What You Can Learn From A Phone Call…

Episode 047

Have you had a chance to listen to how your staff answers the phone? If not, you may be in for some surprises. This week I share 5 areas that my staff needs to improve upon that I learned by listening to call analytics. Tune in to see if these sound familiar on episode 47 of the Business of Dentistry podcast.

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Today I wanted to talk to you about call tracking data and call analytics. This is something we have installed in my office, and I finally dug into it last week. We have over 500 minutes of call data and, I’ll touch on the five top things I learned from our analytics.

1. Use the person’s name.
One of the best things I found when listening to our calls is there were no glaring customer service problems! My staff knows and follows the specific way to answer the phone and everyone is doing that. The one thing I want them to improve upon is engaging the caller by getting the person’s name and using it in the phone conversation.

2. Give better directions.
The second area we can be better at is giving directions. My practice is located on a busy hospital campus. Everything looks alike and it can be difficult for patients to find our office. We get lots of calls asking for directions and my staff isn’t always good at it so this is our second area to improve on.

One of the things I asked my staff was what resources can be provided to make this easier for them. We came up with hanging an American flag outside our office door on one of the pillars. We are the only ones who have this so it’s worked well.

3. Know our insurance networks.
Third, we have to know which of the insurance providers we are in network with. Many times my staff has put someone on hold to find out if we are in a particular network that the caller was asking about. There’s an easy fix for this: we can put together a list and have it handy for the people who answer the phones. It’s a simple systems process we can remedy quickly.

4. Answer calls faster.
The fourth area of improvement is the number of rings it takes for us to answer the phone. Based on our call analytics data I know we are doing a better job of answering the phones in the mid-afternoon, and doing a poor job of answering earlier in the mornings.

Specifically, around 9:30am it takes 4 or more rings for us to answer the phone and at 2:30pm it takes 2 rings or less for us to pick up a call. I know we need to be better at answering the phones in 3 rings or less, and this is another area for us to improve upon.

5. Stop talking to advertisers.
And finally, I’d like for my office to stop taking non-patient calls. Advertisers and marketers call us often and I’d like to find a way to screen those calls or block them all together. I think this will help with answering our calls faster; it will help us serve more patients in a faster and more timely manner when we are only talking to them, and not dealing with advertisers.

I’m sharing these five points because I think call tracking and analysis is valuable. if you aren’t tracking your calls for training and for marketing campaigns, you are missing out.

The direct connection someone has to your office is the phone. Whether a person finds you online, in the phone book or through referrals, they become patients of yours through phone calls. That’s the first introduction someone has to your practice: their phone call to you, so make sure it is the best call it can be!

Now I’d love to hear from you – are you tracking and analyzing your office calls? If not, when you will start? If you are, what have you discovered? Listen in to episode 47 of Business of Dentistry and then let me know in the comments below or send me an email! Thanks for being here.

Tweetable: Listen to what your staff is doing on the phone.

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry

Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter


Systems Failure Recognition

Episode 046

This Friday started out like any other until I realized we were running low on a key medication. How could this happen? Why did our system fail?

Check out episode 46 of Business of Dentistry to find out when we recognized the “hole in our game”, and how we plan to fix that hole so we don’t have this experience again.

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In our office there is one person who is the dedicated supply person, she checks our inventory on our disposable items and everything else so we can stay up and running. However, she doesn’t check the medications I use to sedate people, that’s done by our office manager. He price shops all of the medications so it made sense for him to take over the ordering of it as well.

But this left a “hole in our game”, which I discovered when I got all the sedation medications out of the drug locker i keep them in.  I saw in the locker that one of my go-to medications was in short supply. I could see I had enough to get through the day and the next day, but not much beyond that.

Thankfully overnight shipping is an option and we could shore up our medications before we would run out. But Paul, the office manager, was out for the next four days on vacation. So there was no one in the office to order for us.

This was entirely on me: I hadn’t checked the medication supply ahead of time. But instead of getting upset, I decided this would be a good test of our ordering system for the meds. If we had a difficult time ordering without Paul then I would know we would need to tweak our process. It’s similar to the Mac truck theory, something I heard on a podcast recently. The Mac truck theory goes like this: if a team member is hit by a Mac truck, how easily can you bring someone off the street and have them take over? How easy would that transition be?

I asked Destiny, the person who normally orders our supplies, to place an order for the medication and have it arrive by Monday afternoon. She agreed and I let her handle it; my team is innovative and great at troubleshooting without me.

She came to me later and said she ordered it, but we realized there was no system in place for how to do so. She checked Paul’s files to find a vendor and ordered from one who had the medication in stock. But I realized we probably overpaid, we didn’t have a list of preferred vendors and just went with whoever was available.

