Author Archives: Kelly Larson

About Kelly Larson

Kelly Larson is a dental marketing consultant with Advanced Practice Management in Edina, MN.


PPO Plays Dentaltown

Hey Friends of APM…check out Bill‘s latest Dentaltown session with Howard Farran!

Dentaltown Learning Online is pleased to present, “PPO Plays” by Bill Rossi of Advanced Practice Management. The AGD # is 550 and there are 1.5 credits given for this course. We believe that private independent practice is the best way to deliver dentistry. It’s best for the patients, the Doctors and the staff. We further believe that sound management helps the Doctor thrive in a profession that is increasingly impinged on by Corporate Dentistry, PPOs, and other interests. Through our ongoing work in helping to manage over 220 offices in the Upper Midwest area, and

advise to Dentists across the country on “PPO Plays”, we have the information that helps level the playing field between the Dentists and insurance companies. It’s time for you to get your game on. It is not unusual to see dental offices write off 10%, 20%, 30% and more of their production due to PPO participation. After staff expenses, PPO write offs are among the biggest “expense” that a practice can have. PPOs are a reality of the current marketplace. So, the smart practitioner needs to know how to best deal with them. You have more power than you think you do. The right decisions here can add $1,000s to your bottom line and add greatly to your sense of control and security in the practice. Whatever your situation is, there is no question that you will have to make decisions about joining and leaving PPOs. Making the right moves as you participate with PPOs ensure a healthy bottom line and practice independence going into the future. This hour of CE will give you and your staff the basics you need to level the playing field with the “big guys” at the PPOs. Any dentist thinking about accepting or leaving PPOs should view this CE course.

Do You Want More New Patients?

To Move the Numbers, You Have to Do a Number of Things

Of course, almost every dentist wants more new patients and everyone is looking for the quickest, fastest way to do it…the “Silver Bullet”. As you probably have heard Bill say many times before, “It is possible to get more new patients but you have to actually do something.”

Let’s talk about a recent case history—by recent I mean over the last 2 years. This practice has worked hard on a number of fronts: they polished up their website, got updated photos, made sure their online directories were straight, kept somewhat active with Facebook, experimented with Pay per Click and “Conversion Factors” on the website (e.g. offers and testimonials).

The staff was coached on “New Patient Readiness” making it more likely that patients’ phone calls or website visits turned into patients inside the office.

They even did call tracking to find out when new patients were calling in and the success rate in converting them.

They also used all the features on their digital communication system (in this case Demand Force).

The net result was the patients increased enough that now they’re getting over six months “extra” new patients per year (and their Continuing Care numbers are going up too). Practice production is up over 15% this year.

For most solo practices, an increase of 6-10 new patients a month is all they want or need to keep their practice cruising. For this Doctor, it wasn’t just one thing. It wasn’t all that expensive or hard though either.

That’s why we believe in “Checklists”. We use Checklists to insure Continuing Care effectiveness, Collections effectiveness and so on. When our clients work with our “New Patient/ Marketing Checklist” and complete it each month, we see the best results. Every office should have a person in charge of their marketing efforts—if you’re serious about bringing in new patients, you have to designate a person to be in charge of that, just like there should be a specific person in charge of Continuing Care, Collections, etc. That’s how you insure that those advances on many fronts actually happen. Otherwise, they’re just good ideas (Thank you notes aren’t sent, reviews aren’t tracked or added to, website visitors aren’t converted into patients, etc.).

Are you serious about giving your marketing a push? Call me and we’ll come up with a specific plan for your office. It’s my job to support your staff, coach them and give them the advice they need to be successful. I also keep them accountable but I’m accountable too. Together we can make things happen.

Goodbye, Joe! It Was A Pleasure Knowing You

As you may have heard, Dr. Joe Steven, lecturer, author and founder of “Kisco”, passed away May 22nd.

Shelly and I always enjoyed our professional collaboration with Joe. He was such a down to earth guy and practiced what he preached. Shelly travelled with Dr. Steven doing seminars all across the country. Many of you have told us you’ve enjoyed his “bread and butter” approach.

We, along with many others, will miss Joe and send our condolences to his team, family and friends.

Dealing With Patient Complaints: An Opportunity In Disguise

(Dentists, Please Share This With Your Teams)

dealing with patient complaints

We’ve written before about how getting positive online reviews can enhance web presence and is a strong “conversion factor” that turns website visitors into patients. With patients being able to complain online as well, we have a double-edged sword. A negative complaint can be seen by who knows how many people! Dealing with negative online reviews is a whole discussion in itself.

