We interview NPI Consultant, Lee Buzard, about his honest, no-nonsense approach to dental marketing with a dental practice marketing plan. Lee has over 20 years of experience in dental marketing, including purchasing and owning multiple dental practices. He has walked in the same dental office ownership trenches that many of his clients have. He truly understands when dentists ask, “what should I do?”

To have a marketing plan customized for you, visit http://newpatientsinc.com/dental_marketing_survey.html 

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Podcast Highlights:

  • Dentist’s most commonly asked questions
  • Assets and liabilities
  • Why throwing more money at a problem will not make it go away
  • What goes into calculating a 100% customized dental practice marketing plan
  • The importance of brutal honesty
  • Asking the hard questions of your practice
  • What can you expect from an advisor?
  • Promoting in the right mediums
  • Dentist to patient ratio

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by dentalwebcontent.com and New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the founder of New Patients Incorporated. Along with me once again is my friend and partner and the president of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Mark: Welcome everybody, this is Mark Dilatush.  Howie’s not here, he’s golfing or cleaning dirt off of his porch or something. He lives in Las Vegas, so he may be shading himself, or drinking water or looking out into the sky wondering why no birds exist in Las Vegas. But we are here we have a special guest Lee Buzard is a senior advisor here at New Patient, Inc. Lee, say hello.

Lee: Hello. How is everybody? How are you Mark?

Mark: I’m doing fine, sir.

Lee: I want to know what the deal is with the lack of love for people that live in the desert. I mean.

Mark: I know, I know I make fun of you too. So you know Howie and I do these podcasts weekly. And we talk about you know, many of the lessons we’ve learned over the years to try and help dentists be more effective in their own marketing or even our own clients understand that the science and the research and the statistics behind the work we do for them, um, and maybe even spawn some ideas and some actions on the part of the audience where they can go out and introduce the wonderful benefits of today’s dentistry to the people surrounding their practice.

And who knows, maybe even save a life or turn somebody confidence around. So that’s, that’s what Howie and I do, and I was thinking about it. And I thought to myself, you know, we’ve never done a podcast on being an advisor, not necessarily being an advisor, but the thoughts and the workflow. And the prerequisites that an NPI advisor has to go through before they can settle in on a dental practice marketing plan for someone.

Because I mean, wouldn’t it be cool if we could make, you know, the hundreds and hundreds of people who are connected to this, this podcast, actually thousands now, listen to this podcast. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could make them mini advisors? Right, where they go through the same mental analysis the same asset liability list. And the same prioritization of their marketing budget that our advisory team does. Without, I don’t want to understate the obvious, but an NPI advisor, where there’s four of them, five of them actually on staff here at New Patients Inc.

They’re responsible for analyzing a market area and analyzing a dental practice and then building a dental practice marketing plan, which is within the doctors budget, and within the range of expectation that the doctor that we have communicated to the doctor, in other words, we believe this is going to generate x. So that’s the advisors role. And then once the dental practice marketing plan is agreed upon, then it goes to our production and our campaign managers to actually deploy. So gee Lee, I mean, you get, you get all kinds of dentists who complete their online survey on our website and ask you for all kinds of things. What are some of the biggest misconceptions that dentists have when they engage an advisor like you?

Lee: You know, I think one of the biggest would be, if I just throw enough money at this, it’s going to solve all my problems. I throw enough money and spaghetti against the wall. It’s, it’s just going to work. And that’s a discussion that I have so many times about, about, you know, “Doc, what is your goal? What do you, what are you looking for? What type of patient are you looking for? Are you looking for that long term patient? Are you looking for just butts in the seat? What are you looking for?”

And so many times, Doc’s come to me, and they, they say, “Hey Lee, you know, I spent X amount of dollars for the last year, two years, five years, whatever the period of time is, and I keep throwing just money here, there and everywhere”, and it’s just the lack of a dental practice marketing plan. And so, you know, they come to me saying, “Help me, what do I do?”

