Howard Speaks Howard Farran, DDS MBA, MAGD Publisher, Dentaltown Magazine

Five Resources You Must Own

Howard Farran, DDS
Dentaltown Magazine

When it comes to running a dental practice, I’ve never had all the answers. No one does! They don’t teach you how to run your own business in dental school, and if your school ever offered business classes, chances are you ditched them so you could refine your clinical skills. For the first few years that I practiced, I ran my business on instinct. Being a highly motivated dentist, I went back to school to get my MBA in hopes that I could learn everything I possibly could about running a successful business. Even then I still felt like there was more I could do. So I attended dozens of CE courses and read hundreds of books on dentistry and management – some of them were helpful, and others, well... not so much.

The following five books and DVDs are, in my opinion, the best of the best take-home resources practicing dentists can get their hands on – and a couple of them have only been available for a few months! These items will help make you a better manager and a better practitioner, and in my opinion, they should be in every dental practice. Here they are in no particular order:

Everything is Marketing
The first book on my list – Everything is Marketing: The Ultimate Strategy for Dental Practice Growth by Fred Joyal – is hot off the presses. Fred is the co-founder of 1-800-DENTIST, and he’s amalgamated all his years of experience in advertising and marketing with all the data and impressions he’s accumulated in his business and has presented them in this amazingly straightforward book. His premise is that, because of the unique nature of a dental office, every aspect of your practice has some marketing element to it.

He also believes – and I totally agree with this – that most dental advertising fails not because of the ad itself, but because of what happens after; how your front desk answers the phone, what your office looks like, how you and your hygienist present care options, along with dozens of other subtle elements that affect case acceptance.

He presents some excellent tips on how to create patient loyalty – some of them are so simple and easy that it would be ridiculous not to adopt them immediately. Loyalty is the name of the game in dentistry, because the real money is made with patients not in the first visit but over the 10 to 20 years that they are with you – as long as you treat them right.

I was also struck by another point Fred makes, which is that many dentists do not even believe that dentistry is a great investment. Heck, in this economy it might be the only long-term investment worth making! But you and your team have to believe it before your patients are going to believe it.

Fred also goes into detail on how to evaluate your own advertising, and get the most out of outside resources. He emphasizes the importance of repetition, that most people don’t get your message until the third or fourth time they see or hear it – and that includes your own patients. People don’t pay attention until they are interested, and you have to be right there in their faces when that time comes. We’d like to believe the patient remembers everything we offer them because we told them once, or had a brochure in the reception area about it, but it’s just not true. If you are looking for a way to maximize your advertising results and get your whole team working together with the right marketing mindset, you need to read Fred’s book. I personally can’t imagine any practice not gaining significant insight from it. You can find it on or at

The Complete Website Owner’s Manual for Dentists
How is your Web site doing? Do you even have one? Every dentist should! In these difficult economic times, it’s never been more important to generate new patient flow in a cost-effective way. Nobody uses the Yellow Pages anymore – everyone looks for everything on Google!

I recently finished reading The Complete Website Owner’s Manual for Dentists, by Dr. Mike Barr. Mike’s been on the Dentaltown message boards for 10 years and he’s posted on countless threads about Web site marketing. With his book, he has put it all together in one place.

I knew that having a Web site was an important part of marketing my practice, but I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes of Web site marketing. I didn’t know what separated the successful Web sites from the failures. I thought if it just looked good, it would work! It turns out there is much more to it than that.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is the section about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Of course, it’s important to get visitors to your Web site. But you can increase visitors and your Web site’s appearance in search engine results many fold by optimizing each page of your Web site as if each page was an individual Web site. Each Web page must be optimized uniquely!

Searchers are often looking for something very specific, such as “porcelain veneers Phoenix” or “dental implants Chicago.” If each page of your Web site is not individually optimized, chances are it will not show up at all for such a specific search. By optimizing your Web page about “porcelain veneers,” for instance, the results in Google will take visitors straight to that page. Mike explains this and many more important concepts on increasing your Web site’s visibility and effectiveness.

Many professionally developed Web sites either have just the home page optimized, or the other pages are optimized identically to the home page (if at all). Mike explains why this is a big problem, how to recognize it and how to solve it. And the best part is you don’t have to know how to write HTML code!

You can find more information about the Complete Website Owner’s Manual for Dentists at

Nuts & Bolts of NTI Therapy
I remember back at the very first Townie Meeting sitting in the front row and listening to Michael “Miguel” Melkers, DDS, FAGD, share how he treated full mouth rehabilitations. After attending hundreds of hours of CE and spending tens of thousands of dollars on tuition, here was Miguel’s little three-hour explanation of a system that finally made sense for my real-world approach.

A couple of years ago, I had exactly the same experience with Miguel’s Nuts & Bolts of NTI Therapy DVD. Forget the tuition and the travel. I popped the DVD into my laptop and didn’t even have to leave the office. If you are doing NTIs or any orthotics in your office, you are nuts if you have not gotten your hands on his DVD.

