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Volume XV Issue III

3rd Quarter 2020

Schulman Group: From Then to Now An Interview with Mr. Chris Vranas or my entire career, being a member of the Schulman Study Group (SSG), meant you were a unique practice, usually larger than that of your peers, and on the cutting edge of clinical and business management growth. The group was exclusive, and tightly guarded about sharing outside the group. Recently, in 2018, they considered the specialty landscape and made a bold move to reorganize and begin acting as a DSO. Chris Vranas currently serves as the group's Executive Director and this interview with him provides some insights into the journey the SSG has taken. We expect most of our readers are unaware that, today, they have the opportunity to join the SG Management LLC (Schulman). Hope you enjoy their story. - Chris Bentson

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Q: Give us the backstory behind the Schulman Group? The Schulman Group was known as an orthodontic study club for many years. How did that model turn into today's DSO structure?

In This Issue: Schulman Group: From Then to Now page 1

What to Do with a Negative Review page 3

Reimagining Success: Practicing in a Post-COVID World page 6

A: The former Schulman Study Group, now SG Management LLC, re-organized in April 2018, becoming a member-owned DSO. Each founding member is an equal shareholder. This unique business model maintains the independence of members as owners/operators of their practices. Unlike traditional DSOs, SG members are not subject to an outside entity's practice policies. Orthodontics is not a 'cookie cutter' business, and in forming SG Management, we wanted to respect the clinical and business integrity of our members, and their independence.

Business Discipline: Strategic Planning in the Orthodontic Practice

Q: How long has the Schulman Group been around, and how many doctors/ practices are part of the organization?

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A: The Schulman Group has been around since the 1980s, although it can trace roots as far back as the 1960s. Martin "Bud" Schulman was an accountant and respected businessman who worked with the dental community to instruct them in management skills and basic business operations. Bud eventually organized the Super Schulman Study Club for invited orthodontists. Forming SG Management LLC was a strategic response to a rapidly changing orthodontic landscape. Our goal in forming was to provide all the benefits and support of a traditional DSO, including buying power and branding, while members maintain their practice independence. "Success Through Sharing" continues to be the fundamental philosophy of the organization's 149 members, who collectively represent 118 practices in nearly 300 office locations in 42 states, with annual revenues in excess of $400 million. "Success Through Sharing" consists of on-going peer-to-peer networking on a broad range of business and clinical topics. In addition to sharing, there is an aspect of caring among Schulman colleagues. Members care for one another on a personal level and are very supportive. "Success Through Sharing" in all its expressions continues to be the cornerstone of SG Management. SG Management LLC (Schulman Group) is the progressive leader among orthodontic DSOs and is growing. We are especially proud that a very high percentage of SG members are Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontics, and that at least 90 percent of SG members are also members of the AAO Foundation's Keystone Society. Continued on page 2

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Self-Renewal - Part 2 of 2 Millennial Orthodontics: More Than a Virus...A Generation page 14 The Bentson Copple reSource (ISSN 1559-1360) is published quarterly by Bentson Copple & Associates, LLC, 397 South Swing Road, Greensboro, North Carolina 27409. Periodicals postage paid at Greensboro, NC 27409. Telephone: (336) 379-8822 / (800) 621-4664 Fax: (336) 333-0015 Website: www.bentsoncopple.com Email: info@bentsoncopple.com Editorial Address: 397 South Swing Road, Greensboro, NC 27409 Subscription Price: $95.00 per year, 4 issues | Cover Price: $28.00 each ŠBentson Copple & Associates, LLC, 2020. Copyright strictly reserved. This journal is intended for use by the individual to whom it is addressed and may not be reproduced in whole or in part or redistributed in any way - including reproduction for internal distribution - without the prior written permission of Bentson Copple & Associates, LLC.


Bentson Copple reSource 3rd Quarter 2020

Schulman Group: From Then to Now Continued from page 1

Q: Chris, what is your role at the Schulman Group?

data for future negotiations and provides one stop shopping for members. Gaidge provides a uniform way of collecting standard Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) so that members can see how they are doing compared to each other and the national orthodontic profession.

A: Dr. Bob Bray is President, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors. In all, there are eight Board members. They are representative of today's orthodontists in terms of age and gender.

SG members usually exceed U.S. KPI national averages. For the first three quarters of 2020, as measured by Gaidge, compared to national averages, SG members had:

I am the Executive Director and oversee the day to day management, preferred supplier program, and all benefits and services for the members. I conduct annual strategic/ business planning sessions for the Board. I am supported by an administration team. Our SG Management-owned practices division is operated by Dr. Anne Todd, our COO, and I work with Dr. Todd and our acquisition team as we seek and vet potential practices to be purchased by the organization.

• 13.1 percent higher net production • 15.6 percent higher net collections • 8.7 percent more new patient calls • 12.3 percent more new patient exams

Q: We understand that the Schulman Group offers a unique business model for orthodontic practice owners. Can you tell our readers more about that structure?

• 13.6 percent more total starts Current data shows that SG Management LLC members are coming out of COVID-19 shutdowns and getting back to 2019 growth statistics. Our members benefited greatly from our ability to act fast in procuring suppliers for PPE and negotiating preferential pricing for SG members. We were able to make frequent adjustments in helping members have the tools to take care of their patients and conduct business.

A: We have two opportunities for qualified orthodontic practices. First, those wishing to become a member of SG Management and take advantage of all the benefits of a DSO while continuing to operate their practice independently, are eligible to apply. After being a member for 24 months, they will have an opportunity to become a shareholder in SG Management LLC.

We provided access to reliable resources, and key financial, legal, and human resource experts to help ease members through the initial shutdown. SG members ramped up networking and information-sharing, weighing in on the efficacy of products or systems to contend with the shapeshifting "new normal."

There is not a minimum or maximum age for membership. Schulman members run the gamut of ages. And everyone has the opportunity to participate in the organization. They can serve on committees, or work on projects that are of interest to them. SG truly is member-driven. All voices are listened to and appreciated.

Q: What can we expect from the Schulman Group within the next year and throughout the next decade?

For orthodontists wishing to develop an exit strategy but hoping to sell to a DSO that shares the same business and clinical values, we are purchasing practices. We work with each seller to develop a mutually beneficial package based on the needs, interests, and timeframe of the doctor. We are also accepting associate applications to work for an SG member or SG-owned practices.

A: Over the short-term, we are implementing our business plan. To date, we have 28 preferred suppliers in place offering the best pricing and quality of products and services to SG members. We also will continue to add programs and services that provide value for management fees. We will be in all 50 states by the first quarter of 2021, and we will continue to add members. As we are in our early practice acquisition phase, we will have five practices under management by the first quarter of 2021 and 15 by the end of 2021. We are developing SG-owned practices regionally to grow and develop as "hubs" with current SG Management practices.