Mark: Yeah, so. So really the dental marketing plan?

Lee: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. Just some kind of an organizational worry, some kind of structure? Right? Um, okay. So when they come to you, when they say, you know, “I’d like to have you build me a dental practice marketing plan.” What are some of the things? What are some of the things you look at as far as assets and liabilities?

Lee: Sure. So assets, here, I look to see how many opportunities they have. I look to see what, what’s on their team. How many hygienists? A big asset. You know, availability. What, what times of the day are they there? What days are they there? And, what days are they not there? I look at their internet strategy. You know, is it a great dental office website? Is it a fully responsive website? Meaning it can be seen on any size device from a smartphone to a tablet, a laptop or a desktop? You know, what is available to them? Do they have Google reviews?

You know, what marketing have they done in the past? How’s that position them in the community’s thoughts of what type of dentist they may be? So there’s so much revenues, you know, definitely practice revenues. That’s something we look at as well.

Mark: Yeah, you have to multiply a percentage times something, right, to come up with a budget, right?

Lee: Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, that’s, that’s where we really set ourselves apart as a full service dental marketing firm, you know, for the world of dentistry, you know, NPI We do it all, you know, it’s all under one roof. And it’s nice for a client to be able to just to reach out to one person or one team and say, what’s next? How do I handle this issue? You know, and so when we were looking at somebody initially, and, we’re looking at revenues, you know, we try to guide them, you know, we always say rule of thumb is about 5%, of gross production for the year. Now, that’s just a rule of thumb. If you’re in Manhattan, guess what?

Mark: Oh my god.

Lee: You’re gonna, you’re going to spend more than 5%, you know, you’re going to spend 17, 18, you’re because of the population to dentist ratio. What does that mean? How many people are per each provider? And so if you’re in New York, you could be 17, 20% of gross revenue, spending on marketing to equal somebody that, you know, maybe is in Montana, that that instead of having a 1 to 400 population to dentist ratio, he’s got a 1 to 4000? Is 5% gonna be enough for him? Oh, you bet it is. You know, he’s, he’s going to dominate the area.

So we have to calculate all this, you know, we don’t, at New Patients Inc, we do not just pull a box up off the shelf. It’s not like progressive, you grab a box here, grab a box there. You know, “what dental practice marketing plan would you like?” you know, every marketing plan is custom to each practices, revenues, goals, needs.

It’s, it’s, I always tell docs, when I talk to them on the phone, I say the dental practice marketing plan that we are going to develop for you is like the treatment plan that you develop for your, for your patients, we’re going to look at the entire situation, we’re going to look at the entire environment, we’re going to look at the entire mouth. And we’re going to say, “Okay, Doc, this is what we need to address immediately.” You know, because a lot of times when somebody comes into a doctor’s office, a dental office, they say, “I’ve got this toothache, this is what’s going on?” Well, sure the dentist is going to look at that. But they’re going to look at the full survey, they’re going to look at the full mouth. And so we do the exact same thing and put it in priority order.

Mark: Basically, yeah, I remember when I was doing when I was building dental marketing plans. I remember, I don’t know, maybe 7 or 8 out of 10. We ended up actually doing less than, you know, the full mouth, right? less than, less than optimum. Which is fine. I mean.

Lee: I tell Doc’s all the time, I had a conversation with somebody ironical yesterday, you know, he shot me an email, and you know, the time worked out, we just jumped on the phone, and I said, “Hey, you know, I understand that we need to do all these things.” And he was concerned about budgets. And it’s like, “well, how do you deal with it in your office? Let’s do one arch at a time, or one quadrant at a time, but we have to put these in priority of need.” What needs to be first.

Mark: And their and their and their expectation, if you’re going to cut down, it is just like a dental patient, if you’re going to do a quad at a time, you’re not going to get a full mouth result if you did one quad.

Lee: Exactly.

