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Concerned About Data Breaches?

(Reprinted from WhiteCanyon Software.)

Data Breach Statistics Roundup


FierceCIO recently summarized some statistics about data breaches that were quite disturbing. Among them are the following:
  • Data breaches are up 21% so far in 2014 compared to the same time period last year (
  • After hackers, the two biggest security concerns are lax security and stupidity (
  • More than half of health care data breaches involved small businesses (CORL Technologies Survey,eWeek)
  • 58% of health care vendors scored in the “D” grade range for their confidence in their security (CORL Technologies Survey, eWeek)
  • Only 32% of vendors have security certifications (CORL Technologies Survey, eWeek)
  • 31% of third party vendor contracts contain security provisions (PricewaterhouseCoopers cyber-crime survey, eWeek)
  • “Organizations continued to struggle with attacks that were targeted in nature, which could be directly aimed at the energy, financial, health care, and retail industries or critical infrastructure,” according to J.D. Sherry, VP of Technology and Solutions at Trend Micro (Trend Micro’s Q1 report, CIO Insight)
I’ve hand-picked these statistics for their relevancy to how companies handle their asset retirement. There are a number of disturbing trends that have a direct impact on your asset retirement security profile.
First, breaches continue to rise in general and assailants will typically exploit the weak link in a company’s security. While online hacking and phishing scams have received the bulk of the attention, it’s only a matter of time before attackers start targeting the data found on old or retired drives.
Second, despite substantial resources being dedicated to battling online attacks, companies are allowing “lax security” and “stupidity” to make them vulnerable in other areas. This is particularly true when it comes to data sanitization and asset retirement. From our experience, the majority of companies still allow old computers, servers and hard drives to sit in the “back room” for 3 years before batch processing them or sending them to a vendor for processing. Why allow this “lax security” when the data can be completely sanitized immediately upon retirement for minimal time and cost? This is simply a security hole that need not exist for any company.
Third, several of the statistics focused on the lax management of external vendors and the negative implication it has on security. This is particularly true in the realm of asset management where the attitude of “someone else takes care of that” prevails. If you rely on a third party to sanitize your data, not only do you face the risk of data sitting around for years as mentioned earlier, but you also risk that your third party is handling your assets insecurely or improperly sanitizing your data. Once you ship your assets to a third party do you know how long they sit before they’re processed? Do you know who has access to your assets at the vendor’s warehouse? Are your assets sanitized using certified tools? We’re all in favor of having a third party sanitize your data as a backup measure, but the initial sanitization should occur quickly and internally.
Finally, it’s no secret that certain industries such as financial services and healthcare are particular targets for data breaches. It was interesting to note that attackers are targeting smaller businesses as well as large enterprises. Small and medium sized businesses businesses have less resources to dedicate to security and less sophisticated data practices. At least data sanitization is an area that is so simple and affordable to implement, it can be one area small business don’t have to worry about.

Click here for more information regarding WhiteCanyon Software and their data sanitization products.

If you have questions regarding your practice’s marketing strategy, feel free to contact me at

#whitecanyonsoftware #systemsaver #datasanitization

Dude! Where’s My Hard Drive?

Let’s rip this one from the headlines.  This isn’t about politics, but utilizes it as a backdrop to emphasize the need to never take your eyes off the ball where your sensitive business data is concerned.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has stated before Congress that Lois Lerner’s hard drive was scratched and then shredded.  When pressed, Commissioner Koskinen could not state the hard drive had definitively been shredded, only that it had potentially been shredded.  He could not identify the chain of custody for the hard drive in question nor provide documentation as to whom had physically destroyed the drive and who had witnessed the destruction.  Someone told Commissioner Koskinen the hard drive had been shredded and that was good enough for him.  For a situation as politically pressing as the whereabouts of Lois Lerner’s hard drive, Koskinen’s actions would lead people to believe he actually has no idea as to what actually happened to the drive.  

Data is Money

I spent many years dealing directly with data.  It was drilled into everyone within the industry that data is money.  If you took possession of records (data) you were responsible for what happened to the records.  Individuals were keenly aware any misuse of the data would result in additional charges, fines and potential lawsuits.  If, God forbid, the records contained credit card or social security information they were treated like unstable nitroglycerin.  Regulations and potential lawsuits drove many service bureaus out of storing volatile databases.  The risks outweighed the rewards.

So, What’s It to Me?

As a business owner you have an obligation to protect your patients, customers, clients, and employees from potential harm from the misuse of their information.  The improper handling of obsolete hard drives can cost clients substantial income, reveal patients private information, and put customers and employees at risk of identity theft.  It is critical your business has an established procedure for the destruction of sensitive information when you retire obsolete computers and servers.

What Should I Do?

