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Put More Money in Your Pocket With This…

Dr. Todd Shatkin and the Scoop on Mini Implants
Q:  Thank you very much for doing this interview. I appreciate it, and I obviously have personal experience with what you do, and I’m a little bit biased because I love it. The first thing I want to ask you is:  Tell me about Dr. Gordon Christiansen coming out to your center and what he said about mini implants and what he said about what you do?
A:   Well, it was a great experience for our group. I have been working on trying to get him out here for a while and was fortunate that he had the opening to come out and lecture with me on the mini implants. Gordon has been a tremendous supporter of mini implants for the past seven years or so. I first went out to meet him about seven years ago, I think it was, and met with him at his offices in Provo, Utah. And he ended up spending about an hour and half with me and started showing me cases that he was doing with mini implants, and I had shown him some of my case that I had been doing with mini implants, and it turned out that we were doing a lot of the same things. So we immediately struck a chord and kind of built a nice relationship, and he became very supportive.   At that time, he wasn’t out in the forefront of minis because he was kind of checking it out and making sure he wanted to go full-boat supporting it, where I was already out there pushing it pretty hard. And he encouraged me to continue pushing, and then over the coming year or two he started getting more excited and more involved and now he’s a very strong avid supporter of minis and lectures on them and writes about them and teaches them. He was doing crown and bridge on mini implants like I was back seven years ago.
Q:  I’m going to ask you two questions about two different aspects of minis because I have really specific opinions about this, and I think that we’re going to say exactly–or we would say exactly same thing. First of all, I’m going to ask you financially what minis have done for you and for other people that have started using them as much as we should, I think.  And then tell me what it does for patients, for their lives and what kind of impact it makes for patients?
A:  Sure, the impact, it changes people’s lives, especially people who have difficulty wearing dentures, people who are dental invalids because they have lower dentures that slide all over the place and they hurt, they’re uncomfortable, and they can’t keep them in, they have to use glue all day long. When you put these four mini implants in and stabilize the lower denture, and they can snap them in place and eat and function immediately on them, it really is a dramatic change in their lifestyle.   Any time that we can have an impact on what a patient does on a daily basis has a huge influence on their life. For example, people who have been wearing glasses or contacts their whole life and end up having a LASIK procedure or a different eye procedure that allows them to not have to deal with glasses or contacts that makes a significant impact on their life.  The same thing holds true for people who have difficulty with dentures and partials because they have to deal with it. It’s just one more thing every day that they have to deal with, and if they can eliminate that burden, it makes an impact on their life. So people who have this done constantly come in, and they are so grateful and appreciative. They give me hugs, and they thank me profusely for changing their life. So that’s one of the greatest things about it.  Very gratifying. And then you have the patients who are missing one or more teeth and just want to have a better aesthetic appearance and be able to function better with chewing and that’s another thing that changes people’s lives, obviously. They can smile more. They’re more comfortable in public and going out and things like that.
Q:   I did one recently for a guy that was getting married and he had come in for a consult maybe a couple of months before, and then he came in and it was three weeks until his wedding and he said, “I really want this implant, and I want a crown over it. What can you do?  And this was the only option. That was the only thing that I could have done for him, otherwise he would have had a flipper at his wedding. It was really amazing.
So then financially on the other side, because it’s very cost effective for patients compared to conventional implants. That’s one of the huge benefits for patients, but financially for a dentist that starts placing mini implants, I know what it’s done for you financially, and I know what it’s done for me financially, it’s been a big, big win, bigger for you obviously than me, but I’m just getting started. This is something that I haven’t done for all that long and you’ve obviously done for a very long time. So financially for dentists what do you see with their financial picture?
A:  Financially, it’s such a rewarding procedure because you don’t have to do a lot of dentistry to make a good chunk of money. Mini implants, what I teach in my seminars, if they can do two cases a week, which is essentially two lower denture stabilizations a week or eight implants per week, they can earn $400,000 more in practice revenue that year. That’s only about two hours of chair time. So as you can see, it can make a dramatic shift in your practice’s financial outlook, and in this economy, it can have a good boost to a practice which may be suffering or lacking in their resources.
Q:   That’s been the case for my practice. I was only doing Invisalign before I started doing implants and minis and conventionals, but I do more minis than I do conventional implants because it’s just so simple, and the patients like it because it’s cost effective and we can market toward people that hate their denture. I had a guy in the other day, he just said, “I’ve only had this denture for about six months, but I miss tasting food.” His upper denture, he wanted the palate cut out of the denture, so that he could taste food again. I mean, a week later he could taste food again.
Let’s talk about your center and your courses, can you give me some information about that?
