Category Archives: share-labs

Golden principles of dental marketing

The 4 Golden principles of marketing which shouldn’t be ignored

There are four Golden principles with marketing which, if you choose to ignore you do so at your peril.  HOW  you choose to implement each of these four steps will be very personal to you, but whatever you do make sure you go through every step.

Those four steps follow the mnemonic AIDA

Step 1 – ATTENTION

Before anyone  can take any action at all, before they can come to your dental practice, before they can phone, before they can visit your website you need to capture their attention.  They need to know  that you physically exist and that you are there.

The first stage of any marketing campaign should be to grab people’s attention. If you were at the recent dentistry show in Birmingham think big drums, bhangra music and oompahloompahs! Big drums, bhangra music and oompahloompahs may not be how you wish to grab people’s attention, that’s fine but the principle remains, in order for anyone to take any action at all  they need to know you exist and this kind of marketing, along with people like  Richard Branson and sailing around the world in a balloon is brilliant at grabbing people’s attention.

Step 2 – INTEREST

Once we’ve grabbed someone’s attention and they know you exist we can start to pique the interest. This is where marketing becomes far more subtle, this is where telling patient stories begins, this is where we begin to engage  with a prospect, gently helping them solve whichever problem it is that they have… Missing teeth, crooked teeth, ugly teeth (In their eyes) etc.

This is using e-mail marketing on the website to collect prospects e-mail addresses in exchange for a free downloadable guide and then gently dropping them into an automated systematic  e-mail marketing campaign, all very gentle and NOT SELLING!

Step 3 – DESIRE

Once we have grabbed someone’s attention and they know you exist and we have created some form of interest in solving their problem we can then work on the third stage which is creating desire.

Showing prospects before and after photographs of patients in similar situations to them can help create a desire. Talking about the problem and the solution is an important step here also.

Step 4 – ACTION

Without action the three previous steps become pointless, this is where using marketing speak and language is vital.  When someone lands on your website  or receives an e-mail, what do you want them to do? Call us today, phone us today, request a free consultation today are all phrases which can be used with great effect.

Incentives to take action can also work in the form of free consultations or refunds of initial assessment… Think about specific things  which will prompt someone to take action… Simply having a request an appointment form on your website is  NOT suggesting that someone takes an action.

Summary

The steps above are WHAT you should do, they do not in any way tell you HOW you should do them. Oompahloompahs and bhangra music may not be for you, you may choose something  more subtle or even more outlandish in order to generate attention  about your service/product.

What ever you choose to do remember, with out these four steps your marketing won’t work.

Period.

Facebook Live Video – How to Work Less & Earn More – Dental Technicians Business Program#1

I’ve just run the first in a series of Facebook live events aimed specifically at helping dental technicians work less and earn more, in this first video I go through the four key business areas of performance that need to be addressed in order to have a successful business:

  1. Finances
  2. Business Processes
  3. People
  4. Customers

In case you missed it or would like to watch it again I’ve embedded it in this blog post.(Please skip to 5 min in for the video to start)

To join me on my next Facebook live event where we will be talking about finances and how to make more money, please Visit my Facebook events page.

Do something remarkable with your dental surgery or laboratory

What is it that you do in your dental business that can be remarked upon?

Is what you THINK you do so compelling that your customers/patients simply HAVE to talk about you?

As technical dental professionals we get caught up in the DOING. We get caught up in what’s technically or clinically right or wrong. We get caught up in things our customers just don’t care about!

Most patients are not interested in whether the ceramic used is feldspar/quartz or lithium discillicate. Most patients aren’t interested in whether you use an Ankylos implant or Nobel Biocare… what they are interested in is the result. However, is the result going to be enough for them to be running home to tell EVERYONE about your services?

Well, in some cases yes, particularly with large reconstruction cases… but what about the regular work you do…

… are they going to be running home to shout from the roof tops about the direct composite you just did distally on an upper 7?…

… are they going to be telling people at the party they are going to tonight about the excellent root treatment you just did? (surely they must, after all you just spent £3000 on an endo course AND you took a week off work to do that course… they must care about THAT, mustn’t they??)

