To know SmartBox, you have to know founder and CEO Colin Receveur, the dynamo that powers this marketing machine. Even though SmartBox was incorporated in 2001, it began inside Colin during his childhood.
Colin’s experience helping dentists predates search engine optimization (SEO), Google, websites and even the Internet. Colin’s experience goes back to when he was a 7-year-old boy helping in his father’s dental office, filing records for a nickel apiece.
He worked almost every day in his father’s office – and spent almost every night on the family’s Compaq computer (remember those?) in the early morning hours learning how to design and code websites in the Internet’s infancy.
Though his dad is a dentist, Colin’s mom was a top sales executive with a Fortune 100 healthcare organization. So it was only natural for him to want to monetize his interest in websites.
“In the 8th grade, my mom became concerned how I came into several hundred dollars monthly, and she worried I was into ‘something bad,’” Colin said. “I was doing affiliate marketing, selling banner advertising space on my website and getting commission checks!”
Colin’s love of websites only grew from there. He launched a business designing websites for local businesses as a sophomore in high school (all while still working in his dad’s practice). As a junior, he was asked to lead his high school’s initiative to develop a school website. During that project, he gave several presentations to the school board.
Ultimately, he combined all of his loves into SmartBox. He built his father’s first website in 1997. By 2006 he had joined forces with major consultants to service their clients’ patient attraction needs. SmartBox now works with more than 550 dentists on three continents. And while Colin would be crazy to have a marketing agency that doesn’t market itself, SmartBox’s largest source of new dentists comes from referrals and professional partnerships.
“My background in dentistry, working in the office from a young age, managing my dad’s and hundreds of other practices, gives me a unique perspective into what dentists really want and how to leverage the tools available to help them reach their goals,” Colin said.
While it’s not unusual to receive an email from Colin Receveur at 5:30 in the morning, it’s not just because he’s a workaholic. His kids – Benjamin, Emma, and Adelyn – are early risers too, and that helps dad get an early jump on the day.
When Colin’s not working with clients, he’s a voracious reader of non-fiction, especially books on business and marketing. But don’t think Colin is all work and no play.
Colin loves to scuba dive shipwrecks, collect shot glasses from everywhere he travels, and learn about World War II. Both of Colin’s grandfathers served in the big one, one as a paratrooper and the other as a medic who landed on Iwo Jima.
Since this makes Colin sound like he can leap tall buildings in a single bound, it’s only fitting that his favorite superhero is Superman. But there is no hiding his secret identity as a man who can get you more of the patients who want faster than a speeding bullet.
“Many marketing firms just get marketing. Website design firms know how to design pretty websites. SEO firms can do SEO. The problem is, when all you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail,” Colin said. “As a dentist, you don’t want marketing or websites or SEO, You want MORE AND BETTER PATIENTS in your chair. At SmartBox we know how to dominate your market area to make that happen.”
VIDEO - DUwHF #1008 - Colin Receveur
AUDIO - DUwHF #1008 - Colin Receveur
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Howard: It's just a huge honor for me today to be sitting with Colin Receveur who came out with his new book 'The Four Horsemen of Dentistry'.
Colin: The Four Horsemen.
Howard: Now, how many children do you have?
Howard: I've always said that writing a book is like having a child. I mean, it takes nine months.
Colin: Just about.
Howard: It's no small commitment.
Colin: My first one took four years.
Howard: And which one is this?
Colin: That is number seven.
Howard: Number seven? And how long did this one take?
Colin: About three months.
Howard: Three months?
Colin: So, it gets better.
Howard: Your babies are coming out faster.
Colin: Yeah, it happens.
Howard: So, walk us along your journey. You own your own company. You have three kids, you're a busy man. What made you sit down and write a book?
Colin: Well, I think a lot of it's around my dad's transformation. You know, he ran a GP practice for years and about ten years ago he started transitioning into a niche practice, implant driven, focused only on large cases. He brought an associate in and made that transition of not only marketing but practice focus and direction. The Four Horsemen of Dentistry are all around his journey. How he made this transition to better patients. The Four Horsemen are corporate dentistry, increasing number of graduates, you know, these forces that are coming in and converging on the private fee for service dentist, and what it takes to overcome them, what it takes to adapt to the new realities that dentistry is facing right now.
Howard: So, The Four Horsemen, corporate dentistry, increasing dental graduates. What's three?
Colin: Increased market competition across the board.
Howard: Increased competition?
Colin: Yeah. New grads coming out or opening up new practices. They're going into corporate practices, they're fuelling...
Howard: Well, let's go to that. So, your dad is a dentist. Me and him are about the same age.
Colin: He's a little older I think. He's sixty, sixty-two.
Howard: Sixty? I'm fifty-five. When your dad and I got out of school, they were closing down dental schools. They closed down St. Louis, Northwestern, Emory, Fairleigh Dickinson, Georgetown. We lived through we had too many dentists. Then twenty years goes by and now they've opened up seven more dental schools. When your dad and I got out, they were closing down dental schools. There were some DSO's that made it to the New York Stock Exchange, Orthodontic Services of America, there was a dozen on Nasdaq. They all imploded. And today's DSO's, none of them could even go public because they just buy cells. They go borrow $100,000,000 in debt. They buy $100,000,000 worth of dental offices, so as your sales grow, their debt grows.
Colin: And there is so much more availability of private money now. Twenty years ago, you had to go public to get funding. Nowadays you can find there's an abundance of funding out there available.
Howard: Yeah. So, what advice do you have? So, here’s a lot of people on Dentaltown, coast to coast, they're just flat. They're like, "Dude, I'm in the middle of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska. I've been collecting a million dollars a year for the last ten years. I'm just flat." What would you tell that guy right now?
