Demystifying the Structure

Nov 17, 2010 No Comments by

I don’t know about you, but I have always enjoyed seeing claims demystified. Oftentimes I find myself watching shows like “MythBusters” or visiting websites like snopes.com to validate e-mail claims that promise success, wealth, fame, and more.

While Las Vegas headliners Penn & Teller demystify magic tricks and illusions, I’ve discovered that there are no claims, tricks, or myths that make the Dr. Dick Barnes Structure so successful. The structure we share with teams across the world is just this—a structure that simplifies how you treat every patient who walks through your door.  This is a systematic approach with predictable results.

The structure has no illusions. For those of you expecting a mystical answer, you’ll be highly disappointed. We don’t charge an expensive fee to teach you “tricks” behind the magic. Instead, knowing the structure and how and when to apply it—then following through and relearning and applying the principles—is what makes this all work.

To more fully explain the structure in our everyday communications with doctors and their teams, we engaged in a project. The intent was to come up with a common definition and help guide the entire team during implementation. As a team at Arrowhead Dental, we are always listening for ways to improve upon our services. We are always looking for opportunities to help teams progress.

People get the most benefit when they are mentally ready to change.


I spoke recently with a doctor about his team’s experience with Total Team Training. He said the principles could be overwhelming to apply, but he wanted the success he had read about in our magazines. In fact, he expected it! The doctor came ready to learn how to communicate better with patients and offer higher quality visits.

During the “transformative weekend,” the doctor learned how and when to apply the structure. He discovered that people get the most benefit when they are mentally ready to change. It’s imperative to set aside existing habits and come with an open mind.

As we talked, the doctor reiterated Dr. Dick Barnes’ teachings that implementing the structure requires a commitment from everyone in the practice, regardless of their years of experience. Saying “Yeah, but” is a self-defeating behavior. Instead, say, “Why not?” and keep an open mind. You can’t achieve full potential by adopting only pieces of the structure. Success will come, but the implementation can’t happen all at once.

While the structure contains several key areas, I’d like to focus on three of the most critical. You will see immediate results as you learn the rest of the structure and what to say and do when. The doctor I just mentioned said, “It is a choice—I choose to get patients to do the things they need to do.” He is now experiencing this change and loving the results.

Abracadabra #1: Turn every patient into a new patient.

In many dental practices, new patients are treated differently than existing patients. This results in lost revenue and unrealized dental treatment.

Dental techniques and technologies are changing rapidly, as are the needs of your existing patients. By taking the time to actively listen, co-discover needs, and communicate, the dentist and staff can provide value-based, comprehensive care that will dramatically impact the patient’s life and office success. In the Total Team Training course, our educators do a phenomenal job teaching office staff how to accomplish the most from every interaction with patients.

Utilizing the team to help build relationships is crucial. Allow your staff to discover these items and learn to ask the questions that lead to potential. Truly it takes the entire TEAM to help build relationships that last.

During this step, we also discuss the importance of discovering patients’ stories. Do you know yours? Learn how to recognize unrealized opportunities that can benefit your patients.

Abracadabra #2: Present comprehensive dentistry to every patient.

Too often, the diagnosis in dental offices is determined by insurance or the patient’s ability to pay. Dentists should present every dental treatment that is necessary to restore a patient to full dental health or to provide the confidence and esthetics desired. Let the patient determine finances—insurance is only a benefit at this rate. Be careful not to prejudge a patient’s ability to pay.

I know what many of you are thinking. “Time is money, Peggy, and I don’t have time to waste.” Or, “My patients will only do what insurance will cover.” Where do these thoughts come from? Dr. Barnes often talks about success versus confidence. You must have success to build confidence.

We provide the tools to present the dentistry that every patient deserves, then we provide a way to fit this type of dentistry into their budget. Remember that patients come to you because they trust your skills, care, and judgment; they trust that you are looking out for them. If something needs to be done, tell them! Let patients determine how they can pay for it.

Abracadabra #3: Effective scheduling focuses only on today and tomorrow to meet daily production goals.

Dental practices that fill the schedule just to fill the schedule are just “staying busy.” This is not, however, the same as being productive. By taking the time to concentrate on and embrace block scheduling, we effectively manage the doctor and hygiene schedule laterally. New opportunities to be productive will open up. Distinguish between confining versus non-confining procedures, and determine chairside time versus doctor time to meet production goals.

Another doctor recently shared how he liked to schedule according to what he enjoyed doing in the mornings versus in the afternoons. He said everything is going much smoother in his practice.

Our training helped this doctor see that achieving production goals by a specific time left his afternoons free to focus on relationship building with patients. Not only did it give the hygiene team more freedom to plan production, it opened a dialogue that wasn’t previously there.

Immerse yourself in Total Team Training and Dr. Dick Barnes’ philosophies, and you’ll find many rules and step-by-step instructions for achieving success. Keep in mind that all the courses were developed for immediate implementation. When a team is “in structure,” they truly understand the areas of focus discussed earlier. They implement the tools, verbiage, and principles provided at our training sessions.

What is the structure? It is a skillful strategy based on three areas of focus. They provide principles and essential step-by-step training, leading to a productive and profitable practice. When everyone implements the strategy with exactness, a practice can reach its full potential. This is known as becoming “Barnesified.” It’s an opportunity to reap the rewards of this “so-called mystical show.”

There are no illusions! Knowing the structure and how to follow through, relearn, and apply principles can put your dental practice in a class of its own. Your success is just a few training sessions away.

Fall 2010, Secrets of Success

About the author

Peggy Nelson is Director of Business Development at Arrowhead Dental Laboratory. She received a B.S. in business management from Brigham Young University. She has worked in the dental industry for over 15 years including management and sales.
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