Q: Is there a particular type of practice that will benefit most from joining the Schulman Group? A: Practices that wish to grow through sharing of business and clinical information, and those that wish to have access to the top preferred suppliers of clinical, practice management, insurance, staff management, and other services for quality, efficiency, and cost savings will benefit from SG membership. All practices are provided services as part of their management fees such as Gaidge, HR for Health (human resources management and support company licensed in all 50 states), and the leading cloud-based ordering platform called CureMint. CureMint allows us to collect purchasing

Q: Is the Schulman Group focused on practices within a specific geographic area in the country? A: SG members cannot be within a 25-mile radius of other members with a few geographic or population exceptions. This provides a non-competitive environment that allows for the sharing of information. However, we intend to grow the brand around existing practices. Continued on page 5 2


Bentson Copple reSource 3rd Quarter 2020

What to Do with a Negative Review By: Jill Allen

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Let Go of Emotion

h, reviews! They can be the best little snippets of writing, giving us all the warm fuzzy feelings and glowing praise that we desperately need in our dayto-day lives. Reviews are, at their core, an extension of our marketing efforts and customer service goals. They are even somewhat of a modern-day public relations management system, as they show the world what it is like to be a part of our businesses. With every gleaming review comes a level of exposure. And, as we know, exposure to our consumers is one of the fundamental ways we grow our businesses. But what do we do when we face reviews that don't give us the kind of exposure we are hoping for - how do we handle a bad review?

When you find yourself face-to-face with a negative review, I want you to start by doing a few simple things. First, take some time to let the review sink in. Do some investigation and get the full story from your team. You can't respond to a review or figure out how to fix it if "There are you aren't completely informed on times in what has happened. This can be a critical step in handling negative business reviews because it ensures that when we have you are not reactive when you respond. Allowing yourself this to humble to investigate also gives ourselves." time you the chance to let those strong emotions fade. Let go of that emotional turmoil you feel, breathe, and get yourself into a business-oriented mindset.

Seeing a negative review for the first time can be devastating. The anxiety and self-doubt begin to creep in, leaving you questioning yourself. Or perhaps your emotions come from a different place, and you find yourself experiencing anger and resentment, upset that someone would so blatantly misinterpret your intentions. At the end of the day, reviews are an emotional thing. Reviews result from emotion when they are written, and they elicit emotion from those who read them.

Allowing yourself some time to reason through this review is essential, but don't take too much time. Doing this provides you with ample time to investigate the situation, let go of emotion, and formulate what you want to say. The last thing that you want to do is quickly read a review and respond hastily; however, letting a review sit for too long could make the reviewer feel unheard and may increase his level of frustration. I suggest that you respond directly to that review within 24 hours.

When we consider what makes us buy one product over another or choose one provider over another, the answer is inherently emotional. It is a gut-driven reaction to some subtle and not-so-subtle influences that we experience as we investigate our purchases. Reviews make up a large part of these influences, as we now operate in a review driven market. Therefore, at some point during your time as a business owner, you will find yourself in a situation where a patient has expressed his or her dissatisfaction in the form of a negative review.

Respond with Empathy When you respond to the review, focus on responding with empathy. Empathy can be the key to resolving a situation like this because it demonstrates a level of understanding. It shows the patient that their concerns have been heard and validates their feelings. You must be sincere; this is a crucial part of your response. Handle each review individually; a canned response to a patient who has a legitimate complaint will only add fuel to the fire.

Negative Reviews I want to focus on the two types of negative reviews that you may encounter, the first being a negative review. This type of review is written by a disgruntled patient who has had a lackluster experience in your practice. Unfortunately, that patient believes the best way to express her feelings of dissatisfaction is to go to one of your social media platforms and let other people know about her experience.

Don't be afraid to apologize! There are times in business when we have to humble ourselves. It can be a challenging thing to do, but it is often the tool that leads to the best solutions for conflict resolution. Most importantly, end your response by asking if there is a way to make things right for your patient and provide them with the means to contact you in a private setting.

I know this can be a challenging thing to deal with in your business, but one thing I can tell you is that bad reviews happen in every business and in every industry. Think about it; bad reviews happen at your local coffee shop, your grocery store, and your favorite restaurant down the street, but those reviews don't always stop you from frequenting that establishment. These reviews may influence our buying habits, but we are often willing to overlook a few bad reviews if the majority of the reviews are positive.

Move Correspondence Offline Moving further correspondence off of the review platform or internet is critical. You do not want your unhappy patient to respond with more harsh words in a public setting. Remember, this is all about PR. Patients expressing their continued frustration in an email is a lot less damaging than continuing to post their thoughts on your page. Keep in mind Continued on page 4 3


Bentson Copple reSource 3rd Quarter 2020

What to Do with a Negative Review Continued from page 3

that any further communication should only happen with the motivation to rectify the situation. Because these situations can be very emotional, you want to sidestep a debatelike atmosphere. Debates can be easy to fall into, since we often want to justify our behavior or actions. Ultimately, justifications won't solve any problems.

Take ownership of that review and talk it out. There is always something you can do to improve! COVID-19 Reviews COVID-19 reviews weren't something anyone was even thinking about a few months ago. Still, now that we have moved into the fall season, I believe this touchy subject will continue to appear on our social and review platforms. COVID-19 reviews are particularly tricky because many of us have specific or opposing views on how we think we should be dealing with this situation. These juxtaposed opinions have left many business owners reeling as they try to accommodate new guidelines and keep patients happy and healthy.

To be clear, I think there is a fine line between justifying behavior and educating patients on your protocols. It is all about timing and scripting. If you feel you need to do the latter; however, the goal in further correspondence is to act empathetically, offer solutions, and get them (if possible) to take down their review. Even in the situations where you have found resolve, it doesn't always mean that you will get that review taken down. Sometimes, you will have that little black mark on your record, and that's okay. Remember, one bad review will not sink your practice. It will not be the reason you are or are not successful.

Due to the variance in opinions on this matter, we must be aware that there is a degree of social shaming for our views, regardless of what they may be. This conflict creates an intense new relationship with our social media sites, one in which we must be extra cautious about what is posted onto our platforms. Negative reviews are becoming a way for patients to express their opinions on what is or is not an ethical way to manage your business. Things that didn't previously affect our buying habits are now at the center of them. The bottom line is that not only are patients reviewing you based on their experience within your practice, but also by what they can assume about you from your social sites.

As an example of this, consider your buying habits for a moment. As you look at the reviews of a product, you will undoubtedly come across a "...this review few blips, no matter how many should serve five-star reviews they may have. as a learning I would even venture to say that products or services that only have moment for five-star reviews can give us the you and your "it's too good to be true" complex, and we worry about the credibility team." of those reviews. Bad reviews are what makes us human; it is how we respond to the reviews that matters.

Let me give you an example of this. Let's say that you are the orthodontist known for your debond parties. Everyone in the community knows that you're the doctor that treats her patients to a caramel "COVID-19 reviews apple and some delicious are particularly candies, but, on one of your most recent debond tricky because days, an excited parent many of us snaps a picture of their have specific or child digging into all of those goodies without a opposing views..." mask on and, for a split second, the practice's receptionist isn't standing six feet from the patient. Without much thought, that photo is posted and the practice is tagged. That one, small, seemingly inconsequential moment puts your practice in the Facebook spotlight and under a lot of social scrutiny. Without realizing it, you have opened yourself up to social examination that leads to some not-so-great reviews and negative comments, even though you have followed all of the right safety protocols up until that moment.

Bury It If resolve between you and the patient wasn't achievable, it's time to bury that review! I want you to call on all of your practice mavens, influencers, friends, and family, and ask them to give you a beaming, five-star review. Let the people who know and love your practice show their appreciation and advocate for you. This will increase your rating and reverse any residual effects of the bad review. It's Time to Reflect Once the review has been dealt with, the only thing left is to reflect. Ultimately, this review should serve as a learning moment for you and your team. Being open with your team about these reviews will help you pivot and make changes to avoid bad reviews. The best way to facilitate this type of reflection is to ask yourself three questions: what could I have done differently; what could my team have done differently; how can we make sure this doesn't happen again?

