Friday, 30 July 2010

A picture paints a thousand words.

When working with a new client like you, I start by asking questions about where are you now, and where do you want to go?

As coaches we have many tools and exercises to enable our clients to get the clarity, freedom, direction or certainty about what they are after. If is surprising how some seemingly simple questions can be deceptively hard to answer without a skilled coach, like me, supporting you.
For example
“What do you want?”
“How will you know you have got it?”

I would like to share with you one exercise that I like to use.

Study the picture above, paying attention to each of the characters.

“Which one most closely do you associate with now?”

“When you practice is what you want it to be which one most closely represents you?”

Did you pick the same character for each question? If your answer is no,
call me 01296 770462 or e mail me

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Why don’t patients remember what we say to them?

When I was 8, I went to the hygienist for the very first time to have topical fluoride treatment. That short visit changed my life as from that moment on I wanted to be a hygienist. (I became a dentist instead and my passion always included perio). As clear as day I can still remember Sharon telling me a story about waterloo teeth, false teeth made from the dead soldiers on the battlefields at waterloo, as she told me the story she also showed me pictures.
Why is it that I can remember that conversation so clearly almost 40 years later, and I can’t recall another conversations I had?

Have you ever been frustrated that your patients don’t seem to remember what you say?
Would you like your patients to recall what you said to them 40 years later?

Read the following list of words only once spending no more than 30 seconds doing so, and remember as many of the words as you can

Together making your good practices great

Without looking back,
1. What were the first five words?
2. What were the last five words?
3. Which words was repeated?
4. What was the longest phrase in the middle of the list?
5. How many of the others can you recall?

Now check back and see how well you did.

For most of you, the results are likely to have been that you;
• found Question 1 easier than Question 2
• were able to answer no 3
• Found Question 4 easy
• Found Question 5 most difficult.

So what does this teach you about communication with your patients?

• They remember what you tell them first
• They will easily recall what is repeated to them
• They will remember something that stands out or is significant in some way.

So how can you apply this to your consultations?

• Consider what you want your patients to remember
• Tell them the important stuff e.g. the benefits of treatment first
• Repeat the information that you want them to retain, e.g. the health of their gums is determined by how well they brush and floss their teeth.
• Make important information stand out, for example use metaphors and stories to explain procedures, show them photos, videos or share powerful experiences and testimonials.

Your patients will already be remembering what you say first, what you repeat and what is significant, now you can choose what it is that you want your patients to recall by
• Saying the important information first
• Repeating the significant points
• Making the information you want them to remember significant and outstanding.

Top 5 ways to lose patients

1. Ignore them

Common ways dental practices ignore their patients include;
• Answer phones at lunch time
• Not greeting patients by name with a smile
• Running late and not letting them know or apologising
• Taking phone calls when they are in the chair (yes, I have witnessed taking mobile calls when treating patients)
• Failing to remember things of interest or importance about them

What are you doing in your practice to ignore your patients?

2. Making it difficult for them to buy from you

Common ways dental practices make it difficult for their patients to buy include;
• Not telling them what is available, i.e. the full range of services
• Not giving them a choice e.g. NHS vs. Private
• Not having a payment plan to spread the cost of treatment
• Not opening early mornings, late evenings, weekend or lunch times.
• Not explaining treatment in the way they can understand it.
• Staff only in on certain days

How are you making it difficult for your patients to buy your services?

3. Not listening to your patients

Common ways dental practices don’t listen to their patients;
• Not using patient questionnaires
• Not using a suggestion box
• Not using an end of treatment follow up / feedback questionnaire or interview.
• Not taking on board issues raised in complaint letters
• Not asking why patients have left the practice
• Not acting upon feedback.
• Not using interactive blogging sites.

How are you not listening to your patients?

4. Being average and predictable

Common ways dental practices become average and predictable.
• Not having an easily identifiable brand
• Not having identified a niche market
• Being like all the rest
• Not embracing new treatments options
• Not updating the premises
• Not being innovative with your patient journey and customer care.

How have you become average and predictable?

5. Lacking credibility and integrity

Common ways dental practices lack credibility and integrity
• Not sharing with patients details of courses they have been on.
• Not displaying certificates and awards
• Not using testimonials
• Not displaying photographs of their own work
• Promoting treatments that they have not had done themselves e.g. whitening or ortho
• Not treating family, friend or staff.

