This Will Cause (Or Eliminate) 99% Of Your Problems: Bad Communication!

Friday Finish: April 3, 2020

I bet your email inbox has been bombarded this week with “COVID-19” messages. Although it’s important and crucial that we pay attention to what’s going on in our country right now, it’s not something that will likely dramatically affect the rest of your life. When the housing crisis hit in 2008, everyone was talking “doomsday” on housing and many experts believed that housing was in the tank for decades. But over the next 12 years, housing values had one of their best runs ever. Through early 2020, home prices have been hitting all time highs. So while we can ignore what’s going on in the world, this Friday Finish will give you some mental clarity on how you can move forward with confidence in the future of your dental practice. 

Earlier in this book, I wrote about communication and how it is rarely or barely taught to us in formal education, but how vital it is to the success of a practice or business. Some time ago, one of our treatment coordinators and I were invited to a Dental Treatment seminar in Las Vegas. The group discussed different types of dental and orthodontic treatment, and how we could better serve our patients and team members at the office.

In a sense, the seminar was all about communication. Although this wasn’t the specific topic, I am a strong believer that nearly all of our problems in our personal and professional relationship can be prevented with great communication.

I’m not talking about sending more text messages (I’m not a big texted anyway – just ask my wife, it drives her nuts), or doing more talking. I’m talking about really working to understand each other and the people we are around every day. I sincerely belive that good communication can eliminate 99.9% of your problems. Here’s why:

Communication is like a 3-legged chair 

Leg 1 – Effective delivery of information

Leg 2 – Behavior of the recipient

Leg 3 – Retention of information

Professor Albert Mehrabian at UCLA ran a study back in the 1960’s about communication. He later published a book about this and more, entitled Nonverbal Communication. Here’s what his research discovered:

55% of effective communication is in the non-verbal exchange.

38% of effective communication is in the verbal exchange.

7% of effective communication is in the words you say.

The research further found that there are 5 behaviors you go through when you are marking a decision, such as making a new purchase:

  1. Problem recognition
  2. Information gathering
  3. Evaluation
  4. Purchase decision
  5. Post-purchase decision

Finally, as described by Dr. L.D. Rosenblum in his book See What I’m Saying and from the website Velvet Chainsaw, all communication is received through your 5 senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. It’s important to understand which of the senses are more dominant to you and those you work with, as we all process and value certain ways of communication differently. They concluded that dividing amongst your senses, you retain:

83% of what you SEE

11% of what you HEAR

3.5% of what you SMELL

1.5% of what you TOUCH

1% of what you TASTE

In summary, this is why visuals such as presentations, video and pictures are such powerful tools. If, according to the UCLA research, effective communication is 55% non-verbal and 38% verbal, this equals 93% of communication is in the sound and sight.

Couple that with retention of informatio, based on Dr. Rosenblum, which discovered that 83% of your senses are based upon what you see, and 11% are based upon what you hear, this equals 94%, again based on sight and sound.

Finally, for you math geeks like me, averaging 93% and 94% gives you 93.5%, that’s an A! This Is a very high percentage strategy to eliminate your problems and boost your case acceptance from your patients. Remember, only 7% of communication was based upon the actual words said. This is why the old saying about “actions speak louder than words” still rings true today. 

This must be why I distinctly remember all of the dumb things my friends did as teenagers trying to impress each other, or all of the things I learned in high school health class that scared the life out of me!

Recently I read an article about new shoes that are controlled by an app, so that you can be glued to your phone while walking down the street, and the app will tell your shoes which way to turn. MRI scans have been done on the brains of millennials (I am just barely a millennial, so I can speak from experience) and found that opening a digital message is much less impactful than opening a real letter, or interacting with printed media such as a book. Technology definitely has its place, but I don’t think it will ever replace REAL, one-on-one communication. Remember this next time you are communicating with your spouse, team members and patients.

Use the M.A.P.S.S. Case Acceptance tool to leverage communication by understanding the tone and body language of your patients to show them how much you care and to help them accept treatment that is in line with the outcome that they want.

