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"Some practices don't even have voice mail. They just ring incessantly when they're not in the office". If this sounds even remotely familiar, Mary Beth has your solution.
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AUDIO - Mary Beth Bajornas - HSP #122
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VIDEO - Mary Beth Bajornas - HSP #122
Necessity is the mother of inventin'
Dental Support Specialties was founded in 2008 by Mary Beth Bajornas. With twenty years business management experience, Mary Beth had been working as a business manager in a dental practice, when she gave birth to her fourth child, daughter Alison, at 24 weeks gestation. After an 82 day NICU stay, Mary Beth and her husband were able to bring Alison home, but Mary Beth resigned her position to make Alison and her therapies her full time job.
As Alison made remarkable progress, Mary Beth discovered freelance opportunities in marketing and website creation, and started a media company.
When a dental consultant asked her about virtual assisting, it struck a chord with Mary Beth. She researched everything she could about virtual assisting and grew her company into Superior Assisting and Solutions. From emergency physician scheduling for a local hospital to other virtual admin jobs for a variety of companies, Mary Beth was amazed at her passion for providing this type of virtual assistance.
Her dental consultant friend thought she would be a perfect fit to help one of his clients with front desk training. And that was her first virtual dental assisting case—Mary Beth trained the team over the phone, which led to an assignment of covering the practice’s phones on Fridays (when the staff was out of the office). That success encouraged her to focus solely on dental practices.
After receiving his master’s degree, Joe Bajornas, Mary Beth’s husband, resigned his teaching/coaching position to take over as CFO and business manager at Dental Support Specialties.
Using social media as a marketing and referral source, Dental Support Specialties is now in over 44 states and Canada, with an excellent, highly skilled team of dental support specialists helping to provide productive client support.
From a small home office, to offsite headquarters in March 2012, Dental Support Specialties expanded again in February 2015 into a 3700-square foot facility.
Dental Support Specialties continues to lead the way in providing virtual dental administrative support, taking pride in providing exceptional, productive, proactive and personalized care for each one of their clients and looks forward to continued growth in the dental support industry.
4486 Dressler Road NW
Canton, OH 44718
Howard: It is a huge honor for me today to be interviewing a personal friend of mine and buddy that goes way back in the day, Mary Beth Bajornas who is basically ... In my opinion of you, what your killer insight was is it takes eight years to become a dentist, it takes four years to become a hygienists, my dental assistant is all into one year of dental assisting school, Apollo College what have you, and these front desk people, they're more times than not just hired off the street. They don't go to formal training. They're not formally trained how to answer the phone. They don't see like that and the dentist is so obsessed with how to do a root canal and I'm guilty of that too. I could watch 40 hours of bone grafting and then you say to them, "Well, how do you enter a patient on Dentrix?" They're like, "I don't know." Ah, we just hired a new receptionists, what is she suppose to do? "Ah, I don't know, figure it out. Didn't she have dental experience?"
And you, you keyed in on to this that there's a lot of weak areas up front and after-hours, phone answering. So I want to start with, in case there is someone living under a rock who doesn't know all about you and Dental Support Specialties. Cause really you couldn't be on social media or Facebook or whatever and not know who the heck you are. You're a legend in my mind, so tell them what Dental Support Specialties is and how did you fall into this. How did you and your husband, Joe, why did you get into Dental Support Specialties?
Mary Beth: We got into it based out of ... We had a our oldest daughter 3 1/2 months early and at that point I was a business manager for a growing dental practice. I quit my job to be ... My daughter therapies became my full-time job at the time and I just wanted to find something that I could do it home to help buy groceries. So I had stayed in contact with [Dr. Barnart 00:02:09], the dental coach and he had called me out of the blue and he was like, "Hey, I got an office in Michigan and I think you might be able to help." The idea was born from there and I did everything virtual and we've just grown through social media from that point and that was eight years ago.
Howard: So my listener is probably 80% of the time on iTunes or multi-tasking, their driving to work right now, they could be on a treadmill or washing their car, but most of this is commute stuff and what's amazing is you think of a commute as, like, living in LA, but almost everybody I talk to it's, like, rural. It's like they live on a little farm ranch and they got a 70 mile drive every day to the office. So I'm driving to work and you know what this dentists thinking, she's thinking, Oh my God, my first patient is this or that or extraction or root canal or whatever. Tell them what they don't know about their front desk and what you do and what your core competencies specialty is and how you help that.
Mary Beth: What our specialty is is we become an extension of our practices. So we answer the phones. We schedule the appointments. We answer account questions and do everything insurance. Basically, whatever an admin person does, we do.
Howard: Do you focus on after hours was this augmenting the phone roles over during hours?
Mary Beth: The majority of our support is during hours. Most offices, as you know, are closed one or two days a week. A lot of offices take six, seven, eight weeks off a year and we just make sure that we split them, we're very seamless with our support. Patients have no idea they we're not sitting in that office. We keep the production being scheduled and the connections with the patient's being handled and we just really try to tap into any opportunity that comes our way.
Howard: Do you get a lot of complaints about I couldn't understand that lady from Ohio, her accent was too thick? [crosstalk 00:04:21] people understand you.
Mary Beth: No. The funny thing is we have an office in South Dakota and it was the first time in eight years that I've had somebody say, "Now, darling, where's your accent from?" And I was, like, "I don't have an accent." But she knew I was from Ohio when I told her.
Howard: That was funny a little piece of American history the big ABC, NBC, CBS, when they were hiring all those anchors, they wanted the most neutral accent and they were actually all hired from Nebraska including Johnny Carson. They thought that was the most understood accent in America was Nebraska.
Mary Beth: Yeah, that's crazy.
Howard: So the data I read and a lot of dentists, well humans in general, they say things but they don't have data to support it. Of the rare instances of the data I've seen, I hear that 50% of incoming calls to a dental office get a answering machine.
Mary Beth: Yes.
Howard: Do you agree with that number or disagree with that number?
