Küster Dental Blog

Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

How Do You Know Whether Your Office is a Hit?

Posted on: March 21st, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments

HandsClappingYou go to a show.  You thoroughly enjoy it.  So do all the people around you.  At the end you, along with everyone else in the theatre erupt into enthusiastic applause and leap to your feet.  As you leave the theatre you can’t stop talking about how wonderful the performance was, which were your favorite scenes – your favorite lines.  The next day you’re still talking about it to everyone you meet.  The sow was obviously a hit.

But, you run a dental office, not a theatre troupe.  How do you know if your dental practice is a “hit” with your patients?  You’ve just spent good money remodeling the practice after taking over from the retiring, senior associate.  Was that money well spent?  Have you achieved your goal of providing an exceptional patient experience?  Well, are your patients talking about you?

How would you know whether your patients are talking about you?  One of the first ways is to be tracking referrals.  The time to start tracking both patient referrals and appointment cancellations is before you embark on your remodel or some other major change in the practice operations.  The more baseline data you have the more certain you’ll be of the results after the change.  If you’ve been successful in improving the patient experience you should see referrals go up and cancellations fall.

You can also survey your patients asking them about their experience.  Again, if you can do this before the change doing so afterwards will give you comparative data.  Having a third-party survey your patients is probably a better choice than having someone from the office call.  Patients are more likely to be honest with a third-party than someone in the office they know – especially if they have a complaint.  Email surveys are also good as they are less expensive and you can reach out to every patient that you have an email address for.

Then there is social media.  You can look to see what your patients are saying on your Facebook page.  You can build quick Facebook surveys that can help you ask specific questions about changes in the practice and solicit responses.

As Lady Gaga says, “[we] live for the applause.” In the case of a dental office hit, the applause is a vibrant, growing practice.

So It Doesn’t Quite Fit, So What?

Posted on: September 23rd, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
The awning doesn't quite fit.

The awning doesn’t quite fit.

When they remodeled the Starbucks near my home a couple of years ago they put in a walk-up window.  Great idea, right?  Being in an urban neighborhood there are a lot of visitors to the Starbucks that like to bring their dogs along, especially on weekends and this allows them to be served without having to tie their pups up to the bike rack out front and leave them while they go inside.  Great idea, right?  Then, after a few months of people standing there when it was raining and rain coming in through the window they added an awning.  The awning has great branding with the Starbucks name and signature green so people approaching even from the side of the building can tell there is a Starbucks inside.  Great idea, right?

Well, someone messed up.  As the photo attached shows, the awning is not as wide as the window.  Now, perhaps the awning was ordered long before the window was actually installed and there was a size change for the window.  Since the window was truly installed months ahead of the awning there was more than ample time to send correcting measurements to the awning fabricator.  Perhaps there was just an error in measuring the window (my guess) and the awning was made too narrow.  Regardless of where the error was made, the misfit in sizes leaves the window looking less than its best and does not leave a good impression on the project manager or awning vendor.  If this represents the best work they can do I’ll never ask the manager at my Starbucks for the name of the contractor or awning vendor so I can use them on a project.  From my perspective they obviously do not take pride in their work enough to correct the mistake.

As far as Starbucks goes, they obviously don’t have enough pride in their store to make sure it presents a finished look to clients.  I’m amazed they have not demanded the awning be fixed.  If this were my store I’d want it to be fixed right away as it presents a disheveled appearance for the store.  If this were a dental office I’d have wonder whether they’d leave my teeth in such an unfinished manner.  Things like this become part of a dental office’s branding message and where care and precision are paramount can one afford to let something not fit together correctly?  Most of the dentists I know are very particular and want to make sure their brand reflects this care and attention to detail.  A misfit awning certainly doesn’t make the cut.

Colors and Your Dental Office

Posted on: August 28th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Color of the Year 17-5641

Color of the Year 17-5641

Have you given any thought to the colors you use in your dental office design? There has been tremendous research done on what certain colors mean and what reactions people have to them.  Our good friend Starla West wrote this blog post that really does a great job of outlining the various meanings in colors and how people respond to them.

We believe there are no “good” or “bad” colors to use in the design of your office or brand.  The branding of your dental office is a very personal thing and the development of it should be a team effort between you, your marketing consultant, and your dental office designer.  While some research suggests that red isn’t possibly the best choice for dental offices as it is the color of blood and thus, can raise people’s anxiety level, if it fits the character and personality of the dental practice, we say “go for it!”

Here is a great blog post by Lawrence that graphically represents some of the meanings in colors.  We love the way these graphs make comparing colors and their meanings easy.

When choosing the colors for your dental office pay attention to the emotional response you want to generate in your patients and staff.  While I is important to choose your office colors with the patients in mind, don’t forget you and your staff and your response to the colors.  After all, you and your team will be spending much more time in the office than the patients.

