Are You Learning Lessons That Are Counterintuitive To Your Dental Success?

From The Dr. John Meis Show

Whats the WORST lesson Dr. John Meis learned that was counterintuitive to his success? Listen in to Episode 10 of the Dr. John Meis Show to learn how to take lessons from the people in the industry who have done it and done it successfully!


(For those who prefer reading over watching the video)

Dr. John Meis: The worst lesson I ever learned in dentistry on this episode.

Dr. John Meis: I was fortunate. I went to a fabulous dental school and had a really great experience there. No complaints whatsoever. But I did learn one lesson there that really hampered me for some time. One of my favorite dental school instructors had a saying that he kind of beat into all of our heads, and that saying was: just do better dentistry and you'll be more financially successful. All you have to do is do your prep just a little bit better, have little bit better margins. Just do that, and you'll be more financially successful.

Dr. John Meis: He talked about it and talked about it and talked about it, and I bought into that philosophy. The problem is that that dental school instructor had no money, and I was taking a financial success lesson from someone who was not financially successful. I should have known better, but I liked him so much that I bought into that philosophy.

Dr. John Meis: So here's the real thing. If you want to learn from somebody, make sure you're learning from somebody who's doing it successfully or has done it successfully. I'm on a lot of different dental Facebook groups and Linkedin groups and things like that, and I see people banding about information and advice, but no one's really going to see where that person is who's giving the advice. Are they an expert? Have they done it successfully? And so I see ideas bandied about ... And we'll talk about them on this show from time to time. I see ideas banding about that are clearly counter to success, so make sure that if you're learning lessons, learn lessons from somebody who's been there, done that, and done it successfully.

Dr. John Meis: So we know that the consumer is the patient, and the patient has the money, and the patient is going to make the decisions, and they're going to make the best decisions for them. Now, they can't tell how perfect a margin is, right? They don't know, so they can't really tell the quality of dentistry, and that's why that statement from the dental school instructor is just simply not true.

Dr. John Meis: So what patients do want, we know, is they want a dentist who's trustworthy, who is going to do a great job, and certainly doing a great job is what our profession demands of all of us. But it's just not that simple of doing better dentistry and being more financially successful. So if we want to be more successful, we need to be looking at what's happening in our industry, and I love this report. This comes from the Health Policy Institute, the American Dental Association, and it's a report given by Morgan Stanley, a large investment bank. They talk about the five key forces that are reshaping dentistry, and I'm going to talk about the first two, the value agenda and increased consumerism.

Dr. John Meis: The value agenda is people are more conscious of their healthcare costs now than they ever have been, and they're more concerned about getting good value. And the second thing is patients want what they want. Patients used to put up with more than they will today. Today, consumers are not as consistently loyal to any individual practice, and you've got to be on your consumerism game. And if you're not, you're going to see a lot of turnover. You're going to see a rising demand for new patients when new patients are harder to come by and more expensive than ever.

Dr. John Meis: So, consumerism, what is it that consumers want? Well, I'll tell you some ways that you can find out. First of all, you can listen to your own patients because they'll tell you. They may be subtle, they may be kind, but they'll tell you. There are some people who do a lot of consumer research in dentistry. 1-800-DENTIST, a telemarketing company for dentists, does a great deal of consumer research, and will share that information if you ask. Marvelous company. Chrisad, which is largely a direct mail company, a marketing company, also does a tremendous amount of consumer research. Graduate students at Northwestern University do their research, and there's a lot to be learned there.

Dr. John Meis: Online reviews. When you read your own online reviews, and the online reviews of other dentists, you're going to get a good indication of what it is that patients want and what it is that they don't want and what it is that they complain about. The last thing is just looking in general at social media. On a previous episode, I took a letter that I'd got off Facebook and we covered that, and there were so many lessons in it. So social media is a good place to learn as well.

Dr. John Meis: So I've created a list of things that I've gleaned from watching all these sources as to what patients want, and I'm just going to go through them just briefly. So consumerism, what is it, what are patients wanting, and how do we get there? So the first one is patients want convenient hours, and convenient hours by a patient is they want hours when they don't have to miss work. So we're talking about noon hour, late afternoons and evenings, and Saturdays. And I know that's not what the dental profession wants, but that is what dental consumers want. And so when you look at dental consumers and you look at any office that offers evening hours, those evening hours will book way out. The rest of their book may be open, but the evening is always packed, and that's what consumers want, and that's why they pack it.

Dr. John Meis: The next thing they want is convenient locations. There was a day where, yeah, the dentist could be in a professional complex. I'm in unit 212B level one. You know, it's too confusing. People don't want that. People want a retail location someplace with plenty of parking, plenty of visibility, a place that feels safe when you drive up to it.

Dr. John Meis: Patients want their care to be pain free, especially cleanings. This is one of the things that you'll see on Facebook over and over again. I went to this dentist, but it hurt to get my teeth cleaned. I've now switched and I love my new dentist. You can see it over and over and over again.

Dr. John Meis: Next one, patients want cleaning on their first visit. Most of them. Some of them may have a particular tooth problem, but if they don't, they're just coming in to get things checked up. They want their teeth cleaned on that first visit. Even if they have periodontal disease, they want their teeth cleaned on that first visit, and anything that you do to stand in between them and that cleaning is going to be a negative from a consumerism standpoint

Dr. John Meis: Good value. And so good value is that the price seems right for what they get, and it's part of our jobs, is helping patients understand the problems that they have and the consequences if they don't treat those problems. If we do a good job of that, we can demonstrate good value.

