Academy of Dental Management Consultants Corner: Why Yoda would have been great at dental practice marketing

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Based on the popularity of “Star Wars,” the majority of you should know who Yoda is. Yoda was the all-knowing, ancient, and venerable teacher/mentor of young Luke Skywalker. His wisdom is legendary. The way he spoke is still mimicked today by millions. Probably his most popular three-word phrase is, “Try not. Do!”


Well, for this article, if Yoda were writing the title, the title would be, “Think not. Know!”


95% of dentists “think” they know how their promotion investment is going. In reality, those 95% do not know. The majority of dentists are making business promotion decisions about how to promote their practices on (at best) incomplete or erroneous information. This causes many dentists to keep changing how they promote their practice. Sure, some advertising is a failure, but wouldn’t you want to really know if you have promotions that are working or, at the very least, on their way to building solid momentum and forward return?


Of course you would. There are only two steps to solving this problem … and both are easy.



The first step is to admit that you really don’t know from where all of your new patients come. You must come to the conclusion that your team is not perfect and they do not update the referral field in your practice management software every time. Admit that your own new patients could care less how accurate they are when telling you how they found your practice. What’s in it for them? Nothing! How many patients have told you they found you in the Yellow Pages … even though you haven’t advertised in the Yellow Pages for 10 years? Go look at your production by referral source report right now! There will be errors and omissions all over it!


Once you admit there is a problem, you have mastered step one. The second step is even easier. It is the solution to the problem.


The solution to the problem is easy, inexpensive, and the true results of your promotions will take you 5 minutes per month to review. It’s called call tracking/reporting, and the process is quite simple really.


On each outbound promotion (let’s say you promote your practice through the mail and through the print media), you put a telephone number that has a local exchange – but it’s different than your regular inbound office number. When an inquiry comes in, your front desk receptionist hears a whisper greeting before connecting the caller with the office (whisper – “new patient from the newspaper ad”). The call is connected and your front desk person processes the call, hopefully scheduling a new patient appointment.


On the back end (being the super efficient CEO that you are), you simply log onto a website once a month to:

1.View the total number of inquiries by each promotion source

2.Make a note of the average call length (any average over 3 minutes is good)

3.Review the content of the phone calls to determine the quality of patient your promotions are generating

4.Review the responses by your team, by listening to the actual call, so you can determine if additional phone skill training is needed


Five minutes later, you lean back in your office chair with total and complete certainty regarding the promotion of your dental practice. Six months or so from now, you make SMART decisions on where to invest your promotion dollars.


You no longer “think,” “sense,” or “feel.” You know!


Yoda would be proud.

Editor's Note: Photo of Yoda courtesy of David Yu.

Editor's Note: For more information on the Academy of Dental Management Consultants, please click here.