You have to remember that social media is all about perception, as it gives people the ability to form opinions off of very little information. It has never been more important to pay attention to your social accounts and the momentary Continued on page 5 4


Bentson Copple reSource 3rd Quarter 2020

Bentson Copple reSource 3rd Quarter 2020

Office Culture Self-Renewal - Part 2 of 2

What to Do with a Negative Review By: Andrea Cook

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hen you think about building a team or office where team members are engaged, motivated, and excited to stick around for a while, there's likely one word you've heard again and again: culture. And for good reason - the vibe of your office and the people who come to work there every day has a huge impact on your happiness, and your overall success.

you assign different areas of the interview (and interviewers) to different subjects, it will result in deeper conversations, different conversations, and a broader understanding of each candidate. When the team is involved and has some input on their new teammates, they will incorporate them into the office much more quickly. Prioritize Attitude Over Skills and Experience

In the 2nd Quarter 2020 edition of the Bentson Copple reSource, we published Part 1 of this article. It focused on defining your culture, examining your culture, investing in building your talent brand, and finding ways to constantly reinforce your core values. Within this article (Part 2), Andrea Cook will continue to provide insights into making sure your orthodontic practice's hiring process is set up to bring in the right talent.

Often the easy thing to do is hire a person who can do the job right now with as little training as possible. When you have a full patient schedule, "...bring a and you need someone who can balanced and run the front desk or a column patients, it may be tempting truly diverse of to hire the first experienced type of culture applicant you find. While these hires have an immediate impact, to your you need to question whether organization." they will be growing with you for years after the immediate task or need you hired them for is gone.

When it comes to recruiting and hiring a team that will support and build your culture taking the time upfront will pay off. The hires you make can not only impact your office but also directly impact your culture too. Sixty-five percent of businesses have a vision but only 14% of the employees understand the vision and the way they play a role in delivering the message. This understanding comes from the job description and the hiring process. Applicants must understand what their tasks will be as well as what they will be expected to contribute to the culture and patient experience. Here are some ways to make sure your hiring process is set up to bring in the right talent:

Don't Hire "Mini-Mes" "Culture fit" does not mean that a new hire looks like, thinks like, or acts like you and your team. Think of it as the person who brings a diversity of opinion, thought, experience, and background. Understanding this as you hire will help bring a balanced and truly diverse type of culture to your organization.

Make Sure Candidates Appreciate Your Culture and Values

There must be a clear understanding of what each role and team member contributes to the culture and experience you have developed. Below is a brief breakdown of some of the ways each team member in your office can contribute to your practice's culture, either intentionally or unintentionally through her actions and/or words.

A job description for every position in your office is critical, but that is only one piece of finding the right new hire. If your new hires align with your culture and values, it's easier for everyone to be moving in the same direction. Ask some specific interview questions to help you assess if a candidate shares your office values.

Front Office/Schedulers

• What gets you excited about coming to work?

• A smile in my voice when I answer the phone. Thank the caller, tell them your name and ask, "How can I help you today?"

• What did you like most/least about your last office? • What does a successful office culture look like to you?

• A connection with patients/parents as they enter the office. This may mean having calls answered in another area of the office to allow them to personally greet patients and parents.

• What most appeals to you about this role? • And the most important question is: Why do you want to work here? Divide And Conquer in the Interview Process

• A smooth closing as they leave the office. Using their name, thank them for coming to their appointment.

Optimize your interviews and use your interview team to cover as much ground as possible. No one, no matter how good an interviewer he or she may be, can get a full picture in 45 minutes. Assign your team with different areas to cover in the interviews (skills, cultural fit, experience, etc.). If

• Ability to "talk down" an angry patient. Verbal skills to stay within office guidelines while making the patient feel their concerns have been heard and addressed may take additional training.

Continued from page 4

snapshots that can lead to incorrect assumptions about your practice. You open your practice to a specific risk on your social sites if you are not paying attention to your practice's overall representation on these platforms. Your team members can also open you up to additional scrutiny. There will always be a "Judgy Judy" out there who sees your practice's post and then notices that your team member liked it. Before you know it, Judgy Judy is looking at your team member's profiles and forming opinions about your practice because of their association with you.

As much as you may want to avoid bad reviews entirely, the reality is that you won't. Even the best businesses have onestar reviews. Just remember, let go of emotion, take some time to reflect, bury it, and decide how you and your team can do better next time. Jill Allen, Owner of Jill Allen & Associates, is an orthodontic practice management consultant who focuses on startup practices and doctors who have been in business for eight years or less. The firm specifically helps both new and established orthodontic practices increase their growth, streamline processes, increase their case acceptance, and optimize every aspect of their business. She believes in a practical approach to practice management and has more than 27 years of experience in the orthodontic industry, working with clients all over the United States. For more information visit practiceresults.com or contact Jill directly by phone at 303-988-4455 or via email at Jill@practiceresults.com.

Reviews have become a baseline for our buying habits and decision making. With all of this pressure put onto our reviews, it's no wonder we have such strong emotional responses when a consumer calls us out in such a public setting.

Schulman Group: From Then to Now Continued from page 2

Q: What makes the Schulman Group different from the other DSOs?

A: It is our opinion that even with the rapid changes the industry has witnessed in recent years, the future of the orthodontic market in general is good for orthodontic specialists, and that the future is even better for orthodontists who are affiliated with SG Management. No practitioners are better educated in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics than orthodontists are. But clinical expertise alone does not ensure a successful practice. In coupling that clinical expertise with SG's astute, progressive business acumen, SG members and SG-owned practices out-perform national averages. That means that, on average, our members and SG-owned practices treat a greater number of patients. SG makes it possible to successfully compete in the orthodontic space while preserving the reasons orthodontists became orthodontists in the first place. Orthodontics has been and always will be a wonderful profession. The smiles orthodontists create are especially needed during this time.

A: What makes SG Management different from other DSOs boils down to our unique business model's ownership and management, along with attention to elements that make a practice successful. We are 100% orthodontist owned and our leadership team is comprised of orthodontists and people like me who have been in the orthodontic arena for years. Because of this, we have the advantage over venture capitalist or private equity-based DSOs in that our leadership team understands intimately the practice of orthodontics and the need to maintain quality for our practices. We are focused on the profitability of members, efficiency of practices with the latest research and services, and above all, excellent patient care. "Success Through Sharing" works for our members because of continual exchanges of ideas and information. There is an appreciation for SG's Preferred Suppliers whose products and services enhance patient care. Further, SG supports members in their service to the family of patients served, as well as caring for and giving back to their local communities. The goal is to always create a win-win environment for everyone.

Chris Vranas is Executive Director of SG Management LLC (Schulman Group) an innovative, member-owned orthodontic Dental Support Organization (DSO), whose members represent the top 2 percent of orthodontists practicing in the United States. It’s a unique business model comprised of independent practice owners who use collective purchasing power to provide member shareholders with competitive pricing and services through over 28 preferred supplier agreements. All orthodontic practice owners are committed to excellent treatment results and customer service, and remaining independent in one’s practice. For further information on associate opportunities, practice acquisition, or membership go to www.schulmangroup.com.

Q: Is there anything else you would like readers of the Bentson Copple reSource to know about the Schulman Group or the orthodontic market in general?