The Power of a Logo

Posted on: May 9th, 2012 by James Kuester No Comments

Monday evening I went to a live, variety-style production by several performing arts troupes.  Typical of live performances ads were sold to help fund the printed program.  As I was leafing through the program one ad stood out from all others.  The ad was placed by Eli Lilly and Company and all it contained was their iconic, script Lilly logo.  Perhaps in other parts of the world this would not be sufficient, but in Lilly’s home town, nothing more needed be said; their logo said it all.  Seeing it on the page immediately reminded the reader of the company’s strong presence in the community as a philanthropic leader, major employer, and producer of life saving pharmaceuticals.

Other major companies have similarly powerful logos, such as Apple, Ford, Starbucks, and McDonald’s.  Depending upon one’s experience and relationship with the company the logos probably conjure up different emotions and mental images for the viewer.

The important thing to remember is that the logo is not the brand.  The logo is merely one physical representation of the brand.  When a company does an excellent job of defining, sculpting, and living its brand, in time, the logo can become potent.

We so often hear small business owners say they need a brand and go out and hire a logo created.  This is true for many dentists, too.  They completely miss that the logo is merely one representation of their brand.  A dental offices’ true brand lies in the emotional remembrances of the experiences of the patients that frequent the practice and of the staff that work there.  Everything must be working in tandem; the interior design of the dental office; the interaction of patients and staff; the interaction between staff and doctor; the quality of service and care received; and the ease of the transactions to produce one, singular emotional response.  This is the dental offices’ brand.  If one’s really good at building a brand, over time, seeing the logo will be all that is needed to trigger the desired response.

Dental Shortage in the Heartland

Posted on: April 10th, 2012 by James Kuester No Comments

This is such an amazing story that I felt compelled to share it.  The description of how people in the heartland are experiencing a shortage of dental care contrasts and focuses the reality that running a dental practice is still a small business and one needs to be able to make the finances work before just hanging a shingle.  What this story doesn’t mention is the lifestyle pull for young dentists to larger cities and communities and away from rural ones in spite of the ability to make a good income in small towns.  Bottomline, this piece really makes one think about the state of dental care in the US and the various forces driving it.

In Kansas, No Consensus On How To End ‘Dental Deserts’

by Bryan Thompson, Kansas Public Radio

This story is part of a reporting partnership that includes Kansas Public Radio, Kaiser Health News and NPR.

In an ongoing disagreement over how to solve dental care access problems in Kansas, there is one thing no one disputes: the great need.

That need was on display in February when the Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation held its eleventh free clinic of the past decade. Known as the Kansas Mission of Mercy, the clinic was staffed by volunteer dentists in a vacant Walmart store in Kansas City.

Organizer Greg Hill said that patients began arriving at 8 p.m. the night before the clinic opened. They were able to spend the night inside the store. “By 5:30 a.m., there were 1,200 people in the building,” Hill said.  More

Do You Sell Your Services?

Posted on: April 4th, 2012 by James Kuester No Comments

There is an interesting discussing currently occurring in one of the groups I participate in on LinkedIn about whether a dentist should hire staff that, in addition to their technical skills, are skilled in sales.  I find this interesting from the aspect of a dental office designer for I contend that if the proper tools are in place there is no need to “sell” or persuade a patient to act on a defined course of treatment.  What do I mean by tools?

Everyone has heard the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Well, with today’s technology it is easy to show a patient what is going on inside the patient’s mouth.  The technology also makes it fairly easy to demonstrate through computer models what the inside of the patient’s mouth is going to look like post treatment.  I contend that if the patient is shown, in a comfortable, non-threatening environment, the facts and the course of treatment is clearly explained then there is no “selling” that has to take place.

What do I mean by a comfortable, non-threatening environment?  Get the patient up out of the exam chair and into a consultation room that is comfortable, attractive, and professional.  Present the plan at eye level, seated next to the patient so that the presenter and patient are on an equal level and no one is in a power position higher or over the patient.  Even if the treatment is going to occur the same day, unless it is an emergency, have the respect and courtesy to move the patient out of the exam chair and into a consultation room where the facts can be presented, the treatment plan can be discussed, and if need be, payment terms can be arranged.  Then, when the patient returns to the chair everyone is relaxed and comfortable with the decisions that have been made and no one should be anxious about what is about to occur.  This is important – no one feels like they’ve been pressured or forced to just take someone’s word on what is going on!

What about cosmetic or elective procedures?  Well, here a bit more salesmanship might be in order, but again a picture is worth a thousand words.  Showing the patient, a before and after picture will do wonders toward alleviating any anxiety about whether they should move forward with the procedure.  Since the treatment is elective and typically for vanity reasons, the patient should be made to feel comfortable in surroundings commensurate with the planned procedure.  Think day spa.  Someone is more likely to have high-end treatments done in a spa that feels luxurious rather than common or sterile.  If your dental office is offering high-end cosmetic procedures then the dental office design better be communicating luxury to your patients rather than institutional health care.


Do You Reward Referrals?

Posted on: March 19th, 2012 by James Kuester No Comments

In client relationship businesses such as dental practices (and dental office design practices), referrals from existing clients that turn into new ones are a key to growing a successful business.  However, I’m amazed at how few practices actually have any kind of a program to ask for, track, and thank existing patients that refer their friends and family to them.

