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AUDIO - HSP #151 - DAVID MOFFET
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David Moffet, BDS shares exactly how and why you should create watertight customer service.
Dr. David Moffet is a former full time Dentist and now, is the creator of The Ultimate Patient Experience. The UPE is a simple set of very specific, "common sense" patient service steps being used by dentists all over the world, to create unique experiences for their patients. These experiences dramatically enhance patient visit values and repeat visits. The UPE is Dr. David Moffet's “Secret Weapon” that allowed him personally bill $1,826,445 in services in 2011, working only 4 days a week, for 37½ weeks (while was holidaying all over the world the other 15 weeks!). Dr Moffet has refined and perfected this system over the last 17 years, to the point where it's as reliable as a Swiss watch -- no matter where you're located or what kind of practice you are running.
David used the Systems of The Ultimate Patient Experience to increase cash-flow and exponentially grow the value of his own practice. This allowed him to successfully sell his business seven years ago at a premium price of over $4.2 Million Dollars.
Dr. David Moffet’s Ultimate Patient Experience shows dentists how to add a minimum of $100,000 to their bottom line, without any additional ad spend, new equipment, or stress. David’s “Ultimate Patient Experience,” ™ dramatically increases the individual value of each one of your patients, doubles (at a minimum) new telephone patient inquiry conversion rates... increases repeat patient visits... and increases your pricing structure, with no net patient loss.
The UPE creates greater efficiency and unity with your staff, and reduces daily performance pressures normally felt by the Doctor and his team.
Dentists all over the world are successfully using The UPE to transform their practices.
Make sure to download David’s Free Report, “How to add AT LEAST An Extra $100,000 In Billings To Your Practice Revenue, Without Spending Even One Penny More On: Advertising, New Staff, Or More High-Tech Fancy Equipment,” at www.ultimatedentalreport.com
Howard: It is a huge, huge, huge honor for me to be interviewing today David Moffat, BDS. Bachelor of Dental surgery in ... Are you in Sydney, Australia or Melbourne?
David: I'm in Sydney, Australia.
Howard: You're in Sydney, Australia where my brother lives. My brother moved there a year ago, and he moved there from Kansas. He lived in Kansas with a car. Now he's in Sydney, he doesn't even own a car. I flew down there last year when he moved down with a couple of my sons, and, oh, my God, we had a blast.
Right now it's 1:00 PM on a Tuesday and I'm interviewing you where it is Wednesday morning at 6:00 AM, so thank you for getting up early and seeing me. I get to see you next Monday because I'm flying down there to do a lecture in Sydney, Melbourne, and ... Is it Perth?
Howard: Brisbane. Oh, Brisbane, which is Gold Coast?
David: Yes, yes, Gold Coast.
Howard: Is Brisbane Gold Coast or am I confusing the two?
David: No, they're two towns. Gold Coast is about an hour out of Brisbane, but they're part of Queensland.
Howard: Queensland. Yeah, and I want to go there. There's three things I want to do when I go to Australia. I've lectured there three or four times, and I've never climbed the highest mountain in Australia, so I'm going to do that this trip with Jeffery Knight. I never made it up to Darwin and seen the Great Barrier Reef.
David: You're going to go see the Great Barrier Reef this time?
Howard: No, not on this trip, but I want to. Is Darwin the best city to see the Great Barrier Reef?
David: No, Cairns.
Howard: Cairns? Okay. That's K-A-I-N-E-S?
David: No, C-A-I-R-N-S. Cairns.
Howard: How far is Brisbane from Cairns?
David: A long way, about a four hour flight, three hour flight.
Howard: A four hour flight. Yeah, my goal is to be eaten by a great white shark. As a dentist I should be eaten by something that has the biggest, boldest teeth. I so wanted to podcast interview you because you have a smash hit book out, The Big Yellow Book. You can't throw a dental impression without hitting your book on social media. I see it behind you right there, to the left of you.
David: Yes, right by my heart as well.
Howard: Hold it up to the camera so they can see it. How to Build the Dental Practice of Your Dreams Without Killing Yourself in Less Than 60 Days. I'm hoping that you turn that into an online CE course someday. I think that you could sell some books there too. You could even make it to where if you buy the course you get the book, or whatever. Tell us, what made you write this book? What is the gist of your book?
David: Well, I guess the book is really the story of my life's journey to this point, Howard. It's not so much that it's instructional. There is instruction in there, lots of tips, but it's pretty autobiographical as well. It tells my struggle school, and through dental school, and then my struggle in finding employment, and then finding the right employment, and then my struggles in setting up my practice on my own without any real business education. All the business education that I had I learned along the way picking it up from other people in business outside of dentistry. Not so much from dentists as being businessmen. I was able to apply that to what I did in building my practice. Build a very successful practice in a working class part of Sydney. You've been to Sydney. It's not all Harbor Bridge and opera house. There's places where it's like Dodge City, and that's the part of Sydney that I came from.
Howard: When did you get out of dental school? Tell us about your journey. Tell us more about what you learned along the way.
David: Well, I finished dental school in 1982, and 1983 the first job that I had was just filling in for a dentist who had a practice for two years, was very quiet, and he and his wife had just decided to go and work in the UK, so I finished his lease. When I finished his lease I took a job, and the first day that I took the job my principal was not there. I waited two months for this job to start and the first day he was not there. He rings me at the end of the day and he says, "You never told me you were left handed." I said, "Well, you never asked." He said, "Well, we can't have left handers. There's cables going here, cords going there, it's just not going to work." I said, "Well, that's not really fair." He says, "Well, maybe you should've become a vet like you wanted to instead of becoming a dentist."
I was really cranky. I was going to sue this guy, but my dad talked some sense into me. He said, "Just go get another job. If you get a job straight away you can't sue him for much." I was lucky. I fell on my feet. I got a job with a dentist who was very busy. He had a sore back and I got to work with him for a while. Then look after his practice for three months while he was overseas, and I stayed there for three years. I learned a lot about business from him, which was really good. From then I just got itchy feet and I was hoping I could buy in there, but he wasn't ready so I bought an established practice in 1987. I started in 1987 in a working class part of town, which wasn't far. It was maybe only 7 miles from this practice, but it was far enough that it was independent of that.