Digital data sanitization is the best method you can take to insure your business does not inadvertently share private information.  By performing this task in-house before entrusting used equipment to a recycling contractor protects you and your business from accusations and potential losses in the future.  
Implementing the use of WipeDrive by WhiteCanyon™ Softwarecan insure hardware doesn’t leave the office with your data.  The three-pass wipe uses several wipe patterns and is approved by the U.S. Dept. of Defense.  Data sanitization is a safe, easy method of data security that gives your customers the peace of mind that you are watching out for their security.  WipeDrive is a permanent solution for data sanitization.

Common Sense

I know some of this information is common sense for a business or practice handling sensitive data and using storage devices.  The current coverage of the Internal Revenue Service and the Lois Lerner hard drive show common sense is not always commonly practiced.  An organization handling some of the most sensitive information of individuals and businesses cannot definitively state what happened to a hard drive or confirm the data was destroyed.  It is imperative to learn from the IRS’ error in data sanitization to protect you and your business.
For more information about utilizing WipeDrive to protect your sensitive information, contact WhiteCanyon Software at 801-224-2952.

If you have questions regarding your practice’s marketing strategy, feel free to contact me at

#whitecanyonsoftware #systemsaver #datasanitization

Protect Your Practice Against Accidental Data Loss

In 2013, the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported the 2nd largest healthcare data loss when 4 laptops containing over 4 million patient records were stolen from Advocate Medical Group.  The records contained patient social security numbers, addresses, next-of-kin and patient care data.  This information can be sold to identity thieves and ineligible workers with a value on the black market estimated at 100 to 200 million dollars.

Data losses do not only occur due to theft and unauthorized system access.  Sometimes data is lost due to the disposal of obsolete computers without proper data sanitization.  In the United Kingdom a man located a discarded laptop among other used computer parts in a rubbish pile.  After a little tinkering the man was able to boot up the computer.  Upon searching through the records the man found sensitive defense information – including over 70 top-secret files detailing two military facilities.

What Does This Have To Do With Me?

Your practice is only as good as the service you provide.  This includes customer service in addition to outstanding medical care.  Placing patients at risk to identity-theft and financial loss is distinctly in the negative column of great customer service.  A loss of patient data will cost a practice in lost patients, lost income, and place them at risk of a lawsuit.
According to an article in ComputerWorld, the U.S. Dept. of Defense was sued for $4.9B, BILLION, due to a data breach involving TRICARE, a healthcare system for military personnel and their families.
If this case establishes legal precedent, any practice experiencing patient data loss could anticipate a cost of at least $1,000.00 per lost record.  With an average single-provider office having 1,800 to 2,300 patients, a data loss could effectively bankrupt a small practice.
Could your practice absorb a $250,000.00 loss due to improper data sanitization procedures?

What Can I Do to Protect My Practice?

Donating used computer equipment to a local non-profit is great for the community, helps out those in need . . . and doesn’t hurt when filing taxes.  Your practice CAN make a donation of used PCs without placing sensitive data at risk by incorporating data sanitization to your operations best practices.  Simply moving files to the Trashcan icon is insufficient – nor is it necessary to disassemble the computer and remove the hard drive.  Data sanitization software is available that will thoroughly erase data while leaving the programs intact.  This is the difference between donating a functional system that is a benefit to the local Boys and Girls Club and a useless paperweight.
SystemSaver, a hard drive cleaner by WhiteCanyon Software is an exceptional tool for your practice’s data sanitization.  The program erases personal data stored by browsers, cached documents, and erases personal data while leaving the operating system and programs intact.  SystemSaver allows you to benefit from donating used computers while providing peace of mind that ALL your sensitive data has been securely sanitized.
You can request a trial use of the program at, or you can contact WhiteCanyon at 801-224-2952.

If you have questions regarding your practice’s marketing strategy, feel free to contact me at

#whitecanyonsoftware #systemsaver #datasanitization

The Profitability of Dentistry (Part Two)

As mentioned in previous articles, a dental practice’s staff will reflect the attitude of the doctor — good or bad.  Profitability is built upon services, decor, atmosphere, prices . . . and a patient’s feeling of being wanted and respected.  If a doctor parks an expensive automobile in his parking lot with a vanity plate reading “BRACE$$”, patients may feel they are not valued for more than a car payment.  A doctor who looks at low-income or troubled patients with contempt, even in private, will find the staff mirroring the attitude.
Wise counsel once stated, “A recovering Meth addict knew how to get money for their habit.  They WILL know how to find money for teeth restoration.”

Who Are You and What Do You Want?!

