EP55: 9 Out of 10 Offices are Tracking This Wrong, Are You? With Curtis Marshall

What gets measured gets improved.

In this episode of the Double Your Production Podcast, Wendy Briggs and Curtis Marshall are discussing common errors when analyzing dental practice numbers.

According to their website, Dental Intel is the world’s #1 software for tracking, analyzing, managing, and growing a dental practice. They have helped our clients worldwide with real-time data and continue to aid providers, leaders, and team members create a culture of excellent, consistent patient care.

Note: Our listeners receive a FREE practice analysis just for listening in (listen for all the details).

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Welcome to the Double Your Production podcast with the Team Training Institute, the one place designed for dentists, and their staff, who want to grow their practices by following in the footsteps of those that have done it. Who are in the trenches, and know exactly what you're going through. And now, your leaders, the stars of the Podcast, Dr. John Meis and Wendy Briggs.

Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Double Your Production podcast. I am Wendy Briggs, and today, we have the distinct honor of having in an expert of dentistry today, the amazingly-wonderful, Curtis Marshall of Dental Intel. So glad you could join us, Curtis.

Oh, Wendy, thank you so much for having me. This is seriously an honor to be on your podcast with you, and excited to see what nuggets we can get out of today.

Yeah, for sure. Well, Dr. John and I are such huge fans of Dental Intel, and we're big fans of you, right? I mean, we've known each other for, going back now, 10 years because when we first started working together, you were the-- what was your title even, the patient advocate?

Yes. So I didn't run the practice, but I was in charge of the patients, themselves, and getting them in, and getting them to accept treatment.

And one of our favorite practices, we've worked, off and on, with that group. Now, how many locations do they have, eight?

I think they were getting close to double-digit, they're doing good. They're trying to rule the world like everyone else, but they're doing really good. It's fun to see them grow.

And I know your leadership and your vision had a lot to do with that. So we've had a long-term relationship, and that's not the reason we invited you on today, you know as well as I do how important analytics and metrics are for a practice to grow. Dr. John and I have long talked about how so many practices today, if they don't have resources and tools that let them know how they do every day-- in a sense, it's like driving blind, right, and we don't want to be driving blind when we're trying to drive a practice forward.

So that's one of the reasons we're such big fans of what you're doing now at Dental Intel and one of the reasons why we wanted to invite you on. So what I wanted to about today, real quick, is a couple of common mistakes that you see with practices; either when they're looking at the data from their practice management software or common mistakes that you see if they don't have the right information to make good decisions, and we see this a lot. So I know you've probably got some really good insights here for us, can you give us maybe three common mistakes that practices can make, and we can just talk about those?

Well, I can't speak for everyone so I'm just going to give you three big mistakes that I made, back when I was in a practice, okay?

That's great.

I mean because that's what I relate to, either examples somebody that I do see, or myself, believe, unfortunately, that is what we fall into. It's hard to learn until we really make those own mistakes ourselves. So I'd really like to, as we discuss these, think about anyone else here who has an issue to feel free to comment-- do you have comments here or can they email you or something like that?

Yeah, people email us questions all the time. So if they have a question after they're listening, they're welcome to engage. They can actually go to our Double Your Production podcast page and we'll post an email there as well.

Please do because this is a place for us to grow. If we can't grow here then it's hard for us to grow anywhere. And so that's kind of my first thing is understanding, really, what needed to be tracked. So for example, one thing that I would track is case acceptance, right, and what I wanted to get with case acceptance, my goal was to have a 100% case acceptance, right? That was my goal. So that's my goal, now, to get a 100% case acceptance and that's what I wanted to show to my doctor, would you agree that that's a good goal to have?

That's a great goal, yeah.

So, in order for me to hit that goal, let's say I have have somebody come in for me. And this happened multiple times, and I didn't understand. This is the first mistake that I made. I really didn't understand what I was tracking. I just wanted to get 100%. Okay? So this is what would happen. A patient would come in.

The hygienist would come and say, "This patient wants to get braces, and also, she has two crowns that need to be done." Okay? So I started talking. I'm like, "Hey, braces cost five grand." "Oh, it's that much. I actually don't want it. I was just kind of seeing if it was needed." "Okay." Scratch. Well, you got two crowns, and you're [inaudible] care [inaudible] blah, blah, blah. whatever. She signs for up for the two crowns. Guess what? I'm reporting. I'm reporting 100%. She didn't really want that. She told me she didn't want that, so I'm not going to put that on my numbers. So guess what I report to the doctor?

Yep. You reported the crown.