Mary Beth: I agree with that number. And, of course, there are some practices that we've contacted that don't even have voice mail or answering machines. They just ring excessively when they're in the office. So, I do agree with that. I'm certainly not saying that the front desk aren't doing their job, but there are times where they're so busy taking care of the in-house patients. You have to decide on the fly, am I gonna catch that phone, am I taking care of this insurance, am I on the phone with an insurance company, am I presenting this treatment plan. That's kind of where we jump in and absorb all of those behind-the-scenes tasks.
Howard: So your business, is it mostly a rollover? Are you the third line to where if someone's on line one, someone's on line two and the phone rings, it rolls over to you? Is that your business?
Mary Beth: No.
Howard: Tell these dentists what your primary business. What is your core competency? How much do you charge? How does it actually work?
Mary Beth: Sure.
Howard: 'Cause I'm extremely intrigued with what you do because I went back to school and get an MBA at Arizona State University and all my friends are dentists. I've been doing this 20 years and it's only one thing dentists want to talk about and that's dentistry. Right now the buzzwords are surgical guides, CBCT. You can go on a six hour bike ride with two other dentists and not even get off bone grafting. They don't ever think about anything that you do. Everything you do, they don't wanna think about. So right now you got them for an hour. They're in their car. What do you do? Tell these dentists why he needs you. And then get to the elephant in the room, what does this cost and why is it a return on investment to this dentist?
Mary Beth: We maximize as their production. We are not an answering service in any way, shape or form. We actually work as if we're sitting in the office. Myself and my entire team, we all have dental experience. So we're very proactive. If somebody's calling to schedule an appointment, when we're on phone with them, we're looking, is there anybody else in the family due, do they have any undone treatment that we could possibly schedule? If they're trying to cancel an appointment, we're making sure that we keep that appointment somewhere on the schedule. Our productivity shows in the amount of production that we scheduled. Last month, we scheduled for practices $277,000. There is the proof in the pudding to speak as far as what we're able to do. That's a lot of production that otherwise might have been missed.
Howard: That is amazing. So that's the return on investment. They're paying you and your putting patients in the chair. How does it work? You're not answering service.
Mary Beth: No.
Howard: I mean, how does this work? So I'm a dentist, I'm driving in my car. I got four [opportories 00:08:29]? How does this work? I call you to do what? Are you the first person to answer the phone, the second, how does it work?
Mary Beth: Normally, we are the first person to answer the phone and we answer the phones as if that we're sitting in their practice.
Howard: And why would a dentist want you to answer the phone instead of just hiring someone to answer the phone? What is the advantage of having you answer the phone?
Mary Beth: I think one of the biggest problems that dentists across the United States are having right now are finding really great front desk people who come with a great attitude, a perky attitude, they know what they're doing and know how to make the connections with the patients. I think that's one of the things that we do best and we have patients who go in every single one of our practices and ask for us by name.
Howard: I gotta tell you, I've been in 50 countries and I don't like to buy shoes and jewelry and how I shop. I just love to walk in dental offices. And I walk in dental offices and it doesn't matter ... I've been in 1000's of dental offices, 90% of the time, you walk in the office and there's either a window and a sign in chart or they open the window and hand you a clipboard. They don't even look you in the eye. I've always said, I've always said, it's the weakest link in the dental chain. You go back to the dentist you say, hey, if I was a genie and you had one wish what would it be? Uh, had a bone graft. That's what they'd wish for. I mean, it's crazy.
Mary Beth: Well, you don't know what you don't know. I have a blog and one of the things I'm always asking the doctors to do is call your own office from a completely different phone and listen to how your phone is answered. It's so important to make those connections and one of the things that I really believe is to a patient just walking down the street, a dentist is a dentist. Do you take my insurance? That's really what their primary concern is. The one thing that will always set a practice apart from the rest is the customer service. How nice they were. I might be a little bit more expensive, but by gosh, you can bet your jiffy they're gonna remember my name and how I bend over backwards to help them.
Howard: So the dentist only knows her office. She only knows her ... She's using Dentrix by Harry Schein or Eaglesoft by ... Give them the breakdown of what percent or what computer systems and which ones do you work with and do you like any more than others. We just had 5000 dental graduates walk out of school, if someone was sitting down to buy a management information system, what should they be thinking about? What ones do you like? Find the data fast, quick to do what you do. Do you have any favorites?
Mary Beth: I myself do. I've always been a Dentrix girl. But we know about 14 different software now.
Mary Beth: Yeah, it seems that most of the new dentists coming out now are go on with Open Dental.
Howard: Right, right.
Mary Beth: It just seems to be, there seems to be a really big influx of Open Dental clients coming out. They're newer dentists.
Howard: You know I think that is? I think it's Dental Town. Okay, well you said money. Okay, let's hear your voice because it's not a big bulk purchase.
Mary Beth: No, it's not.
Howard: Go through, what would it cost me to buy Dentrix or Eaglesoft verses Open Dental?
Mary Beth: You know what, I don't know the prices on Dentrix and Open Dental. I know that, I hear that, I hear the feedback from our clients as far as the updates and you have to be registered for the update packages and everything else. With Open Dental, I think they just pay monthly and it's a very, very user-friendly program. Again, once you know so many software's, you can pretty much get any software to do what you need it to do. Mac practice to me is a lot of fun.
Howard: Is that because your personal PC is a Mac?
Mary Beth: No, I'm a PC person all the way.
Howard: But you like Mac.
Mary Beth: It's fun. I don't know it's just different. They all have their own bells and whistles. They really, really do and, like I said, all the new practices coming out and coming on board with us, we've seen a real big increase in Open Dental.
Howard: Narrow it down to this kid that just walked out of school. You say you work with 14 systems, what would be your top three choices to do what you do?
Mary Beth: Dentrix, Eaglesoft and Open Dental.
Howard: Okay and of those on Dental Town, in my opinion, my personal opinion, it seems like the Open Dental people are just raving fans. It seems like if someone starts to throw out about Open Dental, they're just talking about how rock and how cool it is.
