Endo Mastery

ALIGNING THE TEAM TO YOUR VISION

TODD HOLMES | CO-FOUNDER AND PRACTICE COACH

Why do some practices embrace change and growth easily while other practices have difficulty? This question lingers in the back of the mind of many doctors when they think about their goals. Often, it is a concern that the team may resist or be incapable of growth that causes some doctors to doubt that their vision can be achieved.

 

In over 25 years as a practice coach, I can tell you with certainty that I have never met an endodontic team that is simply incapable of growth and improvement. The vast majority of endodontic team members genuinely care about patients, and they genuinely want the practice and doctor to be successful. With the right leadership, they are ready.

 

However, many teams have deeply entrenched processes and dynamics that can hold them back. That is to be expected. There is a lot to do in a practice on a daily basis, and a small team has to work out who, what and how everything gets done. This gets repeated year after year until it is automatic and habitual.

 

Change and improvement means breaking away from set routines, and the most effective way to do that is to align the team to a new vision that is exciting and worthwhile. That is what team alignment means, and the energy and commitment of the doctor is so important.

 

There is a simple truth in leadership that what you care and focus on (as the leader) is what the team will care about and focus on. If you are focused on consistency, the team will work to standardize everything. If you are focused on low stress, the team will do everything they can to avoid stressful situations. If you are focused on micromanagement, the team will ask for your guidance on every little detail.

 

Teams align themselves to the energy field of their leader. Happy leaders tend to have happy teams. Process-driven leaders have process-focused teams. And, vitally, visionary leaders have teams committed to improvement and growth that is needed to achieve the vision. Without that guiding energy and commitment, it’s much more challenging for teams to step out of their comfort zone.

 

I always enjoy coaching practices where the doctor has a very strong and clear vision. The tone, energy and anticipation of success that the doctor brings into the practice every morning is inspiring to the team. When the doctor can articulate their goals to the team, they create a very positive environment where growth can thrive.

 

Of course, vision and inspiration are only the start. When you engage the team in this way, you have to do more than just communicate a vision. You have to provide the resources and guidance that teams need to actually change and grow successfully.

 

That’s where a practice coach really fills a need in the growth of a practice. We help doctors define their vision in a way that the team can get behind it. We help teams shift, step-by-step, from old habits to a new approach designed to achieve that vision. It’s a very exciting, fun and positive process for the entire practice!

OUTREACH MARKETING FOR NEW REFERRERS

The lifeblood of every endodontic practice are those A+ referrers who send multiple cases every month. But referrers like that don’t grow on trees. Often it takes years to build and nurture those high-value relationships, which all start from the same place originally: as new referrers to your practice.

  • ● Plan to host a lecture or two with an outside speaker on topics of interest to GPs and at no cost to them. This lets you blanket your entire GP community with invitations to attend. Plan at least 3 rounds of invitations: 4 weeks, 2 weeks and 1 week before the event. One of those invitation rounds should be your marketing coordinator stopping in at each office to hand-deliver information about the program and inviting doctors to register to attend directly with them.
  • ● At lecture events, you can position yourself by welcoming everyone at the door as they arrive, introducing yourself individually (as well as on stage when you introduce the speaker), and mingling afterward. Great marketing always begins by establishing that personal doctor-to-doctor relationship, even if it is ever so lightly done in this kind of group event. Plan for and prepare a follow-up communication after the lecture event that gives you one more reason to reach out to attendees. For example, it could be a related article, an article you have authored, or your personal summary of the highlights of the program.
  • ● Another great way to position yourself is with your local dental society, which you should belong to and ideally volunteer for one of the leadership roles or to captain a key project. This is a great way to interface with other doctors who are not part of your referral base.
  • ● Dental society involvement also gives you insight into new GPs in the community. When you identify a new doctor, have your marketing coordinator drop off a gift basket with a welcome message at their practice. Your dental supply rep can also be a good source of information about new arrivals.
  • ● Look for other creative ways to create open invitations for GPs to meet you. Some endodontists choose to involve themselves with local charities or community projects, and communicate to doctors about ways they can get involved in those important causes. You can also consider some kind of annual open house in your practice that is themed around certain holidays or concepts. For example, involving your whole team in decorating the practice for Halloween or the 4th of July, along with costumes, etc.
  • ● Look for opportunities to sponsor events or host events, such as an annual dental picnic/barbecue, golf tournament, fishing tournament, or sporting event. The ultimate level of this is when you create a tradition that everyone in your local dental community looks forward to each year.
  • ● Marketing throughout the year is also important. Your marketing coordinator can plan to drop by one or two practices of potential new referrers that are nearby whenever they are visiting one of your existing referrer offices. That could be as simple as just saying hi and introducing themselves, dropping off your business card or referral kit, or maybe a small inexpensive gift annually such as a gift box of a half-dozen cookies or cupcakes from a local bakery, or a $25 coffee gift card.

