S1 E7 Exit Strategy & Marketing For Your Dental Practice With Dr Len Tau
The host, Melissa Brown, introduces the guest, Dr. Len Tao, and they discuss the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the veterinary industry. Changes in how veterinary practices operate, such as implementing social distancing measures or offering telemedicine services. They may also discuss the financial impact of the pandemic on veterinary practices and the challenges that practitioners have faced.
Dr. Tao talks about how he runs his dental practice. This includes topics such as managing staff, implementing policies and procedures, and marketing his practice to attract new clients.
The two then discuss the dental industry more broadly. This includes current trends and developments in the field, as well as the challenges and opportunities facing practitioners.
Dr. Tao mentions that practitioners must focus on running their businesses well in order to remain profitable. This could involve staying up-to-date with industry developments, managing expenses effectively, and providing high-quality care to patients.
Melissa asks Dr. Tao about his experience with online reviews, which are ratings and comments about a business or service that are posted on the internet. Dr. Tao says that online reviews are an essential part of any practice's marketing strategy. Online reviews can help a practice to attract new clients and improve its reputation, and they can also provide valuable feedback that can help the practice to improve its services.
00:06 Melissa Today's podcast is brought to you by Concierge Elite. Welcome to understaffed. My name is Melissa Brown and I am your podcast host. With me I have today Alyssa Davis, who is my co host. Today we have a very special guest chosen as one of the top leaders in the dental consultant by Dentistry Today, Len Tao. He's dedicated his professional life to improving dentistry for both patients and other dentists. After purchasing his practice in 2007, Len practiced full time while consulting to other dental practices, training thousands of dentists about reputation marketing, leading the dental division of Bird Eye, a reputation marketing platform, and hosting the popular Raving Patients podcast. He recently authored the book Raving Patients and 100 Plus Tips to 100 Star Reviews in 100 Days, and that was released in March 2022. Len lectures nationally and internationally on using internet marketing, social media and reputation marketing to make dental offices more visible and credible, as well as how to increase their case acceptance.
01:15 Melissa Thank you so much for being here today. We are excited to learn from you.
01:19 Len Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. I'm excited to be talking to your audience today.
01:23 Melissa Yes, and Dr. Tao is one of the top leaders in dental consulting by Dentistry Today, and he's really dedicated his professional life to improving dentistry for both patients and dentists alike. We're glad to have you and really learn from your experience within the dental fields and how COVID has changed that. We'll go ahead and get in and get us started and I want to actually bring up your books. You've got two books that you just released, is that right?
01:50 Len I did. Well, I released the first one in 2019. It's called Raving Patients, which is all about getting online reviews. It's a definitive guide to using reputation and marketing to attract hundreds of new patients to your practice. That was the first book I wrote, and then in March of this year, we released my second book called 100 Plus Tips for generating 105 Star Reviews in 100 Days. So they're both available on Amazon. In fact, if the listeners are interested, they can email me. We'll give our contact information at the end, and I have some free digital copies to give out, so I'm happy to give those two people listening so they can certainly reach out to me at the end and let me know they're interested in the book and I can send them one.
02:33 Melissa That's excellent. Thanks so much for that. I appreciate it. Now, when we talk about COVID and really it having its set of challenges for businesses, economy really changed. We had to rethink how businesses operated from being shut down in COVID and then reopening and deciding what that really looked like. Can you tell me kind of what things that practices can learn and what that they should be bringing in to their business now?
02:58 Len Well, I think COVID really changed the way we look at running a business, as I mentioned on our pre conference meeting prior to the recording here. I think we need to focus our attention on running the business. COVID had dramatic effects on the hiring process. It had dramatic effects on patients not wanting to return to the office. We were shut down for a couple of months. We had to really look at the business and how we ran it to make sure that were going to continue to be profitable and not necessarily worry about shutting down. A lot of practices, a lot of doctors who are older chose not to come back after COVID hit because it changed the way they look at things. COVID was great for me. Just so we decided during COVID I was going to sell my practice and I was going to move to Florida.
03:41 Len So we live in Florida now. I was practicing in Philadelphia, so my wife and I made the decision, hey, we're moving to Florida. COVID just changed the way virtual not that Zoom didn't exist, but now virtual meetings occur all the time. For a year prior to selling my practice, I actually was remote most of the time and I ran the business from doing Zoom with my team once a week. I think it really changed the way we had to look in and run the business side of things and really make sure that patients did not come back. We wanted to make sure they returned to the office because there was a scare, especially in the dental space, about how safe it was. We have to ensure that were still generating new patients, locking the back door so patients did not leave the office and really focused on just running a better business to make sure it's a profitable business.
