Category Archives: Uncategorized

To all my subscribers

If you subscribed to this blog, and didn’t get an email in the past couple of weeks, it’s because I moved hosts.  Unfortunately it removed all my subscribers.  Please go to www.goaskfred.com and re-subscribe in the box on the right (the blog looks almost exactly the same) Thanks for being a subscriber, and I apologize for the inconvenience.

FRED

We’ve Moved to GoAskFred.com

I have outgrown my space here on WordPress.com so we have moved the blog over to GoAskFred.com.

Because of that move, we have to add those of you who are subscribing to our blog via email to our new location as well. So, you may receive an email notification from GoAskFred.com about your new subscription in a few days.

The content you found here have already been moved to the new location. Please come on down and check it out.

See you at GoAskFred.com!

The Magic of Apple Employee Training

We often hear about how brilliant Steve Jobs was, and what a good job Apple does of marketing its products.  What I want to talk about is their employee training in retail stores, and how it can be applied to any small service business.  (And if you don’t think you’re in retail health care, take some time and read Chapter 3 of my book—it should convince you.)

As you may have noticed, Apple stores are the busiest stores in the mall.  For the statistic-minded, retail stores in malls average sales of $341 per square foot per year.  The top 20 retailers average $787.  Apple stores average $6,200!!  More than twice the next highest retailer, Tiffany & Co., which does $3,000 per square foot.*  And this is just what is sold in the Apple stores, not online.

So, now that I have your attention, here’s an acronym Apple uses in its employee training for the retail stores:

Approach customers with a warm, personalized greeting;

Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs;

Present a solution for the customer to take home that day;

Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns;

End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

Do you see how these might apply to your practice?  I’m thinking they all do.  A warm, friendly greeting by everyone in the office who encounters the patient?  Check.  Probing politely to find out what their dental needs and desires are? Roger that.  Presenting a treatment solution that can be started and ideally completed that day?  Sounds ideal.  Listen for issues they may have, concerns about cost, treatment complexity, time involved, fears or misgivings they may have?  Pathway to success. And finally, ending with fond farewell AND an invitation to return or, better yet, an appointment already scheduled, and expressing how you’re looking forward to seeing them at that time.

In reality, it isn’t magic.  It’s just what we all want, and Apple is just smart enough to do it in a genuine and consistent way.

*Source: RetailSails Company Data 2012

Hosting Site Change Affecting Your Subscription

For those of you subscribing to my blog, I’m changing my hosting site, and it may not continue your subscription (I’m hoping it does, but you never quite know for sure!).  If you don’t get a blog from me by Wednesday, go to http://www.goaskfred.com and please resubscribe.  Thanks!  I’ll be blogging something much more interesting than this tomorrow!

 

Bring Online Reviews to Your Daily Huddle

I just had a great conversation with Anastasia Turchetta, who is a dental speaker and hygienist, (she’ll be speaking at TBSE this year) and I was showing her our new product, Reputation Monitor.  She immediately had a suggestion which I thought was great, which was to use it in the morning huddle and read the previous day’s reviews to the team.  This serves many purposes.  If there was as negative review, then the team can discuss what went wrong and how to correct it going forward. (It also should be someone’s job to respond to the negative review, but that’s not for the huddle.)  If you had positive reviews, this lets the team know that they are doing a great job and that people are noticing, and gets everyone excited about the day.

It also has the benefit of reminding team members that they are being reviewed, like it or not.  And so that should make them step up their game, and be conscientious, considerate and courteous throughout the day.  And it keeps the idea in mind that they should request that the patients do reviews for the practice, and that they can even do it in the office on their smartphone.  Or the patient could be encouraged to check in on Facebook and post a comment.

Reputation Monitor is a great tool for showing every comment that is being posted about the practice, whether it’s in social media like Facebook or an online review on Yelp or Google.  And this is a terrific way to take advantage of that information.  Thanks, Anastasia!

Tracking Your Online Reputation

As I mentioned in my most recent blog post, online reviews are taking the Internet by storm, and it’s one you better be prepared for. I believe that tracking your online reputation on a daily basis is so important that my company has just launched a new product, ReputationMonitor, which goes out into the Internet looking for every place that your name or your practice is mentioned, and puts all the results in a single dashboard so that you can take action.

