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  Sally McKenzie's
 Weekly Management e-Motivator
  10.03.03 Issue #84

Breaking Down the Marketing ‘Matters’ Barrier

Sally Mckenzie, CMC
McKenzie Management

   Today’s marketing challenge isn’t attracting warm bodies, it’s attracting quality patients interested in investing in quality dentistry and keeping them in the practice. But bringing in the plum patients requires more than slick materials, a fancy website, and aromatherapy. While all of those may be pieces of your general marketing picture, zero in on the areas that matter most to the quality patient seeking the quality practice, and you’ll soon have marketing that matters.

  1. Time matters
    Patients are calling because they want your services now, not next month. Office hours that are 8-5 are not convenient for a large percentage of your patients – those who work. The most successful practices are open starting at 7 a.m. or closing at 7 p.m. at least two days per week. Be considerate, if you are running late, telephone patients so they can make changes in their plans or reschedule if necessary.
  2. Impressions matter
    Never underestimate the expectations of prospective and existing patients. From the first phone call a patient makes to a practice, they are sizing up the professionalism of the doctor and the staff. Make them feel welcome. Always greet the patients by name. Look patients in the eye and sincerely thank them for choosing your office. Provide follow-up surveys to patients when they leave. Ask them to give their honest feedback and return the form to you at their convenience in the self-addressed stamped envelope.
  3. Respect and professionalism matter
    Patients want their concerns and needs addressed expeditiously. And, they expect doctor and staff to have their acts together. Like it or not, the quality of the doctor is judged by the quality of his or her staff. Ensure that your team is well trained and fully prepared to interact professionally with patients. Leave the personal side conversations in the break room.
  4. Communication matters
    Develop a script for key patient interactions from scheduling, to confirmation calls, to treatment presentations, to financial arrangements. This ensures that you’re prepared for patient questions, objections, and concerns. It also provides the employees with a game plan so they are not handling critical communication off the cuff.
  5. The “Welcome” matters
    Send every new patient a Welcome Packet the same day they call to schedule their first appointment consisting of a letter, practice brochure, directions, and parking availability.
  6. Consistent messages matter
    If you claim that your practice is state-of-the-art but the orange shag carpet, avocado countertops, and cracked upholstery on the operatory chairs say otherwise you’re sending conflicting messages to the patient.
  7. The patient matters
    When the new patient arrives, they should feel like they are the most important person in your office. Do not make them wait more than three to five minutes before conducting the “new patient” interview.
  8. Motivation matters
    “What brings you to our office today, Mrs. Jones?” Ask several questions to learn what is motivating the patient to seek dental care. Determine the patient’s wants, needs, and expectations for their oral health and your dental practice.
  9. Money matters
    Chances are pretty good that your services are competing against car payments, the college fund, the big screen TV, etc. Partner with a patient financing company such as CareCredit. These firms provide excellent financing options that benefit both doctor and patient.
  10. Contact matters
    Stay in regular contact with your patients through thank you letters, phone calls to check on how they are doing after major treatment, a quarterly letter/email updating them on continuing education courses you and your staff have taken, advances in care offered by your practice, etc.

Remember, what matters to the patient is what matters to the practice, and marketing is simply the fact of “the matter.”

If you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie at

Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
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Building On The Theory

How An Ailing Business Foundation Can Cause
“Digital Chaos”

Mark Dilatush
VP Professional Relations
McKenzie Management

Technology Tool Box

Clinical Computing - Part 5 – Patient WOW

Last week, I discussed your affection and disappointment with your clinical software shortly after “live” day [see article]. It’s OK, the relationship you have with your clinical software is supposed to be a “love-hate” relationship.

Now let’s focus on why you put computers in the treatment rooms in the first place.

Our patients are the reasons we invested so much money, time, and energy into clinical computing. Here are some key patient benefits to clinical computing.

Use this as YOUR practice’s clinical computing commitments:

