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Podcast: Creating a special practice

Podcast: Ron Sheetz on how to use testimonials in your dental practice

Hello and welcome to Ascent Dental Radio. A program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of health care and the business of health care. And now here is your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

Kevin: My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. You’re listening to Ascent Dental Solutions. I hope you enjoy the following podcast and I’m excited to introduce you to our guest, Ron Sheetz, who is a serial entrepreneur. I’d like to think of myself as an entrepreneur, but next to Ron, I don’t really make the cut.

Ron, thanks so much for joining us this evening. Can you give us a little background and tell us a little something about you and your business?

Ron: Yeah, a little bit about me and how I got into business really, the serial entrepreneurial part, I was about 13 years old and we used to try to keep ourselves occupied when we were kids in our neighborhood because everybody was much younger than I was. And a friend of mine and I decided we were going to put on a magic show in the neighborhood. We went around the neighborhood promoting it and the kids could attend for 50 cents a person and the adults had to pay a dollar.

My mom had known a professional magician so she introduced me and he then introduced me to the world of magic and business and entrepreneurship. Long story short, he became my first business mentor and really everything that I have learned and has formed who I am and what I do was really learned out of that.

So at 13 I started selling tickets to a magic show and then that has turned into a life-long career now of really doing what I call relationship marketing and a large part of what I do is with testimonials. And what we’re getting to talk tonight about is something much different than what people are really familiar with about testimonials. I call what most people do basic testimonials and I have a whole advanced strategy of testimonials.

So just a little bit of background and history on me, and I’ve been involved with the dental field specifically now for about the last ten years.

Kevin: That’s terrific. You also have quite a few very excellent celebrities under your belt in helping their careers. Do you want to take a minute and drop some names to impress us with some of these individuals?

Ron: Sure. In the dental field, one of my most frequent and continually ongoing client relationship is with Mr. Dan Kennedy. I think we’re familiar with Dan. He’s one of the top copyrighters and marketing consultants in the country.

But also as far as what people would recognize celebrity wise, I’ve worked with Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen who are the authors of Chicken Soup for the Soul. I’ve also worked extensively with a lot of other dental gurus and so forth, for instance, Dr. Chris Griffin, Jerry Jones who I believe you’ve had on your show, to name a few. Oh goodness, the list is long.

Kevin: I was particularly trying to guide you towards Kathy Ireland, who I think probably the majority of our listeners would be impressed. I certainly had a crush on her and we could argue I perhaps maybe still have a crush on her. And I also noticed that you’ve done some work with Cal Ripken, is that correct?

Ron: That’s correct, yes.

Kevin: Why don’t we get into the topics today of testimonials? I believe I’ve discussed with you in the past I have 14 dental offices, approximately 150 employees with about 100,000 patient visits a year and day in and day out we have some positive testimonials and we have negative testimonials and I’m never really sure how to use the positive testimonials to my advantage.

Perhaps since most of our listeners here are business men and business women, but particularly are focused on health care and dentistry in particular, can you give us some strategies and some suggestions to improve the information and how we use testimonials?

Ron: Sure. The first is really differentiation of what most people consider a testimonial and what I consider a testimonial. A majority of the testimonials that I see businesses and dental practices getting are what I would call basic testimonials.

Usually the procedure is that you do your case, you have a happy patient, you ask them for a testimonial and they give you a testimonial. And often times that testimonial that they give is what I call rather bland or vanilla. Meaning it doesn’t have a lot of marketing legs. There’s not a lot that you can do with it other than put it out so that people can read it.

I’ll give you a couple of examples that I share in my book. These are some testimonials captured by a dental practice just by asking. One of them was from this patient who says, “I came to this dental office today on an emergency basis and they got me in immediately. This is the friendliest dental office I’ve ever been to in years in all the time that I’ve been alive.”

Here’s another one that says, “This is my first time. The first experience feels great. I feel very relaxed and very well taken care of and it was a pleasant experience.” “Every time I come to the doctor’s office the staff is great, they’re friendly, the service is good and I enjoy coming back.”

