore.

In the current economy, many dental practices are looking to optimize their advertising resources, but few have the time or the expertise to singlehandedly make the most of today’s most reliable and cost-effective marketing tool - the Internet. The patients are out there, the key is using the right tools to drive them to your door. 

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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Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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The Anatomy of a Cancellation
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Every ten minutes of time in the schedule represents one sixth of the hourly schedule goal. Those of you that schedule to goal are acutely aware of open time and the stress to fill these times with production that will meet goal. Goal usually represents being able to meet overhead expenses, plus getting a salary. Computer software has taken away the guesswork and now the dentist can take a few seconds to see how the production is building for the month. In the past, dentists just looked to see if lines were filled and that usually satisfied them to believe they were productive. We now know that having every line filled does not necessarily mean a productive day - on the contrary it can be a stressful, unproductive day!

No two dentists are alike in their ability to lead and to be good business managers. Some struggle just to get by, and others can give raises and bonuses to worthy staff and buy new equipment for their offices. How they view cancellations in the schedule varies from dentist to dentist also. Dentistry being a “people business” involves all of the shortcomings that human beings have, including being forgetful, getting ill, having a crisis, being afraid and just not caring enough to show up that day. Let’s be real here. Dentistry is not a favorite appointment for most people. They know they need it to be healthy, but there are times when even though we as dental professionals say and do all the right things, they still don’t show or cancel at the last minute.

The ways we try to save the appointment include charging them, scolding them, or telling them things like “The time is reserved just for you and I don’t have enough time to find anyone to take your place. Is there any way that you can change your schedule and come in today?” If patients value the time you spend and the relationship they have forged with you as a healthcare provider, then you will have fewer cancellations. You will have fewer cancellations if you explain to the patient what you expect from them. In return, you have to respect their time by being on time and not continually calling them to move their appointments to a more convenient time for you. Of course, no matter what you say or do you will still have cancellations and no-shows, but you can make them fewer and farther between. 

Shore up the cracks in this system and weed out those patients who are continually non-compliant by having a face-to-face discussion on the importance of them showing up. Charging for broken appointments doesn’t work if the patient has the money to pay for the broken appointment. They will continue to break and pay the measly fee that you charge. Charging for broken appointments will eliminate those patients who do not have the money to pay, as they will never return to your practice.  Bottom line: charging for broken appointments is punitive and does not build good will.

Jane from Dr. Goodtooth’s practice recently emailed me to say:

 Dear Belle,
My boss goes on a “witch hunt” every time a patient cancels or fails an appointment.  She wants to know who scheduled the appointment, was it confirmed and when, who was spoken to, and what the patient said word for word when they cancelled. I make notes on the computer but she comes up to my desk pacing and angry. I find this unnerving - my blood pressure goes up every time someone cancels and I find myself almost begging them to come in! I am doing the best that I can but it is not enough.”

Dear Jane,
Your boss is obviously under extreme financial pressure for which you are not aware, or she takes it as a personal affront that patients are cancelling. This is not your responsibility. I recommend that you make a list of your concerns and then ask for a meeting with her to discuss the cancellation and no-show system in your practice. The entire team is responsible for communicating the importance of the dental visit, not just you. If your health is being affected by this, you need to address it as soon as possible.

Negative energy directed to the staff because someone is not there is felt by the patients who are there for treatment. If you want more cancellations, keep up this behavior, it works every time. Want to learn how to set up systems that work? Contact McKenzie Management for business training today.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Held Hostage?
By Nancy Caudill, Senior Consultant McKenzie Management

Case #276
Dr. Rick Rodgers

Dr. Rodgers owns a 10-year old practice. He employs a small team comprised of 2 hygienists, 1 assistant and 1-2 business employees. To clarify the “1-2 business employees” - he wants 2, but has found it difficult to “keep” the second employee.

Dr. Rodgers employed Sharon when he opened his practice. Sharon was instrumental in assisting him and his wife in getting his practice off the ground. For the first couple of years it was just Sharon and his assistant running the show, with some support from Dr. Rodgers’ wife. Shortly after, a hygienist was added to the team. At this point, it was one happy “family.”

3 Years Later
Life goes on for a few more years and the practice flourishes. Another hygienist is brought in to help with the growth of the Hygiene Department. It is now obvious that Sharon, his only front desk person, is in need of someone to assist her, at least part time. Now the personnel issues begin for Dr. Rodgers. It appears that Sharon needs someone to work with her, but she doesn’t want anyone to work with her. After all, this is her show!

Over the course of the next couple of years, part-time Hygiene Coordinators come and go. They seem to enjoy working with Dr. Rodgers and the rest of the clinical team, but don’t enjoy being micro-managed and treated as though they are non-existent by Sharon. Sharon has no intention of teaching them anymore than they absolutely need to know about the practice management software, systems in the office or anything else that would be helpful for another business person to know. It’s as though she is afraid that if she teaches someone else how to do what she does, she will not have a place to work anymore.

The Hostage
After seeing the third Hygiene Coordinator turn in her notice, Dr. Rogers realizes that he has a problem. Fortunately, the last employee that resigned shared her concern with him regarding her inability to work with Sharon, even though she really enjoyed her job and wanted it to work. It occurs to Dr. Rodgers that if he dismisses Sharon because of her inability to work with others, he has no one else capable of running the front desk. His wife, Linda, is somewhat knowledgeable but it would be a stretch to say that she knew enough to take over for Sharon. It is obvious that Dr. Rodgers is the hostage because he feels that he will have to “deal” with Sharon’s behavior since no one else could possibly manage the business aspect of the practice.

The Solution
Once it was determined that Sharon needed to find another office to “manage,” a plan was put in place to unlock the shackles that Dr. Rodgers was wearing and empower someone else in the practice to learn the day-to-day operations of the office until another Business Coordinator was discovered. Dr. Rodgers’ wife began devoting her time with Sharon to learn how to complete business tasks at the front desk. Since there currently was no Hygiene Coordinator, she started working a few days a week in order to learn as much as she could about the software.

And here is the rest of the story…
Linda learned an enormous amount of information about the day-to-day activities of her husband’s practice. She will be the first to admit that never again will they avoid dismissing an employee just because they feel that they are irreplaceable. Any team member is replaceable, as they should be when they step outside the boundaries of professionalism, lack respect for fellow employees, and most of all, lack sensitivity to the patients of the practice.

Dr. Rodgers and I sincerely hope that you never have to experience this in your career.  At the same time, if you feel that this hits home to you, don’t be afraid. Your team will rally behind you, as Dr. Rodgers did. Unlock those shackles and free yourself!

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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