04:34 Len I think COVID was good in a lot of ways. I think it was bad in a lot of ways, but overall, I think it really changed the way we want our practices forever, right?
04:44 Melissa For sure. I mean, you mentioned a few things there, just making sure that we relooked at how the dental space was safe and making sure that were still running things safely and patients felt like they could come in, but still providing and providing that excellent service like you picks in to say. How do you think that the dental industry needs to and what do they need to do to stay in the game now, stay ahead?
05:08 Len Well, I think that they won. I think you have to really pay attention or look at your team and the way you're handling your team because there's a lot of hiring issues right now. There's a lot of, I would say people looking for other opportunities in the space or even looking to get out of the space. They called it the great resignation. When all these hygienists decided they did not want to come back to work under the current way the business was being run. I was very fortunate. My longest team member was with me for 15 years. The newest team member was hired after COVID. I have a very small team, and most of us have been there ten years and longer. So they all stayed. Nobody left during COVID They all came back. They were excited to come back to work because I really created a great environment for them to work and really raise their abilities in my practice.
06:03 Len I had expectations. I wasn't I run a Democratic office. I told them, this is what we need to do. This is the goal. This is the results. As long as you perform, you will remain an employee here. And after COVID. During COVID Everybody returned. The office ran really well. We survived. We actually did a lot better after COVID, believe it or not. Our numbers increased significantly.
06:27 Alissa I was going to ask, running the practice like that has to impact you not just right now or like, not during COVID but right now too.
06:35 Len Yeah.
06:36 Alissa Have you kept that whole Democratic, really enthusiastic office mentality?
06:41 Len Well, so I sold October 1 of last year. Now, the person that bought my practice was my associate starting in August of 2020. Right as COVID was ending well, the right when we came back to the offices, she bought the practice in October of 2021, when it was about a little year and a couple of months after she started in the office. She has maintained the way around the pains things. She changed the hours. The hours I work evenings two days a week. She only works evenings one day a week. Starting next year, she's going to work no evenings anymore because she's a mom. She's but she's basically kept the shell of what I created and just put her own spin on things, which the team appreciates a different ownership perspective. No, I was very fortunate that the team really enjoyed working for me. They make a nice living.
07:35 Len So I'm knock on wood. I can't complain about how things turned out.
07:39 Melissa Yeah, we love that. Now, I know you specialize in online reviews. Talk to us about that.
07:48 Len In 2012, I realized how reviews were generating new patients to my practice. When I would ask them how they found out about me, they literally said, well, you had the best reviews of anybody I read, and a light bulb went off. I actually started my own review product called I Social Reviews in 2013, specifically helping the dentist out there. I sold 180 dentist the first 18 months. Bird Eye came calling, and they purchased or they acquired my company, and I'm with them eight years this month. I'm kind of called the reviews doctor. I help more than just dentists, but I help anybody in the dental and medical spaces, but our product is geared towards generating reviews and helping the practices rank higher. When people have issues with online reviews or they want online reviews, they're told, hey, you need to reach out to Len. Len can help you.
08:44 Len I'm very humbled by it, but I've created a very niche in this space where people think of me when they know they have review problems. You got to talk to Led. I find that hard to believe after all these years. I still find it hard to believe after all these years that's what I've created in this space. It was not my intention in any way, shape, or form. It just I got lucky and threw darts at the right things to focus on. And reviews have been a thing. It was not a thing 20 years ago. It's a thing now. I don't think it's ever going to change because we're a reputation society. Everything we do in our lives revolves around reputation. When you go to a restaurant, you read reviews. When you go to a movie, you read reviews. When you buy something on Amazon, you read reviews.
09:24 Len Everything that we do revolves around finding out if it's a good or bad business. So that's never going to go away. I think it's even going to get more important as time goes on.
09:34 Melissa I agree. The interesting thing is, I think Alyssa can agree. We talk to a lot of practice owners, practice managers, and they just don't think that social media and reviews are important to their business. It's astonishing to me in today's age that we think, and we don't spend any time there in the importance of it. Talk about social media, too. I mean, do you feel that's a huge importance?
10:01 Len Social media it's funny, throughout my career, I became antisocial for my practice because I wasn't finding it to be a valuable way to attract new patients. Okay. If you want to inform the conversation you want to talk to, take photos of the team at a meeting you're having or in a restaurant and promote that type of side of things, I think it's great. Unless you're willing to pay to be on social media and pay to be in front of audiences to attract more new patients, then that's what social is. But social media isn't about paid advertising. It's about posting and informing the conversation. I looked at it differently. I think social is great. Look, social has helped me immensely grow my business online and grow my footprint, but I did not enjoy it from a dental perspective, and so I didn't do it as much.