Mark: Right. So as long as the doctor’s expectations are down where they need to be. Then almost any budget, you can get started with almost anything, right? I mean, if we can start with referral brochures, right, and just start the internal referral process more get that warmed up, get generating something. So it’s there’s always something to do. Right. There’s never nothing to do.

Lee: Absolutely. You know, the conversation that I had with this, this dentist last night, you know, one of the things that that we talked about was integrity and brutal honesty. And, you know, I I asked him some hard questions. He turned and asked me even harder ones. And I love it. When docs asked me those hard questions, I love it. “What What can I expect from NPI? What can I expect from you? And, what can I expect from my advisor? What can I expect from all of these people?” And, and it’s comforting to be able to say, “Here at NPI, we are going to be so brutally honest, that sometimes when we give you the answer, we’re going to pull the band aid off.”

Mark: Yeah.

Lee: And if may sting for a second.

Mark: It happens a lot.

Lee: It does, it does. Because you have to have these real conversations, you have to these real expectations. And, you know, they say, “I’ve got this much money, and I want to throw this at it and I want this many new patients,” you know, and it’s like, “Okay, Doc, that’s fantastic. I would love for you to get that many patients.” But we’ve been doing this for 28 years, I personally been doing advertising and marketing for a long time myself.

And, you know, this is something that that the reality is, we look at the population, the dentist ratios, we look at the hours, we look at your products and services and what you have to offer, here’s, here’s the number that we hope that we anticipate that you get. And we always you know, we always roll that number down a little lower than we anticipate you know, because I would rather come in the hero, right? So we always roll that back a little bit.

Mark: It’s the same thing dentists do when the lady comes in and says I want my teeth toilet bowl white?

Lee: Well, right.

Mark: It’s the same thing. It’s the same thing dentists do when they have a particularly, you know, picky patient in front of him. Right? Um, yeah, I think again, you know, there’s a lot of lessons here during that. I’m glad I’m glad we did this podcast, I’m glad we’re doing it. Because there’s lots of hidden lessons here. It’s never about one thing.

I think that’s one enormous lesson that dentistry is learning now. It used to be in the old days, you know, 10, 15 years ago, you could just do one thing. You could just do Yellow Pages, or you could do just do a mail campaign. You didn’t even need a website. Or you know, you could just do one thing. And you’d be okay, for 4, 5, 6 years, you know, and now it’s no longer unless you’re in Montana that mark that one that that that unicorn market that you were referencing before the 1 to 4000.

Lee: Right.

Mark: You know, for the rest of dental America. It’s no longer one thing. Well, you have to do it, all right. And this is why and where the quadrant or arch dentistry eventually leads itself to a nice, strong, cohesive, predictable machine, basically. That just chunks out phone calls, or online appointments. And they just come in, and it’s something that you know, they don’t, they no longer really have to worry about, rather than the marketing company du jour that almost every dentist goes through at least once a year, you know, Who I choose to do my marketing this year. Now choose to do my marketing next year.

Lee: Well, let me jump in on this if I could Mark because it brings up a talk, you know, a conversation about level of integrity. Okay. And all the advisors at NPI, you know, this is the level the they live in. Okay. And I have had people come to me and say, “I want to do television. I want to do.”

Mark: They’re amazed when we say “no,” aren’t they?

Lee: They are. And there’s so, unfortunately, there’s so many marketing firms out there.

Mark: I know.

Lee: Dental marketing firms, that it’s all about the sale. It’s a sales guy, you know, he just he wants to make the commission he’s trying for a goal. Sure doc will get you a TV spot will get you radio spot. Let’s make it happen sign here. God bless America. The problem with that, is they don’t have the integrity in where NPI does that, that when I have those conversations, I say, “Okay, wait, let’s take a deep breath. You want radio that’s fantastic.”

Mark: Rip the band aid off.