It was good. It was a business center, but in the western part of Sydney. From that then I had to build that dental practice up, and that's what I did. I started off with me and one dental assistant. One chair that worked and one chair that was a pump up, which was next to useless. When I sold the practice in 2007 it was two locations, seven chairs, two and a half dentists, a couple of specialists, and seven days of hygiene. It was a big business. I was proud to say that I grew that practice very successfully.
Howard: What do you think is the secret to growing a successful practice?
David: I think-
Howard: Well, first of all, what's the best way to order this book? The Ultimate Patient Experience.
David: Well, the best way, you can either get it on Amazon, Building the Dental Practice of Your Dreams, or you can just go to BuildingYourDreamPractice.com. If you order it there we can give you a couple of bonuses. There's a couple of audio CDs you can download as well as a PDF of it straight away, so you can be reading it on your phone even before the book arrives. Two ways to get it, just search for it at Amazon or BuildingYourDreamPractice.com.
Howard: www.theUPE.com, UPE standing for Ultimate Patient Experience. Is that still a good place to go, theUPE.com?
David: Yeah, that's my website, which is really my blog page now. At this stage I'm expanding it to a full blown website where my blog will be, but at the moment that's my blog page. I blog twice a week. I've been doing that for two and half years, so there's 270 blogs there, about 800 or 900 words each. I'm very lucky that I can sit down in front of a blank computer and an hour later I've spat out a blog. Twice a week I do that around this time of day. I tend to feel that when I'm typing I look like Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets when he was typing. He just gets in the zone and off he goes, so I'm very fortunate. I don't sit down and think, "Oh, I need to write something." I don't get inspiration at times and say, "I've got to stop and write it." I just open up at certain times and do it. That's theUPE.com.
Howard: They can find your book there too?
David: Yeah, they can.
Howard: What do you like to blog about? Is it the same thing about your book?
David: No. Well, I blog on Tuesday morning my time, which is Monday afternoon your time, I blog about customer service. On Friday morning my time, Thursday afternoon your time, I blog about the business of dentistry. There's a little overlap, but I try and keep it pretty secular. Only a couple times in that two and a half years have I typed out a whole blog and gone, "Oh, wrong. This has ended up going that way and I meant to be this way," and have to put it on a shelf for next week. Other than that it can be pretty good. Sometimes I can be generic, and sometimes I can be specific about dental. Sometimes I can find a customer service or a business tip from outside of dental, and just write about that, and then tie it back into dentistry at the end.
I wrote one last week about not having any backstage. You're always on show as a dentist and a business owner, and then just tied it in with, "And don't go hunting lions either." That was my little tie in. I think you've got to be seen by your customer to be a nice person with good habits and hobbies. I don't know what it's like over there, but the lion and the dentist has been pretty big down here.
Howard: It's huge here. I mean, it's huge everywhere. You go on the internet and just type in dentist on Google, it pulls up 25 different newspaper stories about Cecil the lion.
David: Wow. I see the point. I think there was a story about a female, 27-year-old, university accountant who shot a giraffe. You have to read in the fine print that she's an accountant, but this poor bloke, Dentist Kills Lion. I see the point there.
Howard: Is the point that dentist are held to higher standards because we're in healthcare promoting health, and killing anything is kind of like the opposite of health, do you think? Because you're right, if the lion would've been an engineer or programmer, I don't think they would've said in every headline, Programmer Kills Cecil the Lion. Why do you think they had to mention the career every single time the story came out?
David: We're just cannon fodder for that sort of stuff. That's just what our profession is. There's a Billy Crystal movie where ... I forget the name. Him and Richard Pryor, and he dates a ... Sorry, his ex-wife is dating a dentist. The dentist doesn't even appear in the movie, but the dentist crops it. Billy Crystal says, "Does he play the same music at home as he plays in his office?" We just crop it even though we're not in the movies.
I like to think of dentistry as being something that I do not something that I am. I like to separate that. I've enjoyed being a dentist. I only work one day a week as a dentist now, but I really love helping dentists to fine tune their practices and look at dentistry as a service rather than as a commodity. That's what really helps them set their practices apart as I set mine apart.
Howard: How do you do that? How do the dentists listening to this ... You've probably got about 7,000 dentists listening to this. Probably 80% of them are in America commuting an hour long commute to work. How do they differentiate themselves between nuts, bolts, screws, hammers, and differentiate themselves not as a commodity, which is things that are sold on price? When you buy a gallon of gas or a bushel of corn, no one cares whether you gas came from Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Oklahoma, or Texas. When you buy a bushel of corn, no one cares if it's from Iowa or North Dakota. They only differentiate on price. If you have a dental office where your just part of price, where they're shopping for the lowest this, versus differentiated. How do you differentiate your dental office so they want to go to your office and just not shop around on price?
David: Well, I guess, Howard, I stumbled into it, and it probably took me 20 years to work out what I was doing. I was really concentrating on making sure that at every opportunity we could be seen as being nice people, but nice people doing dentistry as opposed to dentists trying to be nice. That's what we looked. At every opportunity, how can the team, how can I, how can every person in the practice really convey that warmth and friendly feeling that you get outside of the dental office? That you get when you meet somebody that you meet in the street that you haven't seen for a while, or you meet them at a cocktail party, or you around at a barbecue, so that the dentistry that they have at your office is secondary to the experience of just visiting friends.
It was about four or five years ago that I came across a system where the system, I thought, "If I apply that to ..." It was from outside of dentistry. I thought, "If I can apply that to dentistry I can fill in the gaps." Because no matter how nice we try to be at different points, there will always be points ... Unless we look at it as a total system, there will always be places where somebody is accidentally or carelessly letting the team down. You can be the nicest dentist and have the nicest treatment, but somebody at the front could be being abrasive on the way in. You're hygienist could be saying something that is disappointing the patient and I'm doing the whole parcel of customer service that you're trying to do.