Those are what I talk about as basic testimonials. They don’t have a whole lot of marketing legs, meaning things that you can do it or as Walt Disney calls plusing it. How else can we use this to help promote the practice and move us forward?

And really as a dentist you’re in a trust business. You’re really in a trust business and you’re dealing with a constituency coming in who is probably fearful and got anxiety, they are afraid of the price and there’s a lot of anxieties and angst to them coming in and we need to do what we can to elevate them and differentiate ourselves from every other dentist that they’ve ever had experience with or what they think about. These indoctrinations that they have about dental practices.

My type of testimonials, the advance testimonials are much more story-based or what you would consider as human interest story. I’ll give you an example of one and this is actually of a patient that I interviewed and have been using with the dental practice.

This patient in an interview with me she starts off by saying, “I was terrified of the dentist. And by terrified I mean, I’m talking about cold sweat just breaking and running down my face. It started way back when I was a little girl. I had a dentist pull a tooth and it was an impacted tooth and at that time I was ten and he didn’t give me enough Novocaine and he called me a baby.

And I just remember when he started working on me I was kicking and screaming and ended up running out of the room and blood was running down my face and my mother was just horrified. Maybe I just picked the wrong dentist and I’m glad that I finally picked one that’s a winner.” And then she goes into talking about now her experience with this particular dentist that she’s with now.

These are much experiential based stories, those human interest stories. And it’s important because unlike the basic testimonials, these are stories that patients can identify with this person. They can identify having been in their shoe. If they haven’t had that exact experience, they know what it’s like.

And what I talk about in the book is that what we do by connecting prospective patients, possibly new patients with our existing patients, they identify with one another. They can’t exactly identify with you, you’re the doctor and they these, again, indoctrinations as to what that experience is like.

But if we connect them with our existing patients and they connect on that story, on that human level, it creates was I call the transfer of trust triangle. So the prospective patient identifies with our existing patient, they see themselves in their shoes and they come to this conclusion that if I’m like them and you as the dentist were able to help them, then in turn you can help me. And that’s what I call the transfer of trust triangle. Does that make sense?

Kevin: Makes perfect sense. Let me ask you a follow-up question Ron. These testimonials as you just described, these powerful testimonials that tell a story, how do you get that out to the public? And what, in your opinion, is the best way to get that out to the public?

Ron: That’s an excellent question. I’ve actually identified there’s 33 different ways that can be used, but really some of the most immediate are a website or podcast. They can be used and lifted and put onto a website.

The thing that I instruct people to do is not to create a webpage, as most websites have, they have a testimonials page and that’s a page where all of the testimonials from all the patients reside. Well, it’s been our experience that people don’t necessarily go to a testimonial page. Because if you see it in a tab and you go there, what are you going to find? You’re going to find people who are saying great things about you. So it’s a loop point why would I go there because I already know what to expect when I get there.

So what I instruct people to do is take your testimonials and salt and pepper them throughout the website, incorporate them as part of your presentation on the website.

For instance, if you have patients that come to you for sleep asthenia or IV sedation or they come to you for implants or they come to you just for general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry or they’re recapping and you have pages on these different services and these different applications, include them there because what they are now is they’re incorporate as part of the presentation.

They add validation and credibility to what we’re reading on a web page. We don’t have to expect visitors to our webpage to go seek out these testimonials, we have to put them front and center for them. So that’s one way to use them.

The other way to use them that I like the best is in dentistry, there’s this idea that we shouldn’t have to sell our services and you shouldn’t. Nobody likes to be sold, nobody likes to be a sales person, but what we can do is we can take a composite of all of these stories put together and provided to patients before they come into the practice and we actually make them prepared or we make them predisposed to knowing, liking and trusting us before they actually get to the practice.

And what we’ve actually seen in results is when a patient gets to the practice and they’ve already had the chance to get to know us, get to like us and have a somewhat of a trust with us, they find again that transfer of trust angel appearing from our existing patients.

