Administrators Roundtable Invitation


Discussions Lead by Dawn Johnson

Topics Include:

  • The Role of Office Manager/Administrator
  • The Initial Phone Call – Building a Relationship
  • Gathering Information and Pre-Estimates
  • The New Patient Experience
  • Communication and Continuity in the Office
  • Effective Handling of Insurance Claims
  • Benefits Recovery and Appeals
  • The Importance of Tracking Referrals

Deadline for Registration is February 13, 2017            REGISTRATION FEE: $50.00

To register, download and complete the form below:

Administrators Roundtable Invitation

Questions? Contact us at: or 952-432-3322

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White Pages – January, 2017

If I were to ask 100 dentists, “What is the most important piece of technology in your dental office?” I can imagine what the responses would be-CEREC, digital x-rays, Invisalign, 3-D CT, and many, many more. However, the most important piece of equipment is not what you think.

Of course those are all amazing technologies that have advanced how we practice dentistry. But none of them are the most important. There’s one technological device that can make or break a dental office, and it’s not anything that was recently invented. In fact, it made its first appearance back in 1876 in the laboratory of Alexander Graham Bell. You got it … the telephone.

Why is the phone the most important piece of technology in a dental office? Without it, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to use all those other pieces of equipment. The phone is the technology that keeps us connected to our current patients, and it’s what allows potential new patients to reach us. That phone is our connection to the outside world and the proper knowledge of how to use it is a critical and often missing link. You probably would not allow a brand new assistant to use CEREC without training? Or your hygienist take digital x-rays without understanding how the system works.

Just because an employee knows how to physically use the phone doesn’t mean that they are able to interact effectively with the person on the other end. Think of all the money and training time you’ve invested in high-tech equipment. Now, start thinking of the phone as the one piece of equipment that makes possible every other interaction in the patient process. From greeting the patient in the waiting room, meeting with them in the consultation room, performing examinations and procedures, billing and rescheduling; none of these things can happen without appropriately handling that initial phone call to get a patient scheduled in the first place.

If your office prides itself on having high-tech equipment and a highly trained staff, then make sure that you also view the phone as an important piece of technology that requires significant training.


Date: February 17, 2017
8:00 am – 12:00 pm
Mendakota Country Club
2075 Mendakota Drive
Mendota Heights, MN 55120

For Registration Information Contact us at or call 952-432-3322

Topics Include:

 The Role of Office Manager/Administrator
 The Initial Phone Call – Building a Relationship
 Gathering Information and Pre-Estimates
 The New Patient Experience
 Communication and Continuity in the Office
 Effective Handling of Insurance Claims
 Benefits Recovery and Appeals
 The Importance of Tracking Referrals

Discussions Lead by Dawn Johnson

Dawn began her career as a Certified/Registered Dental Assistant in 1984. She completed the highest level of CEO Management Course in Portland Oregon and has been mentored by Jay White for over 30 years. She has extensive experience in Business Administration, Marketing and Customer Service and currently runs a very profitable Dental Practice in St. Paul. Dawn has an innate love of people and Dentistry. She dedicates her time to coaching others in the importance of customer service, navigating insurance plans and educating the patient about treatment. “I believe we are all chosen to do great things, and I chose dentistry.”

What Business Are you really in?

Before spending money on marketing or a new website, determining the business of your practice is the first priority. The desires of patients will determine that business. The primary objective of marketing is to make prospective patients aware of your office and to communicate that you have the ability to provide them with what they are seeking.

How to be in the “Patient Experience” Business:

 Everyone in the office needs to deliver the same message and work for the same outcome. The patient should never have to give the office the same information twice. It shows a lack of organization and communication.

 Anyone who interacts with the potential patient must be ready with all the information a patient might ask for or hope to receive. Does the first person a potential new patient comes into contact with have the knowledge and ability to answer questions and move this person to the next step i.e. make an appointment, or a follow-up call?

 Patients don’t care what you think they need, they care more about what they want. If practice growth is important, find a way to discover what they want. What problems are they trying to solve, what pain they are seeking to alleviate or avoid, what pleasure or gain are they hoping to experience? What do they see as the ideal outcome and how will that make them feel?