A:   I have been spending so much time traveling and lecturing around the country at different hotels that I have decided that it would be more beneficial for me and for my dentists who get trained by me to actually come here to Buffalo to see our entire operation. So we put a state-of-the-art training center in, and we can train 55 dentists at a time. We’ve given four courses, and we’ve sold out pretty much all of them.  It’s turned out to be really great. We have the state-of-the-art equipment. We’ve got live surgery, which is awesome. We can do live surgery, and they can watch it on an 80-inch screen, and the face is as big as the screen, so it’s better than even looking over my shoulder in the operating room. And then we get to have feedback during the surgery. I can talk to them, and they can ask questions.  So not only do we have a great training center, we have a great hands-on training program now with motors at each station. Doctors get to drill on mandibles and practice placing the implants and with the surgical stints and all that. That’s really been a huge, huge benefit. Gordon Christensen came out for one of our meetings recently. He came out and lectured with me, which was really great.
Q:  I’ll tell you too, one of the things since I started placing mini implants, hopefully most people understand that I can market things pretty well, but with just some simple marketing, I have done, in the first couple of months I did 50 mini implants. It’s such a cool procedure. I mean for me, literally, we added $20,000 a month to our bottom line overnight. It’s a big, big deal.
What makes Shatkin F.I.R.S.T. different?
A:  How do we differ from other companies that sell mini implants or even conventional implants? Well I think the biggest thing, number one is when a doctor is starting out or even as they continue to move forward, I personally review and assist in case planning on every case they send. So I’ve placed over 11,000 minis now in the last 13 years, and I will help them along the way and hold their hand especially in the beginning where they need the help the most.  What we do is provide surgical guide stints for the dentists so that they can place the implants with confidence and not be concerned about the positioning of them and also they can place the implants and crowns in one or two visits using our surgical stints and either temporary or permanent crowns at that first appointment, so that the patient can leave the office with teeth, and I think that’s a really big benefit because patients go home and talk about that. That’s something that builds.  We also have a full-service dental laboratory that makes all the crowns, bridges, and dentures for mini implants, as well as the surgical guide stints, and we also distribute the Intra-Lock mini implant system, which I truly believe is the top system on the market. There’s a number of them out there, and there’s more popping up all the time, but the great thing about Intra-Lock is they’ve got a tremendous scientist behind their design and manufacturing. A guy who’s not only a scientist, but also a dentist, Thierry Giorno, who runs Intra-Lock, and that has helped us tremendously because we have a wonderful product to offer our dentists.
Dr. Steffany Mohan:  When I first started doing cases, I knew that you were doing the surgery on a model and that I could just sort of mimic that, and I did my first few cases. It was so easy and of course, you gain confidence, and you learn. I did a couple of stupid things in the beginning, I [locked] on a surgical guide, one of the first cases that I did, and I was like, “Mm, I better not do that again.” But I learned from it, and that wasn’t very smart, but I’m sure it probably takes special talent to be able to do that.  It’s so simple, and I recommend it to clients all the time because, first of all, your patients really want this, and if nobody around you is doing it, you kind of owe it to your area to be providing this kind of service because patients don’t even know it exists.  I’ve never seen more people more happy to pay $4,000 or $5,000.  I’ve had many days where it’s not unusual for us to do $20,000 or $30,000 in dentistry in a day!
Dr. Todd Shatkin:  It’s true. I had a doctor here visiting who attended my course a month or two ago. He came in to spend the day, and I actually did an implant on him at my lecture last time right out of the audience.  He was in the audience taking my course.  He said, “You know, I’ve got this tooth, number 9.” And he said, “Hey, do you want to do it now?” And he was joking, and I said, “Are you serious?” And he said, “Yeah,” and I said, “Let’s go.” So I brought him downstairs in front of everybody, there were 50 dentists, and I did his surgery. We placed the implant, put a temporary crown on immediately, extracted the tooth, used my bone cement, replace bone cement, and cemented the temporary, and he came back yesterday, and I put his permanent crown in, and he spent the day with me. He saw me do five patient consultations, and we sold over $50,000 in dentistry.
Well, you know, one of things that the further I get along in my career. It’s my 17th year now practicing. The biggest thing for me is that I’ve learned that sales people can’t tell you how to do dentistry. They can’t teach you how to do dentistry. They really shouldn’t teach you how to use the bonding agents, and they shouldn’t teach you how to use composites. Really you need somebody that’s been there and done that and knows exactly what’s happening.   I’ve learned practice management from other dentists. I’ve learned clinical stuff from other dentists. I’ve been out to Provo with Dr. Christiansen and taking courses from him out in Provo, and I feel so much more confident learning from somebody that’s actually done what they’re talking about.  That’s why people come to me for marketing because I’m doing it in my practice, and I understand what works and what doesn’t work and what the process is if something doesn’t work. Like you said, it’s okay, a failure; failures happen in endo, failures happen with crowns, failures happen. Who hasn’t had some failure? I mean it happens. And then you have to get past that and learn from it and that’s important.

