Practice-Management Tag Archive

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Don’t Confuse Indecision with No Decision

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Food for Thought is our way of sharing interesting concepts on corporate leadership and management with others who might find it useful. The thoughts offered are intended to be controversial and thought provoking. They always follow our motto of helping develop logical leadership.

Do you or your organization find yourself wanting to make a decision and not being able to do so? Do you find that you have gathered all the data you can get, considered the options but can’t decide which way to go? Is that indecision or lack of a decision? We offer a distinction. Indecision is an individual’s inability to make a decision. “No decision” is the organization’s confusion as to how a decision is going to be made. Both are harmful to the organization.

Decisions that have a deadline force a conclusion. Should we extend the lease or find new space? Should we make a tax-efficient investment for this tax year? Should we hold a Holiday party? These questions have deadlines and a decision is put off until, and made by, the deadline. In contrast, decisions that have no deadlines often lead to indecision. Should we open a branch in that other town? Should we hire an additional marketing professional? Should we invest in the development of myself or my people? In most of these situations you are convinced you should do so eventually, but wonder if now is the right time. Leaders sometimes spend considerable time thinking through the issue, often spending more in the cost of their time than the cost of any risk they might undertake in the decision.

Indecision is usually the result of an individual’s unwillingness to take risk. Usually they have considered all the options but are unable to predict how the future will unfold in order to evaluate which option is best. Decisions are actions taken today whose validity will only be realized when the future unfolds. In fact, if the best option for a difficult decision becomes self-evident, you might well be accused of procrastination! The best way to deal with indecision is to have a self-imposed deadline, preferably declared publicly. Also useful is to recognize that you can make an overt decision not to make a decision until a future deadline. Again, such a deadline should be established and declared publicly. These techniques force you to minimize wasted time and yet bring closure.

A lack of a decision is often a bigger organizational problem. You often find people in the organization claiming, “No decision has been made on that issue.” What it really means is that they have no clue as to who, how and when a decision is going to be made. Whereas indecision is usually a characteristic of questions without a deadline, a lack of decision can be found in both questions with and without a deadline. A lack of decision is really an implicit decision to let the default status quo prevail. Lack of decisions maintain status quo and inhibit change in the organization. Organizations become stagnant and slow to move.

Arguably, decision making is the most common activity of management. Organizations must have a clear decision making process. The leader of the organization should establish the process and promote its deployment throughout the organization. While we have our opinions on the various decision making processes (see Consensus is a Road to Mediocrity), any process is better than no process. For a full discussion on four styles of decision making (Consensus, Democracy, Authority and Command) contact us for a full length article.

Both indecision and lack of decision is harmful to the organization. Much time is wasted discussing issues that yield no conclusion. The leader is responsible in both cases: for their own indecisions and the organization’s lack of decisions.

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Re-activate Non Responsive Patients; Technology that Pays for Itself

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Action Run is an online e-service that contacts and re-activates non-responsive patients. This is not a new idea, what is new are the tools that ActionRun has developed and applied to this task.

Early attempts to use digital technology to re-activate patients simply automated the tasks we had sought to do with paper records. That is to look up patients who have not been seen in a couple of years and then send them a notice. A slightly more sophisticated application could scan uncompleted treatment plans and send messages to those people which could even include a motivational note.

However, a car is not merely a faster horse. To truly take advantage of the power of digital technology we can apply tools that were just not possible with paper records; tools that essentially mimic the thought processes of a human mind

Here is a really simple example. The computer examines records and discovers a patient who had a root canal completed on a molar but has no record of ever having a final restoration placed on that tooth. The system knows this is a potential problem; with no intervention from a human operator.  The patient is then contacted and advised to return for treatment.