This article focuses on dealing with face-to-face patient complaints. However, if you get a negative online review, you can sometimes call that patient and use this same process. We’ve seen situations where the patient has taken the negative review down once their complaint was satisfied.

Naturally, if complaints are handled wrong, you can lose patients. More importantly, patients that complain are also more likely to be loyal patients and refer others if the complaint is handled well. If someone is dissatisfied they will probably tell others. I have heard over the years many different statistics on this, but you can assume for every complaint you hear there are other people who hear or voice the same complaint. Complaints are sort of your “canary in a coal mine” for patient relations.

Our statistics show that the typical dental practice loses about 12% of its patients per year. Probably about half of those lost are due to something the Doctor or staff did. The other half are due to factors beyond the practice’s control, like the patient moving or insurance changes.

Remember this six step process:
1) Prepare
2) Listen
3) Build Rapport
4) Develop A Solution
5) Confirm & Close
6) Follow Through

1) Prepare

Maintain an alert and upright posture. Pen in hand. Be ready to listen with an Adult state of mind.

  • Child (emotional)
  • Parent (judgmental and rigid)
  • Adult (rational and solution-seeking)

When a complainer calls, they are in an emotional (child) state. They may have rehearsed a speech in their mind. They feel abused, cheated, or uncared for. Therefore, the person hearing the “child” may unconsciously start adopting a parent state. That’s when you’ll hear things like “Our policy is…”; “You should have…”; “You don’t know what you’re talking about…”; “It’s your responsibility to know your insurance, etc.” By keeping an adult state of mind, you let the child vent then, eventually, through your own behavior, they will start to come to the adult state.

2) Listen

Take notes. Acknowledge that you are hearing; “Tell me more.”; “Then what happened?”; “I see.”; “I understand that could be very distressing.”

3) Rapport

Use the patient’s name. State your purpose, “I want to find a solution you are happy with.”; or “I’ll help you get to the bottom of this.”; or “We certainly want to do everything we can to make this right for you.” Restate the person’s complaint. “I’ve taken notes and what I heard you tell me was… Do I have that right?”

4) Solution

“Here are a couple of things we may want to consider.”; “Would it help if I found out about _____ for you?” And, of course, “What would you like to have done so we can resolve this?”

5) Confirm & Close

“So here’s what I am going to do.” (find out, fix, or make sure “it doesn’t happen again”). “How does that sound to you?” Make sure that you note any specific actions and timeline and who’s going to do what by when.

6) Follow Through!

Make very sure you follow up on your promises. Example: “Your fees are too high!” A typical response (usually proposed by consultants and dental journal writers) is, “Mrs. Jones, we only use the finest materials and for the quality of care we deliver, blah blah blah.” Or, “Dentistry is inexpensive when you compare it to medical or buying suits or some other things (that are implied to be less important, thus indirectly putting the
patient down.)

Instead: “Gosh, I can tell you are unhappy with this. Can you tell me more?”
“Well, Bill, it’s my job to help ensure that you are happy with our services. You obviously
feel our fees are high and I’d like your suggestions on how we can go about looking at this.”

The patient might feel the fees are high because they can’t afford things in which case, of course, you work with financial arrangements. They might feel they are higher compared to other offices in which case you might say, “Would you like us to check our
fees against other offices or show you what information we have about that?” Or, in many cases, the patient just may want to be acknowledged and they don’t really want you to do anything except understand them. If the fees are indeed high even compared to other offices, then you can explain why. “Our fees are a little higher than average and I wanted to explain to you why they are if that’s what you’d like me to do.” Then (and only then) you could go into things about the quality of the lab, the time the Doctor spends, the Continuing Ed or technology, and so on.

In Conclusion:

No one likes to hear complaints, but dealing with them tactfully is a critical “customer service” skill.

Collections Seminar Back By Popular Demand

Collections Seminar Shelly Ryan



Collections Made Comfortable

You can count on our own Shelly Ryan to offer a straightforward approach to the details of collections that’s:

  • Kind to your patients
  • Easy on you
  • And will help the practice to grow!

We won’t waste your time with a lot of pie-in-the sky, overly complicated and bureaucratic “financial policies.” We are talking about real-life collections techniques that you can use in your office the very next day.