  1. A patient of ours will never show up for an appointment with a missing or incomplete lab case.
  2. A patient of ours will always have a completed HIPPA consent form.
  3. A patient of ours will always have a recently completed or updated medical history form.
  4. A patient of ours will know and value that we provide oral cancer screening.
  5. A patient of ours will know and value that we provide plaque recordings.
  6. A patient of ours will know and value that we check “their bite”.
  7. A patient of ours will be much more aware of the depth and breadth of our clinical examination findings.
  8. A patient of ours will know that the whole team of clinical professionals are aware of their particular planned treatment, no matter if they are in the doctor’s schedule or the hygiene schedule.
  9. A patient of ours will be able to see the results of their homecare regimen on screen and how it has affected their periodontal condition.
  10. A patient of ours will be able to visually compare the results of their improved homecare regiment from this visit to the last.
  11. A patient of ours will have immediate access to information (visually or printed) specific to the treatment we recommend and/or they require.
  12. A patient of ours will always be able to see a sample “before and after” picture of themselves BEFORE they commit to treatment.
  13. A patient of ours will always be able to take home specific information about the treatment we recommend (or they require) so as to discuss this treatment with their spouse, family, significant other.
  14. A patient of ours will always SEE the problem before we present a solution.
  15. A patient of ours will NEVER be told that we cannot locate their chart.
  16. A patient of ours that we refer to a specialist will NEVER get lost through the cracks.
  17. A patient of ours will ALWAYS receive reinforcement from the ENTIRE TEAM (yes, business team too) because all of the information they need to be reinforcing is in front of everyone.
  18. 95% of our patients will be able to learn of their diagnosis and planned treatment during one visit. They won’t have to come back to have the treatment presented.
  19. A patient of ours will ALWAYS know that financing is available when we (the clinical team) present treatment.
  20. A patient of ours will appreciate and UNDERSTAND a 15” digital image of an x-ray vs. the doctor holding a 1 x 1 x-ray up to a light box 6 feet away.
  21. A patient of ours will appreciate receiving professional information about their necessary treatment. They will also appreciate not getting those little hand written drawings.
  22. A patient of ours will always know their current remaining deductible and any unused benefits for the current insurance benefit year.
  23. A patient of ours should expect us to be able to email their treatment plan to their spouse.
  24. A patient of ours should expect us to coordinate treatment professionally and efficiently (electronically) with those to whom we refer.
  25. A patient of ours will appreciate knowing that we have reduced their exposure to radiation and helped the environment by limiting chemicals used to develop traditional x-rays.
  26. When within our control, a patient will be seated within 5 minutes of their appointment time and should expect to leave within 5 minutes from the anticipated end of their reserved appointment time.

There’s a lot of benefits aren’t there? Next week I will begin to isolate sections of the above list and discuss the specifics of each. If any of you want to add to this list, just send me an email!

If you have any questions or comments, please email Mark Dilatush at

Interested in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
Click here

See Mark's Technology Workshop titled Using Your Practice Management Software to Drive Revenues on Dec. 10th in La Jolla. For more information email or call 1-877-900-5775

Getting The Cold Shoulder


Giving Dentists And Their Staff Different Perspectives On Day To Day Issues

What Makes a Great Leader...continued

    In last week's column, a doctor writes to his colleagues “One of the tough things about having a dental practice is leadership.

Some people are a natural at leadership but not me". My discussion of what makes a great leader continues.

Point #3: there is no such thing as leadership where the day-to-day operations are left unsupervised and do not require constant monitoring and adjusting. All great leaders take upon themselves the responsibility to say “it is I who is responsible for what goes on here and I will take responsibility for guiding the direction of the feelings and thoughts of my team”.

There are many business owners who believe that people can be told once what to do and that is sufficient. That will never be the case. If you hire people who are too independent, they will do what they are told but be so individualized that there will be no team culture. On the other hand, you can hire people that are very dependent upon the support of others but their productivity and efficiency quotients will always be low.

The essence of good leadership is to recognize the human frailty and vulnerability in any endeavor that involves people. With this recognition, the good leader moves forward to monitor and aid in the decision-making and the prioritization that goes with a smooth running business. The goal of the leader is a team that can constantly adapt to changing conditions, and not a team that can run without them. The good leader is involved in the day-to-day. If the day-to-day operations cannot be adequately guided, then there cannot be any leadership.

Motivation and conflict resolution are part of the job. Once again, it is a misappropriated definition if you think that guiding your team and keeping them motivated and resolving conflicts is beneath the leadership role. The leader wants to be involved in these day-to-day issues because it feels good to be involved in people's lives.

Regarding the doctor’s reference to chocolate,, I am assuming is a reference to incentives. The reality is that chocolate will only go so far if there is not enough chocolate and everyone wants it or not everyone responds to chocolate. Notice that this belief in a universal reward is faulty reasoning and sets the stage for defeat.

Point No. 4: there is no leadership if the leader has to do all the jobs, and therefore the act of delegation is not an active leadership; it is an act of organization. There is a very old axiom that I have run into for many years which is open " I lead by example". This is a very serious reference to the fact that leaders do not ask their followers to do something that they would not do. That was the intent. This makes perfect sense. In the real world, people have options and they do not enjoy doing your dirty work. However, "I lead by example" as used here and in other practices is synonymous with “I will not talk or connect, I will ignore the problem and simply model hard work, I will model what I want and say nothing." This is nothing but the ostrich strategy in a white coat.

The concept of leadership is the act of creating organization in order to accomplish a vision. There is no leadership without organization, and there is no organization without delegation. There is no such thing as leading by example and ignoring the individual’s perspective which is no longer the same as the leader.

Tell them once and they will do it, give them an idea and they will run with it, everyone is self-motivated. The world of dentistry and medicine attracts a certain kind of professional and a certain kind of staff and both the owner of the business and the employees have their idiosyncratic values, beliefs and the emotional history that is far too diverse to assume control and obedience for the sake of your leadership.