Colin: I tell him to look at what's changed in their population because when practices go flat, not everything is flat. We see practices that plateau and what we see happening is, insurance reimbursements are down so they make up with it with more patients and more staff. And generally, when you see a plateaued practice, you see the profits decreasing even though the revenue stays the same. You have inflation, right? But inflation is not the only force that you see with plateaued practices. You also see declining profits from more patients through, at a less dollar amount per patient. Lower patient value.
Howard: Okay. So, when your dad and I got out of school, we submitted our fees to Delta, and they just told us what percentage. They’ll pay 100% of cleanings and X-rays, 80% of root canals and fillings and 50% of crowns.
Howard: Thirty years later they send us the fees and 95% of all the dentists in America take Delta, so 95% of all the dentists are on a PPO. And my fee for a crown and a root canal thirty years later is 40% less than what it was in 1987.
Colin: Very true.
Howard: Yet all my costs have gone up. So, now the PPO's are sending you the fees, the fact that every time the earth goes around the sun, the staff want a raise, what is the dentist supposed to do?
Colin: If you want to play the game with the insurance companies and you want to attract PPO patients that you get nothing in reimbursements back from it, you've got to make up for it in volume. So, you're on roller skates. You know the drill, you're room, to room, to room, to room, to room, and you're literally on roller skates in your office. What Ron has done, what our clients do is they don't fight the PPO game. That's the game for the corporate insurance to play with the corporate dentist. And they play that game very well. They've got the economies of scale and they can make money playing with those low reimbursements. Fee for service patients are where the money's at in today's world, whether it's implants, dentures, Invisalign, cosmetics, orthodontics. Your niches that are largely elective, case type procedures.
Colin: If you have the systems and the processes and the expert status, I call it, to attract those kinds of patients, you're going to not be fighting insurance. You could have less staff because you don't have a hundred patients a day through your office. You have higher profits because you're not fighting a 40% decrease in your reimbursements over the last ten years. You charge what the service is worth and your patients pay it. And what we find in many markets, 60% of the market is insurance driven. 30-40% of the market is willing to go to a dentist that's going to have that relationship that's going to care about them. I mean, let's face it, you walk into corporate America, you don't know what dentist you're going to get that day. You don't know who they are. Or if they were at the top of their class or at the bottom of their class.
Howard: So, your book Four Horsemen is on amazon.com. What will my homies learn if they go to amazon.com and buy The Four Horsemen of Dentistry?
Colin: They will learn how to battle insurance reimbursements. How to fight corporate without playing their own game. You can't fight corporate dentistry by simply having the lowest fee in the market. You'd never going to beat corporate at that game. If you're placing your bets, if you're structuring your marketing to attract patients because you're the cheapest, that's going to be a slippery slope to the bottom. So, how can we attract a better kind of patient? One that has appreciation of more value delivered, of the type of great dentistry that a lot of our clients provide, a lot of dentists provide. They're not doing cheap crowns out of China. They're really putting their heart and soul and love into it. And attract a patient that's willing to pay for a dentist that they know, like, and trust.
Howard: By the way, I'm jealous. I have a book on Amazon, but customers who bought your book, also bought Sam Walton 'Made in America'.
Colin: There you go.
Howard: Kudos to you, buddy.
Colin: Sam Walton.
Howard: So then, if they go to your website smartboxdentalmarketing.com, what are they going to find at smartboxdentalmarketing.com? What is it that you actually do for dental office?
Colin: Everything we do is focused on the private practice dentist, and how to help them thrive and grow and expand their practices in the reality of the world we're in today. So, like I said before, if your practice has plateaued, it's not that you're just not growing. Inflation and cost and raises and decreasing reimbursements and your patient value is going to decline over time. And then a lot of practices think "I need more patients, I need more patients, I need more patients". Well, 85-90% of the time, you don't need more patients. What you need are better patients or different kinds of patients. Or you need to figure out what's going on in your practice that you're on this slippery slope to the bottom. So, we're a full-service agency specifically for dentists based around my dad. Dr. Ron was our model. He was our test bed for all of our systems and we're focused. My mission is to help ten thousand dentists by 2020 to attract better patients into their practice and grow their practices through what I'll say are smarter solutions. Not just running the race harder and working nights and weekends and working longer hours.
Howard: So, on twitter you're at smartboxweb.com.
Howard: I just retweeted your last tweet to my twenty-seven thousand homies on twitter.
Howard: Thank you so much for following me at @HowardFarran.com. I really appreciate it. And on YouTube I'm youtube.com/HowardFarran, no, no, no, not Howard Farran, Dentaltown magazine.
Howard: So, subscribe to us on YouTube, youtube.com/dentaltownmagazine. But my God, I'm a huge fan of your YouTube channel. How many YouTube videos do you have?
Colin: I think we're on podcast thirteen hundred. We've been doing podcasts for eight years now.
Howard: I've subscribed to it. Every time you throw one out on YouTube I get it. I'm a big fan of yours. And here's another thing I like about you. I shouldn't say this, it's not true, but so many dentists in the flyover states, I'm from Kansas, you're a Hoosier from Indiana...
Colin: Close enough.
Howard: So many people, they think that the reality is Beverly Hills, Key Biscayne, Florida, procedures practice in downtown Manhattan. You're keeping it real for the vast majority of my homies because if it can work in Indiana, it can fricking work in Oklahoma and Texas and all the other states. You know what I mean? A lot of people in Ohio and Indiana say, "Dude, you don't get it. I'm not in Beverly Hills. I'm not in Key Biscayne. I don't have movie stars in my practice.
Colin: Well, let me tell you a great story. I think, there's so many doctors that are focused on celebrities and there's not that many celebrities, right? You're A-list is only this long and it's not getting longer. So, everybody says, "Well, you can't attract these big cases". These big cases don't exist in the Midwest. It's all insurance, right? Well, I call bullshit on that, and here's why. We've got so many doctors, Ron included, Ron has grown from a million eight to four million and we're in Louisville, Kentucky. We're actually not even in Louisville. We're twenty minutes from Louisville, Kentucky in a little rural city, New Albany, Indiana.