If you would like to receive more information like this or provide your feedback, simply send me an email at and put “Friday Finish” in the subject line, or you can get free Practice Growth tips on my weekly blog here.

Give Before You Receive

Friday Finish – March 27, 2020

Now, more than ever, it’s critical as practice owners that we are in the business of giving more value to our patients and team members. We are right in the trenches of a national crisis. No one knows for certain what will happen next. But what we do know is that major changes are headed our way, both during and after this historical time.

Every time a correction happens there is a shift. A shift in time, money, effort, trends and the way we think about our careers and day to day lives. It is a vital time to build and keep the trust of our patients and team members.

As practice owners, it’s easy to get caught up in getting credit for how much time and effort we put into a procedure. Most dental professionals are very much in a “what do I get paid per hour” mentality. But this is very short sighted. What you should be most concerned with is about how much value you deliver to the marketplace and your patients. What do you give before you receive? It’s how you overdeliver on your services that creates patients you retain, refer and pay on time. 

In his fantastic book Overdeliver, author Brian Kurtz states that business is all “about playing the long game.” It’s now about how much can you can get from your patient in one day, it’s about how well the relationship will work for both parties in the long run. Brian also has a great formula, he calls the “100-0” principle, where you give 100% of your effort and expect nothing in return when you give something special to somebody. 

Shark Tank co-host Daymond John, stated in the March 2020 edition of Inc. Magazine, “you can’t play at being kind or decent or grateful-people will see right through you.“ In his book Powershift he describes this as giving 3x the value before you ask for anything in return, such as working though dinner three times before asking his employees to do so.

I agree with this advice. We must give before we can receive, something I am continually working on personally. It’s the principle of reciprocity in action. I’m always asking myself, how can I give MORE VALUE to my patient or client? 

If your patients don’t feel you’re giving enough value, they will slowly vanish, until one day you will wonder where all your referral sources and recare patients have gone.

As the stock market was crashing in March, I was struck with a thought about how the curve in financial markets is similar to our relationships with people. In just one instance of failing to follow up, return a call, or be there when your patient has a major need – you can suffer with a “Relationship Marketing Crash” disaster. If you take too long to react to a call for help, you can lose everything you’ve worked so hard to build. 

It’s amazing at how all the relationship and/or financial gains that took weeks, months or even years to build up, can be crushed with just one bad or neglectful experience.

That’s not to say you should hold yourself to being perfect. You should always aim for perfection as your gold standard, but don’t beat yourself up when you don’t get there. As a dentist you probably have some level of peferctionist qualities in the way you look at your work. You have to be your best, but don’t expect to be perfect. To get an “A” you can still miss a couple of questions on a test.

I hope you have a great week and continue to build priceless relationships, whether in person or remotely.

If you would like to receive more information like this or provide your feedback, simply send me an email at and put “Friday Finish” in the subject line. 

Have Some M&Ms!

Friday Finish – March 20, 2020

My wife and I have a group of friends who get together once a month or so on a weekend for “Game Night.” This often consists of mostly talking, socializing and eating treats, but it does involve different card or board games played as teams, either in couples or as men versus women. Megan usually outscores me at most games, except for games on trivia or memory which is my strong point. 

Game Night is really about the social aspect and eating sweets together. Someone usually brings a big tub of peanut M&Ms which are a crowd favorite. Although not my top pick, I have begun to enjoy them more over the years. 

In growing your practice, there is an M&M formula on how you should spend your time and initiate a culture with the right attitude and team members. This formula is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. However, it is vital for your success in reaching your desired destination, whether you want to be a single doctor practice, multi doctor practice, or sell your practice to a bigger group or corporation. 

One-half of your business is dependent on the first “M” – Marketing Systems. The other half of your business is dependent on the other “M” – Mindset.