They come to us a better patient, meaning they’re more prepared to hear about treatment plans. They’re less fee-resistant. So we don’t have to improve us necessarily, but we improve the quality for the qualification of the patients coming to us. So they are too really powerful.

You mentioned radio, television, print, advertising. I’ve actually created a full page print advertorials just out of the stories that we’ve captured from patients and turned them into an actual print article. So there’s, like I said, 33 different ways that we could use a testimonial, a story-based, a human interest story in advertising and marketing.

Kevin: Ron, just for the nuts and bolts of it, when the individual gives a positive testimonial, do you recommend you use their first and last name, do you recommend just initials or do you leave that on an individual basis when they sign the informed consent giving the health care provider permission to use the testimonial? What are the actual nuts and bolts in going about that?

Ron: That’s an excellent question. Yes, you do want to get their permission. For instance, when I interview questions, I’m actually getting their formal permission on a release, on a document that lets them know what we’re going to talk about, what we’re doing and how this is going to be used. We absolutely want to get their permission in written form, if possible, in verbal form and documented is the best way to do it to protect yourself from any kind of liability. I’m not an attorney and I’m not giving legal advice, but that’s how I approach it, is always get permission and any due diligence that I can to get the patient’s permission to go ahead and use that going forward.

Then, with regard to your question on how you use it, I always like to use their full name; first name and last name. And if possible, if we have it, we can use where they’re from, so if they’re in a specific city or so forth.

When we’re using that in let’s say a video for a website or a video for a DVD, let’s say for instance I’m in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio and let’s say for instance the dentist is in Cleveland but I actually come to that dentist from Akron, Ohio, which is about 30 or 35 miles away. Somebody who is familiar with the geography and they see that I’m from Akron, what happens, what we’re communicating unconsciously, subconsciously to them is hey, this person travels a long way to get to this dentist.

So I like to use as much information as we can about that patient. Name; first name, last name, where they’re from. Those would be the basics. There’s other stuff that you could add, but that’s absolutely a must so that you’re communicating.

By using first name and last name only, it communicates that this person is real. What I don’t like about using initials is they could be made up. It’s an authenticity.  

Kevin: Ron, I can’t thank you enough for taking this evening and talking to us. I can tell you being around health care providers for over three decades, this kind of information is incredibly important to help us improve our image, to improve our business, to provide that thought leadership and expertise that we’re all trying to create to promote the best clinical, didactic and service type practice. \

Can you give our listeners a way to reach out? Is there the best way to get your book and learn the 33 ways to use super testimonials to improve care and service in our practices?

Ron: Absolutely. If you’re interested in the book, you can get that at www.bookontestimonials.com/book. If your listeners have questions and they want to submit specific questions that apply directly to them, they can go to www.askronsheetz.com and there they can post a question and submit it to me.

I get them personally so it’s not done through an assistant, those come directly to me. So those two sources that people can go to either get the book and see the strategies that I lay out, the 33 ways are in the book or they can submit to me directly those questions.

Kevin: Ron, thank you so much for helping Ascent Dental Solutions and helping our listeners improve care and service through the use of testimonials and I should say the correct use of testimonials. I really appreciate it and thank you so much for helping us out.

My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin, owner and creator of Ascent-Dental-Solutions, with an emphasis on coaching, development, leadership and training. Thank you again for listening and I look forward to talking to you in the near future.

Podcast: Steve Parker and what dentists can learn from other industries


Hello and welcome to Ascent Dental Radio. A program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of health care and the business of health care. And now here is your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

Kevin: Welcome. This is Dr. Kevin Coughlin. You’re listening to Ascent Radio. My website is www.ascent-dental-solutions.com with a focus on knowledge, consultation, development and training. Today’s podcast, we’re honored to have Mr. Steve Parker.