Date: Friday, November 6th
Time: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM CST
Location: Bloomington Embassy Suites
2800 American Blvd
Bloomington, MN 55431
Cost: $198 first attendee and $168 for each additional. $20 per person Early Bird discount for registrations before September 15th.
Call (952) 921-3360
Or email

Register now

You Will Learn:

  • How the right use of payment options and financing moves patients toward treatment.
  • How the entire team’s involvement brings collections to the next level and keeps patients happy.
  • How to overcome almost any patient objections to finances.
  • Key measurements and tracking systems of your collection effectiveness.
  • How to know when to be aggressive and when finesse will get you further, faster.
  • Reduce insurance related confusion and hassles throughout the office.
  • Reduce chances of patient misunderstandings.
  • How to tactfully collect from emergency patients.
  • Should we charge a fee after missed appointments? Know the benefits and drawbacks.
  • How much downtime is normal? When is “too little” open time actually a problem?
  • How the proper patient information flow can reduce stress, increase efficiency and help you stay on time.
  • How to schedule “out-of-network patients” – and collect!
  • Answers to the most common legal questions regarding collections.
  • Smart successful collection calling techniques that are kind but effective.
  • Turn every patient into an ally – how do patients know you’re really listening to them?
  • Eliminate negative situations – how to handle the most demanding situations, without getting angry or losing your composure.
  • Tips for improving cooperation between administration and clinical staff.
  • How to avoid making a bad telephone impression. You’ll be amazed how often this can happen – even when the best people answer the phone.
  • Dealing with late patients, late cancellations, and even staff conflicts.
  • How to call patients regarding any unscheduled treatment needs and get them scheduled.
  • Contact tactics – Clever ways to get you in touch.
  • Insurance narratives that get you paid.

What People Say:
“It was a great seminar. The speaker was full of energy and great ideas on a hard subject to discuss.” – Kelly, Dental Assistant

“Our team attended your seminar in Nebraska. What a wealth of knowledge you shared!” – Amy, Patient Care Coordinator

“Really, really applies to my everyday work. Definitely recommended to other offices.” – Mary Ann, Administrator

March 20 Is World Oral Health Day

World Oral Health Day LogoWorld Oral Health Day (WOHD) is an international day to celebrate the benefits of having a healthy mouth and also to promote awareness about issues around oral health. It is also an opportunity to stress the importance of taking care of oral hygiene needs, for everyone and every age.

It is a day to have fun – and to smile!

According to FDI World Dental Federation website, 90% of our world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime. Many of them can be avoided with increased governmental, health association and society support and funding for prevention, detection and treatment programs. In addition, World Oral Health Day offers the dental and oral health community a platform to take action and help reduce the global disease burden.

The Theme For World Oral Health Day 2015 Is “Smile For Life!”

This year’s campaign is focused on wishing all people a lifelong and healthy smile. The theme has a double meaning: ‘lifelong smile’ and ‘celebrating life’. It also implies positivity and having fun, since people only smile if they are health and happy!

The campaign organizers are challenging each organization celebrating the day to come up with a call-to-action, “Take the time to…” For example, a dental office could adopt the tag line, “Take the time to brush and floss your teeth!”

Promote Your WOHD Event!

The FDI World Dental Federation has put together some handy resources for you to help celebrate and promote your special day. Watch this video to learn how.

  1. Visit
  2. Chose an option: poster, Facebook cover photo or Twitter cover photo
  3. Select a picture
  4. Complete the form

For more information, visit ADA Website or WOHD Website


Keep Yahoo & Mozilla Firefox On Your Radar

Yahoo and Firefox join forces

Image Source: Search Engine Land

This year has been has seen a lot of change in local search and that has kept dental offices on their toes trying to keep up with the developments. Now there is another development that you should be aware of, as well. Now, Mozilla’s Firefox has changed it’s default search engine from Google to Yahoo!

According to an article on Search Engine Land, the number of searches on the Firefox that used Yahoo for the search engine has since grown from 9.6 percent to 29.4 percent.

What Does This Mean For Online Dental Marketing?

That is still to be determined. As clients of APM, we will keep you in the loop. In the meantime, make sure your Yahoo local business listing is claimed and up-to-date (in addition to your other basic listings on Google, Facebook, Yelp, HealthGrades, etc.). If you have any questions, feel free to contact Kelly Larson at or by phone at (952) 920-3360.