101 Marketing Ideas for Your Practice

101 Top Marketing Ideas for Your Office

The key to practice growth is to differentiate your services from others and to create value. Value is achieved when patients’ expectations are exceeded. Word of mouth remains the primary means for patient referrals.
Subsequently, internal marketing can be the most important avenue to sustain practice viability in any economic environment. Below is a list of top marketing ideas for your practice:

1. Children can be one of the best ways to build a practice. Treat them right and the family will follow. First the child comes in, then the mom, then a referral from the mom, and finally the dad comes in with a toothache.
2. On a first visit, let young or apprehensive children experience a “happy” visit where they can be introduced to you and the office.
3. Children love toys. Have a special prize box with unique and interesting prizes from which they may choose. Reward with double or triple prizes for especially good behavior. Have monthly drawings for larger prizes. You can do this for your adult patients also.
4. Give a child a gold dollar after treatment or give the coin to the parent to place under their pillow after an extraction. Learn a few magic tricks to entertain the kids during treatment.
5. Provide a children’s play area complete with video games, books, and a television.
6. Have a camera available to take pictures of young patients and let them post the photos on a wall.


7. Give away a coffee mug with your name and logo on it filled with goodies such as toothpaste and floss. Have it shrink wrapped by a local organization such as Easter Seals.
8. Send to or give patients magnets embossed with your logo and phone number that they may place on their refrigerator.
9. Remember your most important asset. Treat your staff to a surprise shopping-spree at Christmas time. Offer only two rules—they have to spend the money on themselves and you get to keep the change. Provide simple perks throughout the year.
10. Keep dinner gift certificates on hand to give to patients when you are running late or to celebrate a special occasion.
11. Hand out Starbucks or similar gift cards to patients whenever needed.
12. Have fresh flowers in the waiting room. Give the flowers away to a patient to celebrate an occasion.
13. Give away toothbrushes with your name imprinted on them to all recare patients. Also, hand out these toothbrushes to schools, civic groups, etc.
14. Buy multiple copies of a motivational or special book and personally give it to the patients after treatment.


15. Make care calls to patients who were treated earlier that day. This is one of the most important practice builders. Address any concerns and begin any conversation with “I just wanted to see how well you are doing.”
16. Set up and maintain a quality website. Keep the information up-to-date.
17. Provide and distribute an office brochure. Personalize it so patients can make a connection.
18. Send postcards to patients to stay in touch and to celebrate holidays such as Thanksgiving and New Years. For many patients, you will be like the fire department. They will not need you until an emergency.
19. Acknowledge birthdays. Send a birthday greeting to each patient in a format which lists what happened on the day they were born. Excellent programs such as Smile Reminder can do this very easily for you.
20. Have a box of greeting cards on hand to send to patients such as Congratulations and Happy Anniversary.
21. Send out thank you cards or letters to thank patients for their referrals. Consider doing something special for multiple referrals.
22. Have each staff member hand-write one thank you note each day to a patient that they encountered thanking them for the visit or whatever special moment they shared during their time together. This can be wishing them a safe vacation, congratulations on their new grandson, or a new recipe they should try. Seek to build a relationship with your patients that differentiates your practice.
23. Get email addresses and cell phone numbers from your patients. Send out reminders, announcements, or e-newsletters. This information can be integrated with some web site companies to communicate via email or text messaging.
24. Always try to keep your name in front of the patients. Send out a newsletter several times a year. This can be done via direct mail or electronically.
25. Send out a new patient packet including a welcome letter.
26. Offer your home phone number to patients who may need it, especially after difficult procedures.
27. Send out post-treatment letters to your patients.


28. Schedule lunch or a meeting with several physicians or professionals in your area and let them know that you are accepting new patients.
29. Get to know several area pharmacists and let them know that you are available for emergencies.
30. Hairdressers are some of the best referrals. Get to know several shops and send over lunch.
31. Print business cards for your staff and encourage them to hand them out in all their daily affairs.
32. Sponsor local sports teams. Advertise in church bulletins or school sponsored activities.
33. Let patients know that you are accepting new referrals.
34. Always market internally with your existing patient base first and foremost.
35. Send flowers to a special patient for any reason at work. This will surprise them and impress their co-workers.
36. Sponsor a local food drive or other event. Commit to a charity and get your practice involved.