Now, I ask the question again “What is it that you do in your dental business that can be remarked upon?”

and

“Is what you THINK you do so compelling that your customers/patients simply HAVE to talk about you?”

In most cases I recon NOT, so what’s the answer?

Paddi Lund is a great exponent of this, many people totally miss the point with Paddy Lund, I am not going to get in to all the things Paddy does, however here are 3 things:

  1. He has no signage on the pratice other than a small brass plaque which says “Patrick Lund Dental Happiness, by invitation only”
  2. The front door of the practice is locked
  3. He has an old fashioned coffee machine. It is one of those machines that spluts and spurts and has loads of levers and buttons which need to be pressed to make the perfect coffee. He uses this to make a coffee for each of his patients. It’s not a coffee machine, it’s a piece of theatre.
Now, what do his patients run home to talk about? His RCTs or his direct composites? No, they go home and tell a story about their experience..

“Guess what, I went to the dentist today and…can you beleive this… his front door was locked…when he let me in he made me this stunning coffee from this fantastic machine, this machine etc etc etc”

Paddy has done something remarkable, something about which to be remarked; he has created an experience where he defies his patient not to talk about…they simply can’t resist telling their friends.

So what can you do? Here are some thoughts:

  1. Create an unusual entrance lobby (In my new lab we are building a doodle wall, everyone that comes in will be invited to doodle on the wall. I will provide water colours and inks; each person will be encourage to take part and be creative. Nothing to do with making teeth, but something about which to remark!)
  2. Have an unusual work of art, and site it so that patients see it. Encourage them to interact with it or comment on it. Or even make it!
  3. Greet them in an unusual way, anything that is unexpected
  4. Change your answer phone message to someting they are not expecting
  5. Send unusual or amusing recal letters
  6. Have theme days in the surgery – what about a 70s day, all patients to come in 70s gear and play 70s music all day..I defy any patient to NOT talk about it!
  7. Create a customer service extravaganza on your website… live chat, feedback options, patient’s only area where they can book appointments, anything to engage and interact with your patients
  8. Promote your patient’s businesses by Tweeting about them on Twitter
YOU may not like it, but often the wackier the better… do anything to MAKE your patients go home and say to their friends…

“You’ll NEVER guess what happened at the dentist today…”

And finally go and buy Seth Godin’s book “The Big Moo”, it will change the way you think about dental business marketing and what is important to your customers.

So the question now remains open to you… what are you going to do? Why not comment on this blog post and join in the discussion.

As always, stay sharp.

Mark

financial ratios made useful

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Is that a yawn I hear? Well, this is a short post…mainly because I know how boring finance can often be! But this is an important area of our business and should not be overlooked. I may be teaching granny to suck eggs here, but until I studied finance at university I had never come across these ratios…no-one ever bothered to show me. So if you are a finance wizz, please excuse this article, but if you are like I was and a bit hazy about ratios…read on!


Debtor and creditor days

This has probably been one of the best ratios I have learnt to manipulate in my business, yealding the best results once I go them sorted. These ratio

s simply say how long you are taking to pay your suppliers (creditors) and how long you are taking to be paid by your customers(debtors), if your creditor days are longer than your debtor days you will have a cash surplus, if it is the other way around you will need to borrow money from somewhere for the difference in the days…a crucial ratio to understand I think!!

Simple calculations

Look at your last set of accounts, go to the balance sheet and

 take the amount owed to the creditors,  probably in the ‘current labilities’ section, now look at your profit and loss account and divide those creditors by the purchases for the year and multiply by 100. This now gives a % of creditors you owed at the time of the balance sheet. Assuming your accounts are made up for the year, multiply this % by 365 days…this will now tell you how many days credit you have taken with your creditors.

example:

Total creditors owed on balance sheet £10,000

Total purchases for the year from profit and loss £100,000

10,000/100,000 X 100= 10%

10% of 365 days = 36.5 days credit taken


To work out your debtor days, look at your balance sheet, di

vide your total debtors (probably in the nett current assets) by the sales figure for the year in your profit and loss account. mulitply this by 100 to give a % then multiply the % by the total number of days the accounts represent…probably 365.