I looked at the practice of dentistry from the customer's point of view backwards. I turned the dental paradigm on its head and said, "Every stage, what does the customer see? What do they do?" I call them customers as opposed to patients because I like to feel that a patient is somebody who's sick, but our dental patients, they're people in health who are coming for maintenance. Calling them your customer is really what they are. They're a paying person. They have rights and privileges because they're paying and they have expectations. If we can exceed their expectations on a regular basis throughout their visit and at each visit then they're going to love coming to us, and they're going to tell their friends. They're going to come more often. They're going to accept the treatment that we suggest and recommend to them, and they're going to come and get it, and they're want to come and get it sooner rather than put it off.
It's about stopping the leaks, Howard. It's about stopping the patient's slipping out the backdoor of your practice and saying, "I'm seeing 150 new patients a month, but 120 of the are going out the backdoor." To me, that didn't make business sense.
Howard: The Italians say, "The fish rots from the head down." Meaning that you're the dentist, you own the practice. You set the tone of the corporate culture. Do you believe the dentist sets the tone of the corporate culture in the business?
David: Oh, absolutely. You have to lead by example. You have to be there before your patients. You have to be the last one leaving. You have to have that owner mentality, but you can't be walking at 10 after 9:00 for a 9:00 appointment, and a waiting room full of patients watching you come in, tucking in your shirt, eating your toast as you come in. You can't have that. You've got to be ready to go. You've got to be able to lead. A lot of dentists don't know how to lead.
The other thing I found when we looked at every stage that the patient goes through, Howard, there's about 19 steps that they go through when they just come in for a restorative visit, and about the same for a hygiene visit, and about the same for a consultation. The dentist in the restorative he does three things, he greets the patient, he treats the patient, and he farewells the patent. That leaves 16 steps that the rest of the team's doing, at every ... Once the patient's finished in the treatment room there are six steps for them to be lead from the treatment room to the front door and beyond. That's six steps that are done by other team members.
When you lay it down that there's six steps before and six steps after the team members are doing, they then start to see that they are important in the process. That they're not just there as bit players and backups to the dentist. They're actually laying the foundation and they're cementing the future of the practice. When they realize that and the penny drops, and then you teach them that they can then construct the customer service manual for the practice as opposed to ... There are tips in this book or any book on customer service that you can say, "He said to do it this way." That's now how I teach it. I teach them how to build it in their own words, so the Betty at your office who does the check ins designs the check in process with the consultation and the rest of the team, and then Betty owns it and the team own it rather than them saying, "Dr. David said do it this way." Dr. John can get Betty to do it, and design it, and he can use my book as guideline in his mind back that when she builds it, she owns it.
Howard: The dentist though ... I have to admit I get dentists because I'm a dentist. I would rather go to a course on bone grafting than customer service because that's what we are. We're engineer, scientist, mathematician, geeks, and we love that stuff. These dentists, they all think that the secret is to the future is to get a CAD/CAM, or to get a laser, or to get CBCT. You and I know that there's people who have built the most successful dental office in the world that didn't have any of those technologies. How do you break into the mindset that you're not going to build the perfect dental office just because you traded in a 2D pano for a 3D cone beam technology? You can see practices that have all those technologies that go bankrupt, and you can see dental offices that don't have any of those technologies be wildly successful. How do you get it into the mind that the dentist has to focus on the soft stuff, the people stuff, the customer service, the staff stuff, the stuff they call fall off?
David: A lot of dentists don't get it. We've all seen it, Howard. We've all seen it. I made the choice after two years of dental school ... After two years of studying dentistry, I got a transfer to medicine. I studied hard. I wanted to be a doctor and I got a transfer, but I said, "No, I want to finish dentistry and I just want to get out there and ..." All my friends who didn't go to university, they were already out doing jobs, and I was behind the eight ball. 40 hours a week of dentistry and 30 hours a week working in a registered club pulling beers and serving drinks, I was work damn hard for hardly any money and I just wanted to finish it. Some of the best students with great skills had no business idea. They had no business idea at all. I think, for me, I was lucky that the penny dropped early, but some of them never get it. You're right.
Even some of my clients, they talk to me about business, and then they say, "Oh, I'm gonna do this anterior composite veneer course because I need to improve that." I'm thinking, "That's not ... Just do porcelain veneers. They're quicker, they're easier, and they look better, and they last longer." Some guys like to get into the minute of it. You're right, they think, sadly, if they surround themselves with lots of shiny objects they're going to be successful and people are going to want to come. They've got lots of degrees hanging up and certificates hanging up that people are going to think they're good. I've done courses where you get nice, big, shiny, black certificates and you hang them on your wall. Nobody ever said anything. They just thought it was a reason to go to Las Vegas. It didn't allow me to do things more quicker and efficiently.
The schmoozing and the stuff that I learned, I take stuff from the restaurant industry and apply it to dentistry a lot of the time. Pull it from other industries and see things, and say, "This is what we need to be doing," but some dentists they've got no idea. They've got no idea how many new patient inquiry phone calls are converted to appointments in their book, and yet what's their answer? They think, "Oh, I've got holes in my book. Let's spend more money on marketing." All I need to do is answer the phone better. That's free money because I've already paid for the ads that are bringing the phones ringing. When the phone rings and they pick it up, they person's already done their homework. They've looked on the web, they've seen, and they want to come in, and then the person who picks it up is in incongruous. The message they get on the phone is incongruous to the image they're getting on the web, and they're, "Yeah, I'll call you back." It's lost. It's money lost. It's trained on these people skills.
I was lucky because I had people walking out of my treatment room loving me and then hating the girl at the front desk. Somebody pointed that out to me, and when we changed her behavior, and then changed her, business just boomed. We weren't doing anything different down in the treatment room. I realized that you've got to surround yourself with great people, who are people people, who can do that.