I also realized we wouldn’t know what to do if neither of them was in the office; I saw the “hole in our game”. We needed to have a written system in place so that anyone could order the medications, with or without Paul or Destiny.

I share this on today’s episode because you may have a similar issue in your office. Listen to episode 46 and take it as a good reminder to look for those holes, learn from them and put procedures in place. I’d love to hear if you found holes and what you did to fill them. Leave a comment below or send me an email after you check out this edition of Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: Systems are key to running a smooth practice.

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry
Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter

A Different Perspective With Dr. Jon Alan Long

Episode 045

Dr. Jon Alan Long stopped by the studio this week and I had a chance to get his perspective on the business we call dentistry. Our conversation covered a variety of topics, from his biggest challenges to advice he has for anyone starting out, and all points in between! I’m sure you will find something that you can use from our discussion so listen in and enjoy episode 45 of the Business of Dentistry.


More About This Show

Dr. Long and I went to the same dental school, but our friendship really began about 15 years ago when I called him to ask his thoughts on opening a private practice in Lebanon, Tennessee. From then on we’ve traded phone calls, texts and referrals, and have become great friends in and out of our respective practices.

On this episode, we talk about how Dr. Long got his start running his own private practice, why his biggest obstacle was himself and how the Dawson Academy courses changed not just his practice but his lfe.

When Dr. Long was first starting out, he was deciding where to settle down with his new bride. He thought they should live in between their parents, but his father-in-law told him to go back to his hometown of Carthage so they did. In Carthage, Dr. Long found two dentists in private practice there, one was Dr. Wright who was nearing retirement age.

Dr. Long and Dr. Wright struck up a deal that allowed Dr. Long to slowly take over Dr. Wright’s practice over a period of no more than two years. During those two years, Dr. Wright helped Dr. Long get his feet under him and to grow his client base.

Although it was primarily a transactional type of dentistry, it worked out for Dr. Long and allowed him to get settled and grow his name within the community – two things that are often big hurdles for new dentists.

The biggest hurdle he did face was himself. Early on, he talked himself out of offering some services to his clients for any number of reasons: the area was too rural and no one would want the work he offered is an example he highlights today. But it boiled down to one thing and one thing only: Dr. Long was afraid of failure.

Taking the Dawson Academy courses turned all of that around for him. He learned more about TMJ, occlusion, coordination of muscles, teeth and the bite. He also learned how to create treatment plans, and how to create an environment that was welcoming to new patients.

Doing the coursework and applying it to his practice made him a happier person, which made his staff happier and, in turn, made his clients happier. He now understands how important it is for the head of the practice to be happy, and how, as the owner, all you do and who you are directly impacts every aspect of your practice.

Also on today’s show, we talk about why it’s important to have both transactional and transformational dentistry and how he has faced the other challenges of bonuses, leadership, contractual write-offs and staff interactions.

Dr. Long is a wealth of information, humor and so much more. Tune in to catch it all on this special interview edition of the Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: You are the quarterback of your office!

Episode Resources

Dr. Long’s web site
Dr. Long on Facebook
Extreme Ownership, by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
The Dawson Academy
Voices of Dentistry

Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter

Building A Cash Cushion

Episode 044

Do you have a plan to pay for unexpected expenditures in your practice? Do you have cash reserves? Check out today’s show where we discuss a concept about building a cash cushion to make those emergency expenses less painful. It’s all here on episode 44 of Business of Dentistry!

More About This Show

Having a cash cushion for emergency situations isn’t a groundbreaking topic, but it is a lesson I’ve learned and have found it to be a useful resource. Do you have one for your practice?

On this episode, I’ll share my suggestions for creating a cash cushion, why you should do it and a story about how it helped during an unexpected situation in the early days of my practice.

To set up an emergency fund, take a percentage of your profits at the end of every quarter and set it aside. You’ll have to decide what amount works best for you. It could be 1%, 3% or 5%. Crunch your numbers, figure out what you can afford and do it.

And ideally it would be best to have three months of funds set aside, but do the best you can if you can’t reach that goal. Anything saved is better than nothing, especially if you are a solo practitioner! If you are sidelined for any reason you are out of income, unless you have this fund set up.

Personally I keep this cushion in the same account as my business, I haven’t created a separate account for it but I have been told it’s a good idea. Again, that’s up to you.

And I’ll tell you why it’s such a good idea. I started practicing in 2002, and during my residency I was told to expect it would take three years to get my practice up and running. Then in 2004 I was recalled into active duty with the Navy, and had to leave my practice. Now that I was two years in I was about to hit my stride, so the timing wasn’t ideal!