100%. Okay? Another great example of that, right, is that I'm all-- one thing that we would always want to report on, and this is a good number, but it's a mistake if you're only looking at this one specific number. And that is, how many patients are leaving in a hygiene with a future appointment? Let's say you're 90% always. You're always at 90%. Is that good?

Well, I mean, compared to what we see in many practices, I could say that's good. Right? Because this is one thing that we see all the time, Curtis. You know you talk with hygienists about this. They're like, "Oh, we are so good at this. Every patient leaves with an appointment." And our perception is that 100% of our patients will leave with an appointment because we maybe asking everybody about it. But the reality is not 100% are leaving. Right? And when we first start measuring this, I think practices would be delighted to be at 90%, but they're often not.

Let's say you're goal's-- good point then. Once again, my goal is to cap 100% people leave. Right? But then we look at reality, will they be able to see me on this podcast or not always? Okay. So if you put up 10 fingers, if you saw 10 patients in a day, right, and you got 90%. That means you now have nine patients. In six months from now, you should be seeing nine. Well, one of those patients breaks and doesn't reappoint. So we're actually seeing 8 because new patients and there maybe saw 10 total in 6 months. But from the original 10, you only saw how many, Wendy?

Eight. Yeah.

Eight. You reappoint, once again, at 90%. Within six more months from there, one of those patients breaks and doesn't reschedule. In a year's time, out of my 10 patients who came into the office, I have how many patients with a future appointment?

Six. Right.

Six. That quickly it goes down because I'm only focusing on patients that are leaving with an appointment. That's all I'm-- now, granted, you do want to be improving that, but if that's all you're focusing on, you are in trouble. That would be the second thing that I would be saying, "Hey." Number one, track the right thing with case acceptance.

Number two, sometimes, there's more to be looking at than just one thing. Both of those things happened to me on a daily basis. I was tracking case acceptance. Wanted 100%. And I wanted 100% people get reappointed. And we thought we were doing both. Right?

Yep. So those are two big ones. Here's a third one. When we really want to look at something, I always wanted to get new patients. Right? New patients were so important. And as long as I was under $100 per new patient, I'm good. Now, do you know hygiene--So that's the first-- As long as I understand-- I am good. So I got up to 3 to 400 patients a month consistently. This wasn't just like a fluke. It was consistently month over month, 3 to 400 new patients a month. If I were getting that in any practice, Wendy, how often should I be getting a new hygienist?

Yeah. It's at least every-- if you're doing the math right-- every like 10 to 14 days.

Oh. See, I'm thinking two months. But you're right. But if I'm increasing my active patient base by 400 a month, right? I'm getting 400 new patients. I'm assuming about 800 new patients per hygienist. Would that be about right?

800 a year, yes.

Yeah. So if I'm getting 400 new patients a month, after two months I should be getting a new hygienist. Right?

Yep. I mean-- So that's the crazy thing about it, is even at that rate, right, you're growing new patient numbers so fast but your team wasn't growing to handle those. So you know that there's something happening with retention. That's your first warning, right?

You know, I didn't know that. I was just like, "Oh. Well, you know what? We're still growing. Our revenue is increasing but it's increasing like this." Our revenue is increasing but I didn't understand to even look at how many new hygienists should I be bringing on? All I was focused on was new patients and making sure that those dollars were low. That's it.


Right? No. I hit both of those things but it was a mistake because that's all I was focusing on. Just like in hygiene, oftentimes all we focus on is making sure that we have 100% or 90% reappoint for hygiene. If we stop there, we're hurting our patients. We're hurting the practice. So those are the three big ones: case acceptance, people leaving with an appointment, and new patients. I was tracking those three things alone and it actually hurt us because that's all I was tracking.

Right. And so one of the things that we love about having Alex or tools in addition to the software-- I mentioned at the very beginning if all we're using is our practice management software, a lot of times my biggest issue with that is we're looking backwards instead of forwards.

Right? So a lot of times, we don't even know where we are until the month is over. And then we'll pull all the reports, we'll take a look, and then guess what? At that point, the month is over. So what I love-- What I think we need to today to be super reactive and to avoid the crisis before the crisis happens is to be able to have an asset or a resource so we can track where we are on a more consistent basis. Right? So when you measure your case acceptance-- you look at your case acceptance, if you see a trend to the negative, when do you want to act? Do you want to wait until it's 30 days down into that negative trend?

Yeah. You want to act right now.

You want to act right away. And so that's one of the things that I think is so important for many practices, is that they understand that in today's world, often it takes more than the practice management software to really identify what's happening in the practice. We'd love to have real-world information in real-time.