 “The face of your practice should not be . . . grumpy.”
Selecting the right staff is critical to your finances and, well . . ., finances. You need to find a balance between skill, experience, personality, and cost. A recently-graduated hygienist may be a better choice for your new practice as their salary requirements may be less than one with years of experience. New techniques, willingness to take direction and a bright personality can be the right fit for you.
Your choice of front office staff is just as critical as hygienists and dental assistants. This person is the first contact your practice has with a prospective patient – likely by phone. You should conduct a first interview via telephone so you can hear what your patients will hear. Can you hear them “smile” during your call? Listen to their grammar, tone and inflections. Ask yourself, 

“Is this who I want as my practice’s first impression?” 
If you hesitate, move on. Your staff is a reflection upon your practice and your business – make sure it’s positive.
“Glass isn’t just a barrier for your patients,
but also a barrier to your success.”
A written job description for the receptionist/front office person will help you identify your practice’s needs before their first day of work. Do you expect them to handle basic accounts receivable, insurance, billing and collections in addition to answering the telephone and patient check-ins? This can relieve some pressure from your work load as a business owner and will allow you spend more time with your patients. But with greater responsibility comes greater pay. Find the person with the right balance of personality, job skills and salary expectation.
“Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to

Hello, My Name is Doctor . . .

“I’m the doctor.  It says so on my tag.”
Let’s review. You have your degree, you’ve selected the perfect office location, decorated it comfortably, installed the right (but not too expensive) equipment, hired the perfect staff, turned on your telephones and your name is lettered in gold leaf on the door. Now you just need to hang a grand opening sign, open the door and the patients will pour in like a gentle summer rain.
Other than your family, no one has been anxiously awaiting your grand opening. Why? Because you didn’t tell them. You forgot one of the key steps to opening any new business – marketing. Your prospective patients need to know who you are, where you are, and why they should select you as their new dentist. The adage, “You have to spend money to make money”, is no truer than in this moment for your new business. It’s time to invest in a concerted marketing plan to build your practice.
“Thanks Dr. Daddy.”

“Dammit Jim!  I’m a Doctor, Not an Adman!”

You have one goal to achieve in your business – increase your revenue stream. Revenue comes from a steady flow of new patients entering your practice. Below the simplicity of this statement hides the complexity of making it happen. Marketing your practice will be one of the most difficult procedures you perform as a dentist.
Let’s break marketing down into three categories: public relations, branding, and advertising.

Public Relations

Public relations is an outreach to the community via the press and events which shines a positive light upon your business or brand.  Example:

“Doctor Doug Smith, DDS announces the opening of his new dental practice at the Three Points Shopping Center.  Dr. Smith practices complete family care and specializes in dental implants . . .”

 This item would run in the business section of your local newspaper on a slow news cycle.  It will also encourage the advertising manager of the paper to call and discuss a great deal on a four-week advertising run in the paper.


Branding is any advertising, event, signage or social media that brings attention to your practice without specifically trying to sell an offer or service.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Doug Smith.  Remember me the next time you need to see a dentist.”

 Th is can be a print, radio or television advertisement. The tone does not need to be compulsory.


Advertising is a call to action for a consumer to purchase a specific product or service.

“Hey folks! Come on down to Doug Smith Dental where we are DRILLING away at tooth decay! Call us now and get a complete cleaning and exam for only $99.95! For the first 100 callers you’ll get not one, but two complete cleanings and exams! Two complete cleanings and exams for ONLY $99.95! With an offer like this I must be CRAZY!”

This is an example of a direct response advertisement. You make an offer and expect an immediate response from the viewer or listener. Variations can be designed for print advertising.
“Operators are standing by.”

Effective Marketing Costs Money

 “Branding is the center of your marketing . . .
and YOU are the BRAND.”
To design an effective marketing plan to build your practice you should consult with an advertising agency. They can design advertising, prepare scripts, hire actors, and coordinate all media buys. Be prepared for in initial investment of at least $25,000 in advertising for the first 4 – 6 weeks. Have weekly meetings with your agency representative and review their data and compare it to your increased call volume and actual new patients generated by the branding and advertising campaign. This allows you to adjust the ad copy and offers based upon which are providing the best results. Train your staff to log where each call originated and if they became a patient. This will help you invest future spending on marketing which has a track record of success for your practice.
“Meanwhile, make sure your advertising places
your message in the best light.”

Anything Else?

When I began writing this article my inner voice kept repeating,

“You wouldn’t let your mechanic work on your kids’ teeth, would ya’?”

It’s snarky, but the meaning behind the statement rings true. I’ve counseled numerous dentists about trying to do everything themselves. I had a conversation with a dentist who had cobbled together his office computer network from used, ancient desktops but then complained about all the time he spent after-hours trying to keep the network running. His practice management software ran slow, computers crashed, and he was incredibly frustrated. I sat down with him at a dental conference and asked, “Why are you trusting your entire business to 10-year-old computers running Windows XP?”
His reply, “I’m cheap.”
He’s a doctor with a $150,000 education and $250,000 in office build-out yet he said he was too cheap to invest $7,500 in new computer equipment to properly operate his business
You have chosen to embark on an incredible adventure as a small business owner. Look around your area and identify businesses that are thriving and those that are failing. What are they doing right and what are they doing wrong. Are they offering a product or service people want? Are their prices reasonable? Do they have a good location. Take note, the businesses which are succeeding are not trying to do it alone. They hire other businesses with expertise in specific fields for support. This doesn’t make them weak – it makes them smart.

