By Dr. Eric Farmer
I have had the pleasure to talk to many dentists, young and old across the country one of their biggest wishes is to do more of the kind of dentistry that fulfills them. I have learned over the years that I need to allow my relationships with my patients and staff be the energy producing fulfillment rather than the procedures I am doing. With fulfillment comes confidence and enthusiasm. With humble confidence comes patient trust and opportunities to talk about complete dentistry. I have practiced in Wichita, Kansas for 25 years now, starting in a very modest 800 square foot facility with 3 employees. 10 years ago we moved into a brand new stand-alone building with 5 chairs, then 3 years ago we had to undertake an addition project to add 3 more chairs. We have a staff of 10 and are now looking for a young Jedi apprentice dentist. What I felt led to the steady upward growth is the change in the procedure mix going towards more patient demand for esthetic type treatments and multi-unit cases, even in a down economy. I used my enthusiasm and very purposeful, yet subtle marketing towards this type of dentistry rather than marketing free exams or x-rays to really grow the practice.
For me I had to get to two places. One, I needed the competence to undertake these cases, and two; I needed the confidence in myself, and my patients for them to allow and trust me to do it. What was MY recipe? The Clinical Mastery Series. I had taken a few of the popular continuums over the years but left them all lacking in confidence. My competence level was probably pretty good, but my Confidence-Competence Quotient was not at an ideal level. I needed 16 hours in Occlusion to meet the CE requirements to qualify for Fellowship in the AACP, having known John Nosti and Mike Smith through our mutual affiliation with BioResearch Inc. I decided to take their Ultimate Occlusion 1 course in Chicago in 2011. My expectations were not high and I was there to jump through a hoop. What I left with changed my attitude and altitude. The direction of my practice turned on a dime. UO1 was the lightbulb moment that integrated 20 some years of CE and all the pieces to the puzzle finally made sense to me and in a way that I could immediately assimilate and integrate into my daily routine. I walked into my office the next Monday morning with a new swagger. But swagger alone does not create demand for big case dentistry. I had the seeds, I had the fertilizer, and in my case the soil (good existing patient base), but we just lacked the water (great marketing).
The next Clinical Mastery course I took was Clinical Photography. Jason Olitzky is a great photographer and a great teacher with a heart for helping others. But, it was not just the photography part that inspired me; it was the marketing part as well. After that course I started taking LOTS of photos. We posted before and after photographs to our social media pages, we used the photography to communicate with our specialists, and to show patients chair side similar cases to theirs. The photography generated more restorative cases coming FROM the specialists to our office, and it generated more patients that were internet surfing to our website. When you have YOUR cases with YOUR photography on YOUR website it makes a difference. Our website is our #1 referral source now. We INVESTED money in good CE, we INVESTED money in a quality custom website, we INVESTED money in our facility and the decor, we INVESTED time and money in a quality TEAM that represents the practice well. Like Andre Agassi said in the Canon commercials years ago, “Image is everything”. You have to have a purposeful plan to create the image. People are not going to spend money on high end dentistry where there are spider webs on the ceiling and weeds growing in the parking lot. There is never a single item that facilitates change but chose the place you want to go, and plan the trip in legs. One needs competence. Then you need confidence and an outstanding supporting cast (team), and then you need your message out to people who want your product.
The Clinical Mastery Series can give you the seeds (information), and the fertilizer (motivation/ encouragement/ support) then you add the water (marketing). I have never been around a group so motivated towards excellence in care and education and yet at the very foundation they are involved because they truly love to see you be successful. I’ve come away from many other courses with the feeling that the presenters are in it to promote themselves rather than to teach others to be successful. The CMS team is not like that. The encouragement that they invested into me through their courses changed my life and my practice. CMS has put together a great team. The administrative staff creates an enthusiastic, helpful and welcoming atmosphere. They truly make you feel like part of the family at your very first encounter as do the faculty. The cosmetics giant, Mary Kay Ash said, “Everybody has an invisible sign around their neck saying ‘Make me feel important’”. I had heard that quote eons ago and I have endeavored to make that a priority in my life and practice. Within minutes of arriving at my first CMS course in 2011 I was made to feel welcome, important and valued. I have not been able to stay away since.