Howard: Most of the research I've seen shows that it takes four people to want to go office for the receptionist to schedule one. Then the dentist when he wants more new patients will go, "Spend more money on advertising." Instead of trying to convert two out of four to schedule an appointment. What advice would you give? What's the low hanging fruit advice on answering the phone? Furthermore, on your receptionist, can you train this behavior? Southwest Airlines says you hire on attitude and then you train the skill. Dentists look at the resume and say, "Oh, this person has 10 years experience and skills, so I will hire her," and half the time she's got 10 years of horrible attitude. Do you believe that you'd rather have someone with no dental experience, but they have a rocking hot attitude people person, and then train them how to do the front desk or do you want to find the person who has the 10 years experience and then try to develop them to become a people person, and to close more sales, and to create more appointments?
David: I think you need the right people with the attitude more than the skills, and that's obvious. Sadly, Howard, you know, and you've seen it, and you've heard stories where dental employees start as dental assistants and then they say, "I've had enough of being a dental assistant. I think I'm ready for the front desk," so it's a graduation from a boredom at the back to a boredom at the front. Sadly, in dentistry, working at the front is very unsupervised, so it does attract people who like to work unsupervised because they don't have many standards or hoops to jump through. The person who owns the business is the one spinning the wheels down in the back with his head down somebody's mouth. He doesn't have time to train, so it can attract people who are under performers who like to stay as under performers. It's easy to learn the skills.
Back to your first question. The question that we get down here is ... When somebody rings up, the first question they usually ask is, "How much for a clean?" Or, "How much for a crown?" In the US the first question that is asked is, "Do you take my insurance? Do you take X, Y, Z? Do you take Delta? Do you take this?" The girl answering the phone misses what the true question is. Down here when they say, "How much for a clean?", they're not asking a price they're saying, "It's time for me to get a clean. I need a clean. Can you book me in? Are you nice person?" They're missing that message. When they ring up in America and say, "Do you take my insurance?", the first thing that they should ask back is, "Oh, you have a dental problem. What is it? How can I help you?" Just get off of the insurance, get onto the problem, solve their problem, and then they'll make the appointment because you've been a problem solver.
You're right, I think it's even one in five. Why do one in five only make the appointment? It's because they get a number thrown at them. They get a number thrown at them that the girl on the phone hopes might be the right number, but it never is, and then you're talking price and commodity again.
Howard: Yeah, and I'll flip that on dentists. If I asked you, "Well, how much is a prostate exam?", and you said a number. The patient doesn't know what a root canal costs or a prostate exam, so even when you said the number they don't have anything to benchmark it on. It's not like you're buying a gallon of milk, or a loaf of bread, or a gallon or liter of gasoline. You're right, they don't know what else to say. They're calling a dentist, they need their teeth clean. What do you recommend? Do you recommend trying to explain this to your receptionist?
I've known a lot of offices where they've read your book together. Our office does that, where everybody in the office will have a book project. We'll say, "Okay, we're all going to read this in August, and then we're gonna get together and talk about it." Do you recommend that the whole office reads your book together? Kind of like an Oprah Winfrey book of the month club.
David: I think my book is easily readable, and I've had a lot of people buy multiple copies for their team as well. The biggest number of sales, I had an accountant in California bought 100 copies of my book to deliver to his dentist clients. It's quite bizarre. In a dental office it's and easily readable book. When I do my day trainings I spend 90 minutes talking about how to answer the shopper call. I say, "It's not a shopper." If I hear somebody in a dental office say, "That was a shopper." They're not a shopper. They're a person with a dental need that we have yet to convince that our practice is the practice for them. The only reason they ask the price is they have no other point of reference. That's what we have to do.
We have to hear the real questions, and the real question isn't, "How much?" The real question isn't, "Do you take my insurance?" The real question is, "I have a problem," and you can get onto it. When somebody rings up and says, "How much?" Down here the first question we ask is, "When were you last in?" Well, they never go back and say, "No, I just want to know the price." They say, "I've never been here before." Then we say, "Well, which one of our valued patients recommended us to you?" They don't say, "No, tell me the price." They say, "No, it wasn't one of your patients. I saw you on the internet or I Googled you." All of the sudden we've got them off the price question, and we're starting to talk about them and the dental issue. Two minutes into it they've forgotten the price.
When they come back to the price, if it is, "Look, I've really go to know. How much is a crown?" Then we simply say, "It's a very good question. Can I just ask you this? Do you want a crown that's going to last a short time or a long time?" Nobody says, "I want one that's going to last a short time." Guess what? A crown that lasts a short time, a crown that lasts a long time, that implies there are different prices, and straight away they've admitted that they want quality over price, and we've got them off there. We can say, "Can I ask you, how many other offices have you rung and has anybody been able to help you?" If they have rung other offices the answer we know is, "I've rung some, and nobody's been able to help me. And you've spent more time with me than anybody." Then we just say, "Well, let's do this. Why don't you just come down? We can have a quick look, see what needs to be done, and then you know exactly what needs to be done, and we can take it from there? Does that make sense?"
We've got them off the price question, and they already love us because we've got a nice person answering the phone who cares about them. Not somebody who sees a phone as an interruption, and slams it down and says, "Shopper," and gets back to filing insurance or filing their nails. We've got somebody who really cares about it, and that's what you've got to have at your dental office. The receptionist is the face of your practice.
Howard: David, why do you think dentists focus far more on marketing, trying to get more new patients, instead of focusing on retention, trying to keep their existing clientele, better, regular? Which is far more easy, and lucrative, and ideal. Why do you think they focus on just, "I'm going to build my practice with a gazillion new patients", regardless of the fact that almost all of them are going out the backdoor?