 Unexpected gifts and extras have a very positive influence on patients. Everyone, no matter who they are or how much money they have, loves getting a little something extra especially when they do not expect it. These little “gifts” do super duty when properly executed. They delight the patient, and make them feel special and appreciated. They reinforce the patient’s belief that this is the perfect dentist. When chosen carefully, the right gift subliminally supports the image of the office that it is trying to project. The perfect gift is one that says that you understand more about your patient than just their teeth. Do not be lured into taking the easy way out and giving a discount or some kind of freebie from the office as an expression of thanks. These gifts are self serving and are usually recognized as such.

 Imagine how good it would feel if you received a handwritten note or a personal phone call to show appreciation for your patronage? Especially if you had spent a particularly significant amount of money.

 Plan events such as ice cream socials, photo or coloring contests, holiday celebrations, or other community events that encourage patient involvement. With email and Facebook, there are even more opportunities to connect with prospective patients. Find ways to make patients feel recognized, special, valued and appreciated. Get to know them and take an interest in them. Give them a reason to be loyal. This will pay dividends when insurance companies change and patients can go elsewhere a bit cheaper

It’s been said that the business of the practice is the set of feelings the patient leaves with, not the set of procedures that were completed.

Building long term meaningful relationships isn’t something the large chain clinics have time to do and it is something that can set you apart. Below you will find data compiled by one of our clients who tracked the source of their referrals for the past 12 months. As you can see, more than half of the referrals come from patients and community based events. This is a direct result of building long term meaningful relationships.


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Reasons Why You Never See Emergency Patients Again

522006322_d745f4d740_bMost dental practices see emergency patients as a nuisance. Not only do they bring chaos to your day, you typically never hear from them again. You do your best to get them out of pain as quickly as possible, but the extra stress they cause doesn’t do much to grow your bottom line.

If that’s how your practice views emergency patients, it’s no wonder they never come back. Emergency patients can tell when they’re not wanted, and they’ll notice the negative vibe from the moment they call your office.

The truth is, you should look at emergency patients as an opportunity for growth. Emergency patients who have a positive experience at your practice are much more likely to book a comprehensive exam before they leave. In fact, according to the industry standard, 80% of all emergency patients you see should be converted into comprehensive exams. Is this not happening at your practice? You’re missing out on a huge opportunity to increase production.

If you want to start converting emergency patients into loyal patients, you’re going to need to make some changes. Here are three (3) reasons emergency patients don’t come back and how you can convince them to make your practice their dental home.

1. They don’t feel welcome

Your team members should put emergency patients at ease from the time they call until they leave the practice. Remember, these patients are likely panicked and in pain, and just want to know you can help.

If the team member who answers the phone sighs and tells the patient that although the doctor is very busy, she’ll see if she can find an opening in the schedule, it makes that patient feel like an unwanted disruption

Instead of making these patients feel like a nuisance, greet them with a warm welcome. Let them know your practice can help. Develop a script so team members know exactly what to say to emergency patients and the importance of maintaining a caring tone and collecting the necessary information before they hang up the phone.

Continue to make these patients feel welcome when they arrive. Train team members to greet them with a smile and to do what they can to put them at ease. Help them fill out forms if necessary and take them to a quiet room to wait for the doctor. Let them know how long it will be before they can see the dentist and then reassure them they’re in great hands.

2. You don’t educate them

9509709437_70e668b076_zMost practices don’t spend a lot of time with emergency patients. They want to get them in and out as quickly as possible so they can go about the rest of their day. Not exactly a great way to connect with these patients or to make them want to continue to turn to your practice for their dental care.

Take the time to educate these patients about their condition and the importance of maintaining their oral health. Talk to them about their oral health goals and concerns and find out why they haven’t been going to the dentist. Let them know about the services you offer and how you can help them meet their goals. Once they understand the value of dentistry and the services you provide, they’ll be much more likely to schedule a comprehensive exam before they leave.

3. You never follow up

Even if they’ve already scheduled a comprehensive exam, follow up with every emergency patient. Call them to see how they’re doing and if they have any more questions you can answer. I also suggest mailing them a packet of information about the practice. To add a personalized touch, include a handwritten note. Tell them you’re looking forward to their next visit and to call or visit your website if they have any questions.

Emergency patients represent a great opportunity for growth and should never be viewed as a disruption. Make sure your team members understand the importance of emergency patients and how creating an exceptional experience can help turn them into loyal patients growing your patient base and your bottom line.

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Every business and work group has a boss, but only some have a leader at the helm.boss-vs-leader

The differences are clear and which one your organization has will determine what you can achieve and how you will achieve it.