And I think that's super important for us to focus on, especially when you look at case acceptance. You mentioned tracking and measuring case acceptance. If we identify that we're below our goal, we can take action to turn that around before we're 30 days below the goal. Right? Same thing with scheduling the patient on the hygiene side.

When a patient leaves that scheduling, when's the ideal time to contact them? Well, we teach our members to contact them the very next day and we even take it a step further. The hygienist who was the one who saw that patient who was tasked with rescheduling them or prescheduling them, they are the one who should call and say,

"Hey, Curtis. It was so great to see you yesterday. We had such a great visit but things got crazy. We neglected to schedule your follow up visit. Let's take care of that right now so that when six months rolls around, you have your first choice of high-demand appointment time."

We don't want to wait and end up playing phone tag. Let's act now, strike while the iron's hot, while they're remembering all the positive things that we just talked about at that visit. But if we don't have that data, if we don't understand where we are, if we don't realize, "Oh, we dropped the ball on a couple people yesterday," then we're not going to be able to react in a timely manner, right?

And then the third thing, the new patients. When you're looking at, okay, how fast are we growing? Are we really retaining patients or are we focusing on just one narrow segment of the information that we have on that new patient? Have those new patients been reappointed for hygiene? That's another very common mistake we see, right? New patients come in and they actually aren't enrolled in hygiene.

Yeah, so you're so key on this, Wendy. And I love this because ultimately as you mentioned practice management software, right, they kind of tell us what happened in the past. I mean, we're both here-- we're actually neighbors, right? We both live in Utah. And Dentrix was created here. Well, I know the guys who created Dentrix. They are not guys who know how to run a dental practice. They are not ones that say, "Oh, this is what you need to be looking to do to increase production and profits."

All they're doing is saying, "Dentists, what numbers do you want to be looking at?" Well, if you look back to those three things. I only look at case acceptance. "Okay, well then we're going to put into certain things and this is the numbers we're going to be looking at."

But here's what they're not showing you. If I have a dental office that wants to do 100% case acceptance and is doing 100% case acceptance, okay? He's doing 100% case acceptance. His goal is to do 10,000-- his or her goal is to do $10,000 a day. And they're diagnosing $6,000 a day and accepting 100%. Is that a good thing or bad thing that they're 100%?

Yeah, still not at their target, right?

It doesn't matter. The fact that you're at 100%, you're still not going to hit your goal. You're not even diagnosing $10,000, right?

And there's really no way to find that in the software. So you mention Dentrix. Out of all the software reporting, Dentrix is the best. But even that doesn't give dentists the capability to react quickly enough. We talk about driving blind. When you're on the street and you see danger coming, you need to be able to react immediately.

We always laugh in my family because I've got athletes, right? And they're always like, "That's the athletic reflexes. You need that. You need to be able to have that athletic reflex and be able to adjust immediately in real-time. And if all we're using in the practice to look at where we are and how we're performing as a team is our software, we can't react in real-time swiftly enough and deftly enough. Chances are we're missing some things.

Just think about driving once again and cover up the windshield but you're able to use the rearview mirrors. You can move forward.


You're not going to go as fast but you can move forward. When you hit something, you're going to be, "Oops." Back up, go around it, and look in your rearview mirror and say, "Yep, that's what I hit." That's what reporting is.


Reporting is just simply that. It's telling us what happened in the past. Who cares? The fact that you hit that car back there, you can't change it. You already hit it. Now, could you possibly not hit something in the future? Yes, possibly. But you can't it goes quick and it's athletic. I really like that example of being [inaudible] those athletic moves. Yeah, that's what you want in any practice to know what's in front of you? What can I improve today?

Right. And we always say it's not the strongest of the species that survives, it's the ones that's most adaptable to change, right? Charles Darwin said that. And that's one of the things that I think is the biggest challenge. So talk me through that for a second, Curtis. Let's say we have practices listening that are still primarily dependent on that software. What is something they can change? What's a quick and easy way to get the team thinking about tracking and measuring the performance in real-time?

So in what scenario is this? Give me one, just an example --

Let's say we have a practice listening that's still primarily using practice management software. What's an easy first step? What do they need to do to figure out options to start not driving blind. What are some things to do?

First and foremost, it'd be cool if you got some software like Dental Intelligence. I'm just going to throw a small plugin there. But let's say you don't. I'm not going to do that. Very first thing you should be tracking is what's called your active patients, patients you've seen in the last 18 months. Is that going up? Is that going down? Or is it staying stagnant? So if I have 1,000 active patients January 1 and in January I got 50 new patients, at the end of January, how many active patients should you have now?