10:50 Len I think that practice is if they're looking to attract new patients, social media isn't a way to do it, in my opinion.
10:57 Alissa Okay, good.
10:58 Len Again, just my opinion. There may be people who focus on social media that disagree with me, but I've been doing it for a long time. I was one of the very first.
11:07 Alissa Go ahead, go ahead, sorry.
11:08 Len I was going to say I was one of the very first practices ever to have a Facebook page. Very one of the very first ones to have a business facebook page for their office and loved it was great. Facebook changed their algorithms and nobody was going to see your post unless you're paying for it. So why do it? In my opinion, I was going to.
11:26 Alissa Say we have the hardest time keeping up with the algorithms. Every time they change them, it's something different. I do think it's a great tool to use to keep up with the current clients, to build that family relationship. That way they keep coming back because we always know that six month checkup comes up and you're like hounding them to come back. I feel like social media is a good way to keep that line of communication open with them, but it is hard. I want to know how people get new clients through social media.
11:53 Len It's all by paying for it. Or they go into the mommy groups and they have a conversation with the mommies that have these local mommy groups for your dentist, mommy's for dentist.
12:06 Alissa They don't like six of those.
12:08 Len If they interact with those groups, I think they do well. That's not posting on your social media profiles. That's a totally different story.
12:16 Alissa Right, right.
12:17 Melissa So what do you think then? What is one tip that you can give us a takeaway and that's put you on the spot? Because we didn't talk about this in the beginning. That really can build a better business, really can build a better dental practice.
12:33 Len Or even well, I think most importantly, I think that the dentist has to be a really good leader, okay? Because there's practices that they just run through the motions every day. They don't meet on a daily basis to have a huddle in the morning. I think that if you are a really good leader and your team trusts you, I think that if you set up the proper processes in the office, the business stuff will just follow. The business will run well. It's a well oiled machine. Like I said, I was an absentee owner or remote owner. I was only working two days a week for five since 2017, and I was away most of the other time traveling, giving seminars or speaking engagements or going to trade shows. My business ran really well when I wasn't there because I set up the processes for the teams to follow.
13:18 Len They knew what their job was, they knew what their role was in the office, and they just implemented the things. The practice ran by itself, I think. You becoming a leader and saying, hey, this is what we need to do. Look, I hated conflict, but it's part of running a business. There's going to be some conflict resolution they have to go to. Hiring the right team, making sure everybody knows their roles, I think, is the biggest part of running a successful business.
13:41 Melissa Those micromanagers, those owners that want to be in their hands and everything, what do you think?
13:48 Len When I first bought my practice, I used to be a horrific micromanager, and my team was like, Leave us alone. We know what we're doing. You hired us. You trust us. Let us run the business. I had to give it up partially because I was just too busy. And I finally said, you know what? Fine. It's on your own. You help me run the business. I know you guys know your roles. The business ran and grew, and I just started not micromanaging at that point.
14:14 Melissa Yeah.
14:16 Len Less is more I learned.
14:18 Melissa Less is you say, Be willing to make changes and don't sweat the small stuff, right?
14:24 Len That's what I always say. I have a class I give called Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, which is how to really grow your practice without worrying about the little things in life. One of the biggest things I talk about is a 98% decision factor. Do you know what that is?
14:36 Melissa No, tell us.
14:37 Len 98% of the decisions you make in life should take you no longer than two minutes. That's how fast you should make decisions. 2% of the decisions you may want to think about. That's buying a practice, buying a house, moving, buying a car, anything that's really expensive. Buying a $200 piece of software, to me, that's a no brainer. You buy it, it's going to grow your business as long as you understand what it's doing for you. You don't need to take a month to make that decision, make your decision that quickly and just grow your practice. We get bogged down with this minutiae in the practices. That really bogged down a practice from growing. This 98 decision factor is something I live my life by as well.
15:15 Melissa Yeah. We talk a lot about the 1%. The 1% pull around here. What are you going to focus on with that 1% that's going to grow you every day? We talk about it in those terms. I've heard the 80 20 rules and things like that, so there's definitely a key takeaway there. I think you touched on a big one as being a good leader in how we lead our team and giving it away and saying, I trust you to take that job. I've got great people, a part of my team as well. Cheryl and Lexi, people like that just, really take things and they go with it, and you can trust them to do the job that set out for them. I think that's key we have a lot of doctors that we talk to on a daily basis. Alyssa talks to so many of them, and that's a hard thing, letting go.