Howard: That's where Woody Oakes is!
Colin: Home of Woody Oakes.
Howard: Is he still there?
Colin: He's still there. Yep.
Howard: You see them often?
Colin: Every now and then.
Howard: Tell him I said hello.
Colin: I see Steve all the time. So, Steve Parker?
Howard: Yeah, who runs his magazine?
Colin: Yup. Yup. So, Steve is a good guy. So yeah, we're right there, rural Indiana, population twenty-five thousand? Twenty thousand? I mean, it's not much. Woody practiced up in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, for years. Floyds Knobs, little funky town. You don't have to go to LA and Escondido, California, these major cities in Dallas, and Manhattan to have a successful practice. I think that's a misnomer.
Howard: Well, you know what's very bizarre about the dentist self-limiting belief is that, I was in Derby, Kansas, just a couple of weeks ago and I was having lunch with a dentist there and he was telling me "Well, there's no money out here in Derby Kansas". And he's telling me all this, we're sitting at a restaurant and we're looking out the window, and there's a Circle K, there they call it QuikTrip. I'm sitting there looking at QuikTrip and I said, "Buddy, how many cars, trucks are across the street at QuikTrip right now?" So, he goes up there and he counts, and he goes, "Nine". I said, "Six of them are a $60.000 to $90,000 Ford 150 pickup truck. I said, "There's no money in Derby, Kansas, but six out of nine of the cars at the fricking gas station cost over $60,000, because a decked-out F-150...
Colin: The base model is thirty-five. You can't even get a base model for in the twenties anymore.
Howard: So, here's what I see in dentistry. So, if you google, 'What is the average price of a new car selling in America?', it tells you thirty-three thousand.
Howard: If you google, 'How many new cars will the average American buy in their lifetime?', they say thirteen. So, then you walk into a room and you say, "Raise your hand if last year you sold one treatment plan that was over $20,000". Not one fricking hand goes up.
Colin: I'm going to use that in my presentation. I think that's fantastic.
Howard: And then they tell you, "Well, no one here has any money". Oh, they got money for F-150's. They got money for trips to Disney World.
Colin: Now, did you know that the F-150's Ford, one of their engineers two years ago came out that they undershot the premium market on F-150. The king ranch, super awesome, everything loaded. That was like ninety thousand. Ford said, "We actually undershot the premium market", and now they're offering a $100,000 F-150. Who wants $100,000 F-150?
Howard: But how many are they selling?
Colin: A lot. Apparently enough.
Howard: So, tell me, America is a third of a billion people. Average person will buy thirteen new cars in their lifetime. And then they'll go to the dentist and he'll just pick the worst tooth and say "Well Colin, this one's all broke off so we'll just do a crown on that tooth". Instead of just looking back at your mouth saying, "Dude, if you're going to buy a new car every five year, why don't we just fix up your mouth once and for all and we'll finance it over five years. Just like the new Ford. And then you find those types of dentists and they're doing two to four million a year and they're in towns of five thousand people in Texas and they're working three days a week. (inaudible? 15:05)
Colin: Yeah. He's rock and rollin'.
Howard: That guy is doing four million a year. And he was two hours away from an airport.
Colin: How many days a week is Bruce working?
Colin: Yeah, I mean, I know dentists that work five and six and don't do a million. My dad's working three days a week, Bruce is working four. Chris Griffin, who spoke here earlier, he's working three days a week. You don't have to do the nights and weekends and all that crazy shit to really thrive and to have a successful practice.
Howard: So, they contact you if they go to smartboxdentalmarketing.com. How does this work? How does it get started? What do they do first?
Colin: First thing we got to do is figure out what you want. Right?
Howard: But do they go to the site, do they call you, email you? What is the best way to start this process?
Colin: Go to the site, or just give us a call, and we'll get started figuring out where you're at right now and what's your idea of your dream practice? So Howard, if we're sitting here three years from today, what has to happen to you personally and professionally for us to consider this a success? And I think that's the most important question that I could ask anybody is looking back in three years, why would we say that was really successful? And when I hear that answer from doctors, now I know what we got to do. They just told us.
Howard: What are the top three to five things that they're asking for? What is the definition of success?
Colin: I want to work two or three days a week. I don't want to accept any insurances anymore and I want my marketing to be on autopilot. Those are probably by and far, the top three requests.
Howard: What percentage of Americans have dental insurance?
Colin: You would probably be the expert on that.
Howard: Yeah, 60%.
Howard: So, does that mean you're going to focus on the 40% with no dental insurance or you'll still focus on everyone and you'll just give them a super bill and they can bill it themselves.
Colin: So, that matches our statistics. I said earlier on the podcast, 60% of the country is fee and insurance and price based. 40% are value based. So, of those 60%, I think you would probably find some that have that insurance as a safety net, but they still don't go to somebody in network. One of Ron's biggest focuses in blue collar America, Louisville, Kentucky is home to a General Electric, Ford Motor Company and UPS. We're not talking white collar jobs. It's a very blue-collar manufacturing city. And people that come in for those large cases, Ron's average case value is $18,300. They're pulling money out of their 401k. It's all about the trust and the relationship and the expertise.
Howard: How come you did not mention the Louisville Slugger?
Colin: Louisville Slugger, Derby, horse racing and Bourbon, that's it.
Howard: Some dentist came by my house to do a podcast (unclear? 18:01) and brought me two Louisville Sluggers and my four boys (unclear? 18:04) the two bats.
Colin: Yeah. Yeah.
Howard: Before the sun went down.
Colin: You know, they won't let you get on the plane with them.
Colin: They have a sign in the Louisville airport with a Louisville slugger and it has to be in the checked luggage. They won't let you carry it on.
Howard: Yeah, that'd be a dangerous weapon.
Colin: Yeah. Well even the mini ones, they won't even let you bring. I guess they're like a...