So if you’re in charge, or if you aspire to be, you have a decision to make: Are you going to be the boss or are you going to be the leader?

The choice is entirely up to you, of course, but here are some points to consider as you make up your mind:

  • A boss drives others; a leader coaches them toward their best performance.
  • A boss instills fear; a leader inspires enthusiasm.
  • A boss blames others; a leader works to help repair the damage and understand what happened so it won’t occur again.
  • A boss thinks in terms of him or herself; a leader thinks in terms of we.
  • A boss knows how it’s done; a leader shows how it’s done.
  • A boss depends on his or her own authority; a leader depends, along with the entire team, on mutual accountability and trust.
  • A boss uses people; a leader is interested in helping them grow and develop.
    A boss takes the credit; a leader gives credit to others.
  • A boss is a commander; a leader is more concerned with asking and listening.
  • The boss says Go!; the leader says Let’s go!

When you make the choice to be a leader, there are some things you have to give up: Ego, for one. Doing it your way. Always knowing you’re right. Never having your world view challenged.

In exchange, though, you’ll gain a few things: An atmosphere of collegiality and collaboration.
A workplace that people will line up to work at. An authentic authority that comes from who you are, not what you say or do. The chance to change lives, including your own.

You don’t have to look very hard to see that we already have plenty of bosses in the world.
What we are lacking are great leaders.

Are you ready to choose?

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dollarsA well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20 bill.

In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20 bill?”

Hands started going up.

He said, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this.”

He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up.

He then asked, “Who still wants it?”

Still the hands were up in the air. “Well,” he replied, “what if I do this?”

And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe.

He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. “Now who still wants it?”

Still the hands went into the air.

“My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.”

Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value.

Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who LOVE YOU. The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know but by WHO WE ARE!

You are special – don’t EVER forget it.

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Profile of Highly Prosperous Dentists


  1. Clinical confidence and excellence.
  2. High self-esteem.
  3. Has a deep appreciation for the people who assist them in their journey, starting with family or origin through contemporaries and fellow team members.
  4. Excellent communication skills.
  5. Ability to communicate feelings to people.
  6. A pervasive inner calm.
  7. Knows how to give staff what they need to be genuine people as well as team members.
  8. A high level of internal locus of control versus external locus of control.
  9. Leadership is exercised by influence not power.
  10. Constantly visualizes what the practice should look like, where it is going and, equally as frequently, verbalizes this vision to team members.
  11. Invites other people to go on the journey with them.
  12. Accepts people for what they are and knows that they cannot change others. The only person they can change is themselves.
  13. Feels responsible for the personal growth of his team and is not threatened by excellence in others either clinically or behaviorally.
  14. Depositphotos_32849301_l-2015

  15. Open to changes and new ideas even if they come from others.
  16. The doctor is non-intimidating to the staff which means the staff can give their opinion fully and be respected.
  17. One who will gladly scrub the bathroom if it is needed.
  18. Is a mentor to and seeks mentor relationship with others.
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Highlighting the “4 Rs” of Marketing

strategyA successful marketing strategy requires breaking from tradition to create new ideas and approaches when dealing with patients, vendors, and team members.

For more than 50 years, little has changed about the textbook definition of the “4 Ps” of marketing – product, price, placement, and promotions – yet dramatic changes have taken place in the business world.

Today’s leaders require a more contemporary marketing approach, built upon and beyond the traditional “4 Ps.”  This new approach will lead to a sustainable competitive advantage and long-term business success.  Think of it in terms of the “4 Rs” – relationship, retention, results, and rewards.  Relationships lead to retention; retention improves business results; and superior business results generate superior rewards for the doctor, team members, and patients.

1.     Relationships always drive business results.  Buying decisions, and more importantly, repeat buying decisions, are made based on individual and brand relationships.  When a bond is forged between the patient and the office team, it creates a powerful marketing tool for repeat business, referrals, and up selling.

If you are not investing in relationship-building strategies and programs with your team members and patients, chances are your competitors are.  After all, relationships are the primary asset of any enterprise.

cust-retention2.     Retention of valuable patients and team members is the hallmark of most successful practices.  Retention is the most critical driver of profit expansion.  The cost of replacing lost patients and team members is astronomical.

The popularity and success of loyalty programs is evidence of the importance of retention.  Consider the 80/20 rule:

80 percent of a company’s business is sold by 20 percent of their salespeople, managed by 20 percent of their employees and purchased by 20 percent of their customers.

