Gems Publishing - June 2019

By Dr. Tom “The Gems Guy” Orent

During open-line Q&A calls, I’m occasionally asked for suggestions on how a doc can use copy (words in print) to differentiate his practice. Typically, these questions sound something like this: “Tom, I hate PPOs but am in no position to leave them. At least, not yet. Can you help me come up with something I can put on my website and use in my advertising to differentiate my practice?” My answer is always the same: “Not really!” There’s little that good copy can do to dress up what otherwise is not anything special and attract new patients or keep existing patients from leaving even when they’ll no longer be in-network if they remain at your practice. How did I maintain a 100% fee-for-service practice in a town with 60,000 people and more than 70 general Dentists within 5 miles of my office, all while charging fees that were often double those of the other local Dentists? The answer isn’t the quality of the care we delivered. While we did strive to offer the highest possible quality of care, there were many Dentists in my area who were also amazing Clinicians. Plus, patients expect, and even assume , a high level of quality if you have a dental license.

service beyond expectations. If you’ve been on Planet Gems for a while, you may have heard me speak about my Gem I called “The $1,000 Marker.” Each of the 35 team members in my two dental practices had carte blanche to fix any issue or concern, or address an opportunity to celebrate on behalf of a patient, up to $1,000 without asking anyone. They had the power, on the spot, to make such decisions. Patients truly appreciated when a team member was able to help them (or surprise them on a special occasion) without the delays that typically happen when such decisions must flow up a chain of command. Sure, you may be thinking to yourself, “I could never let my team loose with the authority to spend $1,000 without my input or oversight … they’d run wild and abuse it.” Well, it turns out that getting the team to actually use the marker is harder than you’d imagine. In fact, you’ll need to convince your team that as long as what they did was legal and ethical … you’ll back them 100% and praise their initiative on behalf of your patients.

"My server explained that they didn’t have romaine lettuce … and then said, 'But I can get you a Caesar salad.'”

Of course, we know that the two don’t always go hand in hand. But a patient's perception is their reality, and you’ll fall short of your potential if you try to differentiate yourself on quality of care alone.

Fact is, when I first started the marker concept, it wasn’t $1,000. Nope. It was just $100. Even at that level, it was tough to get the team to take the lead and make such decisions on their own. In


Customer service has always been a passion of mine. I enjoy coming up with ways to give great service and love seeing how others deliver

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