Howard: But you said something interesting. When you're subscribed to insurance and they're paying you $55 for a cleaning and your hygienist makes $40 an hour. When you're getting paid $55 for a $40 an hour hygienists cleaning, you know there's no money in there.
Howard: When you're getting paid $200 to do an MOD composite and there's twenty steps to it with a (unclear? 18:46), there is no money there.
Colin: No money.
Howard: But you said the big money was in implants, dentures and Invisalign. Is that the main three? Are there others?
Howard: What do you mean by cosmetics?
Colin: Veneers, crowns. More vanity focused treatments. It could be luminaires. It could be anything that is elective case and is purely motivated just by appearances.
Howard: And it's all unnecessary, because what I do to enhance my appearance, I just turn off the lights.
Colin: There you go.
Howard: If I go to a restaurant, I'm sitting here, I'll just unscrew the light bulb, give the waiter twenty bucks...
Colin: Instant two or three points,
Howard: I'd say kill the lights.
Howard: So, you are saying implants, dentures, Invisalign, cosmetics.
Colin: Those are the big four.
Howard: Okay. How does a dentist switch from cleanings, fillings, exams on a PPO fee schedule to implants, dentures, Invisalign and cosmetics?
Colin: It's exactly what we help our dentists do. We're actually having an event next month. Dr. Ron is putting on his first practice transformation seminar, teaching guys over two days exactly how to do it. It's a step by step process.
Howard: You ought to film an hour or two of that and make it an online CE course on Dentaltown.
Colin: I'd love to. We'd love to have it.
Howard: If he's already going to be doing it. Film it.
Colin: It's all ready. We've got it accredited for sixteen credit hours. We'd love to.
Howard: Do you know Hogo here?
Colin: I've met him. Yeah.
Howard: Because so many times the courses on Dentaltown are... We got four hundred and fifty courses coming up on a million views and so many people are trying to teach them how to do implants, dentures, Invisalign, but it's like...
Colin: Half the people that are teaching it have never done it.
Howard: Have never done it. And the other half don't have any patients for it. I mean, how do I do these cases if I don't have the patients for it? What I love about your dad, tried and true blue, sixty plus years old in Indiana.
Colin: I mean, let's be honest...
Howard: That's keeping it real.
Colin: If you're here with your fee for service now and you're here with your insurance, this isn't a one-day transition. You do this, right? It's a scaling. But I think the most overlooked number, when I go to a dentist and I say, "Here's your fee, here's your negotiated rate. You just took a 32% cut against your fee. But if you were collecting your whole fee and you put 10% of your money towards marketing, you'd be 22% ahead."
Howard: Here's the million-dollar question. You say, "Would you spend 5% of collection on marketing?" "No." "Okay, well here's the PPO. You sign here. Will you do dentistry for 40% less?"
Colin: I don't get it.
Howard: So, why do they not spend 5% to do dentistry for a dollar and they don't blink at doing dentistry for sixty cents on the dollar?
Colin: I think it's the easy button.
Howard: Easy button.
Colin: I really do think it is. I think what the industry as a whole has been accustomed to, and this is what I've heard from a lot of guys, is insurance wasn't this bad for a long time. It used to be decent for dentist. You know, twenty years ago when you got 40% more reimbursement, that was pretty good. I mean, it wasn't bad, right? Now, twenty years later, we have inflation. You're getting 40% less dollar for dollar and you got to take in inflation. It's like, you know, in basketball somebody fakes left, and the guy goes right. I mean it's just going completely different directions.
Howard: Is it too dangerous? I'm never supposed to talk about religion, sex, politics or violence. Is it too dangerous to touch on what is meant by 'Make America Great Again'?
Colin: If you're willing to take it on, I'll listen.
Howard: Okay. Because what dentists don't understand is this whole dental insurance. If you said, "When was America great?" Okay, well I'm not going to go when the Europeans came here and exterminated almost all the indigenous people.
Colin: That's a bad period.
Howard: And they did the same in Australia. Wherever the British empire went, they weren't very nice to the indigenous people.
Howard: I wouldn't say it was when they brought over millions of slaves were 20% died in transport and their life expectancy was only three to five years. So when you're saying when America great again, I think what they're realizing is when dental insurance is born. And at the end of World War Two, the world war was all played out in Asia and Europe. And they were levelled. So after World War Two, the only place that made a car or a refrigerator or a stove was America.
Howard: So, that was the greatest economic growth. And it was also the only time where you had the super weapon, the nuclear bomb in '45 and Russia wouldn't get it until the early fifties. So, for a five-year period, the wealth grew so fast. And that's when dental insurance popped up in 1948, because the Longshoremen's club, nothing got in or out of America, unless it went through the Longshoremen's union on the ships. So, they were the first ones up in the upper west coast, Seattle, Oregon, California that wanted dental benefits. And it was a $1,000 max, which today would be $5,000 in real and constant dollars.
Colin: Wow! Yeah.
Howard: And the dentist submitted your own fee. And when people say, "Make America Great Again", I think they're referring to just post World War Two until Stalin detonated a thermonuclear bomb. And now, Germany declared their reconstruction over in 1980, and Japan was the same. They had two cities that were nuked, it took until 1980 to get back, but when they got back up on the field, there were a bunch of new players that weren't happening before. India, Korea...
Colin: Look what China has done since the sixties.
Howard: So, those lucrative manufacturing of 50 million of them have moved to lower cost participants around the world. And so a lot of dentists are still hanging onto, "Well, Delta needs to raise the max to five thousand.
Colin: Not going to happen.
Howard: It's not going to happen.
Colin: There's no money there.
Howard: You can't go back in time.
Colin: People aren't going to pay three and $500 a month for dental insurance. If you crunch the numbers, people pay ten, twenty, fifty bucks a month for dental insurance. The numbers don't compute. Even if they took no profit. Delta Dental of Kentucky is actually a non-profit which, we'll leave the non-profits as another conversation, but the numbers don't crunch. You can't deliver that value.