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Bentson Copple reSource 3rd Quarter 2020

Reimagining Success: Practicing in a Post-COVID World By: Angela Weber

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hat is essential? It seems we've all asked ourselves this very question at least a dozen times following the shutdown and since re-opening. The basics of business haven't changed, but how we deliver services to our patients has.

big difference in how quickly many of the practices we work with recovered. The ability to make quick decisions comes down to clear goals for growth and a commitment to datadriven decisions. Putting aside pre-COVID goals, what are your new practice targets and what is it going to take to get you there? Once you have answered those two questions you can map out how to best achieve your goals. It's important to develop a solid plan of attack. But, first, you'll need to determine your team's role in your plan for growth. This may mean shifting each team member's responsibilities in order to have them focus on what's vital to the practice.

COVID-19 brought the world to a screeching halt and forced us all to focus on what really matters and what truly adds value to our lives. While this shutdown period has brought a lot of uncertainty, the months of re-opening quickly proved to be promising for our industry. Smiles were back! And, while we were faced with a new normal of scheduling challenges and process changes, those who chose to adapt are quickly returning to pre-COVID stats. Now's the time to reimagine your practice because the future is wide open with possibilities. The only thing we have to do to start is to shift our thinking a bit.

2. It's Time To Redefine Roles Reimagine each person's role on your team and his or her responsibilities. Remember that your orthodontic assistants, treatment coordinators - everyone who works for you - matter to your business. They help you foster amazing relationships with your patients. For this reason and many others, it's incredibly important to make sure your team feels supported and valued. One way to do this is to be upfront about what your expectations are for their roles moving forward. Set clear tasks, responsibilities, and clearly defined goals you'd like them to meet. This shared sense of purpose will get you that much closer to your shared goal.

It's time to become more agile, more streamlined. It's time to look at utilizing new technology to help you thrive. It's about rethinking how you interact with your patients "Now's the time and how you bond with them to reimagine in a time when being faceyour practice to-face is limited. Lastly, it's about being future-focused because the rather than reactionary. For future is wide example, instead of cutting open with your marketing budget because times are tough, possibilities." ramp up your marketing. With media companies in desperate need of people to advertise, rates are at an all-time low, making it the perfect time to up the ante on your marketing. Below are a few tips to open your mind and the door to bigger profits down the road.

3. It's Time To Start Problem Solving Together Reimagine how you communicate with your team. In addition, create an open-door policy or set time in your huddles so that your team has a chance to communicate in real-time about issues as they pop up. If they come to you with a problem, include them in the solving of the problem. The reason is that team members are going to be more inclined to tackle obstacles head-on rather than letting things go and hope you don't notice, if they feel heard. High performing teams can easily recognize when change is necessary and don't wait to be told.

1. It's Time To Get Agile Reimagine your team structure. Now that you've been through the fire drill of crisis management, you may have surprised yourself with how you and your team were able to make important decisions faster and better than expected. For instance, the efficiency of virtual visits has long been debated by many doctors and team members, yet efforts to maintain operations during a practice closure meant we could no longer debate over what to do. Rather, we had to take swift action, putting platforms and processes in place so that we could help our clients communicate with their patients effectively, even during a quarantine.

For example, the next time you are implementing new technology, patient communication tools, or enhancing safety protocols, assign responsibility to a team member or create "change ambassadors" or a "growth squad" for each initiative. When initiatives are completed, reward the team member or group for a job well done. 4. It's Time To Train Your Team To Be Even More Amazing Reimagine training by cross-training your team. While each role in the practice is unique, your team will be faced with periods of being short-staffed. In these situations, cross-training will be instrumental to your success. If you don't have well-documented training materials, now's the

This experience proved that smart decisions could be made quickly for everyone. And, as new opportunities emerged, we were able to execute them quickly, which made a

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Bentson Copple reSource 3rd Quarter 2020

Reimagining Success: Practicing in a Post-COVID World Continued from page 6

time to build as you go. Remember: this is a great opportunity to try new things and do things differently to better support your team and your patients. Then, it's important to acknowledge that during this time your team will be spending a large part of their day managing your patient "Consider process, sanitizing, and dealing with new daily issues, outsourcing...to leaving little time for catering relieve the stress to your patients' needs. Not taking care of your patients and streamline can be a bigger problem than practice staff turnover. Your reputation operation." is everything. By outsourcing specific jobs like admin tasks, you're able to continue providing exceptional customer service without sacrificing your team's sanity or yours. Ask your team what they'd like to outsource. The answers might surprise you. Services like patient insurance verification that keep valuable staff on the phones for hours with insurance companies are now being shifted to vendors like OrthoSynetics. Consider outsourcing any function you can to relieve the stress and streamline practice operations. 5. It's Time To Reconnect With Your Patients Reimagine your customer service. Customer expectations are rapidly changing across every industry. In the healthcare industry, expectations are even higher. The key to meeting your patients' expectations is to understand that the root of their demands is the quest for simplicity. Make your treatment processes as simple as possible. By rethinking your entire patient journey and the ways you can accelerate the steps along that journey, you'll be making it easier for potential patients to get started. Patients want it all online. They want to know what you provide and how much it's going to cost right upfront. Price transparency in and of itself is a big value. Giving them these types of details ahead of their new patient visit will help with same-day starts. One way to speed up the process is to place patient contracts and new patient health history, as well as content forms, online. This reduces the amount of paperwork and the number of people involved in keying it into your system. If treatment checks can be done virtually - well do it virtually. It's that simple. 6. It's Time To Think About Your Cash Flow Rethink your future investments. It's simple math: future cash flow comes down to an increase in total production. By looking at this number, you

can check to see if your practice is moving toward pre-COVID levels. Not only does this metric act as a little crystal ball into the future health of your practice, but it also keeps new revenue top of mind. In addition, while you want to reduce your risks and slow down the money going out your door, there are certain cuts that will work against you and delay your ability to get money flowing again. When trimming costs, consider whether that cost is really an investment. Marketing, for instance, is an essential investment in getting your practice back on track. Doctors who continued long-term brand-building strategies during the practice closure and resumed lead generation efforts upon their practice re-opening have experienced record months post-COVID. If you advertise (effectively), new patients will come. It's also cheaper than ever to promote your practice. Advertisers have dropped their rates because so many businesses have pulled their marketing dollars. Now's the time to experiment with other forms of advertising. For instance, shifting advertising dollars away from event marketing to digital media makes sense in today's social distancing climate. Another idea is to relook at the community events you typically sponsor. Odds are, like most events across the world, they've been canceled or "When have gone virtual. I recommend trimming moving these marketing dollars to where they will have an costs, consider immediate impact - online. From whether a digital perspective, audience that cost is consumption has increased dramatically. Modify your really an marketing plan to include social media, video, and retargeting investment." efforts. By being aggressive and thoughtful in your future expenses, you'll be setting yourself up for a quicker recovery. 2020 is already becoming the year that taught us some hard but necessary lessons. However, in the end, you'll have become more agile, more nimble, all while creating a safe environment for your patients, your staff, and your entire community. The road ahead may look bumpy and unpredictable, but, from where we sit, we believe the future is full of smiles. Angela Weber is the Chief Marketing Officer for OrthoSynetics, which specializes in business services for the orthodontic and dental industry. She leads a team of marketing professionals dedicated to developing and implementing cutting-edge strategies and solutions for their members. Angela can be reached via phone at 877-674-1111 or via email at aweber@orthosynetics.com.