I just had a chance to review Miguel’s latest and greatest DVD: The Nuts & Bolts of Occlusion; The Fundamentals of Recording and Mounting and I can tell you he has not missed a beat. I knew Mike has taken a lot of occlusion CE but I had no idea how much. In the Nuts & Bolts Occlusion program, Miguel takes the very best from each of the most popular programs that he has attended, includes his own twists, and shows you what works on actual live patients! Impressions, facebows, bite registrations, articulators, pouring models, mounting models... it is all in there. Whether you are doing rehabs or have a bread-and-butter practice, I cannot imagine a better take-it-to-your-office-and-put-it-to-use-occlusion-resource for you and your team.

It took me awhile to make it through the four hour set – there was so much information packed into it. But that is the great thing about the DVD: you watch it, you put it to use and you move onto the next gem when you are ready. Check out Dr. Melkers’ DVD and his other programs at, or e-mail for more information.

The Gifted Boss
Are you constantly babysitting your employees, problem solving for them, or making sure they are being productive and on task? If so, you might not be a “gifted boss” and you might not be employing a gifted staff.

The Gifted Boss by Dale Dauten is a must read for everyone in the professional world. This isn’t just a book for you or your office manager – every single member of your staff should read it. Dauten shares his enlightened insight into the work environment and how you can build one that invites gifted and amazing employees to join your company.

It starts with you – the boss – making your workplace magnetic and extraordinary; somewhere that people who don’t consider themselves “just employees” want to be. Dauten’s book forces you to look at your practice, your position as an owner and manager and your employees in a whole new way. It implores you to attract staff members who desire change and growth and who desire freedom to make decisions (and be accountable for the outcome) as well as credited for the success. These are freedoms that you must give, which means letting go of “supervising” every move, being involved in every decision and understanding that the employee who puts the most hours in is probably not the employee who is performing at his/her highest potential or producing the most work, but instead might be the employee who is the best at following the traditional “rule” of working the hours the boss expects him/her to work. If you attract and retain the best staff with the best attitudes your entire life and practice will change in ways you never thought possible. These are just a few of the freedoms Dauten showcases that can transform your workplace from ordinary to extraordinary.

Additional suggested reading
for the dentist and/or practice manager:
  • Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras
  • Winning by Jack Welch
  • NUTS! by Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Freiberg
  • The Google Story by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwel
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
The Goal
I read The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt back in early 2000 as it was a recommended read in MBA School. It completely changed the way I thought about the processes in my practice. This book is directly responsible for the walkie-talkies that I talk so much about in my lectures. When we started to look at our processes to see if we had “bottlenecks” in our practice, like what Goldratt experienced in his factories, we came to realize there were several constraints and inefficiencies that needed to be fixed.

This book is an easy read because it’s written in novel-like narrative, so you quickly become drawn into it. Once you translate the theories into your dental practice it forces you to think in a whole new way. This is definitely a must read if you have a medium to large practice and more than four operatories. It will get you on the road to more productivity from you and your staff and it might even help you see more patients on a daily basis.

At Today’s Dental we have a mandatory full staff meeting bi-monthly and at least three times per year we choose a book that we feel the entire staff should read and my office manager hands them out at a staff meeting. We spend a few minutes discussing why we chose this book and we decide on a deadline for everyone to finish the book as it is mandatory for all to participate. At the next staff meeting after the deadline we discuss the book in detail. We require each staff member to bring their favorite idea or message from the book to share with everyone at the meeting. This is an awesome team-building activity that forces everyone to think about their attitude and contributions to the office. I highly recommend implementing this in your practice.

Certainly there are a lot of other resources out there for business owners that I like, but my editor, Ben Lund, won’t give me space for “100 Resources You Must Own”. In case you’re a voracious information seeker (you must be, after all you’re reading Dentaltown Magazine), check out the two lists below of additional recommended resources for you and your staff. Happy summer reading, friends!

Suggested reading for the entire staff:
Everything is Marketing by Fred Joyal
FISH! by Stephen Lundin, PhD; et. al.
The Gifted Boss by Dale Dauten
How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, PhD
Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, MD
Howard Live

Howard Farran, DDS, MBA, MAGD, is an international speaker who has written dozens of published articles. To schedule Howard to speak to your next national, state or local dental meeting, e-mail

Dr. Farran’s next speaking engagement is September 18, 2009, at the AGD Fort Worth in Fort Worth, Texas. For more information, please call Colleen at 480-718-9914.

Seminars 2009
September 18 Fort Worth, TX
AGD Fort Worth

September 22 Iselin, NJ
Asteto Dental Lab

September 23 New York, NY
Dental Resource Alliance

September 25 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Nova Southeastern University

October 3 & 4 Honolulu, HI
ADA Annual Session
October 22 Ann Arbor, MI
University of Michigan
October 24 Naples, FL
The Dentist’s Wife
October 31 Fort Wayne, IN
Mid-west Oral Surgery
Melissa Collins
Townie Perks
Townie® Poll
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