We all like to avoid failure at all possible costs. None of us like it. But, failure often provides life’s most valuable lessons. And, if you wonder why you’re not having the successes you think you deserve, it simply means you’re not “failing” enough – or in other words, you’re not taking enough risks!

[I carefully define the kinds of risks I am willing to take. “Calculated” risks are the kind I like. I am willing to increase my amount of exposure based on the size of the reward.]

In marketing and advertising, there are ALWAYS risks/failures. Some are better risks than others. And, after about a decade of working with dental practices, I’ve gotten pretty good at cutting the amount of risk associated with a “roll of the dice” that takes place when advertising is created, mailed and results monitored.

And, maybe you’ve heard me in the past talk about turning lemons into lemonade, right?

Let me elaborate and shed some light on what marketing and business experts (READ: those that are DOING it) know can absolutely KILL any advertising effort.

In an interview recorded several years ago with Dr. Doug Cast, we talked at length about the #1 mistake most practices make when it comes to marketing and advertising.

You see, advertising DRIVES the patients to call you. The marketing or selling really starts when your staff answers the phone. HOW & WHEN staff answers immediately sets the tone for that prospective patient and your office and how they react, ultimately, to the treatment they accept or decline!

You wouldn’t think there’d be a natural parallel between your [now] key staff answering phones and tx acceptance, would you?

But, there is. The tone of the call determines the outcome of your treatment presentation. If your staff are rude, unhappy to be at the office, do not have confidence in the office or the doctor, and so on, the prospective patient is D.O.A. The probability of high-end or even marginal tx acceptance is down the drain.

My suggestion is to perfectly hone your FOP (front office person) and ANYONE who answers your phones to carefully and skillfully handle EACH AND EVERY incoming call! It’s the first point of contact! It’s the MOST IMPORTANT point of contact, because, if not handled properly, it’ll be your last!

How is your staff handling calls right now? Would YOU be happy calling and reaching one of your FOPs? Would YOU be interested in forking over $5,000, $10,000 or more to a doctor whose staff are obnoxious, rude or disinterested?

Fortunately, you don’t have to call. You can have someone else, an anonymous source, call your office.

Restaurants have been doing it for years. They call them “secret shoppers.” In fact, most retail establishments have adopted similar types of programs where an unknown party “shops” a facility and rates it.

You know the old saying, “Nothing improves unless it’s measured!”

For each and every new client hiring me firm to help them drive new patients into their practice, or, even if I’ve been retained to help the practice keep existing patients, the first step I take is to conduct a practice phone audit. I want our client’s advertising budget used wisely. And frankly, this is the first step. No point in driving the calls to the phone if it’s answered in a less than perfect manner.

So, before YOUR next major advertising

program hits the streets, consider a private or secret shopper to call your office and rate your staff.