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Bentson Copple reSource 3rd Quarter 2020

Business Discipline: Strategic Planning in the Orthodontic Practice By: Tracy Moawad

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all is my favorite time of the year. It's partly due to the newly crisp air and fall colors, but this change of seasons and prelude to winter also pushes us to look inward and reflect on our lives over the past year, and, in doing so, set intentions for the coming year. The same is true for businesses. In the corporate world, the 4th quarter is the time of year when companies prepare their budgets and build strategic plans for the coming year. It's an opportunity to measure results in the current year, analyze what worked and what didn't, set new goals, and create action plans to achieve them. It's a time for inspiration, creativity, and innovation. Yet, I work with dozens of practices each year, and many have not adopted the discipline of conducting an annual strategic planning session.

the organization's direction in response to a changing environment. You'll notice that "organizational management activity" is italicized. An annual strategic planning session is not meant to be the sole endeavor of the orthodontist. This meeting ideally falls under the direction of an Office Manager or Director of Operations. It will require pre-planning to schedule the meeting, gather needed information, prepare materials, share them with the meeting attendees prior to the meeting so everyone comes prepared, and have ready recommendations for changes in the coming year. If you do not have an Office Manager or Director of Operations, consider planning for one. Having a strong manager is fundamental "An annual to the success of today's strategic planning practice to ensure that systems and processes are session is not carried out efficiently and meant to be the adequately, performance sole endeavor of indicators are measured the orthodontist." and addressed in real-time, profitability is monitored, and, of course, the practice's strategic plan is designed and carried out.

If you fall into the category of practices that have not adopted this vital "growth" discipline, don't be too hard on yourself. It's easy to understand why many orthodontic offices are not yet operating at this level of business management. Many practices may feel that it's simply not necessary, while others think they don't have the time or resources or don't know where to start. Regardless of the reason, my response is the same: Start you must. As I read back through past issues of Bentson Copple reSource, the trends and messages are clear. Orthodontics is changing at a remarkable pace. External forces from every direction are rapidly reshaping the industry and practices must adapt to keep up. We see these forces come in the form of technology, new companies and services, and a new level of sophistication in business models with the onset of corporate DSO and private equity partnerships. And of course, 2020 brought something we "External never could have expected - a forces from global pandemic that stopped every direction the world in its tracks. In all of this, we cannot forget the are rapidly increasingly savvy patient/ reshaping the consumer, the driver of these market forces, who relishes industry..." convenience, lives and breathes social media, prefers to communicate via text, and shops virtually for everything from clothing to groceries (to orthodontics). Gone are the days when we can simply strive to do our best for our patients, deliver exceptional care, and expect the rest "will take care of itself." Today's practitioner must be intentional in the vision you set for the practice and put plans in place to ensure that vision becomes a reality. Enter strategic planning.

So, where to begin? If you don't have a manager, go through the exercise on your own, with trusted key team members, or even a spouse if they are involved in the practice. It won't be perfect the first time around, but you'll undoubtedly be further ahead than having not planned at all, and you will learn much in the process. Step 1: Schedule Your Annual Planning Session This seems obvious, but I highly recommend scheduling your annual planning session six to 12 months in advance and dedicating a full day to the meeting. If you shortchange yourself and your team on time, you will be rushed or won't get through everything on the agenda. Creative discussion, the fuel of innovation, will also suffer. Be sure all meeting attendees are notified of the meeting, that they fully understand the purpose and importance of the meeting and that they commit to the date and time. Consider where you want to have the meeting and ensure the environment is conducive to the energy you wish to create. The office is typically the best place to have the meeting so you can easily access information and walk through the premises to discuss needed changes. That said, think outside the box - you probably don't want to be sitting in a cramped office all day. Plan to work in a well-lit, open space and ensure you have a large screen and computers available for all participants. Plan for food and consider a short outing that ties into your planning session to break up the monotony. Get creative - this

By one definition, strategic planning is an organizational management activity that is used to set priorities, focus energy and resources, ensure that employees are working toward common goals, and measure and adjust

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is not just about numbers; it's also about reigniting everyone's passion and excitement for the practice in the coming year.

configurations throughout the year so that you are prepared when the time comes to make these changes.

Step 2: Build Your Agenda

Staff Planning

Hopefully, by now, your practice is using technology as a tool to communicate effectively and share information. Asana is a favorite task and project management tool at Hummingbird and with Hummingbird clients; however, there are many well-designed, browser-based tools available that allow you to share documents, tasks, and projects for collaboration with your management team. Create your agenda, publish it immediately for your management team to see, and add updates as you see fit. Managers should set aside time each month to review agenda items and set tasks and due dates for anything that requires pre-planning.

Review your new financial and organizational goals. What changes are needed from a staff planning perspective to put your plan into action? Identify additional resources needed, consider your training and onboarding plans (key to new hire success rates), and don't forget to consider transitions like maternity leave or retirements that may occur in the coming year. Have your organizational chart or list of employees prepared for this discussion. This is also the time to evaluate staff development and training needs. Changes to compensation and incentive plans can be discussed here or under Policy and Protocols.

Every practice will have unique items to address during an annual planning session. Still, there are some items you should always have on your agenda, as they are core components of managing and strategic planning for a practice.

• New Hires • Onboarding Process • Transitions • Contingency Planning (cross-training for high-risk roles) • Staff Development • Training Needed • Compensation and Incentive Plans

Set Financial Goals Every practice should set goals for the year. Get serious about what your long-term goals are and what it will take to achieve them. Think big "In focusing - if you had no limitations, what is possible? If you're planning to on financial bring in an associate, do you need growth, to grow incrementally to support both doctors? It's not enough to practices set a target for production; you often overlook must drill down to understand what it will take to get to that organizational number - how many exams goal setting." per month or day are required? (Factor in your conversion rate!) Do we need more resources? More space? Identify the action items needed to accomplish your goals. Set Organizational Goals In focusing on financial growth, practices often overlook organizational goal setting. Don't miss the opportunity to thoughtfully plan for and build culture, further develop your teams, and make a difference in the lives of your employees, patients, and community. Evaluate for Schedule Template Changes You've set new production goals; your templates will likely need to be changed to meet these goals. If they don't, one might argue you are not stretching far enough. Get in the habit of tracking needed changes to the template and appointment

Evaluate Treatment Plans and Fees Treatment efficiency is the cornerstone of a practice's long-term profitability and plays directly into patient satisfaction. Take a good hard look at how many patients are beyond estimated completion date and consider the impact on the patient and your bottom line. Using pre-determined treatment plans to outline the basic number of visits and procedures for each visit will go a long way in increasing treatment and clinic efficiency, delivering on patient expectations, and increasing profitability. Annual Calendar Practices should aim to plan their calendar of patient days, administrative days, vacation days, and meetings a year in advance. Start with knowing the baseline number of patient days needed to work each month to meet your production goals. Refer to your current year calendar as a guideline for needed schedule changes, doctor vacation days, holidays, meetings, special events, and other calendar items. Systems Inventory This is a review of all systems and processes in the practice. Are any processes or systems broken or outdated? Is training required in certain areas? Is an audit needed from an outside party to identify any process gaps? Ideally, the practice manager is already regularly monitoring each of Continued on page 10

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these areas and will be able to answer these questions to make recommendations for needed changes easily. If not, have them schedule time before your annual planning session to do a thorough review in each area.