Howard: But where I was going with this is that before World War Two and the United States winning it and having the Longshoremen's club, old dentistry was paid for cash just like that Ford 150 pickup truck.
Howard: And just like there's no dental insurance in Africa, Asia and South America. It's just these twenty countries where you have these self-limiting beliefs. I mean this damn phone costs a thousand dollars and my employer didn't pay for it. Obamacare didn't pay for it.
Colin: Obama didn't give you that for free?
Howard: I Paid for this. And I think what the dentists are having a hard time with their self-limiting beliefs is just like people paid for an F-150 truck, people are paying $25,000 an arch for All-on-4, just because they don't want dentures anymore.
Colin: They hate them. They hate them.
Howard: And the Americans will buy whatever they want. Especially if you finance it for them. But it's the dentist who believes in so little in what he or she does that she thinks "Nobody wants what I have to offer, unless your boss or Obama paid for it".
Colin: I mean, say you're a blue-collar, assembly line, Ford construction worker, you've saved all your life, you've got maybe a pension, maybe you don't, but you got two or three hundred k in your 401k account. You can either live out the next twenty years of your life eating pureed food and taking your teeth out at night and put them in a glass or you can go withdrawal fifty grand and have a double All-on-4 and you can enjoy the next twenty-five or thirty years of your life because the data says you live longer. And enjoy your life and be able to bite into those apples and steaks and chew and fixed 90% of your real teeth.
Howard: Yeah. I mean, snow skiing maybe once a year. You go water skiing maybe once a summer. You eat three, four or five times a day. And people are realizing that I would rather have really nice teeth. And also, the other thing that has happened to realize that mental health is worth ten times more cash than dental health. And when they look in their mouth and they are afraid of dentures slipping or sliding, or their teeth look ugly, are they covered their mouth, they're buying beauty. You even mentioned the cosmetic dentistry, which turns into also Invisalign, which turns in also to implants. Everything you listed was mental health.
Colin: It's embarrassment.
Howard: Not dental health.
Colin: Oh yeah.
Howard: People will pay bank to just a little more beauty. If you're born without a brain, you're a hydrocephalus, you have no brain, you just have a brain stem. You still look at peoples in their eyes when you talk.
Howard: It's a brain stem deal. You still cry, you still pee, you still poop, but you still maintain eye contact. So, this little area of the region, what they will pay for Invisalign, bleaching, bonding, veneers. Another thing I don't think people are talking about enough is that when you look at the Wall Street boys on Manhattan, those are some of the most brutal statisticians known to man. And when they actually look at the orthodontic market, they say probably 5% of the adults who say they want their teeth straighter, whiter, brighter, that only 5% have any type of Invisalign or braces. They see the upside of that market. Fivefold.
Colin: It's huge.
Howard: They say you could easily, I mean, if orthodontists are paranoid, five times for every one person that's had Invisalign, five to 10 other adults walking around in America say, "Oh yeah, I'd like to straighten out that".
Colin: Yeah, of course.
Howard: So, these markets, there's plenty of growth. So, how do you talk the doctor out of their self-limiting beliefs?
Colin: Well, there's two things you can do. You know a guy named Dean Jackson?
Howard: Dean Jackson?
Colin: Big marketing guy. Big old guy, Brilliant, brilliant marketer.
Howard: Would I look skinny if I sat next to him?
Colin: You might. Yeah.
Howard: Damn. I want to meet this guy. I want to meet this guy. I want my picture taken next to him.
Colin: But he is a brilliant guy. So, Dean says there's two things that people think about. You got a mouse trap. Some people think they need a better mouse trap. Other people realize that they don't need a better mouse trap, they need better cheese on their mouse trap. So, I think the self-limiting beliefs also were compounded by a lot of dentists, and this has been pushed for years, more CE, more training, get the new laser, get the new X-ray machine, get the new Pan machine, get the new CBCT. Get the new, the new, the new, the new, the new implants, the new CEREC, whatever. They go get trained on Invisalign and implants and all these things. They've got a better mouse trap, but their cheese is old and stinky. They got the same cheese on the mouse trap. Well, you can have a million-dollar mouse trap, if the mouse doesn't want to get onto the mouse trap, you're never going to catch any mice. What you got to realize is, yeah, you have to have a mouse trap. You've got to get the training. Not saying you can't do that, but you've got to upgrade the cheese on your trap.
Colin: Why do people want to come to Howard Farran and get Invisalign or implants or dentures or cosmetics? That's the cheese. Making yourself look different. Making yourself be the expert. Building that trust and rapport. How many patients have you worked on that didn't trust you? In your thirty years of dentistry, how many patients did you do dentistry for that flat out didn't trust you and didn't like you? Not many.
Howard: There weren’t that many.
Colin: Yeah. Dentistry is trust.
Howard: Are you talking about my ex mother-in-law?
Colin: Maybe. She doesn't count. She doesn't count. But dentistry is a trust-based profession. You have to build that trust and build that rapport. You do that through consultations and being personable and meeting with them and having good chairside manner when you meet with the patients. That's making the cheese better, right? So, you got to get better cheese on your trap. You've got to get the trap, but then you've got to do these things to build your rapport, your aura in the community so that people want to come see you.
Howard: Okay. A lot of people say, "Half the data is saying this". And I'm always like, "What's the source on that? What's the source of that?" Well, Dentaltown, when you start a thread, you can start a poll. We always have a monthly poll and then a lot of dentists on the first right, you can start a poll and it can be yes or no. Five questions. I've been reading more polls in dentistry. We started Dentaltown on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1999. I mean there's several polls a month for twenty years. But when I ask a dentist "If you kick over a genie, could have one wish, what would it be?" They say, "You know what? I already paid my staff, my rent, mortgage, equipment, bill, computer, insuranse, I paid all my bills. Dammit. If I could just have ten more new patients a month, I'd be making bank." What would you say to that dentist who says, "Dude, all I need, I paid all my bills. I just need ten more a month." What would you say to that person?