Let’s break each one down. Marketing Systems are not advertising. Marketing is the formula that gets someone interested in your services to raise their hand and ask questions, and then marketing becomes your solution for getting them to their destination or desired results. The way you set up your treatment rooms for your patients is a system. The way you recruit and hire team members is a system. The way your team answers your phones is a system. The way you decorate your office is part of your system. All of these factor into your marketing system or RMAP (Relationship Marketing Action Plan), or how you position yourself as a dental leader in your community. 

Whether you have perfected them or not, the systems you have (or the systems that are broken in your office right now) are a mirror reflection of you personally and professionally. It’s your name on the door. It’s your culture that you build (or neglect to build) that is felt by your team and patients inside those four walls.

Mindset is your thinking, your daily routine, and your outlook on your practice’s future. Without it, you are dead in the water. Without the right mindset you’ll change directions every year when the emotional challenges of practice ownership come your way. You may be influenced by insurance pressures, slashing your fees, giving in to patients who do not fit your culture. You may give in to poorly managing team members or worse yet, not helping them reach their optimum potential. You have the power to provide the influence and growth mindset to take your practice to the next level, and to attract the right people to grow with you.

There is a concept about mindset that has been described by renowned speaker and coach Lee Millteer, who was quoted as saying “when you ask yourself a question, your brain-which is literally a computer-searches for resources answers to that particular question.” Use this to your advantage. Get proper exercise, rest and diet into your daily routine to keep that computer functioning properly. As described in the book Deep Work, you do some of your best problem solving when you aren’t focused directly on those problems. It’s the higher neuronal capacity of your unconscious mind going to work for you.

Right now, as the world is a crazy, shaken up place, working on sharpening your mindset is more important than ever. Use this downtime as an opportunity to focus your clarity and vision and re-evaluate your long term goals. I promise you’ll come out on top stronger than ever once this is over. Fortunately, spring is here and we can be outside more with more outdoor activities available. Before we know it the hot summer will be here and (hopefully) most of this is behind us. All of your patients will be lining up at the door by then for the treatment they had to postpone, providing a whole new set of (good) challenges.

Have a wonderful weekend!

If you would like to receive more information like this or provide your feedback, simply send me an email at and put “Friday Finish” in the subject line.

Diamonds In The Rough

Friday FINISH (Special Thursday edition) – March 19, 2020

There’s an old story, told by Roger Cromwell, the first president and founder of Temple University, who was also a well known Baptist temple minister, lawyer and writer. He tells of a priest offering advice to a man named Ali, looking for diamonds, as written here from his famous speech Acres of Diamonds (quoted from

Ali: “Will you tell me where I find diamonds?”

Priest: “Diamonds! What do you want with diamonds?”

Ali: “Why, I wish to be immensely rich.”

Priest: “Well, then, go along and find them. That is all you have to do; go and find them, and then you have them.”

Ali: “But I don’t know where to go.”

Priest: “Well, if you will find a river that runs through white sands, between high mountains, in those white sands you will always find diamonds.”

Ali: “I don’t believe there is any such river.”

Priest: “Oh yes, there are plenty of them. All you have to do is to go and find them, and then you have them.”

Ali sold his farm, traveled the world, became impoverished and eventually lost his life, without finding his treasure. The man who later bought Ali’s farm was one day down by the river on the farm property, where his camel was getting a cool drink. The man saw a shimmering light in the river and found a large deposit of diamonds, making him rich above his wildest dreams. 

Sometimes the “diamonds” in our practices and businesses are right under our nose. We can become tempted to look for new shiny objects in the form of new patients and new procedures, but can easily neglect what is right in front of us.

DON’T NEGLECT your #1 asset in your practice – your patient list. It is far more valuable than any 3D technology or your entire building. Your patient list IS the goose that lays the golden eggs, so don’t neglect it. Nourish it, dig deep, cultivate your list and maximize the value that is already underneath your feet. This includes your team members, take care of those around you, not just in the form of dental treatment, but in building long-lasting relationships using the 5R relationship marketing system. 

