Lorraine Guth on Practice Management | Dental Marketing Guy Show

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Justin: Welcome to the Dental Marketing Guy show. I’m Justin, the dental marketing guy and today we have a very special guest. You know most businesses struggle with the challenges of building their business, you know, and a lot of times it has to do with managing conflicts and having a conversation with your team and staff. You know, what my guest today, Lorraine, she specializes in implementing customized systems that help teams work better together organizational success. She doesn’t change the way you and your team communicate, her processes will change the way you think and I love it when we have guests on who can help our listeners and our viewers think in a different way because I’ll tell you, dentists, you know, they’re a smart bunch and they catch on really quickly. I’m really interested to talk to Lorraine because she’s a speaker and a consultant. I know I’ve seen her on the Howard Farran’s podcast and some different places and, man, let me tell you I couldn’t even do it justice. All the level of experience, I’m just gonna come right in and give you the floor, Lorraine, how are you?

Lorraine: Good, how are you today?

Justin: I’m great, I’m great. Tell us a little bit about your background in dentistry and how you help dentists.

Lorraine: So I started in dentistry, well, I’m agents and so it’s been more than 30 years, we’ll just say that and I started when I was 17 as a dental assistant and back then I was, I don’t know some of your viewers might remember the days of flip tanks with x-rays and, you know, cleaning the plaster trap and all those fun things that we don’t dentistry with them with it ever since. So I move fairly quickly into the administrative side and I was always very good at the management side of nature and the presenting treatment, you know, getting people to come in over the phone, those kinds of things and really then worked on building my skills in that over the years and that’s what I teach in many practices now.

Justin: Yeah, well, you know. It’s always great to have a guest who has a big, big background in dentistry. I know a lot of our viewers are dentists, there’s probably a few dental assistants out there too, but you know, even though the viewers are dentists I gotta say, you know, I was talking with Coach Heidi Mount the other day and she was telling me when you have a dental assistant background, you have a different background. You come at it from a different angle than you have a dentist background and that’s really important because, you know, I always say on the show the front desk is a really, really tough job. Maybe, could you go into some of the main points of how you helped dentists improve their practice?

Lorraine: One of the ways is in the administrative area, right now I think the way we function is really changed. So I looked back, you know, 20 some odd years ago, it was pretty easy to schedule people when they call to get people to consider you to come in the door and manage those calls. Right now we’re looking at, for example, if you’re a free-for-service practice you know you always have people calling to ask if you participate, you have all kinds of different issue that people consider. So we also have to be a lot better at really reactivating patients doing things to build the business. Do you think 20 years ago, 30 years ago, the administrative side was more about handling the administrative tasks and functioning in a kind of effective way with our patients. Now it’s different I think the administrative area is about building your business. It’s the sales and marketing department so we need to be very, very good at promoting the business that filling the schedule at, you know, getting somebody on the phone over a piece of plastic to fall in love with us even if we don’t participate, which is a big deal, you know, that a learned skill. We need to be very good at talking about insurance and financial issues, we need to be very good at following up with people that haven’t been in. You know it’s interesting, I, one of the things that I do is sometimes I speak at a small business expo then it’s full of people that are not dentists and I find it really interesting, this focus is so strong, and how do I get work clients, how do I retain more customers, you know, that’s everything they do they think very much about that and they’re no stranger to marketing, right. So, you know, if you look at the U.S., I remember when I opened my business and went to the bank and said, and one of the things they told me when I took out a $60,000 loan is that half the business in the U.S go bankrupt in the first 5 years, they go out of business and they wanted to let me know that if I didn’t manage my business well, they will take my house. It’s pretty interesting, so  you know, this is when you come from a small side business out of dentistry, you know, there’s such a strong, dry to look at- what do we do in marketing what do we look at in our client engagement to get more clients to retain more clients. And so I think the administrative side of dentistry is really changed in that way, you can’t just be good at processing insurance anymore. You have to be good at client retention so that’s one of the things I work on a lot is what is verbal skills, how do we do that, how do we manage and service protocol and process. So on the administrative side that’s a big focus.