I am working with this company because I believe that they are using sophisticated digital technology in creative ways. For example with Action Run: Data is retrieved from your dental office computer and is analyzed (mined) by a sophisticated system online (in the cloud). Based on over a million transactions a self learning system (artificial intelligence) identifies a patient needing treatment. Based on his/her need the patient is contacted (data base marketing). All your office staff needs to do is answer the phone when the patient calls to schedule (automated e-service)

Two additional items to note: Early users have had amazing success with an ROI of six or seven to one. That is for every dollar they invest in the system they get six dollars in increased production. Second. These kinds of creative systems can be used in many areas; re-activation is just the beginning.

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10 Tips To Grow Your Dental Practice

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Most dentists I talk to have a strong desire to grow their dental practice. Many have even hired so-called SEO guru’s, website designers, local ranking experts, and consultants, but with very little success.

With the competitive landscape for most business niches, dental is no different. You can’t have a piece meal marketing approach. You must have a strategy (plan) that is all-encompassing, covering all facets of both online and offline marketing, that work cohesively together, to get more new patients.

Below are what I consider the top 10 critical marketing elements you must have in place and work on consistently to grow your practice and be the leader in your locale.

1. Lead Generating Website

Notice how I didn’t just say website, I said “lead-generating” website. There’s a big difference. Of the hundreds of dental websites I’ve reviewed, I can only count a handful that are truly designed to attract new dental patients.
Unfortunately, web designers are not marketing experts. They are building their portfolio to attract more design or creative customers, not businesses that truly need leads. Unless they have a internet marketing background, it’s not wise to spend the $3,000-$10,000 on a website that does not convert.

2. Dental Blog

This could be part of number 1 above, but I am making it a separate category, as it is a crucial piece of your marketing pie. You see…a blog allows you to produce and publish valuable content that both your visitors, and the search engines love.

This will result in higher search engine rankings, and a perceived leader (authority) in your special niche of dentistry, whether it be veneers, invisalign, braces, implants or any other high transaction value cosmetic procedure.

3. Video Marketing

Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world, and more people are choosing to search and watch videos as opposed to reading text. This, as a dentist, gives you a huge opportunity to implement a video marketing strategy that will position you as the expert, making the decision to hire your much easier.

The only problem I see is many dentists who have a youtube channel, but have not optimized it, or any of the videos to get more eyeballs. This ends up being a waste of time and money. Allotting a budget to have a video marketing company or consultant come in and do this for you is a wise business decision.

4. Reputation Marketing

This is an area that is exploding online. More and more people are making their buying decisions on social reviews. You’ve seen these before. You do a search, and google shows local business listings.

Right in the listing, you’ll see a link to reviews. This is where people go immediately to read about the business. Are there any reviews at all? Are they positive or negative.

There is an entirely separate service for cleaning up bad reviews, and gaining new ones. As time goes on, businesses are going to be investing large amounts of money into their online reputation.

5. Local Listings And SEO

More and more people are searching for local services. If you don’t have a google+ local page that is optimized with images, videos and offers, your competitors are going to easily outrank you and get all the phone calls.
Focusing on local seo and business listings is a wise decision of both your time and money. If you’re not found when your potential patient is looking for you, you lose!

6. Mobile Marketing

Take a look around you. Everyone is buried in their mobile phone. Texting, talking, skyping, you name it! Mobile marketing is exploding! Did you know that over 60% of local searches are done on the cell phone. Next year that number is expected to grow to 80%; and the following year (2014) it is said, mobile search is going to exceed desktop search.

With those types of numbers, you better “get mobile”.

Again, there is a specific marketing approach that you must take if you want your mobile marketing investment to pay off.

7. Email Marketing

They say “the money is in the list”, and I tend to agree.

It’s standard now to get patient email addresses, but what most dentists are missing is getting the email addresses of their website visitors. This is a massive lost opportunity that I would say 90% or more of the online dental websites are missing out on.

There is a specific strategy to maximize this approach. It can be a time consuming, time-sucking method, and one that I would recommend most dental practices hire out to the professionals who have experience in this.