Well, you got to have what you had plus 50, right? Yeah.

Add in 50, right? You should have 1,050, but if you don't even know what that number is then the new patients, you're just throwing buckets of water or buckets of cash into something hoping that it stays the same. That would be the first one, active patients.

Active patients.

Know at the beginning of the month how many have and at the end of the month how many active patients you have. New patients is a portion of active patients, but you've got to know your active patients.

Yeah. That's great. That's a great place to start.

That'd be the big-- just do that and I guarantee you, you will have more production this year than you did last year. Guaranteed. The reason why? It's because you're going to have more people in your office. If you're tracking the real root thing which is your patients making sure that they're coming back and that you're getting more new patients. You're tracking that, you will have more visits in the office. Which if you have more people come in, you'll have more production plain and simple. And that didn't cost you anything.

Yeah. Dentistry is a business of flow. That's right. Dentistry is a business of flow. One other thing that I often say too is just start tracking, right? Start tracking something and having your team report on certain numbers because people play differently when they keep score. And having the team know where they're performing is the first key in improving performance.

Often they don't know, right? They are driving blind. Sometimes, I think one of the things that's really interesting is it used to be considered taboo to talk numbers at all. And there are still some dentists out there who don't want to share numbers with the team. But we have found team members definitely need to know where they're preforming in order to improve upon that. So tracking and just looking at the numbers and starting to report and share with the team certain key metrics is also, I think, an easy way to start moving forward.

Well, adapting, right? Just like you said, adapting. I mean, Blockbuster had an opportunity to purchase Netflix. But they thought, "No. That's the dumbest thing. People are always going to come to Blockbuster. We're the best." Right? You also look at marketing in dentistry. Ten years ago, even when I started back 10, actually closer to 13 years now, ago.

When I first started, marketing, just 13 years ago, was kind of looked down upon. 15, 20 years ago it was like, "You better not market. You're a dentist. You're better than that." Right? Now if you don't market, it's ridiculous. Unless you have [the?] active patient base and you're not losing patients. That's a different story.

But if you really want to grow and help your community, you have to let your community know that you're there and you're available. That's called marketing. And we used to not want to even track or do that. Now that we're tracking it we're becoming better. You're absolutely right. The things that you're focus on, that's what's improving.

Absolutely. Well, thank you so much, Curtis, for your time today. It's always great for our listeners to hear from innovators who really have lived what they teach, right? That's what the Team Training Institute is all about is we want experts, practicing professionals who live what we teach. So we have the utmost respect for you. We know all the good you're doing in your past life in the practice, but also now with all of the clients and all of our friends over at Dental Intel.

And I can tell you what, utilizing Dental Intel with all of our clients has revolutionized what we're able to help them provide because we can see their data in real-time. And soo again, we just can't say enough good things about you and all the things that you're doing. And we so appreciate your time here today.

You're welcome. And Wendy, just like a little-- for anyone out there, if you want to automatically know what active patients you had this month, last month, the month before on an easy graph, please reach out to Wendy. We can get you to what's called the snapshot and show you that at no cost. That way you can at least get a starting point on knowing how many active patients have so you don't have to go do the history. So just reach out to Wendy's teams.

I love that. So why don't we do this Curtis, why don't we put information about how they can get a snapshot for their practice on our Double Your Production Podcast homepage? So we'll put a link there or the information for our listeners to be able to go to Double Your Production Podcast homepage and we'll have that information there so that you can have a complimentary snapshot for your practice. We love that.

And just tell me you went to Wendy's team and we'll make sure to get you those active patients at no-- I mean, no obligation, just give it to you.

Awesome. Perfect. Thanks so much, Curtis. We appreciate your time. Thanks for listening everybody.

Okay. Bye.

See you next time.

All right listeners, if you enjoyed that episode as much as we did, go ahead and head on over to that www.theteamtraininginstitute.com/podcast. We'll have all of that information there for you as well as if you want that snapshot that Wendy was talking about or to request that practice analysis go ahead and email Wendy@theteamtraininginstitute.com. So again, that's Wendy@theteamtraininginstitute.com to get that complimentary snapshot of your practice and how you can benefit from all of these tools talked about today.

Thanks so much for listening. We so value you and listening in to our podcast. If you have a second and would love to give us a review, they're on iTunes or even shoot us a quick email and let us know where you're from and how you like the podcast, how you're using it your practice every day. We love to hear from our listeners. Again, thanks so much for tuning in and we'll see you soon


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