If you have questions regarding your practice’s marketing strategy, feel free to contact me at

The Profitability of Dentistry (Part One)

Your decision to become a dentist may be altruistic or economic. You may have chosen the field because it was the family business or because a guidance counselor stated it was the perfect career for you. So, you invested and sacrificed a lot of years and money into earning your DMD or DDS. You made choices and became a healthcare professional – you earned the title of doctor. But what the professors, book work, and practical education didn’t prepare you – you are now a business owner!  You are prepared to treat patients, but now you must negotiate real estate leases, equipment leases, insurance, hiring, firing, payroll taxes, business income taxes, design, marketing, customer service, customer retention, profit and loss statements, IT, and . . .
I’m just a dentist.
No just about it. You are a doctor dedicated to improving your patients’ quality of life. But to do so you must also manage a successful business of dentistry.
“Don’t worry, I’m a professional.”

Hanging Out Your Shingle

When you decide to open your own practice you are in full control of your income. You decide this by the number of operatories in your practice, how many days a week you want to work, your hours of operation, your specialties, your staff , your location, your equipment, and how you market yourself. This series of articles will help you recognize pitfalls, practice strategies, practice operations, and quality of life to help you build a successful dental practice.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Matthews.  I’ll be removing your molars today.”

If You Build It, They Will Come

Your first step to business ownership is where to practice. To reiterate the adage, “Location, location, location.”  You need to determine to whom you are marketing (families, business professionals, baby boomers, retirees) and where they are concentrated. One successful Chicago practice opened a second location on a floor of a prestigious downtown hotel. Th is allowed them to capitalize on the business people commuting into the city. [But, this was a second location. They already had a successful suburban practice and were a recognized brand.]
You should select a location with high visibility from the road, convenient parking and easy access. A busy intersection with traffic backed up for blocks can be as big a deterrent to new patients as a medieval castle moat. Don’t take the landlord’s word that it is easy to get in and out of the parking lot – do it yourself, at different times of day. Be sure to note if it’s difficult to access the proposed location based upon time of day, and if your vehicle scrapes asphalt entering or exiting the parking lot – because your prospective patients will notice.
Once you have selected a site it’s time to build out your practice. You should minimize exposure to a long-term lease while allowing for a lease renewal favorable to you. An extended lease may have a favorable monthly cost, but can shackle you to a location that may not meet your needs in a few years. When negotiating your lease Include internal finish work to meet your current needs as well as projected growth. Include clauses to exit the lease based upon significant road construction which can hamper business, the departure of multiple tenants from the property, or an overall economic downturn within a 5-mile radius. You don’t want to be the last business in an abandoned strip mall.
“Choose an AFFORDABLE location, but not so affordable
it puts you, your staff and patients at risk.”

Who Are You Trying To Impress?

How you equip reception and the waiting room is as important as the equipment used in your labs and operatories. What impresses other dentists may not make an impression upon your patients. Pleasant decor, proper heating and cooling, comfortable seating and open-access Wi-Fi will make a larger impact with patients than a $100k piece of equipment in your lab.  Pay as much attention to interior design as you do your digital x-ray equipment and autoclave.
“Can I get you a martini while you are waiting, Mr. Bond?”
Regarding your equipment – GET MULTIPLE BIDS! Regardless of what your sales rep tells you, they are not “your partner in success” – they are your vendor. Request a bid, remove items you don’t need, then give another company a blind copy of the items you want. Compare the individual prices, the overall bid, the lease terms, warranties, service agreement, and interest rate on equipment financing.
Most importantly, you need to conserve your cash for operating expenses and payroll. Hygienists and office staff don’t work for free.

If you have questions regarding your practice’s marketing strategy, feel free to contact me at

How to Compete with the Big Guys: Making Your Mark Among Big Dental Practices


One of the most intimidating aspects of opening your own dental practice is the uncertainty that follows. For starters, there’s the uncertainty of whether or not you’ll be able to establish a strong patient-base. There’s the uncertainty of whether you, as a dentist, have what it takes to handle the business side of things. The uncertainty of what kind of boss you’ll be. The uncertainty of whether your practice will be profitable. And then, there’s the uncertainty of whether you’ll be able to compete.
Regardless of where you open your dental practice, it’s a safe bet that you won’t be the only choice in town. More than likely, you’ll be one of several—perhaps even dozens depending on the size of your location—dental offices that patients have to choose from. The biggest challenge in getting your dental practice off the ground and running is convincing patients to choose you.
That can be easier said than done when you’re the new guy in town. You might have to face competing dental practices that are not only well established, but also have certain advantages that your small practice might not have. However, that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel and give up on your dream of owning your own dental practice—far from it. You just might have to dig a little deeper into your Dental Practice Toolbox.
What is your Dental Practice Toolbox? Well, included in your toolbox are all the methods, approaches, and advantages you need to compete with the big dental practices and establish your practice as a profitability force to be reckoned with. Don’t worry if you aren’t sure whether you have all the tools you need—the good news is that there are plenty of outlets available to you to help with your success.
Before we get too far into explaining what you need in your Dental Practice Toolbox, let’s take a look at some of those big dental practices. Rather than be intimidated by their success, we’re going to learn from it.