David: Well, it's a turn factor, Howard. They don't know any different, and they just feel that the more people they see the more chance they've got of somebody accepting treatment. You do need new patients, but when times get tough and new patient numbers drop ... When you've got your regulars come in and they trust you implicitly, and you're doing their dentistry, and you've been watching these big fillings, and it's time to do something about it or heaven forbid a restoration breaks ... I love it when regular patients come in. One chap said to me last year, he said, "I thought you'd crowned every tooth in my head, but I've broken another one." I looked at him and I said, "You need a crown." They diagnose themselves and they don't mind.
They're the people that you love treating. The people that you take their mouth from unhealthy or old patch ups to healthy inlays, onlays, and full coverage crowns, they love it. They say, "You know, I never thought my mouth would ever feel like this, and it just feels so much better." They become evangelists for you. On your American Express card it says, "Member since 1984." How many dentists say to their patients, "Thank you for being a patient since 1984"? Simple, little stuff like that. We know it. We've got it on our computer. We know these things, but we don't say them. [crosstalk 00:31:56]
Howard: The other things that just upsets me is that why doesn't the dental office software create a family tree? That you're David, you were referred by Lisa, who was referred by Amy, who was referred by, and then be able to trace it back to this one lady when I opened up in 1987, is now responsible for a tree of 220 patients that are still getting their ... How come we don't even ... But we'll track that it was a DO, and the insurance was billed, and they paid this portion. They'll track almost everything that doesn't matter. Everything that's real and that I want to know, it doesn't track. There should be a family tree. I know patients in my office that are responsible for ... One person might be responsible for 1% of my entire practice.
David: I totally agree. I totally agree. Some of the best referrers I've had have been people that we made full dentures for. You get front office people say, "Well, we'll file them as inactive because they're not coming to see us anymore," so they don't get Christmas cards, birthday cards, or newsletters, and yet they've been our greatest source of referral. They refer people who need full mouth reconstruction. You're right about the family tree. I did a full mouth reconstruction on a chap with implants and a whole pile of stuff, and he was referred by a woman who came and saw me about three or four times, and she was referred by somebody I play golf with who was never even my patient. Yet, the golf guy didn't know that a $60,000 case walked in as a result of him second generation.
Howard: I want to ask you four questions in a row, and it's all about your title. Why did you call it The Big Yellow Book? Number two, how do you build the dental practice of your dreams? What do you mean by saying, "without killing yourself"? Lastly, how can you do it in less than 60 days? There's four questions for you. Can you remember all of those in a row?
David: What was the first one? Why did we call it-
Howard: Why did you call it The Big Yellow Book?
David: Well, I chose the color yellow because I wanted the color of the cover to stand out. When I look along my bookcases the color of the spins that stand out are yellow, and so when I put it up for a design on 99 Designs I put seven yellow versions up and one blue one. Darn it, I swear I'd only put five days because the blue one was like up there second. It finished third, thank goodness, but I really wanted it to be yellow. It still didn't have the name The Big Yellow Book. It was my wife who one day just said, "You know, this big, yellow book's doing great." I thought, "There's a name." Of course it was available on Facebook, so it's got its own Facebook page, The Big Yellow Book. They can go there and find it on Facebook. It's not really that big. It's only 130, 140 pages, so it's not that thick, but when it got that name Michael [Bar 00:34:52] who you know. He photoshopped it into a picture and the Pope's holding it. It really became its own character. It's been in Les Mis, and-
Howard: I want to take my picture with it next week. I want to be holing The Big Yellow Book. What should the prop be? Should it be the bridge? The opera house, that would be too easy. What should our prop be next Monday?
David: Well, we can make it the opera house. We can make it the bridge. We can take you to the Icebergs at Bondi and have Bondi Beach. It's easy. It's easy.
Howard: How do you make the claim ... Why was it important enough to add onto the title, Without Killing Yourself? Is that one of the secrets of how to build the dental practice industry. Without killing yourself, is that working smarter not harder? What did you mean by that, without killing yourself?
David: It's without burning yourself out, Howard. People think that to be successful you've got to work 70, 80, 90 hours a week and just work so hard. If you work smarter not harder, then you don't burn yourself out. I've been a dentist for 32 years, and I've spent a lot of time on the business of dentistry as well as the drilling and filling of dentistry, but I've always taken the time out to make sure that I travel, I play my golf, I eat nice, and recreation. It's important not to just be a walking, talking dental encyclopedia for 168 hours a week. You can do it without stress and without the burnout.
Howard: When the dentist is looking for support ... You see the successful dentist, do you think the most successful dentists are getting that support from their spouse, or is it an office manager, or is it really neither?
David: Having a great spouse is very important. My journey, I think in my book I mention that having a very supportive spouse to directional changes along the way in my career in dentistry has been fantastic. You'll get to meet my wife next Monday when we meet in Sydney. She's a great story on her own. She did not have a dental background. She was a teacher, and then a parent, and as our children got older she took a parents and citizens job at the school. I said, "What are you doing that for?" I said, "With your personality, you're the perfect person to come and work in my office. Come and write our newsletter." Well, she went from writing the newsletter to being the most successful person on the phone that I know. She loved making appointments for people. The patients absolutely loved her. She also loved collecting, and scheduling, and making people keep appointments, and she became really, really good at it. Having a supportive wife or spouse, having a supportive team is good, but a lot of dentists don't even have the support.
I found that in my year, I don't even keep in touch with ... I keep in touch with maybe one or two people from my year, but I sought other successful dentists who were slightly older and slightly younger than me. You know what it's like, Howard. You start to see the same successful people at the meetings, at the continuing ed in your area, nationally as well. The cream rises to the top and the cream sticks together.
With that, I was very fortunate that I started masterminding in 2007 in Chicago. I was able to meet successful dentist from the US meeting in Chicago four times a year. That really peaked me interest as to why were these guys different? The synergy that happens when you get successful dentists together really, really works. It reminded me that you can't do it all on your own. You either need masterminding or you need coaching. Part of the success of my business, it's in my book, the first coach that I hired after six months of working with him, he was a friend of mine, and then I found that he was working as a dentist 900 yards down the road. Well, I didn't just say, "All coaches are bad." I found another coach, and the next six and a half years that I worked with them my business tripled. My collections tripled and it was because we restructured, and we looked the customer service side of things. To be successful, you can't just do it on your own. You've got to surround yourself with other successful people. Take advice, look for advice, and act on that advice.