Mary Beth: Yeah it's simple. Its user-friendly. I mean, it's very easy to navigate.
Howard: You know if I kicked over a genie one wish in dentistry, you know what it would be?
Mary Beth: What?
Howard: Well, that Open Dental guy, the founder, is a dentist and his brother is running it. I want them add an accounting package to it. So that the staff all clocked in and clocked off so at the end of the day can say, okay, you guys did 6000 and you made $882. I want it so that when the receptionist schedules an hour for a MOD filling on a PPO fee that if they're gonna lose money, it turns red and says, okay, in this one hour, your docs gonna lose 28 bucks and then she moves it to 45 minutes, and it says okay now he makes 12. Then she moves it to a half-hour, now he's gonna make 50 bucks. I just think the fact that management information software has no accounting is literally the dumbest thing that happens in dentistry today. I can't think of anything dumber.
Mary Beth: Not only the accounting but with what we do everyday and all the different programs that we use, the smile remainders, the demandforce, the practice management, I would love if Dentrix, Eaglesoft and Open Dental would, like, merge and have a baby and then wrap into that their own smile reminder into the practice management software and the insurance verifications as well. I mean like real-time full verifications, not just-
Howard: I think I just saw a pink pig riding a unicorn walk to through that window.
Mary Beth: Yeah I know right.
Howard: I think I'd be killed by a meteorite times the shine or Pattison to pull that off. Again, I wanna get back to ... My job, I'm not trying to play dumb, I'm trying to guess questions.
Mary Beth: Sure.
Howard: My whole deal with Dental Town from day one was with Dental Town no one has to be alone. So I'm trying to guess questions. I don't want some guy saying, okay so you're saying that if I signed up, if I go to dentalsupportspecialties.com and I signed up, that I have to have you answer the phone first? I already have a receptionist. I have a receptionist so is that your only program or do you answer first? What if I already have a receptionist? I got a girl up front, she's been with me eight years but I know people are going to voice mail, I know she's overloaded and she needs help. What would you say to that dentist?
Mary Beth: Our support is completely customized to each one of our practices. We are reserved in blocks of time, that's how we're paid, we're in blocks of hourly time. If you want to reserve us for four hours of support, you tell me exactly what you want me to do in that four hours. It can be answering rollover calls and the phones not ringing, make some re-care calls, undone treatment calls, post op calls, work on submitting the insurance claims with the attachments, insurance recovery. We've had a really large increase in the insurance recovery processes lately. It's all customized to what specifically fits their practice and what we do at our boarding is I kind of pick the doctors brain to find out where would we be the best support system for you.
Howard: How does that ... If that dentist wants to talk to you, how does that dentist talk to you, email, phone call, what would you recommend?
Mary Beth: He can call our office here directly, he can email me.
Howard: What's the number? What's the number, what's the email?
Mary Beth: 330-639-1333 and my email is just email@example.com.
Howard: Okay about this insurance recovery, explain that some. 'Cause Mary Beth you really have to dumb it down when you're talking about dentist who want to do root canals. What percentage of dentists could you think are not going to their Dentrix or Eaglesoft and submit an insurance claim?
Mary Beth: Probably not a lot.
Howard: The answer is all of them could not. If you found a doctor that could, he too would be a unicorn. So you just threw out a bit term out there about insurance recovery and that just flew right over her or his head. Go through that.
Mary Beth: Well, it's the insurance agent. It's the insurance claims that haven't been paid, that are sitting in a bucket or on a report instead of that cash being in your pocket. What we do, we go through, we focus on the oldest claims first, we contact the insurance companies. We wanna know why hasn't this claim been paid, has it been received? What do we need to get that claim paid and closed?
Howard: What would be a red flag for this dentist trying to work that he had ... What report could this dentist run on Dentrix or Eaglesoft or Open Dental when he got to work or get to work. He's gonna pull up to work in 35 minutes and say can you run this report? Obviously, what would it be, an insurance agent report?
Mary Beth: Yes, yes.
Howard: What would be on that report that would make you think, yeah, you should call me?
Mary Beth: Well, if you have $100,000 sitting on a report in a 90 day bucket, that's a challenge.
Howard: So you're talk about over 90 or just over 30? Would you age that 30, 60, 90?
Mary Beth: Yes, I always look at the 60, 90-
Howard: But shouldn't there be, there shouldn't be nothing in you're over 30, over 60, over 90. There shouldn't be a dollar in there. Or is that not right?
Mary Beth: The over 30, there usually will be something hanging out. The insurance companies have made it a nightmare to get some of these claims processed, they really have. But the 60 and 90 day buckets those should be clean, they should just be clean because if they're not that's money that's not sitting in your pocket. We've had some docs that have not, like you said, ran the report and they've had over $1 million sitting on an agent report.
Howard: Just saying that doctor collected that whole million dollars, he can finally afford that divorce he's been wanting for 10 years. He's can say, I finally have the money to cash out. How could this not be a return on investment? What would be the average person calling you to say, Mary Beth, will you clean up my over 30, over 60, over 90. How much money would be sitting in there and what kind of return on investment would that be for the doctor?
Mary Beth: You know what, with the average amount that each office has, it varies. There are some offices that will call, a doc will call and be like, oh my gosh, I think I have a problem and they only have $9000. You know, it's like that's nothing. There's some offices like I said that have had over $1 million and is like, oh, that's the problem. When it comes to the time needed to be able to clean up those claims, it all depends on how much is sitting in those buckets.
Howard: What I like about Harvard Business Review is most is just the case studies. 'Cause I just really like the stories. Here's the name of the company, here's their product, what was wrong. Talk to us, tell us some cases of clients you've had, what it looks like. I'm trying to get this dentist driving this car to see if this kind of matches their office. Tell us some cases that when these dentists are dumped in your lap, what the case looked like and what did you do for them.