What Are the Big Dental Practices Doing Right?

To begin, we’re going to get one thing out in the open: you don’t have to sell a controlling interest in your practice and build 400 plus locations all around the country to compete with the other big dental practices. While their numerous offices certainly add to their intimidation factor, we’re not looking to compete on a national scale. Your dental practice is focused on finding success in your target area.
Take Aspen Dental, for example. They boast over 400 locations all across the country but, as a management company, they own a majority interest in each practice, with the doctor having only a minor equity position in their specific location. Even with this disadvantage, there are certainly some significant advantages to partnering with a large management company. Still, rather than looking at the success of Aspen Dental as a whole, let’s examine the advantages an individual franchise might experience.

Advantages of Big Dental Practices

  1. Brand recognition: When a practice has more than one location, they can draw from a bigger pot of people who will recognize and support their brand. For instance, imagine a patient who moves to a new town and is searching for a new dentist. In their previous town, they went to an Aspen Dental practice. Assuming they were satisfied with their dental experience, they would probably be interested in visiting an Aspen Dental in their new home.
  2. Purchasing power: When you have more money, you can spend more money. With big practices that have big budgets, buying new equipment or updating their waiting room furniture isn’t as much of a strain as it might be for a smaller, newer dental practice. Because of this, they can stay more current and offer more unique services.
  3. Marketing expertise: The marketing practices employed at each location of the larger dental practices are likely tried and true on both a national and local level. They might even have a marketing department that assists each franchised office with their marketing, giving them the advantage of not just working with experts, but also with a sizable budget.
  4. HR department: Since becoming the boss of your own dental practice can often be a difficult transition, the added assistance of a human resources department is a big advantage that some of the larger dental practices can bring to the table for their franchises. Having certain guidelines in place with their employees can make potential conflict easier to handle.
  5. Superior computer systems: Again, returning to the larger budget and purchasing power that allows for cutting edge resources, some of the bigger dental practices might utilize more advanced computer systems for managing patient information and files.
Now, after looking at these five advantages, it’s pretty clear that they can be summed up into two main categories: better budget and better connections. You might be wondering how your small and new dental practice can be expected to compete with a corporation-sized budget and national network. Enter: the Dental Practice Toolbox.

The Dental Practice Toolbox:  What’s in the box?

Unfortunately, your Dental Practice Toolbox is not a physical box you can pick up from the store to improve the profitability of your practice. It would be great if we could point you to the right aisle in the hardware store for all your dental practice operating needs. However, even though it might not be that simple, there are tools you can employ to compete with larger dental practices and increase your profitability. It’s just a matter of finding and utilizing the right resources.
So, what do you need inside your toolbox?

  • Access to resources
  • Ready-made marketing campaigns
  • Access to preferred vendors
  • A strong patient referral base
  • Effective branding
  • A commitment to continuing education
Now, if reading that list made your head start spinning and your heart beat faster, take a deep breath. It might seem like we’ve created an impossible list of advantages that couldn’t possibly be available to your practice, but we promise that isn’t true.  Not only can you get all of these items in your toolbox, but you can use them to compete with the bigger dental practice and improve your profitability. To show you how, let’s take a close look at each item.
  1. Access to resources: This might seem like a no-brainer, but the more resources you can have at your disposal for handling the finer points of running your dental practice, the better. Problems are inevitably going to come up, no matter how much preparation you put into opening your dental practice, and you need to know where to seek out solutions. Whether it’s office related issues—like examples of printable forms—or medical related issues—such as surgical consulting—arm yourself with the information you need to make good decisions and handle challenges.
  2. Ready-made marketing campaigns: You shouldn’t be expected to be a marketing guru and a great dentist. While there are some marketing approaches that are simplified and easily maintained—such as a social media presence—others require time and attention that you likely won’t have to give. Even though much of your marketing efforts can be planned out before opening your practice, they’ll require maintenance down the line that could feel overwhelming among all the other requirements of running a dental practice. Using a ready-made mass marketing campaign can take the pressure off of getting your practice’s name out there.
  3. Access to preferred vendors: Large dental practices often enjoy discounts and reduced prices on supplies from preferred vendors to which smaller practices don’t have access. With reduced costs, you practice can increase its profit margin or offer things like implant placements at lower costs. Obtaining access to preferred vendors and discounted rates not only allows you to reduce your costs, but also allows you to offer lower prices to your patients, which will, in turn, keep them happier with your services.
  4. A strong patient referral base: Having a plan in place to increase your patient referrals—and thus, your number of patients and your profitability—is the key to keeping a steady stream of patients coming through your office. Knowing how, when, and who to advertise to can help with this process, as well as determining who of your current patients can act as community advocates for your practice.
  5. Effective branding: Establishing “who” your practice is and how you want to be perceived in your target community is the first step toward effective branding. Once you determine how you want your brand to be known among your potential and current patients, as well as your competition, you can begin taking steps toward achieving that brand.  Much of this can be accomplished through your marketing strategies and outward presence in the community.
  6. Continuing education: Staying on top of the latest procedures, methods, and techniques in dentistry keeps your practice current and your skills fresh. Take advantage of continuing education opportunities offered to you, as well as professional development opportunities like attending conferences or publishing papers. The stronger reputation you can build as an academic and leader in your field, the more respect you can garner from patients and from your competitors.
Armed and ready with each item in your toolbox, your dental practice will become a strong competitor, regardless of the size practice you’re up against. While most of the items in your toolbox are “behind the scenes” practices, they can all add-up to make a big difference in patient impressions, leading them to be more likely to choose your dental practice over other competitors.
However, since the majority of these items in your toolbox do involve behind the scenes plans and actions, we’ve added three bonus “front and center” tools you can use every day to help make your dental practice more competitive and profitable.