Colin: I'd say, "What do you want those to be? Are you looking for ten more insurance reimbursements? Probably not. You're looking for ten better patients that are going to add to the top line, right? Because you've already paid all your expenses, like you said. You're just trying to add on. What would ten more patients a month mean to your practice. If you can attract ten fee for service patients that walk in with $2,500 in hand, you just added twenty-five thousand a month to your bottom line, not to your top line, to your bottom line, and I mean that's $300,000 a year. It takes your million-dollar practice and grows them 30%."
Howard: But how do you guys do that?
Colin: About setting the doctor up as the go-to dentist in his community. I mean, you probably have a plumber you call or a personal trainer or a electrician or you probably have your own dentist that you call when you need dentistry done. You have that guy that you call. You have somebody, right? If you're set up and position yourself with your website and marketing and you have social proof. I'm a big Robert Cialdini fan. You Know Robert Cialdini?
Howard: He was my instructor at ASU.
Howard: Arizona State University. He lives up the street from me, my drinking buddy, Dr. Tom Matter, he's friends with his wife Sharon. He's in our hood.
Colin: Small world. Yeah. So Cialdini is just amazing with how he is. Build a structured influence.
Howard: And he has to come on my podcast.
Howard: Every time I ask, "Well, I have to do another book".
Colin: It would be the best podcast you ever did.
Howard: We have to tell him and sign him to come on the show.
Colin: Yeah. So, it's all about using Cialdini's principles of influence to persuade people, social proof, likability, influencing them to look at you in a different light. And that's what we do is set up the website and the marketing and videos and patient testimonials and all these things to make you the go-to dentist. There's a system. If you're looking for the shiny silver bullet.
Howard: This is real. I'm keeping it real.
Howard: Keeping it real is, a lot of dentists that are coming out of school, they're very young. They say "Website? That's for your grandpa. I'm just going to have a Facebook page." What would you say to the young twenty-five-year-old millennial? She just got out of school and says, "I don't even know www dot anything. I'm just going to have a Facebook page."
Colin: I would say that your target demographic might be interested in Facebook. You're millennial demographic. I would say "If you want to be found in your area, you're not going to be found in your area when people search, with just a Facebook page. I mean, Google sets the rules. Bing sets the rules. And if all you have is a Facebook page, you're not playing by their rules. Play the rules in the game you've been dealt."
Howard: So, you think that would hurt your SEO?
Colin: Oh, absolutely.
Howard: Yeah. If you guys heard a lot of them believe that and every year the next graduating class believes that more. They just started seeing people at www is just their grandpa.
Colin: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I'm not saying it won't ever that way, but currently it's just not there.
Howard: Okay. I want to ask you a couple more questions. There's this big controversy on is direct mail dead or not, where every dentist who says it's dead, another guy says, "Man, it works for me".
Colin: Yup. Yup. Direct mail is not dead. Direct mail is alive and well. It will never be dead. It may diminish, but it's a wave, just as in the fifties and sixties, they pumped out all those dental graduates and the market flooded and then it went back down and now we're pumping out more grads than ever. And the waves back up. It's the same way with marketing. If everybody's doing direct mail, you're going to have dilution of the results. You take all these people that actually check their mail and they get twenty pieces a day instead of three pieces a day, you're going to have rapid dilution of the results you get from direct mail. So, it's like that in any market, if everybody's doing direct mail, you're not going to see results. It's all about finding what works in your market. If your market is dry on direct mail and heavy on Web, do direct mail. Figure out where your market is weak, and then double down on that.
Howard: We hear all kinds of statistics on how many people land on a dental office website and how many are bounced right off without converting to calling. What do you think the bounce rate is off the average dental office website that doesn't convert to calling or contacting your dental office?
Colin: GP practice versus implant practice. Implant, you're probably going to see a little bit higher bounce rate. You're being more selective with the patients you have. Anywhere from 40-60% bounce rate.
Howard: Will go to the website and bounce off?
Howard: Without converting by calling the office?
Colin: I'm talking about an actual bounce rate statistic. So, if you're talking about bounce rate, 40-60% is a good...
Howard: So, explain bounce rate.
Colin: Bounce rate is actually a Google analytics metric of the people that land on a site and then immediately click back. When you say bouncing, that's not an adjective, that is a metric, a defined metric. Now, if you're talking about if you have a thousand people a month that go to a website, how many of those are going to convert into calls and then the remainder of that bounced, right? Websites that have a thousand people a month, should be seeing at least 10% of those turn into phone calls. So, a hundred phone calls a month would be a good benchmark for that amount of traffic. It's also going to be based around what percentage of people on your website are new and unique. So, if you only have 60% or 70% of the people visiting your site is their first time there, you're going to see lower call volumes. If you're at 90% or 95% are new visitors, you're going to see higher call volumes and better results. Make sense?
Howard: Yeah. So, do you think all websites are created equal? What do you think are the low hanging fruit to make a website convert more calls, more people landing on the site to call? When you look at a website, what makes you cringe? What makes you say that's bad? What makes you say, "If you did bang, bang, bang, you would have more people converting from your website to calling your dental office?"
Colin: One of the biggest problems I like to talk about is what I call the big 'We We' problem.
Howard: The big 'We We'?
Colin: The big 'We We' problem. The big 'We We' problem is you go on a dental website and it's we this, and we that, and we're so great, and we have all this training, and we, we, we, we, we. Right? That's awful. Patients don't care about you until they know you care about them. When you go on a website and the whole front page has a picture of the doctors and all their list of accredited training. Listen, that's impressive to other dentists, but to consumers, to patients, they don't have perspective for what it took to get that F.A.G.D. or M.A.G.D. or accreditations are all the LVI's and Dalston and all these, right? They don't know anything about that, so they don't care about it.