There are a number of lightweight versions of this type of service such as Google Alerts, and some that claim to track your reputation, but most products are not very comprehensive, and only track a few sites. Ours is the most comprehensive, and it is the first of its kind exclusively for the dental industry. I’m really excited about it because it works so well and is so easy to use. As you know, I normally don’t hawk products in this blog, but in this case the need is so critical that I want my readers to know about this tool. The fact is most practices would never have the time to gather all this information, or even know how to do it.

ReputationMonitor covers three different categories of websites:

  1. Directory listings
  2. Online review sites
  3. Social media

With directory listings, you will find that there are dozens of websites, many that you’ve never heard of, that have some of your practice information, but often that info is inaccurate or incomplete. And worse, most of the time it doesn’t have your website listed, so there is no SEO juice. ReputationMonitor gives you an easy way to go and fix that information.

With online reviews, although you can’t get the negative ones down (and anyone who promises that they can do that for you is deceiving you), at least you know they are there, and you can respond to them. And with positive reviews, it gives you easy steps to post those reviews on your Facebook Page or Twitter, and you can even copy them and post them to your website. It will even send you an email or text message whenever a new review is posted about you anywhere. (The one exceptions are Angie’s List, which is a closed subscription site, so it only sees what they choose to make public, and then we will see it, and Facebook personal profiles, which are also private.)


With social media, you get a comprehensive look at what is being said about you, and where it is posted. This is also something you should be tracking daily and responding to.

You can also track the reputation of three different competitors of your choice, to see how you compare.

It’s a phenomenal tool for a practice, and it’s only $59 per month (and less if you’re a 1-800-DENTIST client already). If you’re interested in a demo, call 855-225-5231 or click here.

When it comes to your online reputation, the writing’s on the walls (that’s a Facebook joke, if you can’t tell.)

Online Reviews Are Like Vampires

The dental world is abuzz with stories of online reviews of practices, with good reason. Like vampires, online reviews live forever.  And also like vampires, if you’re not careful they can suck your blood until you’re dry.  A recent study showed that 89% of online reviews are positive.  This is absolutely not true for dentist reviews.  Because people don’t really have a good way of assessing treatment plans or a dentist’s clinical skills, they go by impressions created by the cost, the practice environment, the staff attitude, and a host of intangibles, and when they are scared, unhappy, disappointed or think they are overcharged, now they go on Yelp, Google or someplace like that and spew about it.  Venomously.

And you can’t get that review down. Many have tried. And people who read them don’t come away with much factual information, but people give credence to reviews, because they’ve been reading reviews on Amazon, Trip Advisor, Rotten Tomatoes and FourSquare (and Facebook, too) for years, and they won’t make a decision without hearing from the masses.

It’s a scary environment, and it’s also very hard to track. There are literally hundreds of websites that have some information about you, most of it that you didn’t submit and don’t know anything about.  And it would take hours every week to search them out and respond or correct them.  Until now.

Here at my company we felt that this is such a critical area of marketing that we developed a tool for dentists to easily track that information, and then do something about it.  Last week we officially launched Reputation Monitor.  Here in one dashboard you can track everything from reviews, to social media, to competitors’ ratings online.

This program goes out and searches hundreds of websites and compiles the data for you, and then gives you an easy way to fix it, or at least comment on if it’s a review, or even bring positive reviews into your own Facebook page or website.

It will even send you alerts when a new review appears, by email or right to your cell phone if you’d like.

I think this is an essential tool for dentists or office managers to take control of their online reputation without spending a huge amount of time.  There are other products that claim to do some of this, but this is the most comprehensive and user-friendly product out there.  I’m really proud of it, and I hope you’ll try it and tell me what you think.

It does so much that it takes 15 minutes or so to fully demonstrate it.  If you’re interested, click to schedule a demo for Reputation Monitor.  In a later blog I’ll talk about my recommendations for dealing with negative reviews.

This is what the overview page looks like:

Why the Olympics Move Us

I’m not a sports fan.  I watch one game a year on TV—the Super Bowl.  But every two years I’m glued to the TV with my heart in my mouth and my adrenaline pumping, and occasionally tears in my eyes, watching the Olympics.