Three Bonus Tools You Can Use Every Day

  1. Patient Relationships: The time and effort you put into establishing relationships with your patients will not be wasted if those patients then, in turn, recommend your practice to their friends and family. A satisfied patient is your most valuable advertisement, so make certain that your chair-side mannerisms are friendly, professional, and show interest in your patient’s life beyond their teeth. While you certainly want to avoid being nosy, getting to know your patients can help set them at ease and earn their trust.
  2. Patient Treatment—beyond the chair: The treatment you give your patients doesn’t just start and stop when they’re sitting in your dental chair. Find small ways to go above and beyond in your patient interactions to make your practice more memorable. For instance, you might consider calling a new patient before their first appointment to make sure they don’t have any questions or concerns, or send a personalized card on their birthday. Small gestures can go a long way in establishing loyalty.
  3. Employee Relationships: The culture of your office will be directly influenced by how satisfied your employees are with their work. Work hard to build positive employee relationships that, in turn, positively effect your office as a whole. You want patients to view your office as a place where people are happy to be—not one that they struggle to come to work every day.

Competing with the Big Guys: What It Really Comes Down To.

If you’re looking at our toolbox list and thinking there’s no way you can possibly succeed in acquiring all of the tools needed to be successful, profitable, and competitive—don’t worry. While there are lots of opportunities available to you as you start a new dental practice, there is one opportunity that can help you achieve a fully stocked toolbox.

If you have questions regarding your practice’s marketing strategy, feel free to contact me at

New Dental Practice: Location, Location, Location (The Question of Where, Part 2)

“The beautiful August morning was shattered when a mother of 7 methodically tossed, pushed and cajoled her children from the balcony of their 11th floor hotel room in Salt Lake City.  All but one of the children, ranging in age from five to fifteen, died upon impact with the sidewalk 120 feet below.  The fifteen-year-old is in serious condition and not expected to survive.”
This incident occurred August 4, 1978 at the International Dunes Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.  The hotel has been remodeled and renamed Shilo Inn, but to locals it will always be the place where that woman threw her children off the balcony.

What Does This Have To Do With My Practice?

A hotel catering to an out-of-town clientele may not experience a significant impact due to local folklore.  For a dentist servicing locals, the history of a building can impede new patient acquisition.  The reputation of your new dental practice may inherit the lore of the site you select.

So, What Do I Do?

Whether you are searching on your own or using a commercial real estate agent, identify five or six locations within 2 miles of the center of the radius where you want to practice.  You don’t want to “fall in love” with a specific location.  An emotional connection to a specific site may reduce your ability to negotiate a favorable rate or conduct a proper background search on the property.

First, Google.  Google has a long “memory”.  An address is a good search phrase to get a little background on the location.  Go passed the first page of results.  Dig a little deeper in the search results to get into the locations past.  The second page of the Google results for the location of the old International Dunes Hotel show an article on the 10 Most Haunted Places In Salt Lake City . . .

Second, meet the neighbors.  You will be sharing drive-by customers with these people, it’s important to get to know them.  The other tenants can provide insight into the landlord, the neighborhood, what businesses have previously been located in the space, and what kind of businesses will surround your practice. 

You don’t want to find out after you move in that “World of Glass” isn’t an artisan glassblower, but a head shop selling custom bongs.