Colin: They only know about what you care about, and you've got to hit on the patient's needs before you start telling them how great you are. There's a time and a place for that, but it's not front and centre on your website. Front and centre, they've landed on your site because they have a problem. They have a pain, they're embarrassed, something hurts. They got this bulge here and they don't know what's going on. They got an abscess. You got to address their pain first. Give them a call to action. That's better than just free X-ray and exams. Something that really compels them to take action. And then tell them about how great you are. Now you've grabbed their attention. Until you have their attention, they don't care who you are.
Howard: When you look at a dental website, what percent would you give A, B, C, D, F?
Colin: I would say 50 percent are F's. Or they have none, right? A lot of dentists don't have websites.
Howard: What do you think makes an F website? Hell, I don't know how to picture this.
Colin: I've seen dental websites that don't even have phone numbers on them. They don't even have a number.
Howard: And so many of them don't have an email, but they have a contact box. So, I'll send him a contact box. 80% could not send.
Colin: Yup. Yup. They don't work.
Howard: It's like, "Dude, are you telling me you can't?" When was the last time you visited your own website? Go to your own damn website right now and try to contact yourself. You don't even know it's broken.
Colin: So yeah, 50% right off the top are F's. Another 25% probably are D's or C's. B's are probably the next 10%. And then your A's are 5%.
Howard: What are your services? To build them a new website?
Colin: Sure, if they need it.
Howard: You could do that?
Howard: And how much does a new website usually cost?
Colin: Websites are the smallest thing that a dentist needs to do with their marketing. If you throw a good website up, it needs to be supported by things like automatic follow-up systems. It needs to be supported by video. It needs to be supported by the marketing campaign on the front end, right? The SEO, the pay per click, the local search, all the things that get the people there. A website might cost five grand but having a website that costs five grand is worthless, because if you're not doing any marketing then having a website is no good for you. If you have a shit website you paid five grand for and you spend fifty grand driving traffic to it, you've just wasted fifty-five grand. You follow me?
Colin: So, it's having the cohesive system that moves these patients through into phone calls.
Howard: You know what I think is very, very funny. Just in my backyard, I'm talking about just my drinking buddies in Phoenix. Right?
Howard: So, I know these guys (unclear? 42:56), I know you're like massively into implants and you're like a massive cosmetic. You know all these massive things, but if you would pull up all their own websites, you wouldn't know any of that about that. So, it's like my friends that I know, okay, this guy man, I mean the guy just eats lives, breathes, dies, and sleeps implants. But you go to his website, you wouldn't even know that. I mean it's just a standard cookie cutter, out of convention, drop five grand, has his website.
Colin: How much opportunity are they missing? When Ron first made the transition from GP to implant ten years ago, he said, "What's going to happen when I take my GP website down? My GP side is going to fall apart. Right? And he was really worried. I mean, that was a legitimate concern. And he's seen, year over year, his GP side of the practice has continued to grow even with only his implant focused celebrity expert status website. Because people always want to come see the guru, right? They still want to come see him for GP, they still want to come see his associates because they're associated with Dr. Ron, even though he doesn't talk about GP anywhere. And that's what's driven him to the levels of success that he's had.
Howard: So, where would you rather spend your money? Google AdWords or Facebook ads?
Colin: I don't think it's an 'or' question. I think 'or' is that self-limiting belief you talked about. If you want to saturate and dominate your market area, don't make it an 'or' question. Test. Me and years opinion doesn't really count. It was like you said about direct mail. Some docs say it's great. Some say it's not. It's all in your market area. Test what works and double down on what works. Test Facebook and AdWords and SEO and local search and direct mail and then actually have results, not impressions and clicks and hits results, but phone call results and scheduled patient results and dollars generated results and then double down on what generated. I don't think it's prudent to speculate about what would I rather do. I mean, I'd rather do whichever one makes me the most money and if it's going to be AdWords, if that's going to be a direct mail cards as a dentist, I want to double down or triple down on that.
Howard: Okay, 25% of our audience is still in dental school. You said SEO. What is SEO and how do you spend money on SEO versus a Google AdWord or a Facebook ad?
Colin: When you search on Google, there's three areas that you're going to pop up. You got your AdWords at the top, you've got your local search, and then you've got your organic search, right? Three separate search engines that pop up. If you do AdWords, you're going to show up in the ad section, local in the local or organic in the organic section. So, it's just three different areas that you can show up in with Google.
Howard: And you want to do all three? You want to do Google AdWord, Facebook and SEO?
Colin: If you want to dominate it, yeah.
Howard: And possibly (unclear? 46:02).
Colin: Sure. If it works. Track it, track, test it and see.
Howard: I think you and I also are big believers in tracking it and I am surprised. I think of dentists, physicians and lawyers as three flowers on the same plant. And priests.
Howard: Oh yeah. When I came out with my thirty-day dental MBA, my oldest sister, who's a non, was sending it to a priest, because these priests were sending me all these letters saying, "Dude, I have the same problem as you. I went to the seminary for eight years of college and all we did was study the Bible and then I graduate, and they sent me to Fort Scott, Kansas. I'm in charge of a church and elementary school. I get there. They are a million dollars in debt. The teachers all want a raise. There's all these upset parents..."
Colin: I see the parallels now.
Howard: And I'm like, "Why did we read the Bible for eight years? I had no training in payroll, overhead, accounting. And my sister would say, "Well, you know, my brother has this thirty-day dental MBA". Maybe you could just take out root canals and put in a church and a school and all these priests were writing me letters saying, "Man, I got..." But I look at these lawyers, they'll have the backside of the phone, but do you need to go?
Colin: I'm in good shape.
Howard: They'll have the backside of the yellow pages and it'll be this 1-800 number. It's the same number on their television ads. It's the same number on their billboard.
