A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.
A bumble bee can fly up and down and all around, so why doesn’t it explore other options in an attempt to find another way out? Probably for the same reason that many dental offices do the same thing day after day, year after year – because it has always been done that way. Are there habits that you are sticking to that could ultimately lead to the demise of your practice?
Change is never fun, so it’s often rejected – but it’s a necessity in order to grow. Just like the bumble bee, humans are creatures of habit. We start the day with a hot cup of coffee or a diet coke; drive the same route to work every day; and more often than not, choose a burger and fries over a healthy salad at lunch. A fitness enthusiast will work out using the same methods – attending the same yoga class, walking the dog down the same streets, or swimming the same number of laps – even though statistics show that you would have better results if you change up your routine every day. Of all the clothes in your closet, you only wear 20 percent on a regular basis. We don’t like change.
Are there things in your workplace that you are not utilizing that could help your tasks be more efficient, or your practice to be more productive? The number one thing that is under-utilized in most dental offices is the practice management software. This one tool can be such a time-saver when it comes to processing claims, keeping track of treatment acceptance and maintaining recall management, which is the heartbeat of your practice. Handwritten postcards are still alive and kicking in many dental offices. This process can be such a time-sucker and is an outdated system of notifying patients that they have or need a recall appointment. “We’ve always done it this way.” Postcards can be generated quickly and efficiently using your dental software so that you can better use your time contacting patients that didn’t respond to last month’s postcards. Or better yet, make it routine in your office to get your patients’ email addresses and send recall reminders via the internet. Many dental offices still print and mail all of their insurance claims, even though claims are paid twice as fast if sent electronically. “We tried it that way a few years back and they kept losing our claims.” Old habits die hard.
The internet, although it is often portrayed as a vast, scary, time-sucking tool, can function as a great resource for many of the tasks that you need to accomplish in your day-to-day workload. More importantly, it should be one of your key marketing tools. When people are looking for a new dentist, 66 percent of them will go to the internet and research websites. They will review 10 different sites before selecting their dentist of choice. What does your website look like? Look at it from a patient’s stand point – does it reflect your office’s ‘culture’? Would it entice you to call for an appointment?
Taking it a step further, there is Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Social media is simply using the Internet to leverage what has been the best source of marketing for dentists since the inception of word of mouth. What age group is your target market? Did you know that 32 percent of Facebook users, 38 percent of Twitter users, 46 percent of YouTube visitors and 79 percent of LinkedIn members are over the age of 35? In addition, 27 percent of American adults use online social networking sites on a typical day. The fastest growing number of Facebook users is females between 35 and 55. Isn’t this who typically makes the decision as to which dentist the family will use? Do you think that this an area that you could be tapping into for added patient growth and retention?
Unlike the bumblebee, humans have the ability to look around and find ways to make their world better and more efficient. We can seek ways to improve and grow. Change is never easy, but it is often the only way to survive and thrive. Take a look around – what changes have you been avoiding or resisting? Quite possibly, it is the one thing that is the next step to great personal or professional advancement.
Denise Ciardello and Janice Janssen are respected professionals in the dental consulting industry and co-founders of Global Team Solutions, a practice management consulting firm specializing in team building and team training. They are the authors of the highly acclaimed book “OMG! Office Manager’s Guide.” You may contact them at: [email protected].