You can’t afford not to create special offers, promotions, and packages to ensure ongoing service and patronage of these key groups.

3.     Results are all that matter.  In real estate it is location, location, location.  In business it is results, results, results.  Was a sale created?  Was the customer retained?  Did the product or service exceed expectations?  Determining those marketing results is no easy task.  Yet, if marketing programs are not measured, then they are not being effectively managed and stand a good chance of being cancelled.

4.     Rewards and recognition are like oxygen.  Rewards and recognition leave a lasting imprint with people.  It is good business sense to reward loyal team members and patients who contribute to future growth.  Rewards based on results are cost-effective and self-funding, creating a win-win relationship and improved retention.

We have a marketplace, economic environment and political climate unlike any we have seen before.  Tomorrow’s success will require a different approach than yesterday.  The “4 Rs” of marketing can be your key differentiators today.

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Ten Steps to Better Listening

1. Realize the need for concentration. The first step toward developing good habits is to discard the myth that listening is effortless. Since we can speak at a much slower rate than we hear, listening alertness is easily compromised. Pay attention to stimuli other than just words to bridge the gap between thought speed and listening speed.

2. Avoid barriers to good listening. Distractions, reacting to emotion-laden words, daydreaming,
narrowing on specific facts, impatience, inability to deal with complaints and projecting negative feelings onto the speaker are typical ways the listener can sabotage interpersonal communications.

3. Pay attention to both verbal and nonverbal messages. Look for cues of what is really being communicated. Be aware of the voice its sound, pitch and speed-and notice the speaker’s body
language. Is there eye contact? What do the facial expressions and gestures tell you? Does a particular subject, like a root canal, bring about an unusual reaction?

4. Make the environment conducive to listening. When you are discussing treatment plans or obtaining diagnostic data, patients should be sitting up, not lying down. Eye level communication will add to a good patient relationship. Your office is the best place to explain situations requiring a series of procedures and visits.

5. Display attentiveness. Assume a relaxed posture, leaning slightly forward, not fidgeting or playing with your hands. Maintain eye contact-this should be natural, not a stare.

6. Build in listening time. Allow a few.minutes for discussion before and after any examination or operation. Many procedures hinder spontaneous communication.

7. Choose your questioning technique carefully. Close-ended questions limit patient responses. For example, “Do you have pain at night?” does not elicit the same response as the open-ended question, “When do you usually have pain?”

8. Use encouraging reinforcements. These can be verbal. For example: “Yes, go on, I understand,” or nonverbal, as in nodding, smiling and tilting your head. When a patient has difficulty expressing concerns, these techniques can help ease the tension.

9. Ask for feedback. If a patient is emotionally overwhelmed by what you are saying, listening will be decreased. Having a patient restate information will thwart, “but doctor, you didn’t tell me,” and potential misunderstandings.

10. Practice total listening. Listen between the lines to what is being said, how it is being said and why it is being said.

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Dressed for Success: You and Your Office

Have you ever seen your office through a new patient’s eyes? Walk in the front door; is the entryway clean and uncluttered? Sit down in the reception room, is the furniture in good condition and unsoiled? Are the magazines current, unattired and orderly?

Depositphotos_23224320_lIt may be time for a little early spring cleaning, starting with you:

    1. Project the image of the practice through your own appearance. Dress so you are comfortable with your appearance. You can’t project confidence to patients if your clothes make you feel awkward.

      Make sure each team member feels comfortable enough to tell another team member (including the doctor) if they have bad breath, dandruff, food between the teeth, a stain on their shirt, etc. You must have a relationship with everyone in the office in which they feel they can tell each other how to improve their appearance if something is wrong. It’s better to learn from each other than from a patient.

      Don’t contradict your image. Do you think an overweight physician who smokes takes his own prevention advice seriously? Would you think any professional who dresses as he/she was on vacation takes his/her work seriously? On the other hand, would you think a well-dressed attorney could represent you well in court and make a good impression on jurists?

    2. Design your office to appeal to patients. Furnish your office as least as well as they would. People like to feel that their dentist, a professional, is at least as successful as they are, if not more so.

      Plan your office for the patients you serve. Practices that cater to children are usually furnished differently than those that cater to adults. Practices that attract primarily older clients usually use calm, quiet colors and chairs with sturdy arms and firm backs that are easy to get out of.