Point No. 5: I would disagree with the doctor when he says they can get to the next level and want to know how to get their staff up there. There are far too many inaccuracies and distortions in this personal definition of leadership that demonstrate to me that the concept of leadership is not at the next level; it is not even on a reasonable surface that would permit the acceptance of the truth. “I have a great staff, but don't get me wrong" Everyone says that while they complain about their staff. Talk to anyone who has successfully led a company and they will tell you the same thing. It is never about the staff, it is always about them, what they did wrong, what are they missing, and how can they improve themselves. The author of this letter continues to look outside for the explanation of what is good leadership when, in reality, good leadership comes from within. The essence of leadership begins with the ability to bring people close to them and not tell them what to do and expect it to be done.

However, once they know you love them....they will follow you anywhere and only need to be told one time. Get it????

Want your issues answered? Ask the

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Sally's Mail Bag

Vacation Pay?

Dear Sally,
Should the Dr. pay staff to work when he is gone on vacation ? I take one week off in the summer, and several days off around the holidays for vacation. Usually, the front desk staff alternate days so the phone is covered. I encourage staff to take their vacation at the same time, but the clinical assistants seem to feel they should be paid to work around the office while I’m gone. I have two expanded duty assistants, one dental assistant, three hygienists and two business staff. This could be a HUGE payroll to support with no production. Any suggestions?
Dr. Goodfellow

Dear Dr. Goodfellow,
This is an executive decision that should have been made the day you opened the doors, prior to hiring your first employee and stated in the employee policy manual at the time of hiring. Now…you’ve got yourself backed into a corner with the potential of unhappy employees and that sometimes perpetuates an uncomfortable feeling of fear that they might quit. By informing as part of the interview process, the applicant has had full disclosure about the position and can then decide if she wants the job. In other words, A. The office will be closed for 4 weeks out of the year. Employees will be given a minimum of two months notice. The employee has the option of acquiring temporary employment during this time. Salary will not be paid. or B. The office will be closed for 4 weeks out of the year. Employees will be expected to work during this time and the following is a list of duties that will be required during that time. Those duties might consist of a clinical assistant purging charts or purging x-ray mounts from charts, cleaning out cabinets, revamping an inventory control program, going to one of the doctor's colleagues dental office to learn how to make temporary crowns. The business staff might be making contact with over due patients or patients with unscheduled treatment. In some states it is legal for the hygienist to keep working without the dentist. Hygienists also have a greater chance of seeking substitute work than a business assistant, for example. I would say that the expanded duty dental assistant's would not be paid their normal “producing” salary during that time because they are not producing but be paid basic chairside assistant salary if they are going to work when there are no patients. The key here is not to decide this type of policy after the fact or as the moment occurs but to develop this policy prior to interviewing. Hope this helps.

Are you wondering if your hygiene department is producing what it could be?

Dr. Allan Monack's hygienist produces $1231 a day seeing
1 patient an hour with a
prophy fee of $70.

What's your hygienist producing?

Dr. Monack is the Hygiene Clinical Consultant for McKenzie Management. He can help you produce the same results.
To find out more about the Hygiene Clinical Enrichment Program [go here], contact us at or call: 877-777-6151

  Office Managers
  Financial Coordinators
  Scheduling Coordinators
  Treatment Coordinators
  Hygiene Coordinators
For a FREE Educational Video
The Center for Dental Career Development
Advanced Business Education for Dental Professionals
737 Pearl Street, Suite 201
La Jolla, CA 92037

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Sally McKenzie, President
This issue is sponsored
in part by:
The Center for Dental Career Development
San Diego Workshop Series
Fall/Winter Schedule
 Date Seminar Instructor(s)  
 Oct. 31
 9:00 - 4:30
How to Recover the Lost $$$$ in Your Practice Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Nov. 7
 9:00 - 4:30
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Nov. 8
 9:00 - 4:30
Taking Your Practice Back - Leadership Development for Dentistry    
 Nov. 14
 9:00 - 4:30
Unleashing Your Team's Potential & Optimizing Clinical Efficiency Risa Simon, CMC.  
 Nov. 19
 9:30 - 4:30
How to Recover the Lost $$$$ in Your Practice Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Dec. 5
 9:00 - 4:30
How to Become an EXCEPTIONAL Front Office Dental Employee Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
 Dec. 6
 9:00 - 4:30
Office Politics ... The Enemy Within    
 Dec. 10
 9 - 12pm
Boosting Your Hygiene Department Allan Monack, DDS FAGD
Hygiene Clinical Director
McKenzie Management
 Dec. 10
 1 - 4
Using Your Practice Management Software to Drive Revenues Mark Dilatush
VP Professional Relations
McKenzie Management
 Dec. 17
 9:00 - 4:30
How to Recover the Lost $$$$ in Your Practice Sally McKenzie, CMC.
Belle DuCharme, RDA CDPMA
To Register 877-900-5775 or

For more information, email
or call 1-877-777-6151

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