Fun Ways to Market Your Practice

Dental practices have long known that providing small perks to kids, such as candy and stickers, can make a big difference in how the patient feels afterwards. Providing things like WiFi, a nice bathroom to freshen up in after appointments, loaner reading glasses and samples of products you frequently recommend to patients can help keep your young adult patients happy. You can also provided branded products like pens, lip balm, and other small items can help promote your business. Even more unusual items like flowers and windshield scrapers can make a significant impact on patient relations, as can something as simple as a greeting card for new patients.

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Exit Interviews: Get it in Writing

Editor’s note: This is the second of two blogs in our series about exit interviews.

While most mangers and business owners know how important exit interviews are, CEO and CO-Founder of HR firm CERD Solutions Paul Edwards believes there are many misconceptions surrounding the topic.

In his DentistryIQ article “Exit stage left: Using exit interviews to support practice management,” Edwards writes that the exit interview form serves a variety of useful purposes:

  •  It’s the employee’s story at the time of departure. If they file any future complaint containing a new or conflicting story, it can be a valuable written record for you, in the employee’s own words.
  • It provides useful information to the manager and to the dentist. Ex-employees who are no longer worried about keeping their jobs may inform you of problems.
  • A departing employee may allude to improprieties or make direct accusations against the business or another employee. “TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUSLY,” Edwards writes in all caps. “At the very least you need to investigate and record your actions, as well as anything you did to address or correct any issues uncovered.”

In order to get this information, managers feel like they need to sit down with the departing employee and have a face-to-face discussion, he writes, like they do in the movies.

But, he said, having an in-person meeting for an exit interview can easily turn into a disaster.

“Remember, in the movies, the HR person is not directly connected to the situation, so it’s a lot easier for them to be impartial and remain in control,” he writes. “But in the average dental practice, the terminated employee is someone you’ve known and worked with – and possibly exchanged angry words with – recently. This seriously impacts the likelihood of either side feeling cool and collected during the exit interview.”

Distributing the exit interview

Below, Edwards lists a few real-life scenarios of employees quitting and gives instructions on how to handle the exit interview and other housekeeping things.

If a termination or resignation occurs on-site:

  • Place a copy of the exit interview form in a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  • Include it as you hand the employee their final paycheck (do NOT withhold this).
  • Collect keys or company property if possible.
  • Let the employee know the business would appreciate it if they filled out and used the self-addressed stamped envelope to return the exit interview.
  • Do not allow them to sit in the office and fill it out.

If a termination occurs via walk-out or job abandonment:

  • · Mail an exit interview form, an self-addressed stamped envelope, and a typed request that the ex-employee fill out and return at their convenience.
  • · Send with the final paycheck or separately, but do NOT send the exit interview before the ex-employee has been paid all wages due.

It’s best to send the request to fill out the exit interview letter by certified mail in the following instances:

  • When an employee quits without reason
  • When an employee quits during a shouting match
  • If you suspect foul play of any kind
  • If you suspect that a complaint (valid or not) may be lodged by the employee.

Edwards writes that no matter how an unhappy, departing employee respond to his or her exit interview, you tried. 

“The fact that you took the time to ask speaks volumes for your willingness and need to know,” he writes. “This helps support the practice if any complaints should escalate. And if the ex-employee fails to return the form, you’ll have the record that you tried – valuable evidence of fair and consistent management.”



Vaping Possible Suspect in Wisconsin teens’ hospitalization

Eight Wisconsin teenagers were hospitalized in July, and the state is investigating a possible link to vaping.

All eight teens were having symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, cough and weight loss.

In a July 26 statement, the hospital wrote that each of the patients had a history of vaping. 

“The popularity of vaping is obviously skyrocketing among our kids and its dangers are still relatively unknown” said Michael Gutzeit, MD. “We don’t have a lot of information about the long-term effects or even the short-term effects. What we do know is vaping is dangerous. It’s especially dangerous in teenagers and young adults.”

The statement goes on to read that the symptoms are varying from patient to patient, and some of them are needing assistance in order to breathe. While some of them are showing improvement after treatment, the long-term affects of what’s going on aren’t known.

“It is believed prolonged or continued exposure to these chemicals could lead to more serious health issues like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a permanent condition which makes lungs less effective at transporting oxygen and is permanent,” read the statement.

So far, there have been two reported deaths from vaping, and both deaths have occurred because of explosions.

In addition to respiratory issues and explosions, vaping can cause a myriad of oral health problems.

To read about them, check out our previous blog on Vaping and Oral Health: Not a Compatible Pair.







What to Do About Negative Reviews Online

The internet has completely transformed the meaning of word-of-mouth, and in 2019, you can get thousands of reviews of restaurants, hotels and–yes–even dentists.

So what do you do when you get a bad one? 

In article, owner Brian Greenberg gave three tips on how to deal with them. 

“Reviews left on Yelp or Google Plus can either boost your business or lead to your eventual downfall,” he writes. “Five positive reviews on Yelp have been shown to boost your business by up to 10%, whereas one really bad negative review can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in business.”

Greenberg goes on to write that negative reviews can impact things social media and web traffic, and he adds that he’s seen businesses change their name and even shut down because of negative reviews.

He then reminds us of the number one golden rule of business:

The customer is always right.

 “After several decades in business, I’ve learned to approach reviews with the goal of giving the best possible customer experience even when they’re angry,” he said. “It keeps reviews from becoming the bane of your existence and shows how dedicated you are to delivering a consistent level of excellence.”