Especially during this trying time, don’t forget to reach out to those you care for and express your concern and how you can help, in whatever form that is.

Be grateful to be in a profession that is nearly recession-proof. Stay positive, this soon will pass and we’ll bounce back like we always do.

If you would like to receive more information like this or provide your feedback, simply send me an email at and put “Friday Finish” in the subject line. 

Courage vs. Fear

Friday FINISH – March 13, 2020

Due to the Coronavirus panic of March 2020, my weekend plans to Lake Tahoe were cancelled for an anniversary getaway my wife and I had been so excited for. We were pretty bummed about the adventure we had to put on hold, but knew it was the safer bet. Truthfully we weren’t that concerned about the actual virus, but more concerned about being quarantined away from our kids or stuck on a tarmac somewhere. I hate acting out of fear, and felt that was what we were doing at the time, but we had put our kids and family first. The majority of news and media were speaking doomsday talk as the stock market had it’s biggest day down since the 1987 crash. Schools cancelled, churches cancelled, Spring Breaks extended on college campuses – with the understanding that they would likely have to finish the semester online. Apparently the Costco near my home did 1.2 million in sales on its biggest day during the Christmas season just a few months prior, but went on to earn 1.5 million on March 12th, with people lined up out the door to get napkins, paper products and bulk food. (An valuable lesson on how Costco was prepared and capitalized on it.)

The first day of our Tahoe trip was going to be business, it was an office design tour that I wanted to attend to extract some ideas from for my new building in progress. I was excited to get some big picture ideas and further develop my plan for this big, long-term investment for my team, our patients and my family. 

I strongly believe that there is a reason for everything, even when I can’t understand why. I am a man of faith, and know that when one door closes, another opens. I’ve been frustrated so many times in the past when something didn’t work out, that finally one day I realized to always look for the opportunity in a good or bad experience. I have always been a glass half-full kind of guy, but I also have a short temper about certain things, and have let that get in the way too many times, only to later realize how much limited time and precious energy were wasted on getting hung up on something that later I would laugh about or feel foolish for being so short sighted. 

Through the many ups and downs of life’s adventures, I’ve learned that the quicker I can turn “skinning my knees” into squeezing out the valuable lessons and using them as a stepping stone for improving my life plan, the easier it is to find the nuggets of wisdom in an experience. 

John Maxwell calls these “learning opportunities” and terms it “failing forward.” I once read that in business we have only two outcomes from an event, 1) learning opportunities and 2) success – there are no actual failures. We can fail at something, but we shouldn’t label someone as a “failure” based on one static moment in time. Schools are notorious for motivating us more out of fear of not failing rather than the creative output that can come from the right kind of motivation inspiring real learning. All of this may sound too idealistic to you at first glance, but if you develop this mindset it sure makes it a lot easier to sleep at night. Some of my biggest failures in the past have totally changed my business and leadership outlook for the better, even though it took some time to develop. 

Plato is quoted as saying “courage is knowing what not to fear.” This is more important during a virtual outbreak, stock market crash or slow month in your practice. You can’t live in fear and have a good life. Not only does it make you feel terrible, but it does not allow your creative mind the ability to grow and produce new ideas and systems to build up your practice, taking your thermometer (we use whiteboard thermometers to measure production and collections on a monthly basis) of progress to the next level.

Remember to stay ahead of the majority, because as Dan Kennedy says, the majority is usually wrong, otherwise the 80/20 rule wouldn’t apply, nor would the most productive and most wealthy people be where they are today. They are the minority. Developing your mind, your education and your team is one of the best ways to avoid living in fear and to live in a mindset of growth and abundance. If the economy zigs, it’s time for you to zag. Do the opposite. If you have to close for a few days due to unforeseen circumstances, use them as personal days or planning days to boost your morale and inspire bold new ideas to take your team and practice to the next level.

Have a fantastic week!

If you would like to receive more information like this or provide your feedback, simply send me an email at and put “Friday Finish” in the subject line.