Examining a Successful Grand Opening


Hi all, as many of you know, we have had a very successful opening at our new Firestone, CO location with partners JJ and JA.  Their opening stats are unequalled in Comfort History, therefore, unequalled in all of dental history.

It is important to note that these Comfort partners came to me with the general Firestone location–it was not one I would necessarily have picked at this time in our history.  I asked JJ and JA to write down for me (and you) some ideas on how they have had such a successful initial few months.  The following is what JJ sent me.  This is amazing stuff for ALL of you but especially those of you entering NEW MARKETS in the coming months.  Sure, there is lots of great Lean & Mean advice which thrills me but pay particular attention to paragraph 9–even at Comfort Dental it DOESN’T JUST HAPPEN–YOU MAKE IT HAPPEN.  THIS IS THE LATEST BOOK IN THE COMFORT BIBLE.  Enjoy as I did and know how proud of these partners I am.



Thanks! Both John and I have been working hard.  It’s good to see that it is really starting to pay off. 
I don’t think we do anything different or abnormal than anyone else out there.  I’m definitely not the worlds greatest dentist. A lot, if not most of our success is founded on Lean & Mean principles.  EVERY patient in our office gets an initial interview with the doctor.  I have personally learned the great value of the initial interview over the years. Taking a few minutes to: get to know your ball player, start treatment planning even before you see the patient’s teeth, seeing more than “what’s between the cheeks”, getting the patient comfortable by talking about himself rather than me talking about myself, learning about bad past dental experiences and making sure not to repeat, listening to the real CC, learning what the patient’s “hot buttons” are, getting an idea of where the patient stands financially, and so on–all the things you talk about have been so valuable.
During the clinical exam, I really utilize the “talk-over technique”. It benefits me greatly.  For example, I don’t have any problems selling perio.  Some of my patients are anticipating a need for a deep cleaning just per our conversation in the consultation room during the int.  During the exam, using the phrases “heavy plaque, heavy tartar, gums are red, inflamed, appear infected, bleed when touched” and then simply saying, “Well, Mr. Smith, all that means is that you need a really good deep cleaning.” I leave it at that and 90% of the time Mr Smith will say, “Well, that doesn’t surprise me” or “I knew this was coming”. I don’t have to spend anymore time trying to “educate my patient” to convince them to accept treatment when the $ comes into the picture.
I try to keep my CP’s focus on the big three concerns of $$, how many visits and what they patient can expect for discomfort and what I’ll do about it.
I believe in and use the lean and mean collection policy. All of my patients are offered the pre-treatment payment discount. I’ve had a few patients pay 9-10K on huge treatment plans to take advantage of the 8% discount.  I only mention that to point out that it is offered regardless of treatment plan size taking into consideration everything I’ve learned in the initial interview. Like probably everyone else, I offer the monthly payments through Care Credit and then pay-as-you-go trying to keep in mind adding and keeping the patient as part of the practice. I use these same principles with the adult Medicaid patients as well. Showing them how much their insurance will cover and giving them the option to go on and pay themselves when it’s beyond the $1000.  I’ve been surprised by how many will come up with the money to get the treatment done rather than wait for next year. One of the great things I read by another CD partner was how he recorded himself during an initial interview and diagnosis appointment. I’ve done the same and was surprised how different I sounded than what I perceived. I learned I talked too much, explained too much and then worked on confidently, presenting the case in a precise easy to understand way. I still feel like I could do better.
Both of us are really hard workers, competitive and have good PISS. Our patients like us. We both try to demonstrate good chair-side manner. We both care deeply about customer service.  The patients trust us. They feel comfortable at our practice and with us and tell their friends and family.  We get a lot of internal referrals. 
I think that is the backbone to the practice-the basic lean and mean principles.
I think one of the greatest advantages of being a CD partner is having access to docs and practices that know what it takes to succeed. Over the years, I would grill my current partners with questions on treatment, secrets to their success and so on.  Before opening, we reached out to recent start-ups like Green Valley Ranch and Mile High to pick their brains about what worked, what were some of their challenges, things they didn’t anticipate, etc. Before we opened we had a pretty good expectation of what was coming which helped us formulate realistic goals. We consulted with more established practices as well like Hunter’s Glenn, Lakewood and our original practices of Thornton and Denver. We talked about staff management, staff policies, office systems, digital x-rays, office flow and so on. Again, learning from these practices that seemed to have it “figured out” was extremely beneficial. We learned from them the top reasons why new patients come to their practice were “listed as provider for insurance” and signage (seeing office). Knowing that, we started very early, months before the building was done, to get credentialing finished with insurances and medicaid.  We had some hiccups along the way but for the most part when we opened we were ready to go with insurances. I’d be foolish not to recognize that the changes in Medicaid benefited our start greatly. The timing was perfect and we took advantage of it. We really pushed to get our signs up ASAP and a banner with our number on it. Initially, that was the number one reason patients were coming in.
We did some smaller things that I think contributed to the start as well.  We understood our geographic and demographic layout of the areas we served. We pull from the Eastern part of Longmont and about 5-6 smaller towns. We knew we were going to have to get the word out to these areas that we were there.  We hired a few young men to distribute a couple thousand flyers to designated areas. We went to local businesses in person and informed them that we were a provider for their insurance and dropped off flyers with coupons. We sponsored two local high school football teams. For one of them we are the “featured dentist”. We made almost 100 custom mouth-guards for  the JV and Varsity teams for no charge. They constructed a banner for us which is displayed at every home game and they give us a plug at every game during halftime. That was expensive and caused our OH to be a little higher but we felt like we would make it back. We participated in the Firestone town’s 4th of July parade. The CD van was there full of toothbrushes, flyers and candy. I got to wear the toothy suite. That was an experience. Some of our other staff was there walking the parade. It was hot, sweaty and tiresome, but we made a great impression on the town. I think these things are hard to measure and are points given to exposure and recognition something you and Neil understand much better than I do.
Like I said, I don’t think we really do that much different than anyone else. We had an idea and goal of what we wanted to do and really worked hard to go get it. We still have a long way to go. I appreciate being a part of the CD family and all the great associations and knowledge it comes with. I hope this helps.

Leave a Reply