Use QuickBooks budgeting wizard to load in a new budget using last year's expenses. Adjust for each month to create your budget and consider the following: • What are your overhead categories and target overhead percentages for each? • What items are one-time vs. recurring expenses? • Are there planned increases or decreases in staff salaries? • What action items identified in the meeting need to be included in the budget? • What are our equipment lease renewals or replacement needs? • Are any large capital expenses expected? • Were courses or training needs for staff identified? • Have you allocated a sufficient marketing budget (and adjusted accordingly for COVID)?

• New Patient Process • Financial Systems - Contracts, Insurance, Delinquencies • Clinical Systems • Recall System • Call Center/Scheduling • Reporting/Metrics • Utilization and Efficacy of Software System Policy and Protocols A review of all policies and protocols in the practice can determine if updates are needed. Reflect upon issues or questions that came up during the year or recurring issues with employees. Is your employee manual current? Are there any policies or protocols not documented that should be? Are there new COVID policies/protocols that need to be documented? Managers should come prepared to make recommendations for changes. Even better, tracking changes and planning for updates or reviews throughout the year keep this from being a cumbersome undertaking. If you're not already making use of a company that specializes in employee manuals and HR law, consider doing so.

Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) As you set goals for the practice, it's imperative that you identify how you will measure progress and success. Determining these measurement tools in advance will set you and your team up for success and also create a structure with which your management team can meet and communicate regularly about your progress. Refer back to your list of goals and determine the proper measurement for each. • What reports should be run to measure certain datadriven goals? Who will run them, and how often? Is training needed? • How will you measure employee development goals and how often? • If you set softer/less tangible goals for areas like culture, team morale, or patient satisfaction, how will you measure them? • How will goals and progress be communicated to the team?

Projects Identifying and mapping out the scope of larger projects for the coming year will help greatly in prioritizing and managing resources. Goals you have set may dictate new projects, but don't forget to include larger events or processes that recur every year. Discuss goals and budgets for each project, and be prepared to review information from past experiences to help drive changes or decision making. • New building or remodel • Practice acquisitions • Associate integration or transition plan • Implementation of a new process (employee reviews) • New website • Annual holiday party • Annual patient appreciation party • Annual referral party

Management and Leadership Development Leadership development is an important area of strategic planning yet is often overlooked. As a practice grows and becomes more sophisticated, it's incumbent upon the leadership team (doctors included!) to evaluate their efficacy and development needs. It's also a great time to review the current role of the management team, their responsibilities, and any changes that are needed. Your new plan for the coming year may require new skills, the delegation of responsibilities to take on new tasks, and even additional resources. Your management team needs will evolve as your practice evolves. You must continue to develop skills in this area to be effective.

Annual Budget Far too few practices have a budget and use it. Creating a budget can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't need to be. Enlist the help of your accountant or bookkeeper.

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Chart 1: Planning Pyramid Our purpose/ Why we exist

Mission Where we’re going/Who we want to be

Vision

Strategic Goals

What we must accomplish to get there

Specific outcomes/Desired results

Objectives

Action plans needed to achieve objectives

Action Plans Key Performance Measures/Indicators (KPIs) Strategic Plan

How we measure results/Determine success

Action Plan

Step 3: Pre-Planning Work There is a reason your annual strategic planning session should ideally fall under the purview of an Office Manager or Director of Operations. A considerable amount of planning and research should go into preparing for your annual meeting. Now that you have your agenda, your manager will need to go through each agenda item and determine what materials are needed to discuss each topic and make decisions, conduct a systems inventory, and review process. Scheduling your planning session far in advance allows for enough time to properly prepare and makes for a much more productive meeting. Step 4: The Meeting: Keeping Perspective Let's face it; annual strategic planning is a business discipline that many orthodontic practices are likely not yet using. To keep from being overwhelmed, it may help to consider a simplified visual representation of strategic planning. Have this model (Chart 1, above), as well as your mission and vision statement for the practice, present during your annual planning session to keep the process in perspective. During your meeting, as you discuss items, be sure to identify action items or projects which your manager

will need to build out and plan for. Ensuring managers have taken time to think through these items ahead of the meeting will increase the productivity of the meeting. Come prepared with questions and seek to obtain answers rather than trying to tease them out when you don't have your team's undivided attention. By the time you work through your strategic planning session, you will undoubtedly be exhausted, but happily so, knowing that you have laid the groundwork for a purposeful plan and goals in the coming year. Expect to make adjustments to your plans throughout the year, but having a roadmap, a way to measure progress, and everyone moving in the same direction working toward the same goals will increase your chances of success tenfold. After all, it's not just about surviving in this rapidly changing orthodontic landscape - it's about thriving. A Senior Consultant at Hummingbird Associates, Tracy Moawad specializes in business operations, administrative systems, and management training. Hummingbird Associates is a renowned international management consulting firm dedicated to developing the human and business side of orthodontic practices. Hummingbird helps clients strengthen the ties between sound business practices, information technology, and clinical orthodontics. Tracy can be reached via email at Tracy@hummingbirdassociates.com.

This publication is not intended to render legal, investment, tax, or accounting advice. If legal, investment, tax, accounting advice, or any other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. Further, the views of the authors of articles contained in this publication are not necessarily those of Bentson Copple & Associates, LLC. 11


Bentson Copple reSource 3rd Quarter 2020

Office Culture Self-Renewal - Part 2 of 2 By: Andrea Cook

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hen you think about building a team or office where team members are engaged, motivated, and excited to stick around for a while, there's likely one word you've heard again and again: culture. And for good reason - the vibe of your office and the people who come to work there every day has a huge impact on your happiness, and your overall success.

you assign different areas of the interview (and interviewers) to different subjects, it will result in deeper conversations, different conversations, and a broader understanding of each candidate. When the team is involved and has some input on their new teammates, they will incorporate them into the office much more quickly. Prioritize Attitude Over Skills and Experience

In the 2nd Quarter 2020 edition of the Bentson Copple reSource, we published Part 1 of this article. It focused on defining your culture, examining your culture, investing in building your talent brand, and finding ways to constantly reinforce your core values. Within this article (Part 2), Andrea Cook will continue to provide insights into making sure your orthodontic practice's hiring process is set up to bring in the right talent.

Often the easy thing to do is hire a person who can do the job right now with as little training as possible. When you have a full patient schedule, "...bring a and you need someone who can balanced and run the front desk or a column patients, it may be tempting truly diverse of to hire the first experienced type of culture applicant you find. While these hires have an immediate impact, to your you need to question whether organization." they will be growing with you for years after the immediate task or need you hired them for is gone.

When it comes to recruiting and hiring a team that will support and build your culture taking the time upfront will pay off. The hires you make can not only impact your office but also directly impact your culture too. Sixty-five percent of businesses have a vision but only 14% of the employees understand the vision and the way they play a role in delivering the message. This understanding comes from the job description and the hiring process. Applicants must understand what their tasks will be as well as what they will be expected to contribute to the culture and patient experience. Here are some ways to make sure your hiring process is set up to bring in the right talent:

Don't Hire "Mini-Mes" "Culture fit" does not mean that a new hire looks like, thinks like, or acts like you and your team. Think of it as the person who brings a diversity of opinion, thought, experience, and background. Understanding this as you hire will help bring a balanced and truly diverse type of culture to your organization.

Make Sure Candidates Appreciate Your Culture and Values

There must be a clear understanding of what each role and team member contributes to the culture and experience you have developed. Below is a brief breakdown of some of the ways each team member in your office can contribute to your practice's culture, either intentionally or unintentionally through her actions and/or words.

A job description for every position in your office is critical, but that is only one piece of finding the right new hire. If your new hires align with your culture and values, it's easier for everyone to be moving in the same direction. Ask some specific interview questions to help you assess if a candidate shares your office values.