Third, drive the neighborhood.  Get a ground-level view of where you are going to locate your new practice.  Ask yourself if the neighborhood is in decline, on the way up, or stable?  A stable neighborhood is likely to have a family dentist and be reluctant to change.  A neighborhood experiencing a revitalization is a good opportunity to gain new patients as they will be looking for new services in the area. 

Fourth, talk to the local police.  The local patrol officers can be a great resource for the mood of the neighborhood.  A few years ago I visited with representatives of the San Diego Police Dept. regarding an upcoming trade show of which I was a sponsor.  After dinner they were dropping me at a hotel I selected online as it was convenient to downtown.  When we pulled up the officer looked at the building, then back at me and stated, “No way am I letting you stay there!  When I was a rookie I pulled too many bodies out of that building.”

Fifth, drive the street during business hours.  As I mentioned in the previous article (, a great frontage may not equate to an easy to access location.  Backed up traffic or inconvenient driveways can be a detriment to your success.

Sixth, does the landlord allow signage and is it visible.  Your practice needs to be easily identifiable to patients.  Blocked signage or lack of signage forces you to spend more money on marketing than you planned.

Seventh, try to park during business hours.  Can you easily find parking near the prospective location?  If you can’t, neither can your patients.  Difficulty parking can cause the patient to be vexed and less receptive to your treatment plan.

Carefully consider the location of your new practice.  This is an investment in your professional career, take time to make sure you can be successful.

If you have questions regarding your practice’s marketing strategy, feel free to contact me at

New Dental Practice: The Question of Where

When choosing to be your own boss and open your dental practice, the positives are you can decide where you want to locate and what type of practice you want to operate.  You may want to return to your home town — or perhaps you’ve always liked Bend, OR and want to start fresh in a new latitude with a new attitude.  It’s your choice, Doctor.  The world is your oyster.

Now, that’s not saying you should sign a lease for the first location you stumble across—on the contrary, the question of where to build your new dental practice is one that requires careful consideration.  Perhaps you found space in a professional office, or a great deal in a strip mall.  Maybe you found a closed stand-alone business you can re-purpose. With any option, you need to carefully consider the choices available to you and how they might affect the success of your new business.

What a Great Idea!

It was a good little sandwich shop.  The floors were stained concrete and the motif was “Mom’s Kitchen 1957” with Formica tables and just the right amount of kitsch on the walls.  What made it special was the homemade bread that you could smell even before entering and the use of premium meats, cheeses, and condiments.  The owners put a lot of thought into their food and décor.  What they lacked was a good name and location.  Fill’er Up was located in an old gas station on a busy road.  Like too many hair salons who use puns to name their businesses (The Hare Affair for a salon located in a former pet shop), Fill’er Up played on what the former business was to name the sandwich shop.  Good product, cute interior design – bad name, bad location.

Two months later Fill’er Up was closed.

What Went Wrong?

The dreamers who opened Fill’er Up did not research:

  • whothe public would think the business was by naming it as a play on the former business,
  • whatthe public would think of a restaurant located in an old gas station,
  • whythe service station closed.

Although the location was on a priority road, it wasn’t at an intersection.  The addition of traffic lights on the street made it nearly impossible to access from a left-hand turn and often cars were backed-up and blocking the entrance.  For people specifically going to the location it was difficult – casual drive-by’s wouldn’t make the effort to stop.

In addition, not much effort was made to redesign the exterior building as the owners thought the name would was a clever explanation of the new business.

It wasn’t.

People thought it was still a service station with out-of-order gas pumps.

How Does This Affect My Practice?

A dental office is a service-related business and a lot can be learned from other successful businesses.  Even more can be learned from businesses that failed.  Whether a restaurant, service station or another dental practice, studying their mistakes can help you avoid similar problems when opening your office.

Does Who Was There Before Matter?

Buildings may go through many tenants over the years, but may remain associated by local residence with one from several years back.  Take the Willis Building in Chicago as an example.  For many, it will always be the Sears Tower. 

Ask questions about the history of the location, if it has any significance to the community and what businesses have used the space.  It may be great the space is already built out as a dental practice, but you may not want to be associated with the former doctor.

You don’t want your first patient saying, “I’m surprised you opened up here, considering what happened a few years back.”

Next Article, Part II:  Location, Location, Location

If you have questions regarding your practice’s marketing strategy, feel free to contact me at

What Does Your Practice, Practice?

The services you decide to provide as a dentist will define your practice.  You may choose to operate as a general dental clinic, as in implant specialist, pediatric dentistry or just wisdom teeth.  These decisions will determine everything from where you locate your practice to how you market your services.


If you have decided you passion is pediatric dentistry, locating in Sun City, AZ may not be the best decision for a successful practice.  You need to select a location where your passion matches your economic needs.  If you have selected to specialize, research demographics that match your selected patient base.  Look up census information for a specific region and narrow the search to a 10-mile radius.  Confirm the population and economic base exists to support your specialty.


