Norman Vincent Peale once said, “The world is what we think it is. If we can change our thoughts, we can change the world.” This statement rings so true. We are in the midst of uncertainty in our country’s economy, and it’s easy to feel as though we have no control. But simply by changing our way of thinking, we can change the outlook for our staff, our patients, and ourselves.
You may be looking at a lighter schedule these days, which promotes fear and doubt about what the future holds for you and your practice. You may be concerned about the lack of production, meeting payroll, and paying the bills. In a down economy, the main focus is often money. This often leads to reduced customer service, which hurts the practice the most.
Build a stronger practice
It’s time to change your thinking. Take advantage of your lighter schedule to build a stronger practice. Reconnecting and solidifying relationships with patients are key opportunities to consider when you find some extra time in the schedule. A lighter schedule should also be embraced as a perfect opportunity for staff development and continuing education.
Our staff had the great fortune of meeting Tawana Coleman of the Dr. Dick Barnes Group in 2006 during a Total Team Training program. The structure taught in this program helped us learn critical phrases that have made a world of difference in the way we relate to our patients and the treatment they accept.
When we were exposed to the Total Team Training structure, I’ll admit we said, “We already do things pretty much like that.” But the underlying concept of doing things pretty much like that and doing things just like that are completely different. The difference between the little details can mean the difference between success or failure. It has nothing to do with where your practice is located or whether your office is new or old. But it has everything to do with the way the patients are treated from the very first phone call. Through determination, persistence, and the watchful guidance of Tawana, we have learned to provide great customer service. In 2008 I began assisting Tawana in the Total Team Training program and have seen how the structure taught in this program has changed the world for many practices, patients, and staff.
Ask the right questions
A few months ago I received an email from a potential patient who found us on the Web. Kevin was stationed in Iraq and would be coming home to Wisconsin for a few weeks. Because of the distance and time difference, we were only able to correspond through emails. His first inquiry was whether or not we did Lumineers. I learned from Dr. Barnes a few years ago to answer a question with a question, so I simply asked Kevin, “Do you want Lumineers?” He reported that he had been reading up on veneers versus Lumineers, and due to his time restraints, he thought that would be his only option. We discussed why he was dissatisfied with his teeth and discovered that he was unhappy with the spaces between his teeth and the color of his teeth. He said he thought he needed eight or ten front teeth done, and he wanted to know our fees.
Total Team Training taught us that we would need to build a relationship of high trust and low fear before Kevin would want to have his care done by us. We raved about the wonderful work Dr. Stevens does and the great products produced by the artful ceramists at Arrowhead Dental Laboratory. We told Kevin that his new veneers would have lifelike qualities instead of the flat, dull appearance many veneers have. We talked about giving him the smile of his dreams.
Since all of Kevin’s appointments needed to be coordinated before we ever did an exam and we had no idea what we would find, I gave Kevin a very wide range of costs for his treatment and explained that the final cost depended on what we found in his exam. In a follow-up email Kevin shared with me that he had been pricing out his dental care and found another office nearby that was willing to do the care for hundreds of dollars less per tooth, plus they offered him another 20 percent discount. He said he’d be foolish if he didn’t take them up on the offer.
I emailed Kevin back one last time to tell him I respected his decision but felt bad that he wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet Dr. Stevens and that we would not have the opportunity to meet him. These were some of the exact statements Tawana taught us to use. I knew we had said and done everything we were taught through the Total Team Training structure.
We provide excellent service and dental care for our patients. We could have made the decision to discount the fee like the other office did, but we know the value of the services we provide and I felt I conveyed that to Kevin. We are not discount dental providers, and I know that if good, honest information is given and a relationship of high trust and low fear is built, the right things will happen.
Kevin emailed me a few days later to tell me he changed his mind and decided to have us provide his care. When we got to meet Kevin for the first time a few weeks later, I asked him why he decided to have us fix his teeth. He said he chose us because we were honest with him about what he could expect, we answered all of his questions, we invited him to come, and we cared.
Even in uncertain economic times, following principles outlined in the Total Team Training structure makes good things happen. Keep these four core beliefs in the forefront of everything you do:
- Be true to yourself: always present the best treatment
- Know your real value: don’t do discount dentistry
- Make the emotional investment: invest in yourself and your staff through continuing education
- Change your thinking: make it positive and change your world