Mr. Parker has been in the dental industry since 2000, but he’s been in business for the last 30 years. He’s considered a thought leader and he’s the CEO of The Profitable Dentist and Excellence in Dentistry.

Mr. Parker, thank you so much for joining us on this podcast. I have so many questions and I can’t wait to listen to your responses. My understanding is you have a program called Five Star Dental Practice Coaching. It’s a program that you’ve been developing over the last 30 years with your expertise. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about that?

 

Steve: Sure, Dr. Coughlin. First of all, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you again. As always, it’s a pleasure, and to speak with your listeners. The Five Star program grew out of literally 30 years and thousands of coaching and consulting clients that either I had or Dr. Woody Oakes had.

 

He’s the founder of Excellence in Dentistry, The Destin Spring Break Seminar, The Profitable Dentist Magazine. He was really one of the pioneers in the coaching movement in the last 70s and early 80s. What we’ve done is in my becoming involved with him and really, for lack of a better term, upgrading a lot of the content and the products and the coaching, was we determined that there were really five key elements that determined a good practice or determined a successful practice.

 

These aren’t really five elements that determine uniquely a dental practice, they’re five elements that really determine a good business. Essentially, the areas that we focus on are leadership, team building, money; meaning finance, metrics; meaning measure, just measure your business, and systems that you put in place.

 

So with Five Star Coaching, what we’ve done is try to break it down in more bite-size chunks and keep a dental business owner focused on those elements of their business, and then keep the clinical part of the business separate. In fact, one of the systems is a clinical committee where you discuss clinical things, as much as if you would in any business, you’re kind of discussing the operations part of your business.

 

We determined was if we could focus on these five things, get an honor to focus on these five things whether it’s a sole practitioner or it’s a small group, I’ve done a lot of consulting with large groups you’ll find that even in a group of 150, 200, 300 dentists, there’s still a business there. And these are really the five core elements that if you understand them, manage them, measure them and make these what you do every day, you have a very, very, very successful business.

 

Kevin: For our listeners, one of the reasons I was taken by Mr. Parker is he’s been involved, not just in the dental business, but you’ve also been involved with Fortune 500 companies. Can you tell us a little bit about your past experience and that expertise that you’ve now been able to bring to the dental profession?

 

Steve: That is a great question. One of the things that I learned, and my background is management finance, is business is fundamentally business no matter what it is you’re in. You have resources which are typically time, money and effort that you have to put towards a product or a result that you want for your business.

 

So if you’re in the plumbing business, the result you want is a lot more profitable plumbing jobs. If you’re a dentist, what you want are a lot more happy paying patients.

 

I grew up in some different industries. When I was very young, I got into the restaurant equipment industry. And it happened to be the time when companies were franchising; McDonald’s and Hardee’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken and Jack In The Box and instead of being one, two, three little restaurants, it now became 5,000 restaurants. One customer would do an expansion and it would be 15,000 restaurants, 15 new McDonald’s over this year.

 

You have to approach those differently than 15,000 individual restaurants. The infrastructure the way you approach it, the support systems, the management systems, the knowledge base and talent, all have to be different than if it’s a lot of individuals.

 

I sold that business and moved into the telecommunications infrastructure at a time when cellphones were just emerging. Again, you would have instead of everybody having a landline, and there were that many landlines around the country, suddenly everybody had a cell phone or two.

 

I read a statistic that Apple has now sold more iPhones than there are people since 2007 when they came out. So the infrastructure to address that is completely different than it is with everybody having a phone in their phone and a phone in their business.

 

What I see in dentistry is very much along the same growth pattern. While there are huge growth in groups, that doesn’t necessarily mean growth in giant groups, it can mean growth in small groups, in five or ten or twelve dental practice.

 

But at the end of the day what’s happening is the business of that profession is starting to override the clinical part of it. I personally don’t believe that’s compromising clinical principles, I think it just means giving the resources to the right people at the right place at the right time to do better dentistry.