Lee: Here comes a band aid. Yeah, “Lets, let’s make sure that we have everything in place.” And they go, “Well, what do you mean?” I said, “Well, Doc, you know, if you’re going to play some bridge, okay. And it’s not an all porcelain bridge. But let’s say let’s say it’s got a metal substrate, right? And you’ve, you’ve prepped both teeth, you got your hole there you going to fill it with your Pontic and you’d have to have that that metal base to it right before porcelain can be stacked on. Does that make sense?” And they go, “Well, absolutely.” I was like, “Okay, let’s go to your website, because we got to look at your base. Okay. Let’s, let’s see, if you’re prepped out.

Let’s see if your margins are wide open.” Okay. And then we go to the website, and the website is a train wreck. Okay. Maybe it’s perfect. A lot of times it’s not unfortunately. So it’s a train wreck. Or, or I come to find out that they shut down at noon on Thursday, they’re not there on Friday. And “What, somebody’s covering my phone from Thursday afternoon, till Monday morning, why would I do that?” Okay, “Well, Doc, you want to spend $10, $20,000 a month on TV but you’re not going to answer the phone?”

Mark: Right, right.

Lee: So that’s, that’s where the NPI says, “Wait, wait, we want, we look at each and every practice as if we owned it, if we we’re sitting on your side of the desk, signing paychecks, paying for the lease, paying for, you know, the dental supplies, we look at each and every practice, like we have an invested part of it. Because guess what, you know, we may not be on your payroll, but we’re on your team. And it is our job to make sure that our team does the best thing that we can for that practice. And sometimes we have to pull that band aid and say, “Doc, you can’t do this yet.”

Mark: Yeah, sometimes it’s not really popular.

Lee: No, it’s not. And so then what happens? They disappear. And then I get a phone call, or I get a Facebook message or somewhere.

Mark: 2 years later right, here and they come.

Lee: Yeah, my phone lights up and says, “Hey, do you remember me? You know, you told me that I can’t send you know, a mailer to everybody in the zip code, because I’m wasting half of my marketing. Because I’m sending a message that’s going to alienate one half of the market.” Or, “Do you remember me? I want to do that radio spot in my local area and you told me my website was horrible, and I shouldn’t do this.” I get these “Do you remember me?” calls.

Mark: Right, right.

Lee: Guess what? Those clients, they remembered my integrity. They remembered NPI’s integrity, saying, “No. Yes, we would love to have you as a client. But no, we’re not going to do this. Because we know it’s not going to be successful.” What do they become? They become our cheerleaders.

Mark: Yeah, they’re later on down the road. They do and, and, you know, Lee, you and I, we got to do another one of these at some point, because we’re running out of time. Because there’s so much more the audience can learn from someone who does nothing but deal with the audience. Right.

Lee: Right.

Mark: And, and, um, you know, it can, it can help, it can absolutely help everyone listening to this. Be an informed dental marketing consumer. That’s what we want. It’s what we wrote the book. That’s why we put the marketable attribute scorecard. And that’s why they’re free downloads. That’s why there’s seven hours of online education. That’s why all that stuff is free. Become an educated dental marketing consumer, whether you’re a do it yourself. I know lots of doctors who really get into the nuts and bolts of dental marketing, tracking, analyzing the numbers and making a tweak, and, you know, watching the difference, whether it goes up or down to them, they’re still happy.

They just want to see the difference in whatever change they make. There’s lots of people like that. They definitely need to be educated and even the ones who might be just entering the dental marketing space, might be a little fearful of the 9475 people who call themselves dental marketing companies, right. Um, so no, this is good and Lee, I really do, I thank you very much for your time today. If anybody would like to reach out to Lee to discuss their practice, it’s Lee@newpatientsinc.com. Lee, what’s your direct line?

Lee: (702) 799-9016. And, and you know, like Mark said, I mean, I, you know, I’m happy to talk to anybody. Let’s kick the tires. Just sit back, have an iced tea and talk about this stuff. You know, it’s the getting the conversation started, is one of the most important things you know, you got to take that first step.

Mark: Yep. All right. Thank you very much, Lee and to the audience. We will see you for the next podcast, Bye bye.

Lee: Take care.

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