Example:

total debtors from balance sheet £60,000

Total sales for the period from profit and loss £800,000

60,000/800,000 X 100=7.5%

7.5% of 365 days = 27.3 days credit given


In this example we are giving 27 days credit and taking 36.5 days credit, this means we have the use of the money for 9 days.

But imagine if this was the other way round! If you take less credit than you give you may need to borrow money, either in the form of an ovedraft, or in the form of having less money in your account which could be invested elsewhere earning interest.

When Amazon launched their online book store they used this to a fantastic advantage. They took the order and the money from the customer online, then they ordered the book from their supplier and agreed extended credit terms. They had their money from the customer for over a month before they needed to pay the supplier, this money was used to fnd their rapid growth! A whole business model was based on the fundamental priciple of manipluating creditor and debtor days.

In practice

I am not suggesting we don’t pay our suppliers at all…please don’t ge me wrong. I am suggesting though that agreeing credit terms with suppliers and adjusting your own policies and possibly incentives to affect your debtors days is a godd idea. 

When these ratios first came to my attention, I realised I was having to borrow money for nearly 20 days a month…ouch! Now I have reversed this by offering early payment incentives to customers and agreeing slightly extended terms with selected suppliers, the difference now is almost 0, but occasionally swings in my favour…result.

More fun ratios will follow in future articles.

additional resources:

Business Balls Financial Glossary

Business Knoweldge Centre

The greatest compliment anyone could pay me is to forward this to a friend and encourage them to subscribe, any dental business owner is more than welcome!

Cheers for now, 

Mark

 The information inthis article is not intended to represent professional advice and should not be taken as such. For fully representative analysis averages of creditors and debtors should be taken over the accounting period, the examples given are for simplicity and ease of understanding only.  Please check with your accountant before making financial decisions

This blog is part of my service offering dentists and dental technicians dental business consultant advice on dental marketing and other dental business issues for everyday use in the dental surgery or dental laboratory 

Managing change, from a new bonus scheme to a new CADCAM system

So you want to change something in your lab or surgery? May be you are moving premises, may be you want a new CADCAM system, may be you want to introduce a new bonus system? All of these things involve change…and If you want this change to be smooth then the change needs to be managed.

Here is a simple guide to managing change and to making sure your staff are with you.

Firstly you need to remember this A+B+C>D where:

A is a disatisfaction with the way things are now
B is a shared vision of the future situation
C is a simple, low risk first step
D is the cost to the idividual (by cost I DO NOT mean financial, it may be time, effort, loss of friends or any other negative implication of the change that is unique to that individual)

Lets take a laboratory or surgery premises move as an example. As the business owner you have decided to move, perhaps current premises are too small, old or expensive – you have a disatisfaction with the way things are now. You have found a great new premises that is larger, newer or cheaper, there is now a gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what ought to be’…the old premises and the new. In order for change to work EVERYONE must be aware of this gap, and have a desire and the resources to close it.

To you, the cost is low (again I do not mean financial cost)…otherwise you wouldn’t be initiating the change would you?

But what about your staff? Are they fully aware of this gap between ‘what is’ and ‘what ought to be’? Without an awareness of the gap they will have no desire to change, they will have no desire to work on that new CADCAM system, or no desire to move premises.

Your job as a manager is to manage this gap, to develop the disatisfaction with the current situation, to really highlight the new future alternative and to create that desire to close that gap.
I am not saying you need to fabricate things here, just let your staff know the situation! You also need to provide your staff with the resources to close that gap, but these resources will be different for each individual…some may need time, some may need assistance with work etc.

You then need to give the staff a safe and simple first step, they need to be able to ‘dip their toes in the water’ in a way that is non-threatening. Perhaps you can provide some sort of transition period for example.

So, to summarise. You need to let your staff know the ‘what is’ situation and highlight the disatisfaction with the way things are now (A), you then need to create a shared vision of the future, the ‘what ought to be’ (B) and give your staff a simple, low risk first step (C). If all this added together is greater than the cost to the individual (D) then there will be less resistance to change.