Mary Beth: A lot of the insurance recovery processes, they can take ... The million-dollar one probably took us about eight months to get that stabilized. We had the buckets down to about ten grand by the time we were done. There are some offices that they call us for re-care projects. They have no re-care system in place, their hygiene schedules empty, they don't understand why. One of our offices, when they hired us, nicest doc, I ran the re-care report in his Eaglesoft and the recall list hadn't been run in three years.
Howard: But could he bone graft?
Mary Beth: I think he could.
Howard: It's funny, there were 275 dental implant companies at Cologne and every dentist wants to talk about every slightly different modification of the titanium implant and then you go up to them and you say, "By the way, how many new patients you get last month?" No idea. "What is your recall system?" Clueless. "What's your over 30, 60 to 90?" No idea. "What's your labor?" I don't know.
And then if they ever .. And I might want to make this absolutely clear to dentist, a lot of time dentists go home from study clubs and they feel bad 'cause of the guy next to them said, "Well, my overhead is 50%." Dude, when a dentist tells you their numbers, it's never, it's never correct. I've never heard a dentist tell me their correct number. Like they'll say my labor is 20%. Does that includes FICA matching? Uh what? Uniforms, continue to add, you just ... Then you'll go in their office and they'll say, "Well, what's your rent?" Uh, 60, 65% and then you go in there and it's 82. You're like, "Why you say 65?" Well, you know 60, 65, 80, they don't know any of these numbers. That's why half of the dentists get embezzled from 'cause they can't even go to their Dentrix and they have the same girl getting the checks, depositing the checks, paying checks, some of them are stealing money and then going in and cleaning up the records. I mean crazy.
So what others? You talked a lot about insurance count recovery, you talked about recall. What is a good recall system? You've been in this field 20+ years, what recall system do you like? Do you like the patient sign the card and then mails it to themselves? Do you like two weeks confirming the night before? What do you recommend? And if someone really hasn't worked the recall in several years is driving to work right now and I think maybe I should call Mary Beth to go through my charts and I reactivate my hygiene. What recall system do you like?
Mary Beth: You know we always start out with phone calls, personal connections. I just think keeping those personal connections are so priceless. We all use our own language here. One of the ways that I can connect with patients really, really well, and I get away with saying is I'll call the patient, "Hey this is Mary Beth from whatever office, do you miss me?" What they always do, they laugh. That's exactly what they do. It startles them a little bit and then it opens up great way for me to connect with them and say, "I know, we're not your favorite place to go but come on." So phone calls are always best but I do, I like combining still the old-fashioned arcade postcard system and combining that with the smile reminders and the demand force. There is a lot of offices that solely rely on those automated systems and while it works great for some patients, there's some patients that it's too easy to ignore.
Howard: Okay there's a lot of people listening to you right now. I bet 3000 out of 5000 have heard about smile reminders, demand force. What's the one that [inaudible 00:25:14] has?
Mary Beth: Patient activator.
Howard: They've seen these brand names, they know Nike, Budweiser, of course, but they don't really know what it does. Explain to them what those three things do.
Mary Beth: Those are automated patient connection portals, basically. They'll text your patient, they'll send them emails. The patients have to opt in for what type of communication they prefer. It's a great way, it's a great add-on for confirmations and the re-care and you can follow up with those as well. As we all know, those of us who touch schedules everyday, you're still gonna have those patients they just can't click confirm and you're still gonna have to call them and confirm. You still have the patients that you can see on those systems when they've opened what you've sent them. You send them eight emails and they still haven't called to schedule their appointment. Well, you have to have systems in place to follow that up with personal phone calls and connections.
Howard: And I want to say, you're suppose to treat other people like you want to be treated. It's funny because dentists are always complaining about no-shows and cancellations and yesterday, just in one day, three dentist friends shared with me, oh my God, I was swamped, in fact, I had a doctors appointment at two and didn't even make it. I'm like, "Dude, did you call?" Or no I didn't realize I had an appointment at 10:30 and didn't even realize til one. Dentists miss appointments. It reminds you back in the day when Yellow Page advertising, who would want a patient from someone that uses the Yellow Pages and in the background you can see the wife using the Yellow Pages. It's, like, well, your own lover who you chose to reproduce and have offspring with has got it in her hand right now, but you don't want that type of patient, but you married one, now use it. I've never heard that insurance recovery. I always thought, I always heard that call the work in the insurance 30, 60, 90-
Mary Beth: We're just recovering those funds.
Howard: Recovery. You talked about recall. What other services?
Mary Beth: Undone treatment calls.
Howard: Undone treatment?
Mary Beth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Howard: You have ways of measuring what you're doing so it doesn't sit there? When you bill a dentist, do you say you're giving me X dollars and I scheduled this many or I collected this? You give those kind of metrics?
Mary Beth: Yes, at the end of every month we send out our success reports that show how many incoming calls did we handle, how many new patients, how much production. We break it down. We want to show them their value. I know where our value comes to our clients and that's from the money I put in your pocket or on your schedule or the efficiencies that we bring to your practice.
Howard: I just want to say, I don't even know if I've ever said this. I think that this is our 95th podcasts. I don't think I've ever said this. By the way, all my guest on my podcasts they're all free, there's no money changed hands, I don't make a dime, I have no connection. Mary Beth didn't pay me 20 bucks to plug her. I'm in search, all my podcasts are free, they're free to listeners, they're free to ... There's no money tainting the system. I'm always in search to the best content and have to tell you, you have a rocking hot reputation. You couldn't throw a cat at a dental convention and not hit someone who thinks the world of you and thinks you've done good.
Mary Beth: Ah, well thank you.
Howard: That might be a bit part because you giving them a success report or actually saying, dude, look, this is what I did for you.
Mary Beth: So we-
Howard: Go ahead.
