Smile Potential E-Newsletter
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Recently, I returned a phone call to a doctor who attended one of our full-day programs. When I asked how things were going in his office, he said, “I think we’re doing pretty good”. I asked him what made him think that and his response was, “I don’t know, it’s just a gut feeling.” Feelings are not facts and should not be the basis for how we manage our practices.

I am a passionate golfer. I used to be a good golfer, but time has decreased the distance of my drives, and multiple orthopedic surgeries have affected the repetitiveness of my swing. There is a part of me that continues to plan for that “next great round” when I will again break 80, or that I can carry the water and a deep bunker onto a tiny green with my second shot, but that is the teasing that goes on from occasionally giving in to my legend in my own mind.  The facts are that my scores are now usually 10 strokes higher, my driving distances are 15 yards shorter, and my multiple shoulder surgeries now cause me to pull most shots to the left.  These facts mean that I need to change my strategy and course management to regain success on the golf course.

There are some strong parallels to what goes on in our dental practices. “I think we have very good treatment acceptance” (but metrics show 32% treatment acceptance and over $1 million in unscheduled treatment). “It seems that we do a good job in reappointing our patients” (but analytics show that only 56% are reappointed in hygiene, and patient attrition is high). “I know my hygienists do a good job in caring for our patients” (but 96% of hygiene visits are prophies despite 75-80% of the patients having periodontal disease). We are accustomed to “going with our gut”, but numbers don’t lie. When we manage our practices based on assumptions, damaging trends can become deep-rooted problems with unwanted consequences.

Over the years, many of us learn to accept, enjoy, understand, and trust our feelings. It helps to understand that sometimes our emotions may not be telling us the truth. Upon occasion, every now and then, some people get a feeling that isn’t real. They may think that it is real, and they may truly believe that it is real, but it’s just a feeling. It is wise to remember that, as important as emotions are, feelings are not facts.

“What’s worth being done is worth being measured”. Smart metrics, actionable data, do not only measure our results, but more importantly, they measure the effectiveness of our systems. Using metrics to guide decisions helps us make the most of our systems. Baseball managers make late inning pitching decisions based on incredible predictive data of how pitchers and hitters will fare against one another. We should be making smarter decisions based on how improvements in systems will yield better results.

How does one determine which metrics are relevant to achieving goals? Your vision should determine your strategies. When I created the vision that my own practice would be a cosmetics-driven comprehensive-care practice, I chose a marketing strategy that would focus on direct patient referrals (the power of “raving fans”), physician referrals (more motivated, less concerned with money) and American Express card-holding women (greater discretionary funds and more luxury-focused). This led us to create an incredible patient-centric experience that our patients couldn’t wait to describe to their friends. We routinely took blood pressures and performed diabetes screening to emphasize the oral-systemic connection. We introduced pampering spa amenities, even shined our patients’ shoes, and featured an elaborate coffee and refreshment bar which made our reception room a friendly gathering place for morning commuters on their way to the Long Island railroad train station, a block away.  We featured incredibly beautiful poster-size photos of exquisite smile make-overs throughout our facility. We lived and breathed our vision until it became a self-prophesy.

It doesn’t happen all at once. I like to say that “I strive for perfection and accept excellence”. It is important to select interim focus points and celebrate incremental shifts. It is important to look at trends and patterns. Focusing our cosmetic dentistry treatment presentations on how it might change our patients’ lives raised our acceptance success. This led us to focus even more on emotional discussions of “life impact” of having treatment done, and our success rose even more. When a golf pro showed me that by “opening up” my front foot, I could lessen my tendency to draw my shots to the left, I opened it up even more and my shots became straighter.

Using Dental Intelligence, we track the actionable data for most of our coaching clients’ practices. We track new patient flow and patient attrition. One of the problems we commonly see is practices having full schedules and not being able to accommodate new patients in an appropriate time period. New patients must be onboarded within 3-7 days of their initial contact with the practice, but when schedules are full, it can often take weeks, or even months. We must get these patients in sooner. Knowing the average number of new patients gained per month gives a practice the ability to “block schedule” new patient appointments in the doctor’s schedule, holding them until two days before. Violating these blocks prevents us from accommodating new patients. We similarly need to block “new patient” appointments in the hygiene schedule so that there are spots to schedule these patients subsequent to their comprehensive exams with the doctor.

We see attrition in practices when there is too much emphasis on patient acquisition, and not enough on patient retention. Most offices FEEL their patients are being appropriately reappointed out of hygiene for their next appointments. Remember, numbers and FACTS don’t lie. Most practices are well below what they think. When reappointment is at 70% it creates the opportunity to lose as many as 30% of the patients within 6 months (without lots of administrative re-appointment phone time), and that number compounds to 50% attrition after a year. Systems must be put in place to guaranty that hygiene reappointment is no less than 93-95%.

When we use Dental Intelligence to track unscheduled patients, broken appointments, and cancellations it gives us a clear message that the doctors and team are not creating enough value in their services. We routinely see practices with hundreds of thousands of dollars, some even exceed $1-million, of unscheduled treatment. These situations are all signs that treatment is not being explained in a benefit-oriented way and we are not creating enough value for the patients to prioritize keeping appointments and having treatment rendered. The greatest expenses to a practice after team compensation are open appointment time and unscheduled treatment. The creation of value and gaining higher treatment acceptance are the two areas that Smile Potential can have the greatest impact on a practice. That’s not a FEELING. It is a FACT.


This spring enabled us to return to some activities for the first time since COVID. We recently conducted several Mastermind Dinners and some live CE events. It has been wonderful to have spoken in succession at the Greater New York, Chicago Mid-winter and Connecticut State Dental Meetings with full-day presentations. If you have a dental study group, a dental organization, or a group of referring doctors that you would like to help with growing their practices and helping them increase treatment acceptance, let us know and we will include you and your group on our calendar for the Fall.

If you would like to find out more about how Smile Potential Coaching can help you improve your systems of scheduling,

value creation and treatment acceptance, send us an email at coaching@smilepotential.com or call us at 516-599-0214.