My own general dentist has a program of increasingly more rewarding thank you gifts for each referral I make that becomes a patient.  For the first one I received a $10 gift card for a car wash.  For the second referred patient I received a $25 gift card to a local restaurant.  For the third and each subsequent referral that becomes a regular patient I receive my cleaning for free.  Andrew’s system requires three basic components:

  1. He has to make current patients aware that he appreciates referrals;
  2. He has to ask new patients who referred them;
  3. He has to track the number of referrals existing patients make, and send them the appropriate thank you gift.

This system is so simple, and while it does not cause me to run around asking random strangers if they have a dentist or not, it does make me feel appreciated as a client and keeps his name top-of-mind when the question of a dentist comes up in conversation.

Here at Küster Dental Office Design our system has fewer steps.  When a new client calls we ask them how they heard of us.  If they say one of our existing clients referred them to us, we make note of that and make arrangements for a lunch to be sent to the referring client’s office as a show of our appreciation.  We will happily send lunch to the office of a referring client every day of week if they are referring that many of their friends and colleagues to us that become clients.

So, what do you do to thank your existing patients that make referrals on your behalf?  A simple token of gratitude can go a long way to turn these patients into raving fans.

Celebrate Success!

Posted on: November 11th, 2011 by James Kuester No Comments

This week has been one of celebrations.  I have attended several open houses for businesses that have opened new offices and are sharing their growth and success with clients, vendors, and friends by breaking bread and drinking wine together.  In this time of uncertainty and ever rising competition, sometimes it is difficult to step back and count one’s blessings.  As business owners we often get bogged down in the day-to-day challenges and do not take time out to celebrate the successes in our lives.

Every time I complete a dental office project I encourage my client to hold an open house to show off their new office or newly remodeled one.  I believe that these events are so important that I typically even share the expense of this party with them. This

is a great way to connect with clients in a more social gathering, plus it helps them to see that the practice is doing well.  As one of the important health care providers in clients’ lives, it is important to them that their dentist do well.  They like to know that their dentist is keeping abreast of all of the latest in technology and practice trends. This spills over in how the dental office itself is designed, organized, and operated.

Beyond just having a party when one opens a new office, there are many other times when one can throw a celebration.  Perhaps a member of your staff reaching a milestone in employment like 10 years with the practice or passing a certification exam for new industry knowledge or adding the 1500th patient.  These opportunities may just be mini celebrations held in the staff lounge, but they build teamwork, reduce stress, and keep the practice focused on the positive rather than the daily grind.

I’m off to another celebration this evening of a new office opening.  In spite of an already full schedule I’m looking forward to another chance to share in the success of my friends, colleagues, and peers.

The Project’s Not Complete Until the Clean-up is Done

Posted on: November 10th, 2011 by James Kuester 4 Comments

How one finishes a project is just as important as all of the other steps along the way.  With construction projects it can really leave a poor impression if the contractor doesn’t clean up after themselves before leaving the jobsite and turning the project over to the owners.  I was recently reminded of just how bad this is yesterday as I was walking into the condo building where I live.  The homeowners association had hired a contractor to replace the aging windows and front door and build a new awning over the front entrance. Overall, the contractor did an acceptable job.  They are finished and have left the jobsite.  What got me irritated was seeing how filthy dirty they left the new windows. There were finger prints and smudges all over the glass, giving an incredibly unsightly impression of the building and the overall work that they’d done.  This is why unless my client requests otherwise, I prefer to work only with contractors who I know have a reputation for doing a thorough cleaning job before project

My favorite contractor actually builds into their pricing to hire a professional cleaning crew to come in and do a thorough scrubbing of the project site prior to turnover.  While this may raise their pricing some, it leaves such an incredibly positive impression with the client that both the contractor and I come off looking much better – which, incidentally, increases the number of referrals.  With all of the other concerns surrounding a remodel or move of a dental office, the last thing my clients need to worry about is making sure their newly updated office space is clean.

Dental Peer Groups Now Forming!

Posted on: September 13th, 2011 by James Kuester 2 Comments

Being in business for oneself can be tough.  As a dentist this is especially true as you work to take the best care of your patients as possible and still work on the myriad tasks necessary to help your practice grow and prosper.  Wouldn’t it be easier if there was someone you could talk with that understood where you were coming from and share notes with?  Now, there is a solution to this dilemma.

We are now forming a new dental peer group in your area and invite you to join us to learn more about how you can be part of this exclusive group.  This will be a small, intimate group of dental professionals from non-competing markets that will gather four times per
year to share their experiences and seek advice from one another as they collectively work toward building better dental businesses.

The quarterly, full-day sessions will be facilitated by James Kuester, who has 20+ years of experience growing small businesses.
During each sessions members will present their financials, current challenges, offer advice, and hold one another accountable to their stated goals and objectives for their practices.

To learn more about joining the Midwest Dental Peer Group, please join us for an informational breakfast on Friday, 14 October from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. at the Indiana Design Center, 200 S Rangeline Road, Carmel, IN.  Please RSVP to Laurel at 866.904.6631 ext 5
or by email to james@kusterdental.com.

If you are interest in learning more about the dental peer group in your region, please contact us.  Each group is limited to six, non-competing dentist and the space will fill fast.