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Make the Bread, Buy the Butter

This is the title of  a terrific cooking book by Jennifer Reese.   She has done all sorts of research to basically see which makes sense for all different types of cooking, doing it yourself or letting someone better do it. (Hence the title.)  I think it’s a great principle to apply to any business.  With all the systems and processes in your practice, ask yourself, what are you doing that you shouldn’t be doing yourself, and what are you not doing yourself that you should be?

For example, do you sign your own checks?  Or can someone else pay bills and charge things without your approval.  Embezzlement only happens when you don’t have knowledge and control of your money.  I know businesses doing $40 million a year where the owners still sign the checks, except for payroll, and require two signatures for anything over $3,000.  Do it yourself.

How about your website?  Doing it yourself, when you get around to it?  Search engine optimization is the most rapidly changing aspect of the advertising world.  Web design is 10% art and 90% results-testing. How could you possibly keep up with it?  Outsource it.

Your lab.  Should you send all your crowns out, or should you get on the CEREC train?  Well, more than 10% of practices now use CAD/CAM, and it’s saving them money, and getting their patients out of the office in one visit instead of two.  That’s a pretty good consumer benefit.  And it gets even better when you stop doing composites and use porcelain for inlays and onlays as well as for crowns.  DIY, I say.  Anteriors? Maybe not yet.

Are you writing your own advertising? Where did that skill come from?  Outsource it.  You can even use a website like to create logos and ads and even Facebook pages.  Have someone do your keyword buying too, if you’re doing that yourself.  It’s trickier than Google says it is.

Social media. Are you letting some outside service do your posts for you?  Nothing is more obvious–and unappealing–to a Facebook reader.  Someone in your office should be doing the Facebook posts, commenting, and tracking your reputation online.

The list goes on: insurance billing, reactivation calls, payroll, supply purchases–take a few minutes with your office manager or your whole team and ask the question.  You may be wasting time, or not getting something done the way it should be, or not protecting yourself.  Question everything.

That way you can concentrate on making more bread.

(Feel free to comment on this blog with what you would change.)


Broadening the Dental Category

When VCR’s first came out, many people predicted it would be the demise of the cinema business.  It didn’t happen.  What did happen is that by 1988, video rentals and sales reached $4 billion annually, passing movie sales, which continued to grow.   (Oddly, when DVD’s came out, people predicted the same thing, yet in 2011, movie theater revenue was $10 billion.)  So what really occurred here is that the category broadened.  People assumed it was a zero sum game–people would either watch videos or go to the movies.  Instead, they did both.

Similar things have happened in dentistry. Cosmetics barely existed when I came into the dental field in 1986.  Now it is conservatively a $10 billion segment of dentistry.  When Invisalign came out, many thought it would erode the bracket side of orthodontics.  Instead, it broadened the category.  Literally millions of people, mostly adults, who would never have considered braces were excited about the idea of Invisalign, and as a result many more patients were treated, and the bracket business didn’t recede at all.  Most significantly, it broadened the category of orthodontics for the general dentist.

3D Cone beam imaging is now doing the same thing to implants.  Cases that were previously a near impossibility, or at the very least with a high risk of failure, are now done with pinpoint accuracy, much less surgery, faster healing times, and longer-lasting results.  And once again, the category is being broadened for the general dentist.

And yet, what I still see is a tendency by dentists to limit themselves to what they already know and do well.  It’s a natural tendency.  But thriving dentists are broadening their approach to the dental category.  They are adapting new technology, getting more training in new procedures, and offering a wider range of treatment to their patients.  As a result, their patients are accepting more comprehensive care, getting implants, trying Invisalign or Six Month Smiles, whitening their teeth every two years, eventually getting veneers (I finally did myself in January, and I love them!)   And most of all, having a lot of fun in their practice.

But most practices do not tell their patients all the options available to them.  This is a marketing misjudgment.  We often assume that when we tell people something once, they were actually listening.  People don’t listen until they care, and find it relevant to themselves.  The most basic tenet of marketing is to tell your customer (your patient) over and over what you do and why it’s good for them.  This means newsletters, in-office videos, email marketing to your patients, and most of all, your staff talking to patients about what is possible.  Waiting for people to ask assumes they know what to ask for.  They are looking to you for professional guidance.  Their goal will remain to do as little dental work as possible until you explain the benefits of new dentistry to them.

One my main goals is to broaden people’s appreciation of dentistry from simple teeth maintenance to a service that vastly enhances the quality of their life.  So I encourage you to take a look at your practice.  How can you broaden your approach to the dentistry you offer your patients?  (And don’ t they deserve it, after all?)  Think about new courses, new technologies, new services.  And then, most importantly, tell your patients about it.  The rewards await you!

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