Mary Beth: I was just gonna say we hold ourselves accountable. We have our own internal goals that we want to strive to hit to make sure that we're exceeding our client expectations. Sometimes what we've notice what happens is our client become dependent on those reports. They want to see, okay I'm paying you this, I wanna know what you're doing, but yet what nobody does in the office is they don't hold them employees accountable to that same standard. Which, I really, really think that offices need the systems and the protocols to make sure that the systems that you want for your practice are being completed. Post op calls are one of the things that I don't think people do enough of. It is such an amazing way to connect with those patients. We've scheduled new patients off of post op calls. It's just-
Howard: Now, when you say a post op call you mean dentist did a root canal or pull a tooth on Mrs. Jones and you do the post op calls on those?
Mary Beth: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes.
Howard: And you like doing those at night? What are your hours? You like doing those the next day. What are your hours by the way?
Mary Beth: We are Monday through Thursday 8 to 6 Eastern standard time and Friday's 8 to 5 Eastern standard time. And we have just now recently started extending our hours to accommodate some West Coast clients. So, there's some of the days that we are available til 7 or 8 Eastern standard time to accommodate some other needs. With the post op calls, we usually do those next day and we just touch base with the patient and asked them how well they're getting along after their visit with Dr. [Forean 00:30:40], did they have any questions for me and just make those connections and there's so many patients that are, like, wow, thank you so much for calling me. That was really nice.
Howard: Nice. So Mary Beth, I want talk to you another angle. The dentists lives in their own office. They only know their office. They walk out of dental school, maybe they did a residency in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or a veterans deal they only see their office. You see lots of offices for years and years and decades and decades.
What you think the doctor .... I call it the dentist practices inside his little bubble. He's inside his little bubble and he only knows what he knows, he doesn't know what he doesn't know. What is the low hanging, do you think, what would you say to these dentists who say, Mary Jo, my economy is not good in my area, we've lost some factories, we've lost some jobs, my office has been flat for 10 years, I'm not living where all the out money is like in Ohio. I'm out here, I'm not in the gold mines of Ohio. I'm in a flat, tough economy. I'm in a city that's not going anywhere, it's been flat for a decade. What you think the low hanging fruit is from a practice manager perspective? What are the people doing better, doing more of, then the people doing worse?
Mary Beth: Consistent systems. Consistent is the key. I mean, they are, they have their systems, they're working them exactly the same consistently and they're monitoring their results and if they don't see the results that their expected than they make shifts. They allow the room for the change.
But consistency is so crucial. You know, we see a lot of offices that will hire in a dental consultant to come in. The dental consultant has fabulous ideas and great tips for them that would probably work and they say okay, now implement those, catch you later. Well, what happens is is nine times out of 10 within four weeks that office is fallen right back to their old ways. There's been no accountability. There's been nobody kind of cracking the whip's, saying, na, na, na, that's not how we're doing it anymore.
So they fall back to their old ways and their comfort zones and then they wonder why they paid out this money for a consultant they didn't get anything out of it. What we do is we work those systems. I'm not a consultant, but you're right, we see practices ... We're in 44 states, we're up in Canada, we kind of see how the system's roll and we see the difference between the practices that are booming and doing 3 million a year with one doc and the opposite end of that. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt it is the consistency in the systems.
Howard: What would you say, you deal with dentists in 44 states, what would you say to all the dentists in Colorado, just quit smoking pot?
Mary Beth: Maybe smoke some more, I don't know.
Howard: It's not 4:20. It's not 4:20. Maybe they should open up a 6 so at 4:20 ... So consistent systems and when we you say the words systems, this dentists is thinking of finding an MB2 in a molar root canal. What systems are you talking about?
Mary Beth: For everything. You have to have a recall system. You have to have a follow-up system for undone treatment. There's so many practices when a patient was in for a cleaning, the doctor recommended a crown, the patient went up to the front and was, like, oh yeah I'm in a hurry, I gotta check my schedule. I'll call you back and then you don't see them again for six months. You have to have systems in place to be able to reach out to those most patients because if you don't, you wont see them again unless they become, unless they break the tooth or until their next re-care visit.
Systems for the insurance, the insurance recovery follow-up. Those reports should be being processed every two weeks minimum to make sure that the 60 day buckets are clean. You wanna have systems for follow-up on referrals, for offices that you refer patients out. Did you refer someone to a periodontists and like you haven't seen that patient again in eight months. You have to follow-up with all of those systems to make sure, number one, that you're keeping the patient connections and relationships, but it's the best way to keep your production flowing and your scheduled full.
Howard: I wanna say two things on referral since you brought that up. Number one, on referrals, I will not refer to a specialist who doesn't make sure his front desk and my front desk get the treatment plan from my office over there because I don't want to send four wisdom teeth to an oral surgeon who's not gonna sit there and get his plan so that a prominent oral surgeon walks to him and says, "By the way, Mary Beth, just make sure you have four cavities and you need, after this you need to go back to those filled, otherwise, you're gonna be in here someday and I'm gonna be pulling four more teeth. So are you aware you have those four cavities? 'Cause if you're not, maybe we should be pulling eight teeth today and not four."
They come back and their eyes are this and they go, "You were right about those cavities." That oral surgeon, get back in here, he's pulling four more. So they got to see the treatment plan and then the other thing is on endos. Never send an endodontists a retreat if the endodontists can't place an implant. Because if you're only tools is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, humans can rationalize anything. Their, like, well I gave it my best shot. Dude, you know it didn't have a first chance in hell and you took 1500 bucks from her, and the only reason you did it is 'cause you've got a family to feed. And I only use an endodontists and periodontist ... I want a periodontists that can say, I'm not gonna screw them, I'm gonna pull it and place an implant.
The other thing on the referrals is you got to recognize the humans that refer your patients. You have to recognize them somehow. How do you recommend recognizing them? 'Cause you want to reward that behavior so they do it again.
Mary Beth: Absolutely, absolutely. A lot of our offices did the gift cards. A mug with their practice name on it and a bouquet of flowers that's delivered to their work. I personally love that one 'causes it's kind of advertising for you as well. Who doesn't like to receive something at work? Personal phone calls go a long way. If the doc calls and says, "Hey John, thank you so much for referring so and so to me, what a great guy." It goes a long way.