37. Furnish a business area in the waiting room with a phone and computer.
38. Wow your patients at every opportunity. Be creative! Use your imagination and ingenuity.
39. Provide a warm towel to patients after treatment. More information is available at After difficult procedures, provide your patient with a reusable ice pack with your logo on it to take home.
40. Have umbrellas available to give to patients when they leave during a storm.
41. Have some pillows and blankets available for patient comfort.
42. Make sure you have a wide array of up-to-date magazines. Provide general interest books such as The Guinness Book of World Records, The Far Side, or the Top 10 of Everything.
43. Provide the daily newspaper along with USA Today and The Wall Street Journal in your waiting room.
44. Offer to copy magazine articles or recipes for the patient. Even give the magazines away.
45. Place flat screen televisions in the operatory for patient enjoyment and education. Provide cable or show movies. Provide a list of movies or such to choose from.
46. Provide state of the art stereo headphones (noise reduction), CD or MP3 players, and music for your patients.
47. Instead of silence on the telephone, place an on-hold message system or music for your patients while they are on hold.
48. Have a makeup area available for patients complete with a wall mirror that they can use after treatment. Provide hooks in the operatory where patients can hang coats or other items.
49. Designate a spot in the waiting room to be the refreshment center. Serve coffee and refreshments. Provide bottled water with your logo on it.


50. Provide painless injections (and this means painless). Develop the proper techniques if necessary. This is one of the most important marketing skills.
51. Use analogies to which patients can relate. For example, “These fillings have 100,000 miles on them and may only go another 20,000 miles, not a lifetime.”
52. Provide patients with a tour of your office including the sterilization area. The patient can best measure your sterilization techniques by office cleanliness and appearance. Take the time to sit in each dental chair and notice what the patient sees.
53. Place a strong emphasis on patient education and have numerous items such as videos, models, books, and pamphlets on hand. Consider programs such as Caesy, Guru, or Dr. Christensen’s Simple Patient Education for Every Practice.
54. Always explain. Let your patient know what to expect and be available for questions. For example, tell the patient the tooth could be sensitive for a few days.
55. Offer the patient treatment options including alternatives, advantages, disadvantages, costs, risks, and doing nothing. This is an important part of informed consent.
56. Let the patients know that they are in a state-of-the-art environment. Inform them of courses you have taken or honors that you have received. Promote your continuing education. Give the patients the confidence that they are in the hands of a skilled practitioner!
57. Hang your diplomas in clear view for all the patients to see. Frame all your accomplishments.
58. Find groups in your area that welcome speakers such as a Diabetic Association, PTA, or civic club and offer to make a presentation on a pertinent dental topic.
59. Participate in community activities such as health fairs.
60. Offer to visit schools for presentations during Children’s Dental Health Month.
61. Take before and after pictures of your patients. Ask for patient testimonials about their treatment. Make these available to show your patients and for those considering similar procedures. Place on your website.


62. Whatever it takes—Make the Patient Feel Important. The acronym used in business is MMFI—“Make Me Feel Important.”
63. Inform the patients if they are left waiting. Patients appreciate that the Doctor acknowledges the patient’s time. Do something special if they have to wait too long.
64. Keep a sheet in the patient’s chart identifying things such as where they lived, went to school, hobbies, special events etc. This will help remind you the next time you see the patient and can serve as a good “ice breaker.” Patients enjoy your connection.
65. See the patient as a person and remember to remain in the moment with the patient. Understand the patient has only one experience in your office.
66. Have fun while working with the patient in the operatory, but always include the patient. Avoid conversation that does not involve the patient.
67. Always give the patient more than they expect from the time they first call the office to when they leave the appointment. This more than anything will create value.
68. Use humor with your patients. It helps to provide a connection between the doctor and patient and can relieve stress.
69. Compliment your patients and staff whenever possible. Everyone likes to be complimented.
70. Always greet your patients with a friendly handshake, a warm smile, and even a hug. Address patients by name.
71. Always maintain a caring attitude toward your patient and show genuine interest.
72. Acknowledge all patients at all times, whether they be in the reception area or operatory.
73. Allow the patient to rest during long procedures. This will allow you free time for a hygiene check or a phone call.
74. Always have someone walk the patient to the front desk or restroom.
75. Have the front desk person greet new patients by walking into the reception area. The doctor can do the same if he is available.
76. Introduce the assistant to the patient as their personal concierge. Make the patient feel special.
77. Encourage and promote an enthusiastic staff. Create an energetic environment.
78. Support your patients’ businesses.
79. Clip out newspaper articles about your patients and send it to them with a warm greeting.