Front Office/Schedulers

• What gets you excited about coming to work?

• A smile in my voice when I answer the phone. Thank the caller, tell them your name and ask, "How can I help you today?"

• What did you like most/least about your last office? • What does a successful office culture look like to you?

• A connection with patients/parents as they enter the office. This may mean having calls answered in another area of the office to allow them to personally greet patients and parents.

• What most appeals to you about this role? • And the most important question is: Why do you want to work here? Divide And Conquer in the Interview Process

• A smooth closing as they leave the office. Using their name, thank them for coming to their appointment.

Optimize your interviews and use your interview team to cover as much ground as possible. No one, no matter how good an interviewer he or she may be, can get a full picture in 45 minutes. Assign your team with different areas to cover in the interviews (skills, cultural fit, experience, etc.). If

• Ability to "talk down" an angry patient. Verbal skills to stay within office guidelines while making the patient feel their concerns have been heard and addressed may take additional training. Continued on page 13 12


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Treatment Coordinators • Making that connection with the patient and parent. Be available when the new patient arrives in the office. • Greet them by name and welcome them to your practice when they arrive. • Asking questions that make a "yes" to treatment happen. What payment amount fits within your budget? • Remove options that make "no" to treatment an option. • Removing any obstacle that may keep a new patient from starting if the doctor prescribes treatment. How easy are your new patient forms to fill out? Is their insurance verified before their appointment? Clinical Team • Call patients by their names when bringing them into the clinic. We have photos of the patient on their treatment card. • Make a point to walk to the patient and let them know you are ready for their appointment. • Introduce yourself by name to the patient. If you have not met or worked with a patient, introduce yourself when you bring them back to the clinic. • Keep connected with your patient through the entire appointment. If you have time waiting for the doctor, spend that time chatting with your patient, or reviewing oral hygiene. This is not a time to leave the patient and go have a conversation with other team members. It is also disrespectful to your patient to be distracted by your phone or smartwatch. • Be with your patient during the entire appointment. Clinical and chairside organization to allow you to stay with the patient during the entire appointment. Having all supplies (adhesives, disposable items, etc.) and extra instruments well organized in your side unit will give you everything you need to complete their appointment without leaving them alone. This also increases your efficiency and makes your job easier. One of the best training tools for developing verbal skills to train your team on how to deliver the message you want is to role-play. When we get busy during the patient day, we often don't realize how our message may sound. One of the biggest learning tools I experienced as a clinician was when I was recorded delivering oral hygiene instructions after an initial bonding. I was going through the motions and giving the patient/parent all the information

needed but not truly engaging or connecting with the patient. This allowed me to change my delivery to make my message be "heard" by the patient. In our work as professionals, our culture teaches us to initiate, plan, execute, and drive for the outcomes. This can be on a personal level - both as doctors and as each team member - as well as an office culture change. Developing your culture takes time, energy, and intent. Company culture can be vague to pin down and define, but for the most part, it's your company's unique behavior, beliefs, attitude, and nature. It's also a vibe, a mojo, a mission, a passion, and a way to communicate. It's simply about the people, and people are complex. While it would be nice if offices put as much thought into establishing culture as they do designing business strategy and learning about new technology, the truth is that it usually doesn't happen that way. It's widely known that people quit bosses, not jobs. Usually, when the boss sucks, the culture sucks too. If you want to keep your people - especially "As the leader your stars - it's time to pay more attention to how you develop the of your culture in your office. At times, practice take the problem is that company a look in the culture is determined at the mirror and be top and works its way down. As the leader of your practice honest." take a look in the mirror and be honest. Examine your overall attitude, contributions you may be providing (or not providing) to the culture of your practice, consider if you are leading by example, and think about the ways you are communicating verbally and nonverbally to your team. The finding may be tough to swallow, but take action and make changes to your office to better the overall culture. Be deliberate and purposeful in your changes. So, what if your boss or team member is a nightmare, the culture is toxic, and you're about to start singing, "take this job and shove it"? Or maybe it's not that bad but is getting there. Do you just give up and quit? Well, if you love what you do, the industry you're in, the people you work with, or if there's any other reason to have hope, then it is likely worth an attempt to make things better. Andrea Cook is a veteran in clinical procedures and clinical productivity. She has over 20 years of chairside experience and has worked as a clinical consultant and trainer for premier orthodontic practices throughout the country. For more information, visit Andrea's website at www.andreacookconsulting.com. Andrea can be contacted at 253-332-3376 or via email at andreal.cook@comcast.net.

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Millennial Orthodontics: More Than a Virus...A Generation By: Tracy Martin

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tech obsession, or the tired "participation trophy" routine, but if we're to adapt to serve them we need to understand what drives them.

e all suffer from a tendency to put off changing until we have to. It's the health scare that sparks the diet and exercise. It's the final indignity at work that prompts the resignation. It's the last harsh words that spur the breakup. The signs and clues were there for a while. We knew something had to change, but it takes a crisis to force our hands.

This group has seen some things. They've grown up with "The Great Recession," unending war, high unemployment, and now a pandemic. But, simultaneously, they've witnessed explosive technology and the ubiquity of media (social and otherwise). It's a potent mix that has had a profound impact on them.

Well, for the last several years we've been talking about the impact of Millennials on orthodontics. Laura Overcash talked about generational diversity in your practice in this same issue last year. In fact, Maria T. Bailey and Brenda Ashwell were analyzing Millennial Moms right here, all the way back in 2016! The problem is, most of us have been missing the forest for the trees. We've focused on Millennials solely as the new, young coworkers we have to "learn to deal with." Or we've simply talked about "patients in 20XX."

So, let's break down some of their characteristics as consumers. First off, they're pragmatic. If can find the information "They love to they themselves, they'll do it. crowdsource If you're going to do it for them, it better be easier and their social frictionless.

networks when it comes to buying decisions."

We've failed to address the massive societal impact of a generation bigger than the Boomers, who will reshape industries in the same way their predecessors have. Because of this, too many of our friends and colleagues put off changing. And, now, the crisis is upon us in the form of a crown-shaped virus. The good news is that it's not too late! You don't have to be consigned to the list of coronavirus business casualties. Many of the ways in which your practice has been forced to adapt to "the new normal" of life in the time of COVID are the exact ways that you need to change to serve the needs of Millennial patients and thrive in 2021 and beyond. So, let's get into it.

They're highly mobile, both physically (when not quarantined), and digitally. If your website isn't mobile-optimized (we're well past mobile "friendly"), it's time to redo it. They can use their phones to summon a ride, order a pizza, or shop for a house. The Jetsons had Rosie, but Millennials have Siri and Alexa. It's why they also prize convenience. Why wouldn't ortho be the same? They love to crowdsource their social networks when it comes to buying decisions. They seek recommendations for everything and value their peers' affirmation. When they walk through your door, they've already done what we call their "pre-search." They know all about you and what the community thinks of you.

How Big Are We Talking? First things first, you need to know who we're talking about. For those of you just joining us, Millennials, or "Generation Y," were born between 1980 and 2000. Some people define the cohort starting as early as '78, some have it ending as late as 2001 or 2002, but you get the idea. As I mentioned, what's often overlooked in the conversation is the sheer size of this cohort.

Price is important. They were hit hard by the Great Recession, they've struggled with crippling student loan debt, and they've seen painfully high unemployment. Then, just when things seemed to be looking up, the pandemic hit, and our country bungled the response. So, price is a strong factor in their shopping.