 

So my background has been in a lot of industries that grew and aggregated and matured over time and I believe, interestingly enough, I’m living that again in dentistry. I see the same pattern than I saw over the past 30 years in other industries.

 

Kevin: I think what you’re referring to is the explosion of Dental Service Organizations or Dental Support Organizations, commonly referred to as DSOs and MSOs, Managed Service Organizations or Managed Support Organizations.

 

I’ve heard you talk and make presentations in the past. Perhaps you can explain to the listeners what your prediction is. What you think is occurring and how you think it’s going to evolve over the next 10 or 15 years.

 

Steve: Again, great question. I do a lot of interviews, I’m asked this question repeatedly, in fact, I would say it’s 80 plus percent of the time. At some point in the interview somebody says, “You’re a business guy, so are you pro or con, are you for or against DSOs?”

 

And my answer is always the same; I don’t know why you have to choose. A market allows for all kinds of different businesses and sizes of a business in a particular industry.

 

As long as you have a business that provides value to a customer and you can demand the price that you need to be profitable and stay around and give you a comfortable living, I think the sole practitioner, I don’t think they’re a dying breed, I think they have to evolve in a general sense.

 

I don’t think as a solo practitioner it’s a challenge to manage insurance filing and it’s a challenge to find employees that can do a lot of different things when the competition is maybe a group down the street that says, “Wow, this person is really good as an insurance manager, we’ll hire him or her away and we can pay a little more wage.”

 

What you’ve really done is trained your competition. I think you just have to be smarter in the way that you approach it as a sole practitioner. I think the same thing applies to somebody who gets together with a group and I’ve consulted and coached groups that are four, five or six docs who all struggled on their own but have done terrific as a small group.

 

They’ll be an ownership group of five or six and now they’re 25 or 30 practicing dentists, the rest of them are employees. I think that is a model that really didn’t exist 20 years ago, really didn’t exist 10 years ago, but it makes sense today. So they all can come out ahead.

 

But at the end of the day, the dentist working in a DSO or an MSO or a group are still dentists. They still have to meet certain standards. They still have standards of care. They still have to make their customers happy and want to come back as a business owner or you’re going to go out of business quickly. So the same fundamentals apply.

 

I think there’s room for sole practitioners, I think there’s room for large groups, I think they offer unique and different thing. And I think as we’ve talked in the past, the ones who are more entrepreneurial understand that.

 

I actually think that the sole practitioner as a future will be a lot more financially stable because they understand the nature of their business, therefore, they have to compete in a unique way that works for them, versus trying to copy a large DSO.

 

Kevin: I was going to say Steve, your presentation and program Excellence in Dentistry and The Profitable Dentist, you have a phenomenal seminar generally in April in Destin, Florida.

 

What I noticed is the attraction of younger dentists, more entrepreneurial dentists, dentists that know that they need to keep their clinical acumen up, but they’re smart enough and astute enough to realize that you have to have this marriage between excellent clinical care, excellent customer service, but you have to understand basic business. And each time I’ve had the opportunity to speak with you, I’ve learned something that’s valuable for business.

 

Is there a way or knowledge about upcoming seminars that you’re having or planning where the dental community can reach out and hopefully participate and listen to what your organization has to share and educate us in?

 

Steve: Sure. In fact, the 2017 Destin Seminar, which is in its 26th year, Dr. Oakes kind of pioneered the private dental seminar field, if you will, the theme for that is where are you taking your practice.

 

What we hope that communicates is, back to the earlier part of the discussion, is that you are the CEO of your practice. I’ve always said dental school taught you how to be a clinician and you can hone those skills for the rest of your life and you should, as anybody in any business should. You should always strive to get better in what you do in that vocation.

 

But they don’t teach you very much about how to run a business. And that’s the interesting thing about dentistry is, the vast majority for generations that will graduate are going to be business people, but you get very little business training. You come out with a lot of clinical skills but not many business skills.