Howard: I think it's funny when we have these one liners for like entire races or sexes. They'll say like, "Having your wife work in the office, that's a bad idea." I'm like, "Really? Two million dentists, all their spouses, they're all the same?" I'm 100% Irish. Is that like saying, "All Irish love whiskey?" Having a wife or spouse, whether it be your husband, work in the office, I've seen it be the best thing the dentist every did and I've seen it be the biggest nightmare the dentist ever did.
When you said, "Build the practice of your dreams in less than 60 days," where did 60 days come from as opposed to 30 days, 90 days, a year? Can you really start becoming more successful in 60 days?
David: I think once you turn the corner, once you make the decision, you can put the principals of what you want to do in place and have them as habits. You can also throw out bad habits. They say it takes 21 days to create a habit and 21 days to break a habit. 60 days just rolled off the tongue easily. You're right, it's like the seven minute abs, then the six minute abs, and then the give minute abs.
Howard: The movie Something About Mary. That was so hilarious. Is that what you're referring to?
David: Yeah, that's it. Somebody's going to bring this book out and say they're going to do it in 45 days. You can turn the direction of your practice around and you can also set your practice up the right way. In the book I said when I bought my practice in 1987 from this dentist who it was just him and one girl working in his office, and he said to me, he said, "Set this practice up how you want it from day one. The fees are good, but if you want to put them up start putting them up gradually. Don't put them up all at once, but just work it gradually until you get them comfortable." He said, "But you're going to work this practice and you want to take time off don't start working five and half, six days a week because you can never cut it back. Take your day off during the week." He was taking Wednesday off. In the US dentists take Friday off. In Australia they take Wednesday. I had come from a job where I was not working Wednesday, so I just kept it at that.
I think you can set the direction of your practice in 60 days. Anything new that you want to implement in your practice, you can have an often implemented by your team by you in 60 days. That's where the 60 days comes from.
Howard: Talk about the part I love, creating the ultimate dental handover, where patients leave the practice. The total clarity on what is clearly the next step. Talk about that.
David: That's the backbone to a successful practice, Howard. Because the opposite, patients that leave our practice that are confused ... They make an appointment that they don't know why they've made it. That they've not been told what they're going to have done next time clearly. "It's not hurting. Why do I need it done?" They're not told what will happen if they don't get it done. They're not told the urgency of why it needs to be done then instead of waiting until it breaks. Those people cancel their appointments. They make appointments and they cancel them, or they make appointments and they don't turn up. Well, they say, "Look, I've got to think about it." That's what creates the issue.
If we don't have patients with total clarity, patients that are leaving confused, I don't care how good your front office people are with their phone skills, it's so much more difficult to turn those people around when they want to cancel or when they fail to show and you've got to reactivate them, and get out your tickler file. If you've got the handover happening properly, and the handover has to be ... The handover has to be as many handovers as you can. The more somebody hears something the more they believe it.
I'm a firm believer that when the dentist brings the patient out to the front desk, he hasn't said anything to patient, and then he just says it at the front desk, and then he's got to rush back down the back, and the patient doesn't get the message. If the dentist tells the patient during the appointment, he tells the patient at the end of the appointment, he hands it over to his dental assistant, Kate. Then Kate understands it all and Kate feeds it back in case he misses something. "When do you want this patient back, Dr. Moffet?" Then Kate takes the patient out to the front, and then Kate says exactly what the dentist has said to the receptionist in front of the patient, guess what? The patient's heard it three or four times. They're starting to believe it. They understand it. If it's choreographed perfectly that these people in your office are engaging with the patient on all those handovers, the patient feels a part of it.
Traditionally the patient just comes out and they feel like the school kids who has been dragged by the school teacher up to the principal's office. "Stand over there while I tell the principal what you did, and then you can talk when I'm finished." That's what a traditional dental handover is. No wonder those people canceled their appointments. If we concentrate on these 10 things that we need to concentrate. What did we do today? How many teeth? How many surfaces? What did we do today? What are your expectations after today in terms of comfort and pain? What are we going to do next time? Why do we have to do it? What will happen if we don't do it? How long appointment do we need? How soon can we get it, and can you come in sooner if something comes up? If we get those five things ... I think I've hit about 10 fingers, but if we get those top five things in place that's perfect for setting it up.
Then we switch to a few customer service things. Thank them for how a great a patient they were. Thank them for being such a wonderful patient this time. Talk about something that they've mentioned. Talk about something that they're going to be doing in the future, and wish them good health. They love it. Most dentists, what are they doing? They don't even know when their next patient's appointment is. They've got their head in their computer, the patient's been checked out, and they're trying to do a handover, and somebody's clicking hand pieces off, and there's all this background noise. You've got to set it up right.
Howard: You're so right. I also love the fact that, what happens if you don't do it? One of the most common reasons people come to my office for a second opinion is because they went to an office and they just wanted to get their teeth cleaned. Then the doctor said they needed a deep cleaning, and they thought it was a scam, or they didn't believe it, or trust it. They thought they were just trying to get more money, so they come to our office for a cleaning. We take the time, we explain to them, but you've got to tell them, "Well, in the United States by age 64, 10% of American's have zero teeth. Not one tooth in their head."
When they come in for a toothache and need an emergency root canal, build up, and crown, I always stop and say, "Okay, well that's $2,500, but you have eight other cavities. Each one of those cavities is $250. I'd rather you spend $2,000 and fix these eight cavities at $250 and be $500 less, and we'll just use that to pull this one." They're like, "I don't want to get a tooth pulled." I say, "Do you realize every single one of these cavities is going to turn into a $2,500 root canal, build up, and crown?"