I’ve thought about why the Olympics are so compelling to us, and I’ve concluded that it is because of the purity of their striving.  Simply put, Olympians are not doing it for the money. They may get an endorsement deal if they win gold, but for every winner there are a hundred losers.  Those are terrible odds. And a few dozen events that have no career or endorsement possibilities. Some people may say college ball is not about money either, but that is naive, I think.  These “students’ drop out of school the second they are offered a chance to go pro.  There is little to no chance of going pro from the Olympics.  So few do it that you can barely name more than a handful.  Competing in the  Olympics has nothing to do with any outside gain, any fame or fortune that may or may not come, but is only about performing to the ultimate, for themselves, their team, and maybe their country.

In this world of artifice, pretension, posing, and mercenary or pointless goals, where the super rich must get richer and politicians lie and insult each other to get our support, we have the Olympics.  Where we see people with character.  Fortitude.  True camaraderie. And it moves us. These people are certainly gifted, and we are fascinated by that. But we are moved, touched, stirred, by their courage in not crumbling when things go wrong. And also when they don’t blame their teammate, but support her, comfort her, console her after a devastating stumble or foul or misstep.  We see these daring youths with the boldness to fail in front of a billion people, with a camera two inches in front of their face seconds after their crushing defeat.  That’s what we admire as much as the winning, that willingness to endure the risk of unparalleled humiliation, where a one millimeter mistake could take your entire team out of medal contention. And beyond that courage, the character to turn and congratulate someone who has taken your years of training and hardship and sacrifice, and dashed your hopes and dreams of victory by one hundredth of second.

That magnitude of failure terrifies the rest of us.  In fact, most failure terrifies us, and keeps us from trying anything.  Instead, we whine about our tiny defeats.  We shrink from any adversity.  We complain about our petty difficulties.  And then we see someone like Jordyn Wieber go from the horror of not even qualifying for her event, to 48 hours later emerging triumphant and smiling, taking her team to gold achievement.  To see someone with that fortitude and that level of commitment astounds us, and hopefully inspires us.  We don’t envy them.  We pray something that intense never happens to us. Yet look what they become, these brave young souls.

It is also why we become so deeply offended and outraged when someone doesn’t uphold that Olympian standard, and sends out a thoughtless racist tweet, or worse, deliberately loses a match as the Chinese and Koreans did in badminton yesterday.   We expect dishonest politicians, greedy oil company executives and soulless bankers.  But we don’t want our Olympians to show weakness of character.  And some will, as we are all human.  But for so many of them to be so inspiring, for us to observe such a concentration of courage, perseverance and genuine camaraderie, to know that is possible, that gives us all hope.

I think deep down there is an Olympian spark in each of us.  A desire to find out what we are capable of, and to strive for something simply to draw the absolute best out of ourselves.  And it doesn’t have to be athletically.  Certainly most of us are not that biologically gifted.  But we are all doing something, something that we could do better.  We could be better parents, better friends, better employees, better citizens.  If we are employers, we could make business choices out of character and integrity rather than pure profit, and endure the consequences if it doesn’t yield vast success and wealth. We could take the time to be patient, compassionate, and considerate instead of rushing to our next self-gratifying moment. We could treat our bodies as the gift that they are, and use our minds to make a better world for everyone, not just ourselves.

For each of us the challenge is to find a way beyond our comfort zone, our perimeter of safety, and work harder to be truly excellent, for its own sake, not for the recognition or the material gain.  And to measure ourselves against what we suspect we are capable of, not by what someone else has achieved.  We don’t have to be the best.  There is bronze and silver for a reason.  But we can be excellent.  We can live an Olympic ideal of character, camaraderie, and courage. No one is stopping us.  In fact, no one can stop you, if that is what you choose to do.  And maybe you will inspire one or two other people to do the same.

As is often the case, Nike nails it with this commercial.  If you haven’t seen it, take 60 seconds.

Dental Blogs: Why and How

In a webinar that I did yesterday, I mentioned the increasing importance of blogging for a dental practice.  For those of you who don’t know much about blogs (you’re reading one now, so you have some idea!) the word is short for “weblogs”, which were created as a form of online journal, essentially with articles that are written, usually by one person, and archived and searchable for anyone who wants to read them.

You can also subscribe to blogs, which means you could get them sent to your email whenever they are published.  If you wanted to do this with my blog, you would click on the button to the upper right that says, appropriately enough, “FOLLOW BLOG VIA EMAIL”, and then fill in your email address.  Now, onto your blogging career.