If A+B+C>D then there will be less resistance to change.

I know that it isn’t possible to measure each of these areas exactly…that is not the point of this equation… it is simply a way to make sure you manage the change initiative and take in to account (as best you can) the various forces at play. And don’t forget, each individual will have different ideas of the best future and different things which are costs to them…so each person needs to be managed as an individual.

Please forward this email to your friends if you have found this useful… this network is growing and it would be great to have subscribers (and discussions) from all over the world (We already have subscribers in USA, UK, South Africa and Germany).

Fancy writing your own article here? I am looking for guest bloggers, if you are interested please email me on info@markoborn.com

Cheers for now,

Mark

This blog is part of my service offering dentists and dental technicians dental business consultant advice on dental marketing and other dental business issues for everyday use in the dental surgery or dental laboratory

Running an efficient dental laboratory part 2

Please visit www.markoborn.com for more information

Brief Summary of Part 1

I reviewed efficiency in a business in part 1 and asked the question, where is the value. I concluded Part by saying that if a service you provide in your business isn’t a core part of your business and doesn’t add value then outsource it….but what does this mean?

… it means buying in from another laboratory that has a system that you don’t, for example purchasing of metal free frameworks. Buying in can also mean delegating as many tasks as possible that don’t add value, to someone or something else.

As many people now know I am very keen on the idea of CADCAM technology especially the Inlab system that we have now been operating for 4 years. By using Inlab we buy in all our processes that don’t add value to our customers! As a consequence of this we are now a much more efficient laboratory.

Here are some examples.
Example 1:Does the dentine layer in a dentine bonded crown add value to our customers? I would say the answer is NO, the value is in the finished crown and the final layering of the effect enamels and subtle contouring of the surface by highly skilled technicians – we buy in the dentine from Inlab.

Example 2:Does the production of single unit metal free frameworks add value to our customers? Again I would say NO. We buy this in again from Inlab.

Looking to the future – Does the production of traditional technique metal frameworks add value to our customers? Again I believe the answer is NO. The value is in the aesthetics and service we offer, so we are moving towards getting Inlab to make ALL our frameworks in metal as well as metal free (YZ Zirconia) and concentrate our time on adding more value in the areas that count.

Don’t get me wrong here…I am not saying that fit, framework support for ceramic and connector design etc don’t add value – they do, but if a CADCAM system can take care of all this automatically (and Inlab can) we can become an even more efficient laboratory and concentrate in adding value to the other areas that ‘buying in’ can’t.

More turnover, or go home earlier?
Being an efficient organisation is not just an academic exercise, it has a financial perspective to it also. If we are concentrating all our efforts on the ‘value added’ aspects of our business then our customers will be happier, but efficiency is about producing either:

The same production volume with less resources

Or

A higher production volume with the same resources

Which do you chose… more turnover or a shorter working day? That is inevitably a question that only you can answer, but here are some maths that may help you along your way to the efficiency savings we have made with Inlab.

There are huge savings to be made by outsourcing this way, if you wish to see my calculations please leabe a comment to the post, I will then reply.

If the technician was producing a PFM they would spend 1 day on metal, one on ceramic and invoice every other day – a 10 day invoicing month. By converting to a more efficient Inlab produced crown they can invoice EVERY day AND produce an extra unit per day due to efficiency savings not having to opaque etc. This then gives the net result of a huge increase in potential.

Summary
As many in the dental industry now know I am totally sold on CadCam technology using the Inlab system, and as technology moves faster allowing us to produce implant abutments, veneers, inlays and full crowns the proposition of Inlab becomes even more attractive as do other CADCAM systems that offer sumilar services.

Keep in touch guys and please subscribe (that way I can see how may people read my posts, and please also recommend this to other dental business owners)

Mark

Running an efficient dental laboratory Part 1

Please visit my website www.markoborn.com for further information.

Introduction

This will be along post and is based on an article I wrote several months ago – therefore it will be split in to 2 parts. My next BLOG post will be part 2 of Control vs Flexibility, followed by Part 2 of this post a few days later….why not subscribe to keep up with these articles?