How could you be perceived as lacking in credibility and integrity?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Dental Principal in need of help.

I have been recently contacted by a young dentist who told me his story and asked for my help as a dental business coach.

“Having spent my time doing NHS associate jobs and on many post grad training courses, I have recently bought a practice, with the support of my parents, who helped me with the finances.

Now I have lost my way, there is so much more to running a practice than the clinical work, and I am frustrated that I don’t know how to do it.

I have spent many years at dental school, and post grad training and nothing has prepared me adequately to run my own practice.

I often feel that the staff run the practice the way they want it to be, and almost never a week goes by when there isn’t some sort of spat between members of the team.

I feel overwhelmed by the financial responsibilities; my team and their families are depending on me to generate them an income. I don’t know one end of a spread sheet from and other and live in fear that there isn’t going to be enough to cover the bills at the end of the month.

I work long hours, usually 6 days a week and then come home or go into the practice to contend with the mountain of paperwork and other ‘stuff’ that needs my attention, not to mention the other stuff that I carry to or from work hoping that I will have the time to deal with it at the end of the day or early in the morning.

I feel as if everyone wants a piece of me and I don’t have the energy any more.

My relationship with my family is suffering and my health is deteriorating, I don’t sleep well, I use alcohol daily to wind down, I seldom exercise and my weight is increasing.

How can you help me?”

Does this sound familiar to you?

It is very familiar to me, all the time I am meeting dentists who are in varying states of frustration, overwhelm, fear, and don’t know where to turn.

Fortunately I have the answer the Institute of Dental Business a unique interactive training and coaching programme that provides you with all you need to know to make your good practice great.

Click here for more details and call me now to register 07989757884

Friday, 16 July 2010

Dentists are like frogs

If am often struck as to the similarity between frogs and dentists.

If you put a frog into boiling water it jumps out immediately.

If you put a frog in cold water and gradually turn the heat up, it continually readjusts its self to the hostile environment and eventually boils alive.

I notice many dentists, particularly though not exclusively in NHS practice, change and adapt to the situation around them, as a consequence, they often become chronically sick, miserable, have failed relationships abuses legal and illegal substances , rather than jumping and taking a completely new path.

As to your reasons for in the hot water, otherwise known as your comfort zone, it could be fear, habit, lack of imagination, expectation from others, many other reasons.

And yet I invite you to consisder.....

Is your comfort zone really that comfortable?

If you were guaranteed to succeed, what would you do differently?

Imagine that you have taken that new path, as you look back to now what are some of the other areas of your life that have been enriched as a result?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

What can Tesco’s learn from dentists?

Those of you who follow my work will know that one of my tenets for a successful business is to model excellence. That is if you notice someone else or another business is doing something really well, unpick what they are doing and replicate it for yourself.

As you know I work with dental practices and an increasing number of independent optical practices. The Tesco’s in my area has recently opened opticians so I thought I would pay them a visit. I was curious what I could learn from the UK’s most successful retailer.

On Thursday I received my text message reminder for my appointment the next day. The Content stopped me in my tracks and questions began to bubble in my mind.

• What is the % of cancellations from appointments as a result as text reminders?
• What is the average value of each patient appointment?
• How much money is Tesco loosing as a result of their well intentioned and poorly crafted text reminders?

I did contact the optical customer services and Tesco’s about this – I am still awaiting a reply.

My allotted appointment came I was taken into a darkened room by a gentleman who started performing tests on my eyes. I had no idea who he was, what he was doing or why.

Then I noticed his name badge, he was “Andrew Photography assistant”

When Andrew had finished his tests, he took me into the waiting room and left me there. I was then joined by a young girl who took me into another room. Again I did not know who she what her role was what she was doing or why. After several closed questions about my medical health she noted “You are a doctor?” I replied “No, I am a dentist, well actually I am a business coach specialising in working with health care practices making their good practices great. Based on my experience so far, Tesco’s optical services are not doing very well.”

The young’s lady’s reply really impressed me, “Really, will you give us some feedback on how we can do better?”

“Of course I can”

The examination continued and I am pleased to report that I have excellent eye-sight.
The young girl then introduced me to her manager, Bob, explaining that I was a business coach for healthcare businesses and that I had some feedback for them.