Justin: Excellent, could you provide maybe some quick tips because I know a lot of our listeners are probably thinking like “Okay, that’s also really good, but maybe we can get some actionable items.” Maybe give us some magic tips.

Lorraine: Absolutely, I’ll give you a couple. I’m gonna give you my phone own for the new patient call. I’m also gonna give you a couple engagement tips for the treatment discussions financial discussion. So for the new patient call we’ve got to have a great phone voice, right, and so I teach them to really think about that and sometimes when we answer the phone we take that tagline, that reading we make it one long sentence, you know, it’s like “thank you for calling Dr. Fantastic office this is Lorraine how may I help you please.” And so it really sends the wrong impression and we get focused on answering the phone. What I teach doesn’t answer the phone anymore here. We talked to people, we communicate, we build value, we happen to do the piece of plastic. So we really want to answer the phone with the tagline I give is “thank you for calling Dr. Fantastic office this is Lorraine May I help you please.” So we have to have pacing and inflection. When a new patient calls one of the big questions that we get these days is do you accept AETNA or whatever the plan is and it’s often times people don’t even identify themselves, they’ll just say do you except blue cross, blue shield, and one of the things I teach is we don’t do business until we exchange names, we’re in a relationship, is this right.

Justin: Sure.

Lorraine: so recall and say, and I answer the phone thank you for calling the Dr. Fantastic office this is Lorraine, may I help you please.” And you are to say do you accept AETNA, I would say “My name is Lorraine, I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name.” because I want you to tell me your name before I do business with you.

Justin: Sure.

Lorraine: And then at one point what would say to the patient.

Justin: Well, you have to be kinda rude not to tell your name. I’d say I’m Justin.

Lorraine: Right and so then I would say “Well, Justin, judging by your question I’m gonna guess you’ve never been here before, have you” and you would say.

Justin: No, I haven’t.

Lorraine: But first, welcome to our practice. Thank you for calling, thank you for choosing us. Justin were great with insurance here, we help everyone with insurance. Do you mind if I lean a little bit more about what you’re looking for, what you need and if you decide that you like the idea of coming to our practice, I’ll be happy to talk to you about how we process the claims. And so now at that point, stop the role playing. What would you be thinking about this practice now, if you were the client?

Justin: Well, you know, I think there’s 2 different sets. I think with the kind of patient that you want which is, you know, someone who is actually looking for comprehensive care, looking for a dentist they can trust. I think I’m willing to engage in that discussion for someone who’s strictly looking for someone, the first dentist pick up the phone who takes the insurance, they might not care much too much but when you can call it and still. So I don’t know, I mean, you tell me. How does that usually go? If you’ve got one of those penny pinchers of shoppers versus the kind of patients that most of our listeners actually want.

Lorraine: so it’s interesting that we call them penny pinchers and shoppers and I think we have consumers and I think that’s one thing we have to understand about. They’re not our patients, their consumers and so we have these assumptions that when people start off with that question, that’s all they care about and sometimes when they start that way, that might be true, but if you disarm them a little bit, often they’ll comply if you get someone that says “Look I just want to know if you participate with my insurance.” My question would be “Is there a reason why” because if I don’t participate I’m I dead, right. If that’s all you’re looking for, you’re gonna hang up anyway. So if we don’t participate I’d say why and it was interesting because I had a gentleman once, I figured this out cause I was trying to figure out what to do and I had a gentleman once instead because if I go to someone that doesn’t participate I’ll have no benefits at all, and then I was able to say “Well, I have good news for you, that’s not always true.” So you can often pick a provider of your choice, someone that you really like and helps you the way you want. Are you open to that discussion, the worst thing that they’re going to do is hang up on me and when you look at the fact that it costs money to make that phone ring, I’m willing to take that risk. It’s interesting, one of my coaches and mentors said to me once “Your only risking a yes, if they’re going to hang up you’re only risking a yes. You already have a no.” So I think that’s the approach we need to take, and so then I think we ask really good care questions and then at the end of the call if we don’t participate languaging for that and how we talked about. I want them to get a chance to fall in love with me for just a few minutes before I tell them what’s wrong with me, right. The analogy I give is this a, if you’re going on a date the first time and you really wanted someone t like you, you wouldn’t sit down at the date and say “Well, you know, before we start I just wanna let you know that I snore, I have cellulite, you know, I have a mood fluctuation once a month that are pretty intolerable, but I’d really like to see you again.” Right, you know, we don’t want to come out of the gate where we’re not at the highest expectation, does that make sense?