Colin: And nobody knows what it generated.
Howard: How would that lawyer know if they were calling from the phone book, the television station or the billboard?
Colin: They don't. They ask.
Howard: They're not any smarter than dentists, are they? Or a priest?
Colin: The old trained method was you ask people when they come in, "How did you hear about us?" What we find with a, what's called a last attribution model, which is the last place that somebody saw you before they called, which is the most important, right? They may have seen you in five places, but which one caused them to take action? It's the last click attribution model, is over 40% of where the patient said they found you is not where they actually found you. We've had double-digit percentages and practices that patients say they saw them on a billboard and they've never had a billboard in their life. So, it's kind of like the eyewitness at the crime is always notoriously bad at remembering things. Patients don't remember. And they just don't want to say, "I don't remember". It's social contract. It's common courtesy to answer people's questions when asked. So, they just answer, "Oh yeah, heard you there, heard you there, heard you there."
Howard: That's really mind-blowing because all throughout the fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties, the most killer evidence is when you got the eyewitness to come on the witness stand and says, "I saw Alex on the night and he's the one who did it." And now all the research where they had the hidden cameras. "What color is the car?" "Oh, it's yellow?" They're looking in the camera and it's blue.
Colin: Blue. Yeah, it's awful.
Howard: "How tall was the guy?" "He was six foot, he was black." "Really? He was five foot seven and he was white." "Really?" I mean, they can't remember. The research says that the eye witness is the worst evidence.
Colin: So, you've got the tracking component and then you've got the front desk component and that's the last place that we handle for guys before we start giving them the report. So, you've got to track it, you've got to know where the patients are coming from. And then you have to actually listen to your staff's phone calls or have somebody listen to them, which is what we do for our clients, and make sure that Susie is actually following the process and appointing patients. Because generation of calls on itself doesn't mean anything if you only appointed 22%. Generation of calls doesn't mean anything if you only answered 60% of your calls during business hours. And we see that happen a lot.
Howard: So, if they go to the smartboxdentalmarketing.com, what is your full menu? What all do you do?
Colin: We're soup to nuts. Everything from marketing and advertising, everything on the web, automated text review systems, phone training, monitoring, tracking, recording. Our call coding team does an awesome job of actually delivering to doctors the reports based on how many patients actually scheduled from all the marketing that they're doing. So, we're a turnkey agency just for dentists, that takes patients from having no idea who you are, building that trust and then putting butts in your chairs.
Howard: So, you also build websites and you also do the online scheduling.
Colin: We do it all. Yep.
Howard: But, what does the online scheduling? Does it hook into the top practice management systems?
Colin: Yeah. Right now, we're building out that practice scheduling component. It's going to hook into all the major ones. We should have that released this year.
Howard: If some kid in dental kindergarten was graduating and going to start their own office, is there any practice management system that you think is better for the business of marketing more than the others?
Colin: I don't really get into that a whole lot.
Howard: Okay. I will tell you a little history on the online scheduling. I’ll never forget, my father and I, who would have turned eighty yesterday on April 11. So, spend extra time with your father.
Colin: There you go.
Howard: Because you never know when you wake up someday and he's gone.
Howard: I remember me and dad saw our first ATM machine. And we were walking to the National Bank in Wichita, West Street and 21st street or central, and we saw this little gizmo, and we thought... we stood behind them and we watched a little bit. We knew the guy. So, then we went in there, we did our banking and we came out ten minutes later, and he's still mickey mousing around with this damn thing. And my dad and I laughed. He said, "That's never going to take off". And now it's thirty years later. And a lot of older dentists think, "Well no, these people will want to call my office". They don't realize what percent of Americans would rather do an ATM, would rather bank online...
Colin: Make it easy.
Howard: Without dealing with a human.
Colin: Make it easy again.
Howard: So still, when I go to (unclear? 52:21) I still park and go in, flirt with the girls, get my sucker. I couldn't imagine wanting to do it on the ATM machine, but more people, especially millennials, they would rather do the ATM machine and not deal with...
Howard: So, this online scheduling. I still believe the fifty and older crowd doesn't believe it's around the corner, but is it bleeding edge? Is that leading edge? Is that now? Talk about online scheduling.
Colin: It's definitely not bleeding edge. I wouldn't even say it's leading edge now. I would say it's early adopter phase, and within two years it will be moving into the early majority. Have you read Crossing the Chasm?
Howard: Yes. Love that book. And I love the song, on Batman Forever, Crossing the River.
Colin: I don't know that. I'll have to watch it.
Howard: Whenever I think of Crossing the Chasm, I always think of the song Crossing the River, the Batman Forever song. It's great song. And then, last but not least, the dentist always has a ..., I'd say a quarter of them don't even have a video of them, half have a video. Half have a picture, a still shot and then some have a video. But what's your favourite there? No picture? Still picture? YouTube video?
Colin: It's all about humanizing yourself. If you want to be a likable, approachable dentist, then nothing is not even good. Picture is good, video is better. And having multiple videos in multiple ways they can engage you, is best. It's all about becoming approachable. That's what people want.
Howard: I know I cringe. I'll be hanging out with a dentist friend and he's just the most likable, adorable, great guy in the world. But then you go to his website, doesn’t even have a photo of himself. Or another one of these photos, standing like this.
Colin: And it's thirty years old. Yeah.
Howard: And you're like, "Dude, man, if you just had a one-minute video, doing your natural thing.
Colin: You'd be cool. You'd be great.
Howard: Well, thank you. You've helped so many of my friends. You've helped so many people on Dentaltown. You're a legend on Dentaltown. Tell your dad he raised you well and thank you for all that you do for dentistry. Thank you for all that you do for Dentaltown. I'm truly your biggest fan.
Colin: Awesome. Thank you. Love your podcast and glad we could be here talking a little more about what we do.
Howard: Alright buddy.
Colin: Thank you.
Howard: Take care.