    3. Amuse your patients in interesting ways. Most offices stock popular magazines and these should not be overlooked. However, go beyond the obvious and make yourself special. Here are some suggestions:
      • Wi-fi is a must.
      • Subscribe to unusual magazines on special topics: art, wildlife, music, science, gourmet foods, cars, photography, computers, and tennis. Keep current issues only. It’s a poor reflection on you to have issues more than a few months old.
      • Subscribe to newsletters. Patients waiting may enjoy reading newsletters on tax avoidance, pets, antiques, literature, management, crafts, cooking, boating, skiing, scuba diving, and public speaking.
      • Some practices keep recipe books in the reception area along with blank recipe cards and pens so patients can copy their favorites.
      • Consider large print books if you have elderly clients.
      • Play music. Many studies have suggested playing soothing music in your reception area can help relax patients. Music also projects your image. Consider the different images that could be projected by an office that plays Bach or Mozart versus one that plays current popular music. Or an office that plays country western versus one that plays jazz. Whatever music you play:
      • Play it softly as background music.
      • Turn off the music from time to time to give everyone a rest.
    4. Depositphotos_12466332_xl

    5. Design the lighting to project your image. Some suggestions:
  • Use soft, warm, incandescent lighting in areas where comfort is crucial – the reception area, the doctor’s office, the client coordinator’s office.
  • Use fluorescent lighting where strong light is needed – the lab, work stations, etc. It is colder than incandescent lighting but provides more uniform light.
  • Combine fluorescent and incandescent lights in your business area. Use the incandescent general lighting to give warmth and fluorescent task lighting at workstations.

  • Use colors to improve team productivity and comfort. The most successful office color scheme is at least two colors and not more than four.
  • Repeat one color or combination of colors throughout all the rooms. This will make your office feel coordinated and harmonious.
  • Choose low maintenance colors. For walls, medium tones of any light colors are easiest to keep looking clean. The hardest wall color to maintain is flat white. It scuffs and soils fast.
  • Choose commercial quality carpet in multicolors such as tweeds or small patterns to mask stains. Use tile for heavy traffic areas.
  • Consider the emotions various colors elicit:
  • Blue is soothing, relaxing and good for high stress office areas such as treatment or examination rooms.
  • Red is warm, stimulating and effective as an accent.
  • Yellow is uplifting and cheerful. Don’t use too much yellow in your business area – overuse can cause eyestrain.
  • Orange stimulates some people but depresses others. It is best when combined with calm colors such as beige or brown.
  • Green is cheerful and cool. Caution: some tones of green provide negative reactions and should be avoided. Pale green may induce fear as it is thought of as institutional because it is used in hospitals, schools, and government buildings.
  • Brown is conservative and overuse may depress patients. Best used with stimulating colors such as orange.
  • Purple is exciting and often makes you feel creative and different.
  • Tan/beige is calm and quiet. It is a versatile color that can project a formal, informal, traditional, or modern image depending on how you use it and with what other colors.
  • Gray is cool, quiet, urbane, but can seem austere if used alone. Good when combined with red, orange, purple, and other stimulating colors.

The following combinations of color have psychological effects:

A. Tan, brown, rust = warm, soothing, contemporary

B. Red, orange, yellow = very stimulating

C. Black, gray, white = cool, sophisticated, modern

D. Blue, turquoise, beige = calm

E. Purple, pink = warm, stimulating, feminine

F. Green, white = cheerful, cool

G. Burgundy, white = legal, crisp, rich

Suppose the office looks good and only needs a bit of sprucing up. Or maybe your team and clients just need a little something different. The following is a potpourri of ideas:

A. Rearrange the furniture in your reception area from time to time to give it a fresh look. Try changing paintings, photos, and posters.

B. Decorate the office with seasonal decorations. The team can work on this collectively or trade off on the various holidays or seasons.

C. Wrap prizes for children or hang them from a “goodie tree” and let the child pick the package they like best. You could do this for adults as well.Depositphotos_12302045_l

D. Have a supply of plastic, disposable (and colorful!) rain costs, hats, and/or umbrellas to offer clients on a rainy day.

E. Display team photos or family photos of your recent happenings, vacations, and trips to enhance the human touch in the reception area. The key word here is recent; be sure to change the photos periodically.

F. Make your office relaxed and welcoming keeping your clients in mind and you’ll enjoy coming to work every day as well.

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