Professional Courtesy: The Dental Landscape by Dr. Thomas Giacobbi

Professional Courtesy: The Dental Landscape


by Thomas Giacobbi, DDS, FAGD, editorial director


A recent home improvement project gave me some great insights into the treatment planning process from a patient’s perspective. I was planning a yard version of a full-mouth rehabilitation, so I started with a deep Google dive. I read reviews that appeared authentic, looked at trusted partners associated with a reputable nursery and examined websites. (Or, in some cases, noticed the absence of an online presence. Whether you’re running a landscaping company or a dental office, there’s no reason to operate without a proper website.)

Websites with relevant pictures that showed projects like mine were especially valuable. Reviews that mentioned specific positives about these companies—whether they stuck to a schedule, kept the work site clean, or finished on time and budget—really got my attention.

Next, I reached out for a free estimate. A strong first impression is a critical step that sets you up for success or has you playing catch-up.

The speed and method of response were interesting. All four companies under consideration had an online form to request an estimate. Three out of four companies contacted me within two days; the fourth called four days later. That delay was not a good first impression, but I will say the last company performed well in other areas.

How many ways can people contact your office? There should be more than one option: online forms, social media, a text-message option and a closely monitored email address.

I met each landscaper on my property and outlined my goals and the issues I wanted addressed, mainly a concern about gutter drainage. One company explained to me the grade of the lot was sufficient for the water to run out to the street, then continued to push through their plan. The other companies understood my issue and presented solutions to address it. They understood my goals.

Another defining takeaway was the use of visuals during the bidding process. Three out of the four companies provided a color rendering of the property drawn to scale. The one that didn’t provide a complimentary drawing offered one for $1,000, likely afraid someone might take their design to another company.

(By the way, the company that took four days to contact me provided an exceptional plan on a blueprint-sized page. Sometimes a strong follow-up like that makes up for a poor first impression.)

Careful tending of potential relationships
Landscaping and dentistry are of course vastly different, but similarities in managing patient expectations and impressions are worth learning from.

The initial contact with your patient sets the tone and no matter how you allow patients to contact you, reply promptly.

Your skill and competence are communicated in the options you provide to solve the problem the patient presents to you. Explain the benefits of each option so a patient leaves informed and knows you have done this before and done it well. Don’t assume a patient’s dental knowledge.

If your presentation contains visuals, the patient should have something to take home and review. Follow-up is important, even if the patient seeks treatment elsewhere or declines it. All three of the companies I didn’t select asked why they didn’t win the business. The feedback and insights from this step will greatly accelerate your skills as a treatment plan presenter for future cases.

I chose a company based on a combination of the factors I’ve described. I will let you know how it all turns out—construction projects have bumps along the way. If you want to talk treatment planning (or consult with me about plants in the Southwest), email me at tom@dentaltown.com.


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