Justin: Sure, sure. And you know if someone calls and asks “Do you take the insurance.” I mean basically if you say no, click. So what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to avoid just bait because your relationship right now is predicated on whether or not you take their insurance. So if the answer is no the relationship is over, if you delve in deeper and find out what they really want, then maybe you can get a dialogue going, is that kind of the idea there?

Lorraine: Well, yeah. There’s a way I teach a turnaround at the end so and I think we make assumptions because people ask that when they call, that that’s all they care about and that’s not true. So it’s interesting, I had a pediatrician, I was picking out for my children  years ago and I did these great referrals all over in the community and my question when I call them was “Do you take blue cross, blue shield.” But I didn’t care, I wasn’t looking for a participating provider. I just, you know, as shoppers, as consumers when we don’t know what to ask we often ask price driven questions first, right. If you don’t know what are casts it’s how much is it and that’s our patient way of saying how much is it. So if you think  there are assumptions we have, so there I think there are all kinds of great things you can do with that call to maximize the marketing, marketing costs money.

Justin: Yeah and you know that’s a really important point because if you’re not getting all kinds of calls, say you do a direct mail campaign and everyone’s calling, asking about insurance and you just keep saying  “No, we don’t take them. No, we don’t take them.” It’s like hold on a minute, you spent 5 grand on those mailers that was a waste. All you did was waste your time and take up your front desks time and now the patients aren’t being taken care of the way they would have cause you can’t hire an additional dental assistant cause you’re not making any additional money so now all the patients are bearing the cost of that, ultimately. So I really like that, that’s really important is making sure that you answer the phone, when you do answer the phone that you’re being productive and your building those bridges with people. So that’s really interesting, I mean, you have any other tips as far as like not to do with the phone, but maybe some other tips that our listeners would appreciate.

Lorraine: Yes and it is interesting, so one of them that I teach is what, you know, we have these financial discussions, retreatment discussions and people often ask questions or respond to us and we tend to want to give information back, right. And so what I teach is think from the why. So as an example, I was in a financial arrangement discussion with the patient once and it’s been a great experience all the way through, the gentleman sat down and we started to talk about things and he said “Lorraine, I only want to do what the insurance covers at 100.” But the insurance covers a 100%, I only want to do what the insurance covers. So he had an extensive treatment plan, that wasn’t gonna work. So again, I wasn’t sure what to do because if I would’ve given information about what the insurance covers that would’ve told you where this was gonna go, right. Try just add, I looked at him and I said is there a reason why. And one of the things that was really interesting in that moment he said “Yeah, it’s because my boss is trying to screw me.” And I said “what” you know, like really “what, why” and my answer was “Okay, how does that relate to the insurance.” And he said “Look, my employer has cut back every single way and they’re getting every dime out of us and so I know I have $1,000 a year. I only want to make a $1,000 a year because I want to get every penny I can from my boss.” Which is interesting, so his paradigm of how the insurance work was very, very different.

Justin: So I’m just gonna say, you would’ve never known about that had you not asked.