Subscribe to this blog

If you are reading this blog and don’t run a dental lab…then good for you!! There will still be a great deal you are able to gleam from this, so I would encourage you to read on regardless.

Running a dental laboratory is a hard business, we all know that! Running an efficient dental laboratory is even harder. I will attempt here to discuss some of the theoretical areas that can be used to improve efficiency and give some suggestions as to how we might practically use these theories.

Firstly, what do we mean by efficiency?

Definition

Efficiency is often used in the context of running an organisation using the 4 E’s of performance measurement:

  1. Effectiveness
  2. Efficiency
  3. Economics
  4. Ethics

This can be summarised as:“Do the right thing, do the thing right, do it cheaply and do it honestly”

The purpose of this article is not to examine all of these, but to concentrate on the top 2, effectiveness and primarily efficiency. All organisations have a transformation process, this involves taking an input, this could be raw materials and knowledge (as in the case of a dental laboratory) and converting this, via a transformation process, in to an output (a restoration for example).

Effectiveness deals with the final stage, the output. Is this the right product for the customer?

For example a furniture company may be very good at producing office chairs, but if their customers require sofas then they are not effective in their production. Equally if a laboratory is excellent at producing PFMs but the customers really require metal free then that laboratory is not working as effectively as it could.

Efficiency deals with the middle section, the transformation. It deals with the internal conversion of the raw material in to the final output, and it is to this area of the transformation process that I will concentrate.

Running a more efficient organisation is generally concentrated around the design of working processes; larger laboratories have capitalised on this concept by using the ‘process worker’ principle and great savings in efficiency can be obtained by using this approach – this is what is classically called a ‘process layout’.

Where is the value?

It may be that we can gain the most savings by using this ‘process layout’, but customisation is much harder – and dental technology is all about customisation.

If we therfore decide to continue production along the ‘normal’ fixed layout, where each technician takes each case from start to finish (or almost) then we need to look for other areas of efficiency savings that don’t involve redesigning the working process and using process workers. Many organisations (not just dental laboratories) are looking at this and outsourcing.

The question we need to ask is “Where is the value in my organisation?”. What is it about your laboratory that gives value?

Dell don’t make computers, that’s not where the ‘value’ in Dell computers is. Dell are a service organisation that outsource the manufacture of the components, they then bring all the components together to build a highly customised computer which is sold at a good price. Dell’s value is not in the manufacture of components, it is in the service they offer. The principle is to outsource or ‘buy in’ everything that does not add value to your customers. Of course this is not that simple, often there are large economies to be made by manufacturing in-house, but the principle remains.

If we can add value by ‘buying in’ then do so, if not then don’t. This principle works for all areas of a laboratory – does the accounts department add value? If yes then keep it in house, if not then buy in the services! ‘Buying in’ can take a few forms…. Part 2 follows next week, why not subscribe to this blog that way you won’t miss any posts.

Bye for now, I’ll catch up again with you all in a few days.

Mark

Know where you are going

Please visit my website www.markoborn.com for further information.

What do you want to achieve?

How will you know when you get there?

What will it feel like?

‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to’ said the cat

‘Idon’t much care where …’ said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

(Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)

If we don’t have an idea of where we want to go how can we know if we have achieved anything?

A well formed outcome is essential to any business (and for personal success too) as it enables us to make decisions and take opportunities that will benefit us.

Wouldn’t it be good if you could actually achieve what you really wanted? By using a technique called ‘future pacing’ we are able to rehearse our future and bring it clearly to mind, by understanding exactly what it will be like it makes decisions easier to take, all we need to ask is

“Will this decision move me towards my goal?”

It is so vitally important that your business has a goal, a vision and knows why it is here! That seems to obvious, but it is often not made exlicit to staff. This can result in low motivation levels, low performance and an ineffective organisation. Taking time to think about what your business is there to do and making this explicit can have a real benefit to your organisation.

An example of these values and vision is here http://www.sbodentallaboratory.co.uk/3.html

Using these values it easier for staff to make decisions and to know why the organisation exists, so go on, do it today (if you haven’t already) and see what a difference it makes.