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Five Steps to Making Your Dental Office Fun

By Fred Joyal 
CEO & Co-Founder of 1-800-DENTIST

Dental Products Report
2007
 

Here's a scenario. A person walks back into their job after a dental appointment and a co-worker asks, "Where were you?" "I was at the dentist." "Ohh," the person winces, "I hate dentists." And the person replies, "Are you kidding? I love my dentist! It's so much fun to visit that office I look forward to it. It's the high point of my day." The co-worker stares at them in amazement.

This isn't only possible, it happens all the time. Because successful offices know how to make their office fun to go to. Here are five reasons why you should would want your practice to be fun and five steps on how to make it happen:

Reason #1. One of the key things about a successful, thriving dental practice is that the environment is very different from a "doctor's office." It is essential to distance yourself as much as possible from the medical office experience. You know the kind of places I mean-you've been there-everybody's waiting, files piled to the ceiling, white walls and beige counters and those flickering fluorescent lights. The staff is too busy, and they don't seem to care if you're happy or miserable because insurance pays them exactly the same amount no matter how you feel. When I look at practices that are booming, they are also fun places for people to visit.

Reason #2. This is very important: The impression people have of your practice relies heavily on how they perceive your staff and office environment. After all, they really don't have a way of assessing your clinical skills. So instead, they go by initial impressions, and few of these are created by all the C.E. that you've done. Like it or not, when people feel good about your office and your staff, they think you're a great dentist. It's human nature.

Reason #3. Now couple that with the fact that many people have a certain amount of reluctance about visiting the dentist. It's an easy thing to put off, or avoid altogether. But if they like your staff, and experience a fun environment, it can totally change their perception and overall experience of dentistry and make them more accepting of dental treatment as a result. In other words, make it fun and your production will rise accordingly.

Reason #4. Everybody knows that word of mouth is the best advertising. Imagine your patients telling their friends and coworkers how much they enjoy their dental visit. On word alone, some of them will decide that they have to experience it for themselves.

Reason #5 is perhaps the most important one. Since your practice is where you will be going to work every day for the next 20 years, why not make it fun? Why not add to the enjoyment of your professional success? Makes sense, right? Good.

Here's five steps to making your dental office fun:

Step 1- Give your staff permission to have fun. Start with the vision of who you want to become as an office. Your staff needs to know that it's all right to bring playfulness into the environment. Lay out what the purpose of this is-that you don't want your practice to feel like a doctor's office. Your practice is a place where you enable people to enjoy better lives, and it's everyone's responsibility to make them feel welcome, appreciated and to have a special memory of how much fun it is.

Step 2 - Hire fun people. From now on, everyone you hire should genuinely like people. They should also have an innate a sense of fun and an ability to enjoy their job and their day. You can't program miserable people to have fun, and you can't pay them enough to defy their nature and not to be miserable. One by one, inject fun people into the mix of your practice, and you'll see a change. Be on the lookout for that real live wire, that naturally buoyant person who brings lightness and a natural warmth to the world around her. Hire that person and put her right up front.

Step 3 -Treat your patients like people: Know who they are, what they care about, what their kids names are, their anniversaries. Get personal. Add all sorts of notes about them in their patient file-what music, TV shows or sports teams they like, notes about their family, hobbies and interests, and then review something personal about each patient with your team. Then greet every one of them like you couldn't be happier that they showed up. Who doesn't like to be treated like someone special? A great gift to give someone is an office full of people happy to see them. Where else could they find that? And the grumpier they are, the more you should go the extra mile to be cheerful, friendly, and personal. Eventually, they'll melt. Remember, since they're a grouch, most people are probably pretty businesslike toward them. Turn it upside down on them, be as friendly as you can possibly muster, and they'll remember you.

Step 4 - Target key patients. Every day in the morning huddle, (you do that, don't you?) look at the schedule and make a decision about who's life you're going to change that day. Because remember, in dentistry, you have the ability to do that almost every day. You can take someone out of pain, make them healthier for their whole life, or change their smile to give them more confidence and self-esteem. This is a pretty great thing to get to do every day. So get excited. Then decide who the worst patient is, and figure out how you can change their attitude by surprising them. Then choose your favorite patient and see how you can make them even feel more special.

Step 5 - Change your environment.

- Nothing says your walls have to be all white, or all green, or all anything. Add some color and design, and decorate your walls with not only diplomas and CE certificates (which are important) but with fun pictures of people (doctor, staff and patients) smiling, laughing, generally happy. It's infectious. I know of a practice that has posted all sorts of photos of patients with their pets. If you ask, people are guaranteed to bring them in.

- Add some fun, upbeat music piped in through the entire office. Music is sure to affect people's mood.

- Have fresh flowers at the front desk and use aromatherapy in the back office. Smell is a powerful memory trigger, and many people associate a specific with a dental practice, and it's not positive, it's medicinal. A $40 aroma machine works wonders.

- Decorate for every holiday. Have costume days. (Here at 1-800-DENTIST, we have Hawaiian Day, Crazy Hair Day, Pajama Day, and Halloween, which is a major event.) Dress up, dress down, get a little nutty. If it's fun, ask yourself why not?

- A fun practice is a successful practice. Start adding a little bit of fun into your everyday routine and not only will your production go up, you'll retain your staff better, and you'll actually enjoy going to work every day. Give it a try! You've got nothing to lose but a bad mood.

 
 
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