Marketing Campaigns: Does Yours Have the 'Silver Bullet'?
The promises. The hype. The inflated statistics. No, I'm not talking about stump speeches from the 2012 presidential hopefuls; I'm talking about the multitude of marketing gimmicks in today's dental marketplace. "If you just purchase this ad campaign, your profits will skyrocket." "If you just invest in this new website, you'll have all the patients flocking to your door." "Social media is the way to go. All you need is Facebook and email." They all claim to deliver the "silver bullet" - the one quick and easy trick.
The truth: There is NO silver bullet trick to marketing. There is no easy fix. Effective marketing is hard work. It requires diligence. It's more than a zippy ad or charming logo - although those are important. After several years of working with hundreds of practices, virtually all of which have struggled to effectively promote what they do, we've discovered a few marketing realities. First, marketing is not an event, it is a system. Second, everyone on your staff is marketing your practice for better or worse in every patient interaction. Third, effective marketing involves a series of fundamental steps and an ongoing, fully-funded budget.
#1 Create Your Brand
Speaking of advertising, too often dentists spend thousands of dollars in advertising campaigns that are better described as smattering campaigns. They smatter ads here and there with little thought as to whether the ad is targeted to the market the dentist wants to attract.
#2 Determine Your Market
#3 Advertise in Multiple Media
#4 Create Your Website
#5 It's Not a DIY Job
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Things That Make A Difference Before You Go Chartless
So many offices, both medical and dental, are going chartless. This does not mean the end of paper by any means. It is a process that needs to be taken on over time - the office is not going to wake up one day and be chartless. However, even before you think you are ready to go chartless there are some procedures that are recommended. Having the office accustomed to using routing slips, for example, may make your lives a lot easier in the future - particularly when you begin the process of going chartless.
The routing slip contains information that is imperative at morning meetings - but the information on the routing slip is only as good as the information put into the computer. Many offices are not utilizing their software to its full potential. As they have said in the past, "Garbage in, garbage out." We don't want this to be the case with your office.
Many offices are not treatment planning in the computer, and many that do are not making appointments by accessing information from the treatment plan. As a result, this leads to treatment plans that are complete being left in patient's charts. How then, do you know what has been done and what still needs to be done?
In many programs, if the treatment plan is put into the computer it will show up on the routing slip. This is important information for the entire office to be able to spot at a glance when working with the patient. This allows the hygienist to not only discuss what treatment is pending at the morning business meeting, but also allows her to have the information at her fingertips without digging into papers or having to click her way through the computer trying to know the next priorities for the patient in her chair. This makes it easy for her to help reinforce, educate, and sell your dentistry.Whenever treatment plans are put into the computer, if your software allows it, the appointments should be made through the treatment plan. This keeps the treatment pending correct on the routing slip and in the patient's future charts when the office does go chartless. Not only that, in some software when you post/set/complete the patient, it will automatically update the patient's existing chart.
The same is true when it comes to the patient's recall appointments. Whether they are on 3, 4, or 6 month prophylaxis or periodontal maintenance, as long as the scheduling coordinator has set up the patient's specific recall interval in the computer, it will be accurate. Many software programs will default to a 6-month prophylaxis unless it is manually set up.
If the recall is set up accurately and you have route slips at the morning meeting to fill open time due to last minute cancellations, they will provide valuable information. The route slips for the day will provide all other family member´s recall information. This may allow you to call a parent that already has an appointment with the doctor and ask him/her to bring in one of the children that are due to have their hygiene appointment.
The route slip is present during the morning business meetings and attached to the chart for now, but in the future it will be what replaces the chart during the meeting.
Other information that may be needed at the morning business meetings that may be on the route slip includes:
Once the office is chartless it is much easier to use the route slip for quick information, rather than take your gloves off and look through the computer for the information.
The most important task is to keep the information up-to-date and current in your computer software, whether you are chartless or not, because someday all that information may be the patient´s chart. The more accurate the information is before you go chartless and the more information that is input into the computer, the easier the transition may be for your office. Going chartless does not have to be an agonizing process.
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True or False: Team effort is people doing what I say.
The "right" answer? Both. Leadership is about influencing others to think differently or to behave differently. In that respect, an effective team leader gets people to do what s/he says.
However, if you are really going to influence people, you need to find the carrot and put away the stick. People are motivated for their reasons, not yours. And your ability to understand what drives the people on your team is a key factor in the productivity and profitability of your practice.
There is no "right" way to influence, because leadership is contextual. For example, if there's a fire in the office, ordering people to walk to the nearest exit is quite effective, not to mention necessary for survival. But an authoritative approach just doesn't work in non-emergency situations. The days of the Do-As-I-Say boss are gone. Even the military puts their top ranks through leadership training these days. "Command and control" is no longer a way to influence people. If you lead that way, you'll pay - literally. You'll have staff turnover and patient departures, because nobody likes that style.
To create true team effort you need to gain true commitment, not just compliance (which is simply "lip service"). When employees are internally aligned with your expectations it takes less external monitoring. They are more likely to follow through... and they'll bring much more energy and goodwill to what they do. How do you get this true team effort moving forward?
Tune-in to W.I.I.F.M.
WIIFM stands for What's In It For Me? The acronym-question is a good one to ask when the benefits of implementing an idea or method are not obvious. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think that your employees are motivated by the same things as you are. This is rarely true. If you try to persuade your employees by what motivates you, your words will fall on deaf ears. As Aristotle said, "The fool tells me his reason; the wise man persuades me with my own."
The underlying idea is that people are best motivated by self-interest. Whatever you are trying to accomplish in your practice, people are most cooperative when they clearly understand the direct personal benefits that result from cooperation. To get true "team effort" you need to find out why your employees would want to do a task, provide excellent patient care, willingly help out a co-worker, etc. Once you understand their needs you can find out how to motivate them.
Employees like to know why tasks are being requested of them so that they can feel involved and that the task has value to them. When you relate the task you want them to do, to a direct benefit for them, you've shown them the "carrot."
Everyone is motivated by something. The question is: what motivates your staff? Motivation can be as individual as the employees who work for you. But you can boil down employee motivation to one basic ideal - finding out what your employees want and finding a way to give it to them or to enable them to earn it.
Take time to show sincere interest in your employees as people. Strive to understand what they are passionate about in their lives. What are their personal needs? What brings them joy or pain? What are their short-range and long-range goals? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can move them to a new level of motivation.
Care enough about the people who serve you to ask the questions and show interest in their success. By understanding their needs and goals, they will take more interest in understanding and achieving yours. That's true team effort!
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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