 

So what I try to do and what we try to do with The Profitable Dentist and with, again, Five Star Coaching is to get you to understand the elements of a strong business and focus on that. With where are you taking your practice in Destin, the idea is to bring people in who can help you with clinical.

 

We always include — the ration has changed a little bit over the years, we’re probably at about 40 percent clinical because that’s what our attendees and readers and listeners ask for, but about 60 percent is your practice. The mechanics of running a dental business are becoming more in demand.

 

You hit the nail on the head about younger dentists or newer dentist. My experience is that newer dentists understand they’re in a business, they’re running a business and they want to get those kind of skills. So that’s really what we’re trying to provide more of.

 

There’s a lot of clinical content out there, we will continue to provide it, but what I’m getting asked for more and more everyday is how do I build over time a plan for my employees? I’m going to hire my second or third or fourth dentist and I want to quit kind of bungling through it, is there a form or a platform or a system or something that we can use?

 

There are, but again, this is an evolving piece of dentistry, the idea of small groups. So what we try to do is focus on that and provide the tools and resources that anybody who wants to — again, if they want to be a sole practitioner, we’re going to give them to you. If they want to be a small group, we’re going to help you. If they want to be an emerging larger group, we’ll give you those tools and resources too.

 

Kevin: Steve, at the beginning of this podcast we talked briefly about the Five Star Dental Practice Coaching program and you elicited five salient points. One of them was leadership, another was metrics, another was system.

 

In this podcast, if you were to stimulate our listeners, is there one particular point in each of those five categories that you would put the highest emphasis on? So if you were to say in leadership, is there a particular one quality that sort of trumps all the other qualities? The same with metrics, if you had to look at one metric, is there a way that you can summarize and stimulate our listeners to want to reach out, sign up for the program and learn more about it?

 

Steve: Sure, in fact, great question. Let me kind of go down the list real quick. I would say with leadership, I always try to leave each client with the understanding that you are the boss. That doesn’t mean that you’re bossy, that means that you are in charge, you make the decisions, be prepared to do that.

 

Too many times when I get into consulting or coaching, the dentist just wants to come in and be the dentist and leave the difficult business decisions up to an office manager or surprisingly, even front desk people, a lot of people who don’t have a vested interest in the profitability of the business.

 

So if you’re the boss, it doesn’t mean be bossy, it just means that everybody there needs to know that you’re the person in charge.

 

Team building; I would say to understand that your team is your most valuable resource. They will make you or break you. They can build you up or they can come in and go through the motions every day.

 

So the more your team is engaged and involved and in it with you that everybody is pulling in the same direction and that they see you investing in them as a team and treat them like a valuable asset, you’re going to get a lot more out of your team.

 

Money; the time value of money and cash flow are probably the two things that I coach most about or try to get through. Understand the nature of cash flow. That’s the lifeblood of a business. You need a good balance of cash coming in predictably and cash going out.

 

And when that becomes imbalanced and upside down, you again back to leadership, need to be the person in charge, address it immediately, and take actions to get that part of your business right.

 

I know it sounds easy and there are a lot of complications and nuances to it, but fundamentally, your eye needs to be on the flow of money coming in and going out.

 

Metrics: I always coach people to determine the important metric for their practice. So if your growth has been flat for three years and the most important thing for you is new patients, then that’s going to become the metric that you care about therefore, your team cares about.

 

If it’s patient retention, whatever you need to focus on. I typically say pick three. There are 103 but pick the three that are unique to your practice that you’ve decided you’re going to work on over the next year and those are the things that — I’ll put a little marker board back in the lab or the break area for the team and I’ll have the office manager write up every day whatever metric we’re working on.

 

So if we’re trying to grow new patients, I want everybody to see every day how many new patients we have for the month. If our goal is 20, I want somebody to walk in everyday and see a bunch of zeros and either they feel bad and do something about it or they don’t. Both of those are valuable things to know.

 

Systems: again, the same thing as metrics. You decide what’s important to you in terms of systems. Whether it’s clinical systems, marketing systems, finance systems, but everything in your practice the more systematic it is, the less you have to address it every day, the fewer surprises.

