Become the Best Choice


I lead the Total Team Training seminars for the Dr. Dick Barnes Group, and I consider it a privilege. Not only do I get to practice and teach active listening skills, my heart is touched often by attendees’ responses. I observe how some students await answers with renewed hope, while others face them with eagerness or hesitation.

As I urge students to act on what they have learned, I am frequently asked, “What do I do first?” I tell them they must decide now to implement the proven Dr. Dick Barnes structure.

At each seminar, we consider the question “Which comes first, confidence or success?” Here’s my answer: You will never have confidence in the structure until you have a success. To achieve that, you must begin. As part of the seminar I teach, participants receive the proven structure step by step and word for word. I then call you to action.

Make the decision to begin on Monday. Know that you can make a positive difference in your existing practice. Be the encourager in your morning huddle. Remember, we get what we expect.

Look at each patient as an opportunity to change someone’s life through dentistry. Commit to following the proven structure. While some students may take the skeptical attitude of “yeah, but,” please say “why not?” instead.

Know the difference between the urgent and the important. Everything you do is important. However, you must make a conscious decision to set aside some “important” duties for the present and care for the “urgent” instead—the patient.

Recognize that the lifeblood of your practice consists of both new patients and your recall patients. You must give effort and consideration to each.

First, let’s focus on the new patient. Patients usually call your office as their first approach. While some “busy” offices consider the phone ringing an interruption, decide to consider it an opportunity instead. The Dr. Dick Barnes Group will provide you with scripts. Use them!

You will soon see how patients respond instead of just reacting to you. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Make patients feel they have definitely called the right office and you can help them. Act now and get the patient in your door as a result!

It is also important to schedule patients appropriately. First, listen carefully to why the new patient has called. Also, consider how best to schedule for both the dentist and the patient.

Many practices use block scheduling to increase productivity. This eliminates the dentist’s stress at needing to be in two or three places at a time, and new patients can be seen more quickly. Carefully block the dentist’s schedule, and soon you will find more time for comprehensive treatments.

Avoid using the word “confirm” during confirmation calls. Instead, let the new patient know you look forward to meeting them at their appointed time the next day. The patient will recognize quickly that your practice is different and in a good way.

When the patient arrives for his or her appointment, greet them by name with a smile and a handshake. Next, build the relationship—patients will do business with the people they like and trust! Let the dental assistant or hygienist inquire further about patients’ concerns mentioned during the new patient interview. Take X-rays and complete evaluations. You have now set the stage for the dentist.

Next, it’s time for the comprehensive exam. If this is an emergency visit, handle the chief concerns and encourage the patient to come back for a comprehensive exam. Now that you have co-discovered what is important to the patient, you will know what the patient needs and how best to move forward with treatment. Of course, all financial arrangements should be made prior to scheduling that treatment.

Recall—the ability to get return visits from patients—is the other source of life for your practice. Unfortunately, many practices have no recall system. Gain an advantage by being proactive with patients who are due for appointments and not scheduled and with patients who canceled or did not keep their appointments.

While it’s good to send patients cards as appointment reminders, make those personal telephone calls daily. If you want to schedule four appointments, make a minimum of eight calls. Again, the Dr. Dick Barnes Group offers a step-by-step, excellent recall system.

One of my favorite quotes from the book The One Minute Manager is “Everyone is a potential winner. Sometimes they are disguised as a loser. Don’t let their appearance fool you.” Recognize that the potential winner is your patient, and you can make all the difference.

You, too, have EXTRAORDINARY coded inside you. It’s your POTENTIAL waiting to be released.

So, take action today. It’s Monday, and it’s time to begin!

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Tawana Coleman was a practice development trainer with the Dr. Dick Barnes Group for more than 20 years. She worked with thousands of dental practices across the United States and Europe. The structure that she taught empowered dental practices to dramatically increase production. For any questions, email Tawana at


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