Step 1: Apologize

Greenberg starts this step off with a reminder that everyone is human, and everyone is going to mess things up. And, unfortunately, those mistake can lead to negative reviews.

“Take a deep breath, walk off any initial irritation you may have, and try to reach the consumer outside of the review platform,” he writes. Whatever you do, don’t retaliate. Lashing out at customers is a sure-fire way to lose business and ruin your reputation”

If you can’t find a way to talk with them in the real world, Greenberg suggests responding to the review with humility, telling the customer you;re sorry and you want to ensure the best possible experience for them. Then, he says to reinforce your business’s customer services values and how you are going to correct what was done as soon as possible. 

“I’ve found reaching out to the customer and reminding them we’re real people is effective in not only correcting the problem with the individual, but in showing potential customers what to expect from our business,” he writes. 

He’s also made it part of his business’s policy to send a $100 Amazon gift card with a physical note that says “We appreciate your patience and value your business.”

“Responding to negative reviews lets customers see how you handle a less-than-ideal situation,” he writes. “Statistically, people will read the negative reviews first. If things go wrong, they want to know what to plan for. Show you’re capable of continuing to deliver excellence even when things aren’t perfect.”

Step 2: Fix It

Just apologizing isn’t enough–the issue actually has to be fixed. 

“Putting actions behind your words online helps the customer trust your company more,” Greenberg writes. “They’ll feel you’re being transparent in your solutions and general business accountability, which can only build positive things for your reputation.”

One of Greenberg’s company’s biggest problems has to do with billing. As soon as a customer signs up for insurance, the funds come out of their account, which sometimes leaves them with insufficient funds and overdraft penalties. Greenberg deals with the issue by refunding the overdraft fee, even if it happens multiple times to the same client.

“Knowing we’ll always fix something that’s gone wrong for our customers helps them to trust us and to know they can always contact us with problems,” he wrote. “Building trust cuts down on the need for them to post reviews in the first place, because they know if they contact us directly they’ll be heard and their issue will be addressed.”

Step 3: Follow Up and Ask for Removal

Now that you’ve sincerely apologized and corrected the issue, Greenberg suggests reaching back out to the customer and asking them to remove the negative review. 

Asking the customer to take down a negative review can also be a great moment for follow up, Greenberg writes. By checking in with the customer, you’ll make them feel cared for, and they might even change their negative review to a positive one.

“I like to think about it this way: when I’m writing my own reviews, I have an expected outcome that I hope for” he writes. “I want to see the business own their mistake and then correct the issue. If that happens, I’ll most likely take down the negative review. So when it’s time for me to be on the other side of the review process I try to remember what it’s like as the customer.”

What if the plan doesn’t work?

While Greenberg has had mostly positive experiences with getting his customers to take down negative reviews, he admits that it’s not always going to be the case.

“What matters is you’ve demonstrated to the customer, and to anyone else reading the reviews, that you’re apologetic and dedicated to resolving mistakes as quickly and professionally as possible,” he writes. “If you make one customer feel heard and valued in the review section, then other customers will trust you to do the same for them.”

When doing their research on your business, potential customers will see your positive attitude and consider you trustworthy, Greenberg writes, which is why it’s crucial that you stay on top of them.

“By thinking of the review process as an extension of the customer service experience, you’ll handle it like a pro and your customers will keep coming back—in real life and online,” he writes.







Keeping Patients Committed with a Membership Plan

According to a McKenzie Management Survey, of every ten new patients that visit a medical practice, seven will never go back. Thats a lot of not-returning patients!

In his recent Dental Economics Article “Membership plans keep patients committed to your practice,” Dave Mohan writes that a world of endless choices has created a new level of fickleness among consumers.

“Loyalty to one brand or one entity is becoming rare,” he writes. “It’s no different with your patients. If you aren’t doing it already, now is the time to implement a patient loyalty and retention program.”

So, where do you start? Monahan suggests with the uninsured.

“The most vulnerable patients in a practice are those who are uninsured and pay out of pocket,” he writes. “They truly have endless choices and often shop around for oral care. They are also typically the most profitable patients for a practice and the patients a practice can least afford to lose.”

Monahan goes on to write that research from the Fitch Brand shows the uninsured are patients who are uncomfortable not having dental coverage, avoid hygiene visits and are skeptical about accepting additional treatment recommended by the dentist.

“The great news is that 89% of uninsured patients are interested in purchasing a dental care plan if it’s simple, transparent, and affordable,” Monahan writes. “They have looked at dental insurance, but they do not buy it because of the long, complicated agreements that include limitations, exclusions, annual maximums, and other terms that make it difficult to understand.”

And this, he writes, is where a membership plan comes in. 

A membership plan is a dental care plan that you offer directly to your patients. Patients pay a monthly fee directly to your practice for preventive care and discounts off other treatment. Membership plans eliminate the cost and hassle of an insurance middleman, enabling patients to get the oral care they need at an affordable price while enabling dentists to run a successful, profitable practice.

Monahan writes that his research has found that the cost or fear of a high cost is the number one reason patients with no insurance avoid the dentist. However, membership plans allow patients to understand the costs up front, and that kind of transparency builds trust because they know they will not be surprised by bills during or after the appointment.

“When uninsured patients get access to the oral care they need at an affordable price they want, they feel a sense of relief and appreciation,” he writes. “They visit more often, become more committed to their hygiene visits, and accept more restorative treatment. As a result, membership plan patients are loyal to your practice and will become your best patients.”