8. SMS Text Marketing

Above we already mentioned mobile marketing, and text messaging is a close second. In fact, many marketing professionals would say text messaging goes in the same category as mobile marketing, but I beg to differ.
There are companies now that only offer SMS marketing. You may or may not need a separate company to achieve the results you’re looking for, but just imagine the ability to send appointment reminders for example. Very powerful stuff!

9. Facebook

We all know how big facebook is. Over 1 billion active users! If you do not have a Facebook marketing strategy, you are losing out on a huge potential goldmine of prospective patients.

This is another area I’ve seen with hundreds of dental practices who are doing it all wrong. There are so many strategies you can implement just with Facebook, that it would take 5-10 hours per week just for this.

10. Social Media

Social media is evolving all the time! With Twitter, Pinterest and now Instagram your demographic (teens) are there. They are tweeting to their friends. They are uploading to Instagram. Pinterest is the fastest growing social network in the world, and it is a fantastic opportunity for you to pin your before and after pics, as well as any other event you have going on in your practice.

But…the key to all this is to optimize what you’re doing for the best SEO results. If you don’t, you’re wasting time (and money) doing it, as you won’t see results.

These 10 tips (strategies) I’ve listed would take easily 40 hours or more a week if implemented completely. That is why you should consider a marketing firm, or consultant to do it, as we are the professionals, and can get you a better ROI than if you had a staff member “try it”.

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Take Five with Marty interviewing Linda Miles

In Episode 7 of Take Five With Marty, Dr. Marty Jablow discusses today’s dental practice management challenges with legendary dental consultant, Linda Miles. Linda also provides some recommendations regarding how to get patients back into the office regularly and grow your dental practice as a whole.

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Blogging for Dentists

Does your dental practice have a blog? A blog is an online tool that can be used to share information, news, and events. Blogging is a free and highly effective way to advertise your dental practice and connect with patients.

A main benefit of blogging is that it provides an opportunity to show current and perspective patients what makes your practice unique. Blog posts can demonstrate the passion you have for your practice and for dentistry in general. When a patient views your blog, he or she will be able to see your dedication to staying up-to-date on the newest procedures and equipment, your commitment to patient satisfaction, or acting as a resource to inform your patients on preventative health practices.
There are endless topics to post about on a blog: dental procedures, office promotions, or new industry discoveries. Many patients appreciate when their dentist blogs regularly. It gives them a chance to learn more about the latest events and promotions happening at your office. Patients will find ease in noticing how knowledgeable you are on a procedure or new technological discovery.
Follow these tips from experienced bloggers to establish a successful dental blog of your own:

  1. Create. Websites such as Blogger.com offer free and simple blogging services. To start blogging, all you need to do is sign up for an account and start posting! For advanced users, you can embed the blog into your website as a live-feed, so the blog content will also show up on your website when you post it on the blog. To make your blog more entertaining, it is usually a smart idea to have an appealing design and add images to your blog posts.
  2. Update. As a dentist or doctor, it is not necessary to blog every day or even every week – once or twice a month would be ideal. Blogging can be time-consuming and you wouldn’t want to flood your followers’ blog feeds. It is also important to blog about relevant topics and issues that people would be interested to read about. Writing a blog about basic flossing habits or healthy eating tips would be very informative and interesting for a blog viewer to read.
  3. Respond. It is a good idea to view blog posts on a regular basis to check for activity and comments. Responding to blog comments shows that you are dedicated to patient satisfaction and it creates a conversation with your blog readers.
  4. Promote. Now that you spent time and energy creating and posting a blog, now it is time to promote it! The most efficient way to advertise your blog is to add a link on your dental website. You can also post a sign in your office or office brochure promoting your blog use. To promote new blog posts, it is always a good idea to post links to your office Facebook and/or Twitter accounts.

Solution21 has social networking packages that include blog design and setup for your practice, as well as unlimited updates by your personal Website Specialist. To find out more about our blogging options, call us at (888) 423-9235.

 

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