80. Make sure your office décor is pleasant, comforting, and up-to-date. Schedule a time when you and your team can go out into the parking lot and walk in through the front door and observe the practice from the patients’ point of view. Notice everything and simulate the experience from the waiting room to the operatory and back to the front desk. Note any changes you would recommend.
81. Have every operatory decorated with a different theme or idea. One could be a sports room with sports memorabilia and another could be a French garden. The assistant could ask the patient which room he or she would like to be seated or simply say, “Mr. Jones, today we are taking you to Paris.”
82. Put some thought into decorating the bathroom and make sure it is clean at all times. This is one area of the office that patients are alone and should have high impact.
83. Decorate the office for special holidays.
84. Have your office sign visible from the street if possible. Make sure it is lit at night.
85. Have your staff coordinate aesthetically pleasing uniforms.
86. Have your staff wear name tags.
87. Place photos of you and your staff on the wall in a common area or in the waiting room.
88. Use aromatherapy. Even consider baking fresh bread in the break room as an added bonus.


89. Find a reason to celebrate each and every day.
90. Show confidence in everything you do in front of the patient.
91. Believe in yourself. Carry with you the motto from the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”


92. Have a consistent and strong financial policy. At the same time, offer patients financial options.
93. Offer a sequential or gradual treatment plan for patients that cannot afford it.
94. Phase treatment. Do treatment sequentially over a period of months or years. Treatment planning is always easiest when you ask yourself one question and one question only, “What would I do in my own mouth if I were the patient?”
95. Offer free prophies or whitening to a bride or spouse to be. Offer this for other special occasions as well.
96. Don’t charge your patients for many services. This will go a long way to building a long-term relationship. Try to build a patient for life, not for the moment.
97. Don’t be afraid to redo something at no-charge or a reduced fee. Don’t a la carte everything you do. Patients will appreciate it more than you realize.
98. Provide varied and convenient hours. Work at times when other dentists may not be available such as Friday afternoons, Saturday mornings, or one evening a week.
99. See all emergencies the same day and be available 24 hours a day. This can be an important practice builder.
100. Go slow, introducing low-budget front-end cosmetic procedures such as whitening or bonding.
101. Utilize an intra-oral camera system.


What’s YOUR Sign?

I know the phrase, “what’s your sign?”, has been around a while, but I like to give old things a new twist. SO, here goes. What is the sign that fatigue, overwhelm and just plain burn-out is happening in your life or in your practice? Have you checked in a while? If you haven’t checked, are you too afraid to look? We spend WAY too much time at the office to not LOVE it!
My sign is that I haven’t had a night out with my husband in WAY too long, or my office is a disaster, or I just feel like I need to sit down – permanently. Not life or death stuff, but definitely signs that I am not prioritizing well.

Here’s the deal – if you don’t love what you’re doing, it’s time to change something. A friend of mine put it best – I LOVE hiring people that are smarter than me to “fix” something that I am not doing as well as I could or maybe even should. Put another way, I really like to find shortcuts. I have hired a long, long list of professionals that have helped me in almost all aspects of my life. A professional organizer, a personal trainer, a business coach, a marketing coach, you name it, I’ve hired them. Some I even use still today if I continue to struggle with areas of my life, personal and business. Even Tiger Woods still has a coach, because it’s necessary to maintain momentum and to gain effective change and growth.

Step 1 is to take a good long, honest look at your life and your practice. Step 2 is up to you.


What is the Biggest Step You Are Skipping With Your Marketing?

The major thing that dentists are skipping in their marketing (and I did it, too, once upon a time), is to decide who they want to be before throwing a bunch of marketing out there.
The reason is that not knowing who you are (or who your company is trying to be) is confusing to your target market.
Statistically speaking, a confused patient has trouble making a decision.
It’s not easy to get someone through the door, let alone, to accept our recommended treatment if they don’t understand what we can do for them. There are so many wonderful choices in dentistry today. We can be the dentist that helps severely anxious patients, the cosmetic specialist, the sleep apnea expert, or the implant dentist. So many choices, but patients will not get to you if you are not clear who your practice wants to serve. The great news is that we don’t have to choose just one thing – but we do have to choose.

I just had lunch with one of my favorite people in the world, a dear friend who is a banking executive in marketing for the company. Even her bank is spending time, energy and money to decide who they are and what customers are right for them. It doesn’t mean that they are turning down business left and right, but they are working hard to determine who they want to be for their customers.

Banks and every other company need to do this – what are you planning to do?