Lorraine: Just ask why, right, and we don’t always say why but whenever someone says something, part of what m trying to figure out is why did they say that, why did they ask that question. Before you get information think from the why. So why would you say I only wanted what the insurance covers 100%. I only want to go to my max, you know, we have assumptions behind that. Our assumptions is it means people don’t want to spend any money, that’s not necessarily true. We don’t know what the perceptions are. So in that case I was able to say to him, you know, “Mr. Jones, you know I can understand if I understood the insurance that what you did, I might feel that way too but there’s more involved here. Can we talk about that?” and so then the first thing I said is “Can I share with you” when he opened up “Can I share with you about how insurance works.” And so then I just simply said “You know, your insurance is a premium your employer pace. So how you manage your dental care has no impact at all on your employer.” So that’s the first thing to remember and they pay percentages of things and what the insurance companies trying to do is minimize what they spend every year and they don’t really care if your condition gets worse. So if we do what you’re asking, now we’re going to leave untreated conditions that are going to get more expensive and more complicated. Your insurance won’t really it anyway cause they’re not gonna cover more later and you won’t hurt your boss. Does that change how you want to proceed and guess what his answer was?

Justin: Absolutely. I was out to get him, but I’m gonna have to do it in a different way.

Lorraine: Right and so I think it’s just a simple example, you know, there’s so many things that people say to us and we are so quick to want to educate and respond and, I think, you know, when we’re having these dialogues with people I like to say think from the why. Sometimes ask them why or how or sometimes I’ll say “Well is there a specific reason or is there something specific about timing that affects your decision.” So we need to be asking more questions, so that’s one tip and I’ll give you another tip. I have a formula I call it SSSPorQ and it stands for short, simple statements, paus or questions, alright, and then I’m gonna ask you a question before I define what that means a little bit and so are you married or have you ever been in a relationship.

Justin: Have I ever been in a relationship, yes.

Lorraine: Okay, do you ever have those days, you come home and you’re tired and you don’t feel like listening to anybody and your significant other is talking an talking and talking about something you don’t really care about but you’re smart enough not to ignore them, right.

Justin: Yeah.

Lorraine: All the time, all the time. So how many sentences do you really listen before you put the fake smiley face on like you’re really listening.

Justin: After, everything after the fire I stopped listening.

Lorraine: Right.

Justin: I’m not sure, the first sentence, the second sentence. I’m not sure.

Lorraine: That’s what I mean, around the country, that’s what I hear, right, is most of them were tired. Listening is hard, it’s an intensive exercise and so you know we’re tired and we don’t want to hear something or we hear something controversial we have a brain limit on how many sentences we’re willing to listen to. But we’re all trying to be polite, aren’t we, you know. I mean have you ever listened to somebody and then faking it

Justin: Me personally? Well, I think all our listeners might be able to relate to that, maybe. Yeah, absolutely.

Lorraine: Right, we all do it so the formula, in the  formula is when we communicate with people we want to acknowledge the most people only listen well to 3 to 5 sentences in a row. If they’re tired, if they are hear things they’re uncomfortable with. So the formula is short, simple statements, pause or questions. If you are engaging in financial discussion or intensive treatment discussion, 3 to 5 sentences, pause or questions.

Justin: so we don’t just ramble about amalgam vs composite.

Lorraine: Right, right. So it’s interesting, you know, I have a check mark that goes off in my head, you know when I’m working, when I was working with a patient or even sometimes in negotiations that if I hear myself going into too many sentences sometimes I’ll just find a place just to end, just to stop and when I stopped guess what happens?

Justin: Then I jump in and I’m like “That’s great. Excellent.”

Lorraine: Right, so your tips of the day I’d give you is really, you know, think about how we answer that phone, and that the 2 formulas are, you know, think of the why, short simple statement, pause or question. Make people engage with you so when you’re, if you’re in treatment presentation I want that patient talking at least 50% of the time. Does that help?

Justin: That makes sense, you know, and that’s very, very useful. Let me tell you cause people like to talk. People like to hear themselves stuff not everyone, some people more than others, you know, I probably need to stop talking right now but the point is patients love to talk about themselves. Your their service provider, you’re someone that their, I mean, not just service, right. That sounds so generic, it’s a healthcare trusted professional, right, and how do you build trust if you don’t know anything about me. How do I know, how do I trust you, you don’t know who I am, you don’t understand who I am. You might understand my mouth but the way patients think is do you understand me, do you know what I want and why, like you said, ask why. Why this, why that, if a dentist is not listening to his patients he can have the clinical, or she, have the clinical side down the path and, you know, understand the teeth and the gums and all that really well, but no one really can gauge that. Nobody really knows “Oh ,this dentist knows my teeth really well” and I think a lot of patients say basically “Oh, all dentists know dentistry.” That’s a commodity, but what we value is that relationship being understood and being heard and feeling appreciated. So that I think you’re really onto something here. Could you tell us a little bit about the programs that you teach?