16:00 Len I let go. Now I used to have tons of remote. People do work for me or different softwares do work for me. So I totally let go. Like, for instance, now my social media or my Instagram especially, is handled by a company, and every month they want me to approve their posts. I'm like, I trust you. Just post. They haven't done anything wrong yet, so they just continue to do it. If that was me in the past, I would have been like, this needs to be changed. This needs to be changed. Now it's like, I trust you, just do it.
16:31 Melissa Yeah, for sure.
16:32 Alissa That's my favorite type of doctor to work with. Those are my favorite.
16:37 Melissa Yeah, for sure. Again, we want to make sure to post the link for everybody to be able to get a copy of your book, to go out and get it on Amazon. Your two books, actually. So we've got the Raving patients, right? We've got 100 tips to 105 Star reviews.
16:55 Len Correct?
16:55 Melissa Good. We've got those two for sure. I know that I want a copy of those myself because we can always learn from what you've got in there. Now I want to ask one last question because I always want to ask this on our podcast, and that's really about talking about that perfect employee, if there is such a thing. Have you ever hired or think about a time when you've ever hired that perfect employee? What attributes did they have? You feel like you could ever replicate that?
17:22 Len Well, to be honest with you, I don't think you can ever hire the perfect employee. Look, I'm not the perfect husband, okay? I don't think you can ever hire the perfect employee. I think the business leader has to hire someone they think has the skills to be able to be malleable and become the perfect employee. So, for instance, and the offices that I owned is going through this. Now they're looking for another employee to help with the dental assisting side of things. They are willing to find someone who has great customer service skills, knows how to talk to someone on the phone, and then they can create or mold them into someone they think is going to be a better employee. They're not looking for someone with dental experience necessarily. It's a bonus, of course. I think the business owner has to hire somebody they think is going to fit the role and then kind of tell them, this is what we want you to do.
18:14 Len This is not what we wanted to do. Be able to lead them, be able to give them constructive criticism. Employee has to be able to willing to accept a constructive criticism because a lot of them don't. And if they can't. That's not a great employee in my mind, but I don't think there's anybody who's ever the perfect employee. I think it's something that you have to create out of what you want the person to do in the office, and the leader will then be able to create or build that employee to be the perfect employee.
18:39 Melissa You end up with what you got, which is an amazing staff, by the sound of it. You really ended up with people who were committed to you, committed to the process, and then stayed with you despite all odds, despite everything that happened in COVID, they were there at the end, and I'm sure you have a stronger team because of it, right?
18:58 Len We do. I'm very fortunate.
19:00 Alissa I think that's my favorite answer yet. It's that person that's open to learn forever. If you're closed off and you're not willing to take constructive criticism, you're not willing to learn, then you're not going to go very far. You're not going to have to practice, and Concierge has tons of those if you need us.
19:18 Melissa Absolutely. Now, you also have a podcast that I want to make sure that our listeners here and they go over and like and listen to and subscribe tell us about that.
19:27 Len So it's called the Raving Patience podcast. I actually started in 2017, so we're on season five now. There's about 250 episodes to catch up on, which originally, believe it or not, was designed to deal with online reviews. As my life has kind of evolved, so is the podcast, and now I help with business growth. I bring people on the podcast who can help grow a business, make more money, increase revenue. Some of them are very dentally specific, but any business can learn from it. It's not a salesy podcast. It's all tips and tricks on the guests that I invite. I don't really promote it as much as I should, but I would say people are just recommending it because they know that I'm a legitimate person in the industry and I did it in my own practice. So. Hey, listen to Len. But it's called the Raving patients podcast.
20:18 Len Comes out Friday at 05:00 a.m., a new episode every Friday and check it out and see if you like it or not.
20:24 Melissa Awesome. Well, we definitely will, and thanks so much. We appreciate you being on and taking the time to chat with us today and impart some to our listeners. We definitely appreciate it. Dr. Lynn, thanks so much.
20:35 Len Well, thank you for having me. I know that I offered my book, so I do want to drop my email in. If anybody's listening and they want to get just a digital copy of the book, the best email for me is Len L-E-N at Dr. Lentau.com. So it's Len@drlentau.com. Let me know that you heard about us on this podcast, and I will be glad to send them a copy of my book.
21:01 Melissa Excellent. We'll put that in the show notes as well. We thank you so much again for being a part of it. Thanks so much.
21:06 Len Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
21:08 Melissa Make sure to subscribe and like our podcast. If you'd like more information on today's topic or any other product or service is featured on this, make sure to drop us a line and say hi or visit anytime. Melissa b conciergeelite.com.