Why People Choose Your Office – and what you can do about it In a world where the profession of dentistry is facing commoditization with the development of Dental Service Organizations (DSO’s) and large group practices, those of us who are committed to private fee for service comprehensive care are facing increased competition. We also face competition from those who choose to practice with large budgets for advertising yet still practice “one tooth dentistry”. One more competitor is the societal trend of decreasing attention span. With the entire world’s knowledge lodged in our smart phone we now find the average attention span in America has shrunk to a meager 9 seconds! It is interesting to note that throughout the current Covid-19 pandemic people have continued to visit their dentist. What have we been doing right? We already have a reputation for being a place that is clean and follows proper safety protocols. We have a reputation of being trustworthy and we focus on treating people one person at a time. These are all good traits. However, to continue to grow in a competitive world we need to analyze our competition and ourselves. Then we need to create an environment of mutual engagement between our office and our clients. This is not a “paint by numbers” exercise. You and your team must create, own and commit to a philosophy that fits your style and execute it. Here are some road maps and benchmarks available to help. Doctor, start by engaging and educating your team to be the best that they can be by modeling the behavior you want to see in them. Commit to high quality Continuing Education for you and your staff. Join a study club and associate with like-minded members of your profession. Engage your new patients with a patient centered experience from first contact onward. Make a special effort to create a first visit that includes time for getting to know one another on the behavioral level and includes a true comprehensive exam. Make sure that your patient understands that you respect them as “the expert” in choosing what outcome is right for them at this moment in time. And, that your office is “the expert” at determining the various outcomes that are available based on the situation they are bringing to you, the findings of your exam, the technology available and the time and dollars they choose to spend. We want to know, and the patient to know, that we are the right office and this is the right time to begin to work together. To that end, after time spent to get to know one another, we always ask permission before any clinical exam. We ask whether it is OK for us to tell the truth about what we are seeing at this moment in time. If we do not get a “yes” we do not move forward as “No” means that the patient does not want to take responsibility for their own health. We believe the patient determines the outcomes we can achieve and owns the outcomes. We can provide the means needed in terms of care, skill and judgement. We must mutually agree to the costs involved in terms of dollars, time, life changes or other factors. You need an office that feels “hospitable” to your clients not a Ritz Carlton. The goal for you and your team is to educate and engage your client to the point that they trust that you have their best interests at heart.