 

You decide what you’re going to do, put the system in place and then let it run. Visit it weekly or monthly, make corrections as necessary. But without a system, you’re going to have your staff coming to you for 100 little decisions every day and looking for approvals every day that a system would take care of for you.

 

Kevin: Those are great highlight points. Steve, if the listeners wanted to reach out, they wanted to sign up for your coaching program, they wanted to sign up for Excellence in Dentistry, the seminars, if they wanted to either publish in your magazine or read your magazine, The Profitable Dentist, what’s the best way for our listeners to reach out and get in touch with you and your organization?

 

Steve: There are several ways and one of the things that we do is The Profitable Dentist Magazine is free to any practicing dentist or licensed dentist in the country. You can subscribe to that online free at www.theprofitabledentist.com. Fill out a quick little form and you’ll start receiving it.

 

The next issue we just wrapped it up this morning so it’s on its way out and if you would like that, just give us your name, address and you’ll get the very next one. I can be reached at steve@theprofitabledentist.com. That’s probably the best way to reach me. Or you can call in and one of the young ladies that take care of our reception can help you. That number is 812-949-9043. Any one of those ways.

 

I get a lot of calls every day. I always feel it’s sort of a responsibility to talk to anybody who calls in with a quick question. I probably take two or three calls a day from young dentists who want to start a practice or again, a lot of the calls right now are about groups that want to start groups.

 

I’m more than willing to spend a few minutes on a phone call, even in an evening, and just give a little direction and some ideas, and a lot of times just put two people together.

 

Kevin: What I want to do is I want to give a sincere plug to you. I’ve been a practicing dentist and still a practicing dentist for over 33 years. I have over 150 employees, 14 locations. I have dealt with the business of dentistry, the strengths, the weaknesses, opportunities and threats that have been affecting our profession and I would consider you truly one of the best thought leaders I’ve had the opportunity to come across. And I want to personally take this time to thank you, your company and your organization.

 

A couple of years ago Dr. Woody Oakes called me after receiving my book and he really sat down and talked to me, he gave me a chance to go on your radio show, Driving Dentist or Dentist Behind the Wheel and it was an opportunity for me to share my own personal thoughts and my own personal experiences. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Dr. Woody Oakes for not only helping me, but the thousands of other dentists.

 

And now that I see you in this position, I see you doing the exact same thing and I hope our listeners take the opportunity for this fantastic resource to just reach out, learn more, get involved with The Profitable Dentist and allow them to bring your practice and your personal life to a higher level of success and balance.

 

Steve, in our closing few minutes, is there anything you’d like to add?

 

Steve: First of all, thank you for that. It’s very surprising and appreciated. I would like to add again, dentistry is in a very high state of flux right now, I think. It’s a very evolving business and I think there are a lot of people out there who feel like it’s the end of a thing or end of something. And it very possibly is.

 

There’s an evolution that always takes place in business. I am extremely optimistic about the entire industry of dentistry. I’m extremely optimistic about anybody who is in dental school right now, graduating, looking forward, looking at their future, the opportunities that will present themselves and are now.

 

I can’t say enough how optimistic I am about being a dentist or about anybody being a dentist or being in this business in the next 20 years.

 

Kevin: Mr. Parker, from The Profitable Dentist, Excellence in Dentistry, you’ve been listening to Ascent Radio. I can’t thank you enough for using your valuable time to share your knowledge and expertise with our listeners. A personal thanks to you and your organization and to Dr. Oakes.

 

Thank you so much, Steve, for your time and expertise and I look forward to talking to you in the future.

 

Steve: Thank you, Dr. Coughlin. Likewise.

Podcast: In dentistry, your brand is you and your practice


Hello and welcome to Ascent Dental Radio. A program dedicated to the balance between the clinical aspect of health care and the business of health care. And now here is your host, Dr. Kevin Coughlin.

