The top 12 things I learned at the Chicago Midwinter Meeting, Issue 3

  As part of DPR’s From the Office Manager’s Desk series, Jill Nesbitt tells us what products she’s most excited about after this year’s Midwinter Meeting.  


As part of DPR’s From the Office Manager’s Desk series, Jill Nesbitt tells us what products she’s most excited about after this year’s Midwinter Meeting.


With an entire showroom floor full of clinical products and equipment, why would a dental office manager attend a dental tradeshow like the Chicago Midwinter Meeting?

There are so many reasons. Here are the ideas I learned at the show and plan to incorporate into my practice:

1. Dentrix updates from Henry Schein Dental. Because we use Dentrix practice management software and I know Dentrix brings their best trainers to the show, I always stop by their booth to ask what’s new and to ask specific questions. This year I learned a trick with the Document Center that will help us edit and resave documents by using the export/import feature.

2. New Dentrix products. Dentrix released two new software products in Chicago – Viive for Macs and Ascend, which is cloud-based and great for multiple locations. If our group ever decides to add a separate location, it’s nice to know that we can stick with the Dentrix product that our staff and dentists already know.

3.Demandforce updates. I’m a DemandForce customer and I always stop by their booth to ask what’s new. This year one of my most rewarding discoveries was that DemandForce can set up my Facebook account so that every time a patient shares a survey or review it will automatically show as a post on our practice Facebook page. Because I post a weekly update to our blog and Facebook page, this will drastically increase our Facebook presence-with no more work!

4. Inventory follow-up. Last October we purchased three new handpieces for our practice and were told we would receive one free. We kept waiting and waiting, then we started emailing and calling with no luck. So, I brought a copy of the invoice showing our purchase, talked with our rep at the show-and voila! We received our free handpiece three days later.

5.DEXIS updates. Our group purchased three new DEXIS sensors and software a few months ago and ended up with an error code that stumped their tech support staff. Thanks to our great sales rep, Marty, I talked with an upper level tech support person who shipped me a brand new sensor, which solved the problem.

At the show, Marty pulled together management and another high-level tech support rep and we all discussed the situation and agreed how we would handle any problems in the future. Plus, I received a copy of the newest software, which allows images to be shown on an iPad. This was one of my more valuable meetings at the show.

Want more product advice? Check out this Midwinter Meeting recap from Drs. John Flucke and Lou Graham:


6. Interior designers for dental practices. My pediatric dentist would like to “fun up” his side of the practice and we’ve struggled to find an interior designer that understands dental. At the Chicago show, I met three different vendors that offered to help. My favorite is Nancy Higgins, a designer who works with Henry Schein and has 15 years experience in dentistry. In fact, she already emailed me some photos of a pediatric practice she designed-plus she handed me a card at the show for 50% off her design services!

7.CareCredit updates. It’s always nice to meet with reps that can go over our applications and credit used in our practice last year. Plus, when you spend the time to review this information, they give you a special gift. This year it was a pillow pet-which we took home and gave to our pediatric dentist, of course!

8.Colgate rules change. We used to buy our toothbrushes, floss and paste from Colgate but they had a category purchase requirement that ended up driving us away because we just didn’t need the products in the third category. After chatting with a rep at the show, she told us Colgate did away with this category requirement! So we’re going to re-evaluate our toothbrush purchase.

Plus, a group sales rep was also at the show and said he could get us better pricing because we’re a large group! Without the face-to-face discussions at the booth, we never would have known.

9. SEO vendor. I’m working on updating our practice website now and our next marketing decision is to choose an SEO vendor. The fellows at Everyday Health spent a great deal of time with me showing me their dashboard and services. The refresher was helpful and their report showing me how many directories our practice isn’t listed in properly was revealing.

10. Dear Doctor purchase. We rarely buy at the show because we want cooler heads to prevail, but this was such a good deal we couldn’t turn it down.

This product provides dental articles and videos that can be inserted into your website by using a widget-the idea is to educate your patients on your own website and keep them from Googling ‘dental implants’ and ending up somewhere else.

Because our group is big into video marketing, having professional videos available to us that can be placed on procedure pages in our site, and used on our blog, is super valuable. My goal has been to post one video each month on our blog to increase our SEO-with this investment, I can almost assuredly meet that goal.

11.Likeable Dentists Facebook expertise. I almost walked by this booth because I handle our Facebook posts and with the scoop from DemandForce, I don’t need to pay someone else to post on my FB page. However, I’m so glad I stopped!

This NYC group is super knowledgeable on all things Facebook. We talked about the new Facebook Graph and running ads. Within the last few weeks, one of my dentists mentioned that yet another dentist was retiring from a small town nearby-and we realized that left only one dentist still practicing in that area! We agreed that would be a perfect target market for us-but how to let that community know about our group?

Not enough people read the newspaper, TV and radio are expensive and hit or miss, and the town is so small, I don’t think they would use their own city name in a Google search for a dentist. Enter a Facebook ad. I can target this small town in particular for our ads-and the Likeable Dentists company said they would manage this ad for me and we can track the results.

If this works, I finally know how to target specific areas for our marketing-and could increase patient volume in a specific geographic region. Good thing I went to the Chicago Midwinter!

12.Afdent franchise. This is new. I read an article about Afdent last month, and in the last row at Chicago, I recognized the owner standing in their booth! On Saturday no less when most top dogs have long returned home.

Dr. Roger Pecina was a super nice fellow and invited me to have a seat and chat (after 3 days of standing/walking, just sitting down was a treat). He shared that he has an approach to dentistry that gains his one location, gigantic group practice more than 500 new patients each month! He invited us to visit him and see for ourselves how he provides high quality care to such a large patient volume. We’re definitely planning this trip.

A time to learn

Beyond these specific ideas, I also walked the aisles with the dentist owner of our group. As he chatted with the clinical product vendors about zirconia crowns or stronger composites, I am listening in, picking up the language and understanding the value of the new products. Because I have no clinical background, it is helpful when vendors come to visit the practice-I know who to gather for lunch & learns-and I can help compare pricing as well.

Worth the trip

Thanks to the investment my practice made in sending me to the Chicago Midwinter Meeting, I will improve our online marketing, get the dentists a free handpiece, avoid technical support problems in the future, begin the redesign of our pediatric practice, perhaps switch back to the toothbrushes we really liked and visit a practice adding 500 new patients a month. Do you think it will be worth sending me to visit the Afdent franchise? What ideas could I bring back from that experience?

Another major benefit to the dentist owner for sending me to the Chicago Midwinter- he didn’t have to tackle any of these topics. He could focus on the clinical products that he enjoys, knowing that I’ve got all the marketing, software, business-side handled.

So, if you’re thinking about inviting your dental office manager to attend a dental conference, have her read this article. She can visit similar vendors and bring back ideas to improve your practice as well! Enjoy your next meeting!

Jill Nesbitt is a dental consultant and practicing office manager for a multi-specialty private dental group. Nesbitt has managed the practice for 14 years, has state-level quality training, and coaches dental teams to improve the business-side of their practices.