When you tell a person, "Yeah, you have two cavities and I really want to do them now because I don't want you to come in and we have to spend $2,500 for each one of them for root canal, build up, and crown. We really need to get your teeth cleaned every three months because I really don't want you to need a denture like 10% of all Americans at age 64." They don't talk about what if. They just say, "Oh, you need an MO1-3 and a DO1-4", and they don't even know what that means.
David: Exactly. Exactly, Howard. In dental school we're trained to do dentistry and believe that as long as it's fine and perfect in the treatment room that it's going to last forever. We're taught that these beautiful, wonderful, in my day and your day, [mouthums 00:47:44], and then now composite build ups are going to last forever. Everything's finite. It's a hostile environment in there. People are going to smash all sorts of stuff. They're going to put stuff in there. They're going to put all chemicals in there and they're going to beat themselves up in there.
I like to do it like you. I like to say, "You know, I could do that." "Can you do it inexpensively?" "I can do it, but the you're going to lose this tooth. If we fix it right now you've got more tooth there to work with. It's going to be cheaper and you're going to get more life out of the tooth." Like you said, there's other times when you says, "Look, if I do that I'm going to be stealing from you. I can do nothing to save this tooth. This is what we need to do." You're absolutely right, they love that honesty.
I think part of that honesty, you mentioned about they go to the dentist and the dentist says, "You need a deep cleaning", and they've got to come back. If you get the person answering the phone correctly on the front office and asking that questions, "How long since you've been to the dentist?" They say they haven't been in for a year, and they say, "You know, we'll try and do it in one visit, but sometimes people who haven't been in for a year, they're going to need two or three visits to clean their teeth." Then they're prepared for the dentist to say that.
When I left my practice after selling it seven years ago, and then working there for seven years, and I've started working near home here. The girls in this office that I started working with, they're just putting names in slots. They say, "You've got a new patient." I say, "What are they having?" They say, "They need a clean." I say, "How long since they had their last cleaning?" "I don't know." I say, "Can you tell me about this patient?" "Oh, they walked in." "He's made an appointment for the middle of the day. Does that mean he's on holiday, he's on leave, he's taken a day off, he works shift work? Do we know any of that?" "No, I didn't ask that."
Well, why don't they ask that so then I understand, the patient feels like there's some engagement with them before they come in. Instead I'm the one who has to do it. I'm not getting paid to drill, I'm being paid to talk, and there's people who can talk in my office for a lot lower hourly rate not talking. That sort of frustrates me too. Everybody can be their friend. It doesn't have to be me.
Howard: Talk about work with the team on capturing important secret service information about the patient for future use. Secret service, is that from the CIA and the KGB?
David: Secret service is using information that the patient or the customer in the business is unaware that they're providing, or there's systems that you have that the customers are unaware of. The advice I got came from John [DeJulius 00:50:23]. He's also one of the people on the back cover along with you who gave a testimonial for the book. In his salons, new clients were given white capes and existing clients were given black capes. Well, the client doesn't know. They just use black and white capes. The team then say, "New client, white cape", so they treat that person differently. They give them a little bit of extra attention, so there's a secret service system.
Patients love it when they tell a story to the hygienist, and then the next time they come back in the dentist says, "You were telling the hygienist last time that you've just been on a trip." Well, the patient loves it that all of the sudden they're more than just a set of teeth and a credit card, that they're actually a person and we're interested in what they do. Collecting that information and sharing that information. The whole purpose of the huddle is not really to talk about what we're going to be doing. We're assuming that we know what we're doing. The purpose of the huddle is to share personal information about people. Again, "Don't ask this lady if she's been married because he husband's been dead seven years and she'll burst into tears because she loves him and misses him dearly after being married for so long." Sharing that sort of information so that people are prepared. That's what's secret service information.
People love thinking that they're the most important. I always encourage my staff to talk the patient about their favorite subject. What's their favorite subject? It's themselves, so don't talk about the weather. Don't talk about how fast the year's going or how slow the year's going. As far as I understand, Howard, the Earth does not speed up and then slow down as it moves around the sun, depending on Christmas. It just moves at the same speed, so a week, an hour, a year is always the same, so get off that topic. If the patient says, "I can't believe how fast the year is going." Say, "It sounds like you've been busy. Tell me more about that", and get onto to what they've doing, not getting on to talking about the hands of the clock. Don't talk about the rain, talk about what the rain is doing to them. It's stopping them from playing golf. It's stopping them from going to a wedding outdoors. It's stopping them from going on a trip.
Find out about the patient. Get onto their agenda, but then share that information back with you doctors, with your team, with your receptionist. Even when the dental assistant takes the patient out to the front they can leave a little note so that after the patient has made that appointment the receptionist can say, "Oh, I see also that you're going on a trip soon." Bingo! Patients love that.
Howard: Talk more about how to teach the team, you call it. Teach the team about service recovery, customer experiences, and really going above and beyond makes so much of a difference.
David: Well, service recovery is simple. I think it's atrocious. It must be so frustrating for patients, for anybody in any business, where something goes wrong they say, "I've got to check with my manager. I've got to check with my dentist. Let me check with my dentist." If the patient chips a piece porcine off a crown, now what do we do? We say, "Let me check with the lab and see if they'll cover it." No, just do it. Just replace it.
Patients will sometimes feel that the service recovery is better than the actual even that they came for. Classic example, the people who order this from down under, I send them out myself. I sign them, I wrap them, I send them out myself, and they're personally autographed. Well, this dentist sends me an e-mail, Murray. He sends me an e-mail and he says, "You sent me my book. Thank you very much, but you signed it and I wanted to give it as a gift." He gives me his phone number, so I'm on the phone with him straight away as soon as I get the e-mail, and he said, "I'll send it back." I said, "Murray, it might be another year before another Murray buys my book." I said, "Just keep it." I said, "But I actually checked your order, and you ordered two, and I only sent you one." He said, "Yeah. I just thought the second one was coming." I said, "No, that's my mistake too." Two books, individually wrapped, unsigned in the post, when he gets them the next day, and he's straight onto Facebook, onto the Ultimate Patient Experience Facebook page, gives me a five star review and says, "You walked the talk. I'm sold. You deliver." The service recovery was better than him actually getting the first book. He got schmoozed.