Howard: And the only thing I'll add to that is some dentists are men and some men aren't very emotionally intuitive. Someone refer them like a big $50,000 implant case or whatever, so they freak out and they send someone, like, a dinner for two at a really nice restaurant. That creeps people out. Their sitting there eating a really nice steak dinner that might cost $100 and it's creepy. So the gift needs to be intuitive to the heart.
Mary Beth: Yes.
Howard: A [cot 00:38:04], candy, I'm a fat guy. I like food, nuts, gum, a mug, something that say, uh that was sweet. But when you whip out $100 or 200 or $300 gift 'cause it was a big $10,000 case, people feel dirty about that. They're like am I referring people to a doctor to get surgery? I mean I just, you know.
Mary Beth: Even with the referrals, I also like making sure when I went physically in office, I made sure that for that whole week I knew if anybody coming in had a birthday that week, the week before, the week after. I gave them a mug with a toothbrush, and floss and a balloon tied to it, and again, it was just all about, I wanted people to leave with a smile on their face because of us. I'd did those little things, too.
Howard: I love humans are also complex. I'm convinced at 52 years old that I'm the only normal person on Earth. I believe it's in my heart, but they say it on those TVs, on the [inaudible 00:39:09] like getting a CD-ROM on an annuity. No salesman will call you. People are so confrontational. They don't want a salesman coming in 'cause they don't want the confrontation. They just would rather have no one.
How does this shy, introvert dentist who could've been a physicist or an electrical engineer, he doesn't have enough personality to become an accountant and he's just curious if you help, but he doesn't want any confrontation, he doesn't want to call in all this. What is the consultation? Do you, like, dive into their computer with like ...
Tell him, how can this shy, introvert, geek dentist talk to the Mary Beth and find out if he has any of these issues with recall, undone treatment, insurance recovery. He doesn't even know what his over 30, 60, 90. He has no idea if the undone treatment in his own chart is $10,000 or $100,000. How much do you think his undone treatment is? To the average guy listening to this, he been practicing 10 years, what do you think the average undone treatment is?
Mary Beth: Average probably just from January of this year if it's a pretty solid practice is probably upwards of 600,000 plus. People would be shocked when they run those reports.
Howard: I know, but they're not gonna run the reports. So I'm listening to you right now, I'm gonna pull up to my work in 19 1/2 minutes, how can I non-confrontationally call you? How can I find out if you can do something for me? What would you recommend the doctor do?
Mary Beth: Just call me and say ... A lot of times I have a doc call and say, you know what, I saw you wherever and I don't know how I could use you, so can you talk to me? And I just asked them questions. Usually people call me because they're in pain somewhere or they know that things aren't the way that they want them to be. It's my job to find out how I could best support them. As we all know, I have the gift of gab in talking so.
Howard: And blogging. I love your blog's. That's another thing about the dentist, the dentist should go to dentalsupportspecialties.com just to sign up for the blogs because if you wanna go to work and you really do just wanna do amazing dentistry, if that email was blogged to you, and sign up for you email deal, you could forward that to your staff and then tell the staff that tomorrow at the morning huddle, you got five people, that you want Amy to summarize very Mary Beth's blog. So for the morning huddle tomorrow, Amy, I want you to summarize this blog and I want to make sure I'm doing that. How often do you blog?
Mary Beth: You know, probably once a month. I mean it's been falling little bit behind because I've been so busy supporting clients but I always have probably one idea a day from what I see of, okay that's my next one. That's gotta be my next blog. Just to touch on some of the things, like you said, they aren't really aware of, but it does make a difference. So those are the things that I tried to address.
Howard: How many blogs have you made?
Mary Beth: I don't even know.
Howard: What would you guess?
Mary Beth: I'm on WordPress, probably 80, I have no idea. Maybe not even that many.
Howard: Yeah, it could actually be a book. But anyway your blogs are amazing and in fact you know what I wish you would do? When I saw, I was gonna podcast you today, I was gonna try to hit you up. You got 80 blogs, I've never-
Mary Beth: I'm on Dental Town, too. I've got them on Dental Town.
Howard: Yeah and I never read one of your blogs and didn't take my mind out for a run and learn something. I don't think I've ever read one of your blogs and not learned something. And I'm always forwarding them to my team. But you've never ... Some people like to listen to podcast, some people like to read blogs, you should make an online CE course on Dental Town that goes over all this stuff. You've been doing this for 20 years. You know we put up 317 courses and they just passed 500,000 views. So it reminds me when I started lecturing. Some people would ... You know, you'd be at your desk and they say, Oh, I read your book, and then next one say, oh, I watched your VCR tape, another one say, oh, I went to your lecture, but it was totally different markets.
Mary Beth: Right.
Howard: Some were readers, some had to see it live, they knew they could never commit to a book, they'd never read it so they just had to go to the lecture. Other people were just TV, but it's all different markets. You should do an online CE market because I've got the data and it's a different market than other markets. Some people just like to see, then there's a huge market that only will do the live, but if you take those 80 blogs, I bet you couldn't even do it in an hour. I bet it'll be a three-part series.
Mary Beth: At least.
Howard: Well, at least do four because you know what the dentist could do? The favorite musician in the world is Michael Jackson. My mom always says it's Fred Astaire, but I'm not Fred Astaire. Who's the old crooner from New York, Frank Sinatra. My mom will go to the grave thinking it's Frank Sinatra and she doesn't realize nobody listens to Frank Sinatra in Africa, Asia, India, Brazil, [catman 00:44:41], Nepal and I never been to one of those countries and not found someone jamming out to Michael Jackson, drinking a Coca-Cola. I mean, he's literally just beyond a legend. And his favorite song of mine is Man in the Mirror. You got to be true to yourself and if you don't like this stuff, you could create a course. It's gotta be in hour increments for staff meetings or whatever, but if it was one of a one or two or three-part series, the easiest thing you could do is make the rest of his office watch it. So you sit there and say, I'm really not into this, but I am into it enough to make you guys all do it.