Dr. John Meis: A friendly, knowledgeable team. I've been in 303 dental offices in the United States and Canada, and I was just recently in one that had a tremendous amount of internal strife. There was one team member that was a difficult person, and nobody liked this particular person, and there was all of this tension, and I could feel the tension just walking in as an observer. I can only imagine how that feels to a patient. Have you ever been to dinner with a couple that quarrel with each other? Ugh, so uncomfortable, right? They want a friendly, knowledgeable team.

Dr. John Meis: Next, they want trustworthiness, and this tops the qualities on Chrisad's survey. This is the number one things that patients is looking for in a dentist, is trustworthy.

Dr. John Meis: Next, they want to know what it's going to cost up front. They want no surprises when it comes to cost.

Dr. John Meis: Next, they want to have flexible treatment options and timing, so they want to be able to move forward on what they want and at the pace at which they're comfortable. They want to decide.

Dr. John Meis: Next, they don't want waiting, and by waiting, that can be waiting to get an appointment or that can be waiting once they get to the office. So the waiting for appointments, we know that the number one most failed visit is the new patient visit, and we know the farther from the making of the appointment to when the appointment is booked, we know the distance between those two, the longer it gets, the more likely that patient is to fail. So making sure that we have appointment availability for every type of appointment in the very near future.

Dr. John Meis: Next one, they want to have flexible payment options. They want to be able to make payments. They want to be able to fit the treatment into their budget.

Dr. John Meis: Next, they want you to take their insurance. I was recently at a DSO conference, and I met a dentist who was talking about the transition of his practice, and by transition I thought he was selling out his portion of the practice or ... You know, usually when that term is used it's because there's a buy or a sell going on. No, his transition was from a fee-for-service practice to a PPO practice, and he was lamenting about how difficult it was in the PPO environment and how he made so much more money when he was fee-for-service. And I said, "Well, if you were making so much money when you were fee-for-service, why on earth did you start going to discounted plans?" And he said, "Well, I wasn't making any money," and I said, "Well, you just told me you were more successful." He said, "Well, 11 years ago I was really killing it in fee-for-service." Well, yeah, the consumer has changed, and the consumer wants you to take their insurance.

Dr. John Meis: So next is consumers don't like to be referred. Once they find a place that's comfortable, that they like the people, that they know where it is, they know all the processes, they don't want to be referred out. So doing as much care as you possibly can in office is really critical for a happy dental consumer.

Dr. John Meis: Next, they want technology, they want the office to look and feel modern, right? And they want technology that will allow them to see, to understand, and afford the ability for their care to go more quickly and more easily.

Dr. John Meis: Next, they want comfort items. You'll see this over and over again in reviews, loved having the blanket, loved having the earphones, loved having the sunglasses, loved having the hot towels to wipe off my face, things like that. They're little extras, but they really make a big difference because they stand out to people. So comfort items are an important thing in satisfying the dental consumer.

Dr. John Meis: They want just the right amount of reminder, or appointment reminder. You know what I'm talking about with this. There are some people that you can send a text to the day before, three hours before, an hour before, and they'll say, "Well, why didn't you remind me?" And there's other people where they get two texts and they say, "Geez, you're bugging me. It's crazy." So it's a little bit of a goldilocks thing, not too hot, not too cold, just right, but they do want just the right amount of reminder in the way they want it. Some people want texts, some people want email, some people want a telephone call.

Dr. John Meis: They want the dental practice to be competent and current. I've walked into practices struggling to attract new patients, struggling to get patient referrals, only to see that they're practicing is aging out. Their equipment's old, the decor is old, it looks old, it looks out of date, and it doesn't look current.

Dr. John Meis: They want a clean and clutter-free office. When I walk into offices and I see a lot of clutter, my mind automatically goes to they are not organized, they're going to screw things up, they're going to lose stuff in stacks. My insurance isn't going to be handled properly, my appointments aren't going to be handled properly, my billing isn't going to be handled properly. I don't want to be here because it just looks disorganized. And so the best way to look organized and systematized is to be clutter free.

Dr. John Meis: So these are some ideas about what the dental consumer wants, and these are 19 or 20 items, but I think if you do the same study, you'll find that these are the things that the consumer is more interested in. So if you're going to be more consumerized, you need to look at each one of these and say, "Well, how can I do better? What is one thing that I can do better on each one of these items?" The more consumerized you are, the more the marketplace will thank you with patients, patient referrals, and a higher level of loyalty.

Dr. John Meis: Patients also want to see that information flows smoothly from one place in the office to the next. They want to make sure that if they're in the hygiene and there's something talked about there, that the doctor knows it, the assistant know. They want to make sure that information is seamlessly flowing from one end of the office to the other. So make movements on each and every one of these. The more you can improve these, the better off your office will be, the more attractive you will be to patients, the more patients you'll have, and the more patients that you'll keep.

Dr. John Meis: So one of my mentors, Zig Ziglar, has a quote that I absolutely love. It says you can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want. And by doing all these things on the consumerism side, you'll see that the consumer will greatly reward you with their loyalty and with their referrals.

Dr. John Meis: So I want you ... As always, feel free to like, to share, to comment on these videos, and I will comment back, and I'd love to see more people have access to these. So if you know anybody that this would be helpful for, please share it with them. I also want to talk about our Champions of Dentistry summit. Every year we have a summit where we bring in speakers from inside and outside dentistry. We've got a fabulous line up this year. The summit is in Orlando on April 26th and 27th. You can learn more about it at

Dr. John Meis: And lastly, as always, you can get a copy of Wendy Briggs and my book. This is an Amazon number one bestseller, The Ultimate Guide to Doubling and Tripling Your Dental Practice Production. You can go get that free book by going to website, and it'll clearly say how to get the book. I'll buy the book if you pay the postage. So that's it for this time. I'll see you on the next episode of the Dr. John Meis Show.