Fortunately I had set aside an emergency fund. From the get-go I was conservative in what I paid myself and that allowed me to create this fund. And I was thankful I had done that because when I was recalled to active duty I had to find a way to repay the $350,000 practice loan I had taken out.

Of course the military would give pay me, but the emergency fund was there to keep my practice afloat and avoid financial ruin. Because of that cash cushion, because I had planned and saved, I was able to weather the financial storm.

And that’s exactly what I wanted to share this topic with you today, so you know the value and importance of having a cash cushion. Now I’d love to hear from you – do you have an emergency fund? If not, when will you be setting yours up? If you do, has it ever saved you like it saved me? Leave a comment, send me an email and let me know!


Tweetable: I weathered the financial storm because I planned and saved!

Episode Resources

Voices of Dentistry
Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter


Evernote: I use this everyday.  It’s my digital brain.  In short, Evernote helps me get “to do” lists and new ideas out of my head to make room for more.  I also use it to set reminders for all of the important things (my daughter’s book presentation)…

7 Resources To Improve Your Practice

Episode 043

Hey folks. This week I wanted to share 7 resources that I personally use in my practice. Don’t worry, they are not affiliate programs or corporate sponsored items.  So go ahead and check it out on episode 43 of Business of Dentistry!

More About This Show

Let’s jump right in and get to my top 7 resources to improve your practice!

1. Evernote
This resource is first because it is my #1 go-to. Evernote is my crutch, I use it for nearly everything. I make lists, prioritize tasks, write my goals, etc. Based on David Allen’s book, Get Things Done, I began using Evernote to get things out of my head so I can stay organized and mentally sharp.

You can use a pen and paper, index cards or anything else to do the same thing. The important piece is to get the information out of our head and put it in another place.

2. Camtasia
I use this and have grown to love it. It helps me get together videos, and open lines of communication to referring doctors. It’s very easy to use and I like how simple it makes
discussing treatment plans, findings I see, follow ups, etc.  Now I make a Camtasia video in just a couple of minutes.

3. Brightsquid
Brightsquid is what I use to make sure everything we send is HIPPA compliant. You can track messages and see when something was sent, when it was opened and by whom. It gives accountability to both sides of the communication lines.

4. Birdeye
Birdeye is an online reputation management program. As we’ve talked about in Episode 24, your online reputation is very important. People go online to find out who we are, and what our practice is about. Whether they are looking for a new dentist, or to change dentists, or work with someone on a particular issue, they go online to research.

I’ve used BirdEye to help with this, in particular we have focused on Google reviews. BirdEye has a lot of power to do more: Yelp, Healthgrade, Yellowbook, etc. But I made a point just to look at Google reviews, and with its help we went from 4 to 64 Google reviews in five months (all are 5 stars).

This program has a dashboard for sending emails, text messages. We get about 9.5% conversion, which doesn’t sound like much but it’s pretty good! We send one email and one text message to ask our clients for a review because social proof helps to bring more people in the doors.

5. Formstack
Formstack has helped me build custom health questionnaires, appointment request forms, and financial policies for my patients that I keep on my web site. When you go there you will see it starts by asking you one of the three questions. Next your answer will take you to specific page related to your response. The forms are linked on top.

I’ve also used Formstack to build a suggestion box on our web site.

6. Mindmapping
Again this tool is about getting something out of your head and getting it on to paper, or somewhere else that you can leave it. Mindmapping also helps to create organization and workflow. It creates strategies, marketing plans, new locations, etc. I use this tool for podcast episodes and online courses; I’ve outlined a book using it too.

It’s a great way to leave your ideas and then come back to them, so you can see something new or shuffle things around in a new way. I also share my mindmaps with my staff, doing so helps tighten our practice systems and keeps things working fluidly.

7. Awesome screenshot
This is a tool that captures images and allows you can annotate the images. I use this for everything: editing awards, images, photographs, X-rays, etc.

It’s supplemental to Camtasia and works great when you don’t want or need the detail of a video. Awesome screenshot allows you to capture images off the Internet, your desktop and then makes notes on those images, and share the annotated images with others via email.

Those are my big seven! Now that you know mine, I’d love to hear yours. What do you use every day to make life easier? Do you use any of these seven, or do you have some resources that you think are better? I’m all ears! Email me or leave a comment here and let me know. Thanks for listening to episode 43 of Business of Dentistry!

Tweetable: “Get it out of your head and get it on to paper!

Episode Resources

Get Things Done, by David Allen
Episode 22 on Camtasia
Episode 27 on Brightsquid
BirdEye web site: online reputation management program
Episode 24 on Online Reputation
My personal web site
Awesome Screenshot
Voices of Dentistry

Business of Dentistry on Facebook

Connect with me on Twitter