Mary Beth: Right.
Howard: You know what I mean? I mean, gosh. It's kind of like your wrestling coach, they have you run bleachers for an hour, and you'd all be sitting there thinking, why doesn't that fat, lazy ass run with us? Why is he sitting there with a Starbucks coffee in his hand? Why isn't he running bleachers? He's the fattest guy in the whole gymnasium. If you're that lazy dentist, you're just not interested in any of these systems ... And I think that was amazing that I asked you, what is the key to success? What does the most successful dentists do that the more unsuccessful ones do less and you said consistent systems. Man that, that consistent system, that's probably the most powerful two words that I've heard in dentistry in my lifetime. That's just it.
Mary Beth: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Howard: It's funny because the really successful dentists are the ones that just ... Dentists sitting out there in the losing practice thinks there's some magic bullet, if I bought a cad cam, if I bought a CVCT, if I bought a laser, if I just bought a magic bullet and kicked over a genie and a unicorn popped out, all my problems will be solved. And what they don't realize is that success is getting up and doing your daily grind and Lori and I call it the daily 20 mile march. We just get, up every day, we march for 20 miles, and then we go to bed. And we get up and we do it again and we've been doing it for 28 years. Then was people see you real high up on the mountain, they go how did you get up there?
Mary Beth: Keep marching.
Howard: Just all day everyday, just kept on consistent systems, getting systems. What the dentist do is they learn something at a seminar, it's their new thing at the office and then you come back 90 days later and it's gone. So what's your advice on how to stay consistent? Do you think having a support person like you, you think you keep them consistent?
Mary Beth: I do. I think that we're so consistent and systematic with what we do. Now, again we customize what we do off of our practices, but we make it systematic. The other thing that I think not enough offices do, Howard, is make notes. I have one of my blogs about notes and I'm telling you what notes can make such a huge difference in successful scheduling. If somebody cancels an apartment because they had the flu, you know, so many offices just delete the appointment which gives me panic attacks. That appointment needs to be sent to the unscheduled list with a detailed note, insert a dateline, patient canceled today, has the flu than that list needs to be worked consistently. Guess what, in two weeks I can call that guy, I have the notes, I can say how you feeling I you ready to get this appointment rescheduled? Those little nuances of notes make a huge difference and there's never enough notes anywhere. How many times have somebody looked at a schedule and saw an emergency patient that got slapped in and the doctors looking, he's scrambling, he has no idea why that patients there.
Howard: You know that's why in 1999 I went paperless. A lot of people thought I went paperless for a lot of other reasons. I've heard all kinds of reasons of why people think other people go paperless. I went paperless because from '88, no from '87 when I opened till '98 when I went paperless, I kept telling my receptionists, every time a patient calls you have to pull the chart. At first, they said the phone cords wouldn't ring. Then, we got like 15 foot cords and basically, long story short, we're not perfect at all, I'm not perfect. You know how many times someone would call and no one could find the charts and that they were on hold and walking around the office, have you seen Mary Beth's chart, have you seen Mary Beth's chart?
Finally, I realized, you know what the only way I can get them to pull the chart is to get rid of the charts and make it all digital because I knew they could pull up Mary Beth's chart digital. But, I knew that if they had to pull 25 charts for some reason someone's hold, someone's checking out, they just don't have the time, probably five out of 25 charts wouldn't get pulled, at least one out of 25 charts are lost for all time, you know what I mean.
Mary Beth: With the notes, it's always been my purpose and it's what I constantly train my team on. All of our notes that we make for our clients, we wanna make sure that they can pick up our conversation with the patient where we left off. That's what we look for. Its even that patient who left without scheduling the crown. Why did he leave without scheduling the crown? So when I follow up with him in four days, I can continue the conversation that he left with. If he was going to check his schedule, I can call and make that connection, I know you were gonna check your schedule, how does next Tuesday look? The funds, whatever, it's just discontinuing the conversations. So even at the next hygiene visit, the hygienists can look at those notes and pick up that conversation where it was left off.
Howard: And the other thing to remember out there in iTunes land is that the number one predictor of future behavior of any human is past behavior. The bottom line is that I don't care if there's 1,000,000,000 people in Africa, 1,200,000,000 in India, 1,300,000,000 in China, it doesn't matter, the most likely person to ever come back to your office and give you a dollar ever again is someone who's already been in there.
Mary Beth: Yes.
Howard: And they'll have 5000 charts and all they want to do is put up billboards and radio and Facebook and Twitter and tweeter and it's like, dude, Mary Beth said you probably have a half million dollar of treatment that's never been scheduled, people came here for a cleaning and walked out and weren't scheduled for a recall.
You have 5000 charts, and think of that, if a hygienists worked 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year cleaning your teeth twice a year for an hour, she can only service 1000 people. 40 hours a week times 50 weeks divided by two is 1000. So you have 5000 charts, where's your five full-time hygienists working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. And I can't tell you how many times you'll walk into two offices, they both have 1200 charts and one office does twice of what the other office does and that their in the same medical dentist building. The one doing half as much, you say, well, why does your office suck? Oh because, you know, the factory shut down and Obamacare and [Greeks 00:51:51] gonna default and all the stuff. And I'm like, well, really why is the other guy next-door who's also short, fat and bald, why does he do twice as much money as you with the same staff? Why is his overhead 45% and your 68%? They want to blame it on everything except the man in the mirror.
Mary Beth: Yep and it's the systems and you had just have to be nice. How many times, Howard, have you gone into an office and they really aren't nice?
Mary Beth: You know.
Howard: People are ... So I've only got you for eight more minutes so I want to get you the dentist. I always like talking about the things that no one ... Price, what is something ... What do you charge them? How does this, Mary Beth, charge me, how does this cost? Talk about-
Mary Beth: It's all hourly. It's hourly, you retain us hourly, and the actual hourly rate is dependent on how many hours you retain us for each month. One of the great things that we do is we do not make anybody signed a long-term contract. We have clients who go month-to-month. They'll use us this month to pick up their hygiene and than pause a month and then have us the next month. Some of our offices, our longest standing clients-
Howard: So you don't have a long-term contract?