However it happens, what you are always on the lookout for is that first referred case. That is the moment that matters, and it gives you a personal reason to connect with the GP and start building your doctor-to-doctor relationship. You can simply thank them for the case, find some clinical aspect of the case to discuss, or use the opportunity to have a full introduction call (or meet for lunch) to get to know them better.

 

Building clinical trust and value is always the foundation of a great referral relationship. The energy you put into first creating opportunities and then meaningfully connecting with new GP referrers is one of the most important priorities for your long-term success.

MARKETING TIP: TOP OF MIND AWARENESS

For any product or service to succeed, it needs a marketing strategy. Marketing is the process of making potential customers/clients aware of what you offer and how to get it. There are lots of ways to do this, from advertising to direct marketing to social media to relationship marketing.

For endodontists, your clients are primarily GPs based around a professional, interdisciplinary doctor-to-doctor relationship and patient referrals, so relationship marketing is hugely important. In an ideal referral relationship, GPs would rather refer out all endodontic treatment than attempt it themselves, and they prefer to refer it to you (rather than another endodontist) if at all possible. You have “top of mind awareness” for their endodontic referrals, and that probably describes your best referrers pretty well.

Best referrers are the minority though. Most of your referrers are more mixed in their relationship with you. They may not refer out all endodontic treatment, or when they refer it might not be to you as their first choice. You might be one of several endodontists and they “share the love” with everyone.

There are strategies you can implement to improve those relationships, but the effectiveness of those strategies depends on certain fundamentals in your marketing system being in place, and your marketing coordinator executing those fundamentals with disciplined regularity. Their role to drive the marketing systems is vital. Here’s the marketing foundation. It’s quite simple, and yet many endodontists do not do this:

  • Every “A” referrer (12 or more cases per year) needs to be contacted once per month.
  • Every “B” referrer (5 to 11 cases per year) needs to be contacted once per quarter.
  • Every “C” referrer (1 to 4 cases per year) needs to be contacted once per year.

What happens in these contacts? The marketing coordinator drops by the referring office and delivers a little gift basket, bagel drop, seasonal goodie, or something that tells the practice they are important to you. These do not need to be expensive, and they should focus should be on creating delight. We frequently have marketing ideas for these contacts in this newsletter.

Your marketing coordinator becomes the face of your practice to the referring office and drives the team-to-team relationship. When they see the marketing coordinator coming through their door, there is recognition, familiarity and a sense of happiness. That is the beginning to top of mind awareness … in the team, in the doctor and eventually in their referrals.

With this system in place, then you have the foundation to really become effective and targeted in your marketing. For example, if a “C” referrer sends two cases in the same month (when they normally send 4 or less all year), then you can respond and connect in better ways. You can have a doctor-to-doctor phone call, or a scheduled lunch. The marketing coordinator can respond right away with another contact and gift that communicates how much you appreciate their referrals.

It all starts with the marketing coordinator who has flexibility as needed to be outside the practice and visiting referrers. Usually, it’s the equivalent of a day or two per week for preparation and drop in visits. Without a marketing coordinator, a system like this is rarely implemented with the consistency needed, and that creates barriers to growing referral relationships.