Lorraine: Absolutely, so I perform. I speak professionally, obviously, on the platform so any meeting planner or specialist that bring me as a gift to their referring doctors and we work with various issues such as how to give the effective feedback to your team and we work with, how to learn how to do behavioral interviews, how to handle difficult situations and as well as new patient call up treatment presentation, I teach. One of the things I teach doctors is how to have performance related conversations with their team without creating a lot of negative backlash. So those are some of my speaking protocols in the office. I have some people, like I perform what I call quick skills training, right. So it’s not really intensive consulting but you go in one time, you really work on a specific skill. I also have clients that, you know, I work with for an intensive program for 6 months or a year and we really work on redefining and fleshing out their systems, their leadership structures, you know, how do we organize the team how do we all get things done together. I have a lot of clients on recall, so you’re familiar with what a dental recall is dental checkup, right.

Justin: Yeah, absolutely. You’re talking about like Solution Reach and YAPI and things like that.

Lorraine: No, as a patient, right. So I do recall, too, right. So dentists does a recall and this is one thing I, you know, I’d like to drive home as we’re coming to wrap up. It’s interesting that I’m speaking to the dentist out there in the world and the team. It’s interesting that we worked so hard to get our patients in good health, to convince them to get it going to good health, right, and then we asked them to do this really crazy thing. We ask them to come in every 3 to 6 months, take time and spend money, give us money to look around when there’s no problem, to find problems or make sure there aren’t any and we call that a dental checkup appropriate exam, right.

Justin: Right.

Lorraine: isn’t that interesting. And we know we do that, the reason we encourage that is because it’s better for our patients. We know that if we could take care of things before they become significant or prevent them from happening, our patients spend less and goes to use less. So that’s what we want to practice. We need to run a business that way so I got to have people like we go in and we really revamp the system, revamp out the office, do a lot of work. They call me to recall so they’ll call me sometimes, once a year, once every 2 years when there’s nothing obviously wrong just like we do with the recall patient. And it’s great that you keep momentum, you keep things  moving and you come in for a short first, you’re redefining system to get things in order, you know, it’s just like that patient. We’re just like our patients, right. You start to let some things go on our business a little bit, but we don’t need to wait till it hurts to get help.

Justin: Sure.

Lorraine: and so that’s one of the things that I worked on as well.

Justin: They, you know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Lorraine: That’s right. That’s right. You know it’s interesting because when you’re working in a preventative capacity, you’re implementing, still implementing system, but it’s interesting for the time and energy in the work the return is exponential, you know, you probably work on your business, don’t you.

Justin: Yeah, once in a while.

Lorraine: Yeah. Yeah, you know, it’s interesting when you work on your business and your work on improvements when there aren’t a lot of tremendous problems. The return on your investment is exponential. I mean it’s much more significant than when you’re in crisis. So like, I’ll say that I have 2 coaches I’m working with right now and so for my business and it’s because I understand that prevention so that’s, I think one point I just really want to drive home to your viewers our there is whether they work with me or someone else. Periodically it’s absolutely a great business structure to have somebody come in and put eyes on what you’re doing in and have you see what you can do to improve.

Justin: Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. Well, you know, and this ties into what I tell dentists. I just got off the phone with the dentist and I was saying look, content marketing is something I’m really huge on because I do SEO for dentist and, you know, content marketing is really huge in a lot of dentists, they’re told by other SEO companies who will remain nameless, I’ll just start blogging but that’s kind of like the what your analogy on “Oh I’m listening but I’m not really listening.” It’s like blogging but I’m not really speaking, I’m not really educating or entertaining my patients or my ideal prospective patients and so what I’m always talking about is lets create content that people actually crave, where they give you your email, their real email, they actually open that email and they crave the next one because they know that content is so valuable to them, it’s entertaining and educational and what you’re doing is, and a lot of times that’s spoke about as top of funnel and kind of reaching out for people through SEO. But what you’re doing is you’re parlaying that whole process of relationship building being personable and showing who you are and showing that you care through content and whether that content is online, in a blog, video, photography, or copy writing, or even audio. The point, or in person, in person as well. So absolutely that whole concept of let’s not be a commodity, let’s not be another doc in the box. That’s huge.