First, the “Why”.  Most dentists would say to me, “Who the heck is going to read a dentist’s blog?”  The answer is, no one. Your patients most likely won’t ever read it. On rare occasions a potential new patient might read it. But this is who will always read it:  Google, Yahoo and Bing.  In other words, the search engines.   So what you are doing is providing relevant content for Google, etc., to associate with your website.  Google is out there on the internet all day long looking at everything, and inter-relating it so that when someone does a Google search they can present what they deem is the best possible result, based on hundreds of criteria that they use (but won’t tell us about.)  So your blog is one element in what I call “The Google Matrix”.

This consists of your website, your Facebook Page, your Twitter posts, your LinkedIn profile, your videos, and, perhaps most important, reviews that are written about your practice on Google, Yelp, Angie’s List or other review sites.  See my previous blog about these.

Assuming you have good content across this matrix, your website will then have strong SEO, or search engine optimization, which should make it appear on the first or second page of Google search results (or Yahoo or Bing).

This is why you want steady content going onto your blog on a regular basis.

Now, the How.

Creating a blog is remarkably easy.  Go to either Wordpress.org, or Blogger.com and download the software.  It is free to run a blog through these sites.  And they will also host the blog, so you don’t even have to deal with that.  Follow these simple steps:

1. Pick a design. (They call it a theme.) Doesn’t really matter what you pick, so choose what you like.

2. Come up with a name for your blog.  Something with “dental” or “dentistry” in it.

3. Fill in all the relevant information, especially your website. This is how the search engines are going to associate your blog with your website. Create settings that will allow you to automatically publish to Twitter and LinkedIn. This gives you fresh content on those sites.

4. Write your first blog and publish it.  Be sure to preview it to see how it looks.  And spell check it, I beg you.

5. Categorize and tag the blogs.  ALWAYS do this.  Google is looking for this to know what the blog is about.  It should always have “dentistry” and “dental” as categories and tags. The rest you can create and add based on what’s in the blog.

Your blogs should be short and sweet. Two paragraphs, two sentences apiece is plenty.  This is where you write about dentistry (as opposed to your Facebook page, which is where you personalize your practice.)  Write about procedures, technology, cases (no patient names), or whatever else you want.  Add a picture occasionally.  And a video.  Remember, you’re not trying to create a beautiful, comprehensive blog like the ones people read all the time, so don’t get perfectionist about it.  You are just feeding the matrix.

If you want to increase the relevance of your blog, figure out how to use hyperlinks (the words that appear in blue and allow you to click to go to another website.)  Also, list your favorite websites and blogs on your page.  But don’t expect blogging to magically jack up your SEO overnight.  It takes months.  And you need to be feeding the matrix at the other points as well to get the optimum result.

How Often?

I recommend blogging once a week.  Ideally this should be someone else’s job in the office, not the dentist’s.  And you can write a dozen blogs all in one sitting, and then schedule them to publish on specific dates. On WordPress, for example, as you draft the blog, you’ll see on the right where it says, “Publish immediately” and “Edit” next to it. When you click on edit you can choose the exact date and time you want each blog to publish.

Welcome to the blogosphere!

Back to Basics: Your Facebook Page

You either have a Facebook fan page at this point or you know you need one. At least I hope it’s one of the two. For those of you just starting one, here are some key points, and if you already have one, use this post to check to make sure that you are doing everything right.

If you’re still struggling with why you should be active on Facebook, let me say simply that this is the new digital word of mouth. This is how more and more people will find out about the experience of being in your practice from the patient’s perspective. The largest growing segment of Facebook users are 25-39 year olds. And they average more than 6 hours a week, with women spending twice as much time as men.  In other words, good potential patients.

So let’s start with the basics: a fan page and a personal profile are two different things on Facebook. A page is for your business. You would start here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php. Click on “Local Business or Place” and choose the “Health, Medical, Pharmacy” category. There is no “dentist” category, so you need to create a subcategory in the box below.  You can write “dentist” and even two other choices that will all show up.  The important thing to do is choose the main category as “Health, Medical, Pharmacy”, which won’t show up on your page, your subcategory will, but it will allow you to have recommendations from patients.  More on that later.

Fill out EVERYTHING! Your hours, your services, all of it. Especially at the bottom, be sure to put your website, an email address where you can be contacted and your practice phone number.