How can we do that? When I talk the dental teams and we look at what we must do, but we also look at what we must not do. When we look at the must not dos then we look at what will happen if this happens. Now, what happens if a patient turns up, Howard ... I haven't got it. My old practice card. What happens if they turn up and they've got your dental receptionists handwriting there, they're there for the appointment, they're not in the computer? What do we do? Do we have system that if we can see them we can see them, but if we can't do we have flowers waiting at their home? Do they have to go and ask the doctor and say, "Hey, you know, what can we do?", or do they just order the flowers? "Can I order you a taxi home?" Can we pop a lottery ticket in the post so the next day they say, "Look, I'm sorry you turned up to the dentist. We're lucky to have people like you. Hope that luck rubs off. Scratch this. Let us know if you win anything. I hope you do"? No, we never think of that, but that's a system. Bang! It's gone. Have your team allowed to do that. That's service recovery. What were the other things you asked me?
Howard: Customer experiences really going above and beyond, how that makes so much of a difference. I think that's what you've been talking about.
David: Again, that's the other end of the spectrum. We train teams to work out what do we do in our dental office that every dentist does? What do we do that no other dentist does? Then, where are our above and beyond moments and opportunities? Where can we do things that they're not going to expect?
A patient might be reading a magazine in the dentist office. Traditionally, what's a magazine do? It's got a sticker on the magazine, which says, "This is the property of Dr. X, Y, Z's dental practice." What that sticker says is, "Do not steal our magazines." A patient's reading a magazine, and you say, "Oh, is there something there that you're interested in?" They go, "Yeah, I'm enjoying this article." We say, "Take the magazine." We give them the magazine, where another practice will say, "Let me make a copy of that." They squeeze it onto the copier-
Howard: David, I want to ask you an interesting question because you're in Australia and really 80% of my viewers are listening to this are Americans. You're a worldly man, explain how the Australia market is where if you were practicing in Germany, or the United States, or Canada you might not know. Are there any little fine difference in details of how a dental office runs there as opposed to Toronto, or America, or England, or Germany, or where have you?
David: Pretty much the same, Howard. I consult with clients in Australia and I also consult with clients in the US and Canada. Dentistry's pretty much the same. The biggest difference in the US as opposed to Canada and Australia is the influence of employer paid insurance on the dental landscape. That's about it. That's about it, and the fact that there's more dentists in America than there are Starbucks, with one on every corner. Other than that, the provision of dentistry is pretty much the same.
When I started masterminding in the US in 2007. I thought, "If what these guys are talking can work in a highly populated dental environment in the US then it's got to work down in Australia." Again, the marketing tips, the service tips, so it's pretty much the same. I'm excited. Next month I've got a trip, I've got a customer service summit to go to. I'm going to be doing a two day workshop in Vegas and I'm going to visit two of my clients. One in Edmonton, Canada and one in Denver, Colorado on the way.
Howard: You're doing a two day seminar in Vegas?
David: Yeah, the 25th and the 26th.
Howard: Is that your own seminar that you put on, or are you lecturing for someone else, or is this your event?
David: No, I'm just it on as my own event. I'm putting it on at Implant Direct, at their facility there. It's basically a workshop, an in depth workshop in the how to build the ultimate patient experience in your practice. Building the five building blocks: the ultimate connection, the ultimate arrival, the ultimate pre-appointment, the ultimate appoint, and the ultimate post appointment. They're the five different colored dots that make up the patient cycles. I'm going to go through the ultimate handover in detail, and how to handle the shopper call because it's not a shopper call. I hate that term. When I hear that term it's telling me that somebody needs a new job. That's a person that told me it was a shopper call. It's going to be very in depth. I think it's the 25th, 26th of September. I'll have the information out very shortly on that. Again, if they go to theUPE.com they'll find out the information there on my blogs for sure.
Howard: Our listeners, can they look forward to one day you creating a Dentaltown online continuing education course on this?
David: Yeah, Howard. Thank you so much. It's an idea that I think has a lot of merit. I'm sure from the material that I've got there is enough for a Dentaltown online course, absolutely.
Howard: I think we now are at 530 course and we passed 550,000 views, so it's a huge hit in the United States. They love to sit there on their couch, on their iPad, and take an hour course as opposed to going to, say, a study club on the last Tuesday of every month where they have to drive an hour across town, listen to someone talk for an hour, and then drive an hour back. You know what I mean?
Howard: It's been wildly successful. We are out of time. We are one hour and one minute, but I just want to say, seriously, a huge fan of you, a huge fan of your book. I can't believe I get to have dinner with you a week from today, and I look so forward to seeing you. Thank you for all that you've done for dentistry. Thank you for writing your book, and I just can't wait to see you.
David: Thanks for having me on your show Howard, and I look forward to shaking your hand and enjoying some of Australia's food and drink with you next week.
Howard: I'm going to bring my brother Paul because he needs a dentist down there. He's been down there a year. He's looking for a home. You'll have to help him with a dental home. He moved from Kansas to Sydney, and when everybody asks him, "Well, when are you coming back?" He's always like, "You can move from Kansas to Sydney, but you can't really move from Sydney back to Kansas." That's kind of a one way street. There's turning around once you've made that move. He just absolutely loves it.
I have to say I've lectured in 50 dental countries and that is the hardest country to go back to your airplane and fly home because you're asking yourself why the whole time. In Sydney you don't need a car. It's just all there, the public transportation, the trains, the plane. It's got to be the coolest city in the world.
David: Well, I love it, and when people say they want to come down and visit I say, "Just buy a one way ticket. You won't want to go home."
Howard: I know. I know. Well, okay. I'll see you next week!
David: Thanks, Howard. It's been great. Thank you so much.
Howard: All right, bye, bye.