Lorraine: It’s interesting that we are hit with so much information so I agree with you. When you’re sent, you want to send things out that are patient-centric, you want them to want to look at what you have. You know there’s a phrase I often use in communication that I think ties exactly to what you’re talking about and that is “It’s not what you tell people that counts, it’s what they decide to hear and consider relevant their decision-making that matters.” And hearing is a decision and taking the information that you hear and deciding to use it implement it is a decision. So it’s a paradigm, the way you communicate, so what you’re, when you talk about just throwing information out there and blogging, that’s about what you want to tell people that’s what that’s about. And so I love what you’re saying because what you’re saying to the client is let’s think about what your client wants to hear, let’s think about what resonates with them and make this about something you’re giving them instead of something you’re doing to them.

Justin: Right. Right. Instead of me, me, me this is us, this is what we do, this is why we’re so great, you know. What if your blog was something that patients actually read?

Lorraine: Yes. That they want to read it. Again, there’s so much stimulus. in fact, you know, there are businesses that I get marketing, email marketing from New York so, I just shut down right away and there are some that I look forward to what they’re gonna have, you know, and it doesn’t always resonate but it feels very focused to what I that consumer would want or need or care about/ it doesn’t feel so self-serving, you know, the meaning feels really self-serving. I want you to pay attention to me, feels more like my children, right. Pay attention to me.

Justin: I was really young. I hope yeah.

Lorraine: Yeah. Well, they’re teenagers so that young, right.

Justin: It’s young to me, I’m getting up there. No, I’m just kidding. Okay, so yeah, this is really good stuff because this is all about the content funnels. This is all about building those relationships, letting you know that it’s about you. It’s about what you want and, you know, it’s just like what I try to do on the show, you know. Dentists, I want your feedback, let me know do you have any questions for Lorraine, do you have questions for me. Wherever you see this, on the Dental Town blog, on, sorry, Dental Marketing Guy blog, YouTube. Wherever you find this let me know in the comments below. If this isn’t hitting on points, let me know. Is there a guest you want to see, are there questions what you have for Lorraine. Yeah, Lorraine, where can they find you?

Lorraine: They can find me, my website is www.guthdentalconsulting.com. My email is lorraine@guthdentalconsulting.com. My business line is 636-273-9500 and my cell is 314-304-3176. Also, invite them if they go to my website they can sign up for what I call a virtual cup of coffee. I won’t sell anything, I don’t sell on the phone so anybody can call or set-up the time. We’ll talk about whatever you have interest in or you’re concerned about and help you through the issues. I’ll share with you that people I’ve never worked with before. Call my cell phone at 9:00 at night because they found something very challenging in their office and they need help and they don’t have anybody to call. And so that, you know, I can help you through certain issues and move forward so it’s relatively ways to contact me and I do everything I can to return your call or respond to you promptly and so look forward to it.

Justin: You know I gotta say before we close. I had Howard Farran on the show and he’s such a great guy. In his book on Complicating Business he had a really, really interesting take on being accessible and his philosophy, and this is kind of funny because I don’t know if this is always true with all executives, but it’s definitely true of Howard, is he believes that by being accessible that’s a true sign of success. It shows that you have margin and I really like that so obviously you’re doing that so I thank you very much for coming on the show and I hope that, you know, the dentists found it useful and of course if they have any questions for you I will plug them into you, for sure.

Lorraine: Thank you. Thank you. It was a pleasure. Thank you very much.

Justin: Absolutely and thank you for watching the Dental Marketing Guy Show. For more information on where to find a dental marketing consultant, click here.