Your USERNAME is important. You only get two shots at this. Once you choose one, you can only change it one time, so choose wisely, and remember that you want it to be short enough to put on a business card. It doesn’t have to be your full practice name or your exact name, but it needs to describe you quickly and accurately, like “HappyToothChicago” or “FredsToothShop”. As close to your website name as possible is helpful as well. The sole purpose of this username is for you to be able to direct people easily to your page. The result will be that if someone puts in http://www.facebook.com/fredstoothshop in a browser it will go directly to your Facebook page.  Be sure to put your Facebook location on your business cards.

The next step is to set up permissions. You want to grant wide permissions, because you can always delete any post that someone puts up. You can also set up administrators for the page, besides the dentist, and give them a range of powers with the site. I recommend having at least two other people as administrators, just to be able to post and make changes for you.

Add photos. No photos is death on Facebook. (It’s not “Wordbook”.) You will need a good, panoramic shot, probably of your team, for the main photo, and a small logo shot for the lower left corner. Here are two samples of excellent pages: Spodak Dental has a great team shot here, and Romani Orthodontics is always showing some new contest she’s doing.

The four buttons that you see under the large photo can all be moved around and changed, except for photos.  If you are a Patient Activator client, we can add a module that will let visitors request an appointment, and it will also post reviews that Patient Activator gathers from your patients, and this will be a button that you can display.

Notice also that in Dr. Spodak’s page he is listed as a dentist (under his logo). This is his subcategory. He has also chosen to write his own section below that.  On Romani’s you see that her phone number and address are there. This is the standard Facebook Timeline display. When you click on her address it goes right to a map.  Facebook also shows whether you’re open at that moment or not.

But here’s a key difference: because she categorized her practice as “Health, Medical, Pharmacy”, Facebook creates a section where patients can write a recommendation. (This is also possible when they “check in” on Facebook on their mobile device.)

So your page is up and running. What’s next? Now you need to make it someone’s job in the office to post on a regular basis. NOT the dentist!  There is undoubtedly a Facebook geek in your office.  Make it part of her job.  This person should be checking Facebook every day, commenting whenever a patient posts, and adding posts, photos and occasional videos.

You also need to start asking patients to “like” your page.  You can do this by asking them personally, by emailing them, and by doing little contests or giveaways.  Notice that both these practices have thousands of likes.  They’ve been working at it.  And they have hundreds of posts by them and by patients.

This matters for two reasons.  First, viewers want to see new posts and lots of them.  That adds credibility.  Second, the search engines look at the posts.  Google, Yahoo and Bing are looking at your fan page (they can’t see Facebook personal profiles), and they are indexing them as one of the factors in determining the relevance of your website. In other words, better SEO.

Ask patients to post on your wall while they’re in the office. (A previous blog talks about the easiest way to get results.)  And remember, your own posts on Facebook should NOT BE CLINICAL.  Facebook is about showing the personal side of your practice and your team.  Post fun stuff: your Halloween pictures, favorite patient of the month, team member profiles, sponsorship events.  Be a part of your community, and show it.

So what should patients post?  Something simple, like “I’m here getting my teeth cleaned, and I always feel better afterwards. And I love everyone who works here!” To which your team member should respond with a commend like, “We love it when Sarah comes in—she always brightens our day!”  And remember,  happy patient has much more impact in a photo than in just a review.  And video testimonials are also nice.

Don’t forget about HIPAA. If you put up a photo of a patient, don’t talk about the clinical aspects of their smile. If the patient puts the post up themselves, they can of course say whatever they want.  And make a habit of getting releases from your patients to use their image in all media, including social media.

The new Facebook Timeline has some excellent features, including being able to “pin” posts that you like and keep them up at the top of your page.  Take advantage of them. Facebook now also makes it much easier to do special offers.  Try a few of those.  They don’t cost anything.

Welcome to Facebook and social media. There are levels and levels of customization that you can do, with help, to improve your look and response rate, but this will get you 80% of the way.

And I’ll say one more time, the primary purpose of your Facebook page is to personalize your practice, and make it possible for your own patients to refer you easily, and for people in general to get a feel for the experience of being a patient.  If someone tells you they can get you hundreds of new patients through Facebook, don’t believe them. It’s one part of your whole marketing plan, not all of it.

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