There are 80 million Millennials in the United States. That's nearly 25% of the population. To put it another way, that's the entire population, combined, of Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin. And together they account for $1.4 TRILLION in annual spending. All that to say, we ignore them at our folly.

And finally, they care. They care about purpose, about principles, about a cause. With their food, they're concerned with things that are organic, ethically-sourced, and healthy. With their companies, they want to work with the ones who are engaged in the community, give back in some way, and treat people with equality. This is the generation taking the lead with everything from the "Me, Too" movement to BLM.

Who Are They?

Millennial Parents

The important thing to understand is that there's a difference between working with a Millennial and serving them as a patient. It's easy to complain about entitlement,

Ok, so we've got the basics down on the size and makeup of the Millennial generation. Here's where it gets really interesting. They're parents now! In fact, over 40% Continued on page 15 14


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of them are. Millennial women are giving birth at a rate of roughly 10,000 per day. And, as they've become parents, their buying habits and priorities have continued to shift.

shutdown...both new and existing...it's what our Millennial parents are wanting anyway!

The challenging thing about Millennials in general, and especially Millennial parents, is that they're not one single homogenous cohort. The idea of a Millennial "monolith" is a myth. As parents, they fall into different segments based on finances and driving values. It's something that's expanded on in greater detail in Millennials with Kids by Fromm and Vidler. However, the exciting news for us, as orthodontists seeking to serve these parents, is that they're united by a desire for three characteristics when interacting with brands: personalization, democratization, and casualization.

We know; it's been hard. We've heard from docs, we've heard from treatment coordinators, we know that the abrupt transition has been a difficult one. In fact, in a recent poll, we heard from several practices who said that virtual consultations weren't going to be a focus now that their office had reopened. Now, my hunch is that this thought process hinges on the poor execution of a virtual offering, as opposed to a true lack of patient demand. But, either way, that's the wrong move.

What Comes Next

Not only should virtual consultations be a permanent part of your offering, but they also should be a prominent one. ESPECIALLY smile assessments! If I can send you a few pictures, find out if I'm even a candidate for treatment, and get a ballpark estimate "...the changes on fees, everyone wins. If I'm extremely restricted on we've been forced budget and I can't remotely to make to better afford it, then I don't waste serve patients my time or yours. And, if I check all the boxes and during COVID you're able to build some are changes we great rapport with me, am I not that much more likely should have made to become a same-day start already..." when I come in for the consult to "confirm your findings?" I'll even go so far as to suggest that your new patient experience should allow patients to make a "game-time decision" as to whether they see you in person or virtually. Let them decide, day of!

Put more simply, when they engage with your practice's "brand," Millennial parents want to feel like it's a unique interaction, that the way you treat them is fair, and that it has an informal feel. Hit that trifecta of unique, fair, and informal, and it's Millennial parent magic. So, what does that mean for ortho? The Virus Was a Gift Hold on, let me explain! The loss of life in the wake of this pandemic is undeniably tragic. And the economic disruption will have ripple effects for years, no question. I don't say this to in any way minimize that. Our society will be deeply affected by the Coronavirus in ways we haven't even begun to consider. That said, there are always silver linings, and when it comes to our industry there's a big one. The fact of the matter is that the changes we've been forced to make to better serve patients during COVID are changes we should have made already; COVID was just the accelerator. And they all center around one key area: virtualization. Some of us have been banging this drum for several years now and numerous companies have launched to support the initiative. Dental Monitoring launched in 2013, Rhinogram in 2015, and SmileSnap came along in 2019, just to name a few. But it took the radical disruption of our offices closing to really wake everyone up.

We always train our client offices to make an outbound TC call a day or two prior to the appointment, not as a "confirmation call", but as one last authentic connection with the new patient before they come in. Why not offer a final option to them? "We can't wait to see Joey on Thursday. Does coming into the office still work, or would you prefer a virtual appointment?" How many last-minute no-shows, cancellations, or reschedules could be avoided by asking that one question?

We believe that 2020 will go down as a landmark year in virtualization, the inflection point where the curve went vertical. To give you a few points of reference, SmileSnap went from 6,800 virtual consult submissions from November of 2019 through March of 2020, to over 120,000 since April 1, 2020. From July 2019 to July 2020, Dental Monitoring has seen over 390% growth in patient scans on the direct sales side alone.

The same should go for any obs appointments for growth and development checks, even if they're recall-ready! Put yourself in those Millennial parents' shoes. If I can just drive to Conrad's school, pull him out of class two minutes before his appointment, and then start a video call from the car, why wouldn't I?!? Why on earth would I want to deal with the hassle of coming all the way to your office and then back to school to drop him off?

So, as an industry, we're finally getting on board. But the key thing that not everyone gets is that, while virtualization has obviously allowed us to connect with patients during the

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Millennial Orthodontics: More Than a Virus...A Generation Continued from page 15

If I have the option to upload scans to Dental Monitoring through an app on my phone and not have to come in for an aligner check unless you see an issue, why would I trade that convenience for office appointments every six weeks?! Do you see where we're going with this?

new patients to pick their own payment arrangement and sign contracts remotely. What they've found is that Sign@Home patients resulted in higher down payments, more instances of paid-in-full, and an overall increase in same-day-cash. The reason? Without any of the "hyper empathy" of a Treatment Coordinator projecting her own feelings about the economy, patients picked what was right for them.

Let's Be Honest Look, no one is asking you to sacrifice the quality of care. You're a clinician, first and foremost. You take pride in your work. I get it. I spent 15 years in offices, and one of the things I love about ortho is the fierce sense of ownership docs have with regard to their outcomes.

Now, neither we nor OrthoFi would suggest moving all your patients to virtual consults. In-person exams offer an optimal opportunity to connect with patients and ideally generate a same-day start. But, if you're not broadening your virtual offering and investing in training your TCs to utilize them, you're missing out.

So, I understand when we start using the "v word" that many of you lock up, afraid that means I'm asking you to just "phone it in" (no pun intended). Let me be clear: I'm not asking you to become a local chapter of the SmileRegretClub.

The bottom line is that Millennial parents are going to drive massive changes in consumer expectations for the next 15-20 years. Don't let the hardship of the last several months be in vain.

But there was a time when most of you had separate "records" appointments. There was a time when impressions and study models were more the norm than the exception. If you were able to make the change to digital scans and sameday starts, you can do this too. The challenge is, you need to embrace it wholeheartedly. You need to train your team (especially your TC), and you need to give it time to work. This won't happen overnight, and it won't always be easy, but - I promise - it will be worth it.

Tracy Martin is the founder and lead consultant of Straight Consulting. Growing up in ortho, having held every position over the course of 15+ years in offices ranging from start-ups to multi-practice/multi-doctor and DSO, Tracy is passionate about the business of orthodontics. When she's not speaking at regional and national conferences or hosting Straight Consulting's signature TC Mastery Course, Tracy can be found on the road, in offices throughout the U.S. and Canada. Tracy's mission is to put a Millennial twist on traditional practice consulting and lead the development of next generation ortho teams. She can be reached via phone at 424-591-6723 or via email at tracy@straightconsulting.com.

Here's a perfect example. OrthoFi launched their Sign@Home feature in April, ahead of schedule, which allows

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Profile for Bentson Copple reSource

3rd Quarter 2020 - Volume XV Issue III  

3rd Quarter 2020 - Volume XV Issue III