Initially I asked the the manager what the stats were for cancellations as a result of text message reminders, he was not sure, and thought it may be about 7%, I asked him to calculate what the potential loss of income was as a result of cancelled appointments. Which he was able to do, and was shocked by, especially when he extrapolated over the 140 stores. Curiously, he told me that he did not know what the text messages said as they were dealt with at head office. I happily showed him the text I received and then showed him how by changing one word, the cancellation rate would be massively reduced. Both he and his assistant were disturbed by the content of the text, the significance and impact that would be created by altering one word.” We agreed that it would be a really interesting study to take the 140 Tesco Optical stores and do a double blind study changing the text reminders for 50% of the stores and then comparing the cancellation rates. I am certain that if the change I suggest were implemented the cancellation rates would plummet and the fees generated as a result would rocket.

Next I explained to the manager, Bob, that I had been examined by two people, and that I had not been introduced to them, or been explained what they were doing, why, or the benefit to me. The young lady was aghast as she realised that she had not introduced herself or explain what she was doing. Twinkle, the optician and I did short role play where I took the place of the optician, introducing myself and letting my ‘patient’ know what was happening. Both Bob and Twinkle were amazed by the simplicity, impact and low cost of what I showed them and agreed that when they embrace that approach it would significantly improve the customer experience with no extra investments.

Then I invited Andrew to join us and explained to both Bob and Twinkle that I knew Andrew’s name as he was wearing a badge. I went on to point out that as a customer I was also wondering “Why is a photography assistant was testing my eyes?” Bob, Twinkle and Andrew were stunned by what I was showing them and what it was potentially doing to undermine their professional reputation and revenues.
In just 10 minutes I shared with Bob and Twinkle simple tips that don’t cost anything that when implemented will generate amazing increases in gross revenues and profitability.

Within a few moments Bob was asking me to spend some time with them, training their staff as he could see what a difference it would make. It will be a delight to do so, and first he has to get approval from head office.

To summarise my experience at Tesco’s opticians
Customer service 4/10
Openness to embrace new ideas 10/10

What as a dental business coach can I share with Tesco’s or any other health care practice?

The importance of understanding KPI’s
The significance of the language we use and the impact it has on your client’s behaviours.
How to implement awesome customer service that costs little to implement.
And much much more.

Contact me now and find out how.

Friday, 2 July 2010

What taste do you leave your patients with?

Some while ago I went shopping with an image consultant and we went to House of Fraser in Reading. I had a great time as she brought me a steady supply of clothes that I looked not just great in I looked fantastic, she was able to select the correct colour, style and texture. In a short period of time I had a large pile to take to the till. At the pay point was an offer if I took out one of their cards I would receive a discount on my shopping, as I was about to spend a significant sum I asked the assistant about it. (Note that she did not make me aware of the offer)
Anyway there was a fault at the till and I was asked to carry all my wares to another till. There was a problem with the second one too and I moved my purchases for another time to the children’s department. The sale took place with the assistant reading questions from the till screen, not making eye contact with me; she had obviously not joined someone on to a card before. Eventually my clothes were packed in plastic bags and I left, FUMING at the poor customer experience. (It had taken three till points and 8 members of staff to conduct the tranaction)

After about an hour I had calmed down and my image consultant managed to persuade me to go back into house of Fraser, this time to the Hobbs concession. What a joy, assistants who smiled were helpful, were bring items not yet available on the shop –floor for me to try. When it came to paying they worked out how I could get maximum savings and my clothes were wrapped in tissue paper and placed in paper bags with ribbon handles. I felt really special.

Now as I look in my wardrobe I have a choice of clothes which one do you think I choose to wear?

If I wear the House of Fraser clothes how do you think I feel as compared to the Hobbs?

That is correct I invariably choose the Hobbs clothes as those feelings of being special come flooding back and I enjoy reliving that experience.

As I look at the House of Fraser clothes I am reminded of a very bad experience that I do not want to re-live and don’t wear those clothes as a result.

So what are your patients left with once you have finished their treatment?

When they look at their new smile in the mirror does it bring back feeling of being special, well cared for and valuable?

Or however technically and aesthetically brilliant their new smile is does it still have a bitter taste?

If you would like to improve the customer experience in your practice choose from one of my three customer service programmes

Loving loyal patients™
• The Patient centred practice™
• Pathways to pleasant patients™