Mary Beth: No, they can go month-to-month.
Howard: So you're saying you and your husband Joe are in a open relationship with no long-term contract. That's what I just heard. Is that what you just said?
Mary Beth: No, I said with my clients.
Howard: I saw you had a wedding ring on, so how come Joe had to do a long-term contract, but your dental customers don't?
Mary Beth: 'Cause that's how I roll.
Howard: That's how you roll? So that's cool, that speaks volumes that you're not trying to use a big sales pitch. Because the thing about contracts is, the thing I don't like about contracts is, their gonna sell you a big thing to get you to sign the dotted line. If there's no dotted line to sell, they're not gonna sell you a big thing and their sitting there thinking, I want a long-term relationship. So that's a lot of trust up front for Mary Beth to say, I don't need a contract with you. I think you're gonna value your service. I'm gonna send you a success report and you're gonna see why this is a good thing. I'm doing business in 44 states including Colorado where all of her clients are stoned. You have to read the reports to the dentist in Colorado?
Mary Beth: No.
Howard: Really? You don't have to read it loud while their eating Doritos?
Mary Beth: No.
Howard: Just checking.
Mary Beth: With the contract thing, I know how I am and you said it earlier in our conversation, treat people the way you want to be treated. Contract to me is such a ugly word. I want people to feel good about what we do. Back to us because they loved what we did not because I hogtied them to some contract that didn't feel good. That's always been my premise. I don't like signing contracts. If I like what you do, I'll be back. That's what our system is for that. Again, the pricing all depends on how many hours they retain us for. The hourly retainer, like I said earlier, you retain us for blocks of time and then we decipher together what we're going to accomplish. We have a priority task list that we give to our client's and that is what we're bang out. Then we give them a daily report showing everything that we've done.
Howard: That's truly amazing. Like I say, I can vouch for you and the fact that no money changes on any of my podcasts ever. These all from the heart. To me, I love doing podcast it's like taking a friend ... To me it's always like going to lunch with a friend. When was the last time we had dinner?
Mary Beth: Three years ago.
Howard: Three years ago in Ohio.
Mary Beth: In Cleveland, yep. At the [inaudible 00:55:37] Coast Training Expo, I think.
Howard: Yeah and I didn't get to eat dinner because Rick Dupaul ate all my food and that's the way he rolls. He ate his serving.
Mary Beth: I got some good pictures of few both, though.
Howard: He ate his serving and then he ate mine. So I'm still confused why I'm still fat since I didn't get dinner that night. I think you're a bomb. I really do think it would be an amazing service for dentists if you took your 80 amazing blogs and rolled them into a series and don't try to fit it all in an hour. Just make one, whether it's one ... and I'll tell you another tip you guys make an online thing in Dental town, when they go to, like say into Dentix and there's like eight guys put up a root canal course, but one guy put up a three-part series, the guys that does the three-part series gets all the views. Because they look at it and the person that has the three-part series probably they just assume knows the most.
It's kind of like they assume Toys "R" Us has more toys than Walmart even though that's not really true. Walmart sells more toys than Toys "R" Us but people just assume. So take your time, do it once and right because I think you have an amazing amount of amazing information that would serve dentistry so well. The saddest thing about dentistry is the reason we became a dentist is not to learn Dentrix.
Mary Beth: Absolutely.
Howard: We didn't go to dental school for eight years because we were interested in insurance, we went there because we wanted to try to do a root canal. We wanted to try to extract a tooth. So we, at the end of the day, I would rather pull four wisdom teeth than play 18 holes of golf, I really would. I would rather spend three hours trying to pull out a broken endo file than get a three-hour massage, manny, patty end it with an ice cream cone.
The coolest thing in the world to me is fixing teeth. So my collegues ... I got my MAGD. My collegues wanna work in the mouth, they don't wanna work at a computer terminal. They just don't know what they don't know and I think you know as much or more than anyone I know. So they can call you. By the way that number, you notice her number is 330-639 but notice the last is 1333 because she's half a devil, it's not 666 she's just half a devil.
Mary Beth: That's right.
Howard: She ends the number in 333 and you gotta finish the story, you started with Allison came home three and a half months premature, so everyone's out there wondering, how is she doing now?
Mary Beth: She is completely mainstreamed and she's going into third grade. So we are blessed beyond belief.
Howard: Right on Allison.
Mary Beth: Yes.
Howard: Okay, well, Mary Beth, seriously, thank you for your being a [towny 00:58:21] for years for your hundreds of posts. I think you have, like, 400 posts. Thank you for always emailing me your blogs over the years. I forward every single one of them to my team. Thank you so much for all that you've done for me personally, my dental office personally, Dental Town, Today's Dental and like I say, if you're listening to this on your car, you're pulling up to work and you're not sure, call Mary Beth and just have her poke around. What are you gonna do? You go to Gotomeeting or what you have them do? Download-
Mary Beth: We have our own portals to log me in, so that's how we, that's how I would remote in.
Howard: Oh and I wanna ask one more thing, could you also, this dentist listening, could you also scout around to see if you have any red flags of embezzlement?
Mary Beth: We've been asked to do that before, yes.
Howard: So there's 100 reasons to call her. But, again, Mary Beth, thank again you so much for spending an hour with me.
Mary Beth: Thank you, Howard, for ... Thank you for everything you do for dentists. I've actually had two new dentists tell me that they built their practices based off of what they found on Dental Town, so what you provide to dentist is an amazing, amazing value and resource and thank you. Thank you for having me today.
Howard: All right and tell your hubby, Joe, I said hi.
Mary Beth: Okay, will do.
Howard: All right, bye-bye.
Mary Beth: Thanks, Howard, bye-bye.