Once you have selected a location, utilize data available from a reputable list broker.  They can work with companies like Avrick Direct to isolate potential customers based upon specific data parameters that align with the service your offer.  A pediatric dental practice would want to look for women, ages 25 – 39, presence of children, who have moved to the area within the last 120 days.  They are most likely to be looking for the services offered.

Not only does this provide very good insight into the prospective patient-base, but gives an immediate source of new patients.  A well-designed mailer welcoming the individuals to the neighborhood and offering a special for childrens’ check-ups can help launch a new practice.

Strategic Relationships

I participated in a conversation with an endodontist seeking work.  When told the practice didn’t currently have need for an endodontist, he stated, “That’s okay.  I don’t mind doing general dentistry.”  The doctor’s need for work out-weighed their desire to specialize.

A specialist should make a point of meeting other dentists within the area and discuss cooperative referrals.  A general dentist may be happy to refer pediatric patients in return for adult patients.  Both can maintain their own practice while benefiting from the other’s chosen specialty.

Don’t Judge

Patients come from all backgrounds and socio-economic groups.  If a dentist has a negative outlook on a particular patient segment it will be reflected by their staff.  If you specialize in dental implants you have to understand people lose teeth from accidents, heredity . . . and drug abuse.  One dentist looked out on his waiting room and commented, “It looks like a welfare office out there.”  His staff took this to mean he didn’t want recovering meth addicts.  The staff’s manner in dealing with people they didn’t think the dentist would want to treat resulted in a drop of forty-percent of new patients. 
Whatever your practice practices is up to you.  Just make sure you do your homework to insure you can be profitable.

If you have questions regarding your practice’s marketing strategy, feel free to contact me at

Want More Dental Patients? Use An Experienced Marketing Team.

When you open a dental practice, you also become a business owner.  Your plate gets very full, very fast.  Suddenly, you’re no longer just a dentist seeing and taking care of patients—you’re an employer, responsible for training and instructing employees; you’re a decision-maker, responsible for dental office design and determining an effective working order; and you’re also a marketer, developing your brand and promoting your new practice to the community.

For most new dental practice owners, the marketing side of business-ownership is the most daunting. Determining how your practice will best serve the community while generating a successful production income is a delicate balancing act.  

As we discussed in previous articles, you spent significant time and money becoming a doctor.  This what you trained to become and the career you chose for yourself.  Attempting to handle I.T. and advertising tasks on your own is not a productive use of your time and skills.  Unless you have previous experience in marketing, knowing where to start can seem like an enormous challenge.

Attempting to market and advertise your dental practice on your own WILL cause you stress.  Effective marketing and advertising is and art and a science.  It requires analyzing the data to determine which message attracted a new patient and tweaking the message to improve ROI (return on investment).  It may require completely scrapping a current campaign and creating a new approach to deliver the right message to attract new patients (customers).  Not only is this an additional task that will take you away from treating patients, you may become too emotionally invested into a campaign to be willing to change strategy.  

Remember, this is a business you are building—not your ego.  It may be in your best interest to step back from the creative and find a team that can professionally handle your marketing development and implementation. 

Getting help is not a sign of weakness, it’s an intelligent business decision that will payoff in the long run.

Five Reasons to Consider Experienced Marketing Professionals

  1. It saves time: You WILL have your hands full when opening your own dental practice—when your marketing is most important. Taking advantage of marketing professionals who can tailor a multi-pronged marketing campaign to your removes a major headache from your to-do list and allows you to focus on the aspects of running a dental practice for which you are prepared.
  2. It eliminates guesswork: Without previous marketing experience, you will feel like your marketing campaign is a big game of trial and error. Employing marketing professionals allows you to piggyback on their experience as they have already created methods that get results.  They can avoid known marketing pitfalls and adjust your message more quickly.
  3. It gets results: There’s a reason marketing is its own industry—it’s a big job that requires an expert.  There is online marketing, direct marketing, branding, advertising and more.  You will face competition that has been marketing for many years.  A professional marketing team can help you create “shock-and-awe” in an environment where the marketing and advertising has been okay.
  4. Eliminates distractions:  A new business will attract all types of companies vying for your advertising dollar.  You will be approached by salespeople from phone books (there are many publishers), card decks, flyers, newspapers, billboard, radio and television.  A marketing team can interface with these salespeople as your proxy—allowing you to spend more time with patients.
  5. Maintains brand continuity:  The various advertising mediums can be great, but they will all tell you they have “people” who can design your creative “for free!”  Your message WILL become muddled by having different people handling your designs.  The pictures, fonts, and copy used in medium will differ from others.  The lack of brand consistency will work against your practice instead of working for it.

You can do your dental marketing on your own, but would you do your own electrical and plumbing for your new practice?  As a new new dental practice owner you need to minimize your risks.  A professional marketing team will help you develop the right message, the right brand, and the right campaign to attract your new patients.

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