Welcome. My name is Dr. Kevin Coughlin from Ascent Dental Solutions, where the focus is on knowledge, consultation, development and training. My expertise is in health care and in particular, dentistry.

I have 14 dental practices and I continue to practice dentistry Monday through Friday. Over my 30 plus years of clinical and business aspects, I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things and made numerous mistakes and I hope the following podcast can provide some information to help you not only improve your business, but improve your life.

I’ve often read that we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. I’d love to tell you I coined that phrase, but I believe it was done by Winston Churchill.

The following topic on today’s podcast is about branding.

What actually is branding? Can a brand be ruined? Is a brand even important? Can a brand be repaired and is it sometimes necessary to completely re-brand your company or organization?

Over the 30 plus years I found that in my own personal business that the brand has matured. It has become more focused. It has had some periods where it has been exceedingly strong and it has gone through periods where I believe it has been exceedingly week. In most cases, I believe the brand is created through leadership, through correct processes and procedures.

Understand that in essence, a brand is really how customers perceive you, your products and services.

The brand is all encompassing. It is how you dress, it is how you speak, it is the facility that you work in, it is the graphics, the social media that you work in, it’s the stationery, the business cards, your marketing, your advertising.

It’s an entire conglomeration of images that create a brand. In essence, it should be based on your core principles. It should come from not only the top down, but from the bottom up.

It’s critical that good, excellent leaders understand the importance of a brand and how quickly it can be destroyed and ruined. I’ve seen my company for over 30 years do various things that have advanced the brand and I’ve seen it do things that hurt the brand.

I can only stress to you listening to this podcast, to do everything in your power to protect your brand and make that brand valuable. In the end, a strong brand is perhaps even more important than the bricks and mortars and hard assets that make up your business.

Branding in general promotes recognition. It sets you apart from other businesses and competition. Your brand should tell a story. That story should be engaging. It should pull your audience, your customers in so that they become engaged.

They want to be part of your brand. Remember, a strong brand will create referrals and this referral, although it’s important from a customer base stand point, your brand also attracts team members or employees now and in the future. The stronger and better the brand, I believe the stronger and better your employees or team members will be.

As I like to often state, you look for the swan in your organization. The swans are smart people. They’re people willing to work, ambitious and nice people, hence the S-W-A-N. I’d love to tell you I coined that phrase, but I’ve copied it from my good friend Doug who is an accountant out in Oregon and specializes in health care and in dentist in particular.

But I think if you think about it, we almost always consider the brand as part of customers but your brand attracts good people and a bad brand will attract bad people or what I’ve referred to in past podcasts as detractors. And what you want for your business are all promoters.

Keep in mind that not only does a strong brand general referrals from customers and employees, but it helps your customers or patients understand what they can expect when they receive services and products from your company.

Your brand should promote clarity and keep you focused on what’s important to continual improve your brand, along with the products and services it promotes. In the end, a strong brand creates value and that value is critical. It also helps you connect emotionally to your patients and/or customers.

Owning, creating and building a business is a lifetime endeavor. It’s something that takes 100 percent effort, concentration, but most of all enjoyment.

As the years march on and my experience and knowledge improves, I realize looking back on the things that were important that built the brand. And what built the brand for successful companies initially is integrity; doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.

Sometimes as businesses grown, they become larger, they become more impersonal, that brand can be tarnished or hurt. I strongly recommend when you’re done with this podcast think about your team, think about your organization, think about the leadership that surrounds you and try to help re-promote or perhaps, if necessary, re-brand your company with the basic intensity, drive, determination that originally created the brand.

I hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. You’ve been listening to Dr. Kevin Coughlin. My company is Ascent Dental Solutions.

I look forward to speaking to you in the future and I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s podcast focused on branding and how important it is to not just yourself, not just to your customers, your products or your services, but to you team members.

Be proud of your brand and your brand will pay you off not only financially, but rewarding you to know that you’re doing the best for your customers and providing the highest level of care and service.

Thanks for listening.