You Cannot Hide the Vibe!

In my little corner of Texas, there’s a Starbucks on every corner, but almost daily I trek to the farthest reaches of Mansfield to get my caffeine fix at a certain location. The reason I do this is because there is an employee who is just phenomenal (and he thinks I am too.) He’s always happy to see me and even gets a raised-eyebrow-happy surprised look when I walk in…like he has not seen me in ages and I just made his day by walking through the door. Funny thing is, I was just there the day before. OH MY! When he hands me my coffee, it’s like he is handing me an award or trophy.  He makes it a BIG DEAL!

How do you think I feel when I leave? Yep, like the most special, amazing coffee drinker he has ever served! Since I am a frequent visitor, I began to observe more and more that his exuberance was not reserved just for me. Everyone was a recipient of that warm-fuzzy-feel-good feeling that came with their grande skinny vanilla latte. He freely gave his good vibe to us all.

This led me to think about our practices and our patients and our vibe.  What is “vibe?” The word vibe is defined as a person’s emotional state or the atmosphere of a place as communicated and felt by others.   I visit many practices every day and some are getting it right-genuine smiles, laughter, and that is magic. Others? Well, I have fought the urge to turn and run. Ok, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but the palpable vibe of stress, frustration, and negativity is a deadly trifecta that can be felt by our patients. You cannot hide the vibe.

The vibe we portray in our practices has a collective effect. If your vibe could stand to improve, answer these questions. What are your frustrations? Stresses? What conjures up the negative? Do you need system/protocols in place to combat chaos? Do you need to automate many of your tasks to allow more time for patient care? Are more consistent (and productive!) team meetings needed to “clear the air?” Take action! Burn that proverbial sage to get those good positive vibes flowing.

Let’s go back to my favorite Starbucks. Remember, there is one on every corner around me. I choose to drive the extra miles because of his vibe. There is value to me. I want that great feeling when he sees me and hands me my coffee. I VALUE the way he makes me feel. It’s not the coffee. It’s the vibe.

The value is in the vibe. We have an obligation to our patients and our practices to give our best vibe. People remember it. Patients come back for more of it (or never come back due to it.) Patients refer other patients to experience it. You may jump out of bed in the morning excited about your day and those you serve due to it. The vibe just got more valuable didn’t it?

My challenge to everyone is take some time to be more observant in the places you visit and the people you meet.  What was the vibe? Now ask yourselves, what do our patients observe? Keep on with the positives, and take action against the daily struggles hindering the positive vibe. Be more aware of the value in how our interactions can positively impact our practices from the doctors to the teams to the patients.

It feels good to feel good. That is not hard to understand. It feels even better to make others feel good. Now go out there and give off those positive feel good vibes!

This blog originally appeared on

An Open Letter to Those in Hurricane Harvey

In two weeks, 1,000 of the best and brightest in dentistry will be meeting at the 13th Annual Dental Management Conference in Scottsdale, AZ. This event is produced by my team and company – the American Association of Dental Office Management. There is an unbelievable amount of planning and logistics that goes into this event. This Saturday, I received a call from our Executive Director, Kim McQueen, alerting me to just how badly Texas will potentially be affected by Hurricane Harvey and how we need to plan for those affected who will not be able to make it to the conference, possibly up to 50 attendees. How can we make it right for them? She then suggested I speak, not from a logistical standpoint (we’ll take care of that), but from my heart to those affected, as I was in the direct path of Superstorm Sandy not that long ago.

So, here goes. My hope is that these words deliver hope to those who need it now.

The night before Superstorm Sandy hit, I evacuated my family from my home in the town of Rumson, NJ. I live on the Shrewsbury River, only two miles from the Atlantic Ocean. We traveled 30 miles inland to my mother’s house. Without power there, we could not watch any news and were spared the shocking imagery of the storm – this magnificent beast of Mother Nature. I returned home the next day with my husband, expecting to find some minimal damage. We returned to what looked like Benghazi. The devastation was surreal. Our idyllic town looked like a war zone, and being right on the water, our home had suffered badly. Most of our possessions were ruined, if they were not picked up and swirled out to sea. It would be several months before we could safely return home for good.

The few months after the storm were like being in a dream state but here is what I can tell you:

  1. Your priorities will shift – in the best possible way. What seemed so important, suddenly was not. What was important was that my family was alive. That simple. My dog was alive – we evacuated her with us. Again, that simple.
  2. You have more stuff than you need. We lost so much “stuff” in Sandy. Stuff is not what makes life great. Your friends, your family, your work, your passion, is what makes life great.
  3. There are angels everywhere. I promise you this. They will present themselves to you in the days and weeks ahead. These are the angels I am grateful for:
  • The service workers from Alabama Power and so many other states who came en masse to work around the clock to help restore power to our state. It was also these angels who threw candy from their trucks on October 31st, so our kids could have some semblance of Halloween that year.
  • The insurance worker flown up from Oklahoma who, before diving into “insurance business” as we stood in the wreckage, simply gave me a hug. Thank you.
  • The volunteers at the Senior Center where my children stayed with my mom for several weeks. Thank you for feeding them, and for playing cards with them to pass the time and for making them smile.
  • All who donated. In my life of privilege, I never thought I would find myself on the receiving end of charity. But there I was, at a makeshift Help Center a few weeks after the storm. My children had to go back to school. Their backpacks were ruined and stores were closed so I could not buy them new ones. At the Help Center, donations of all sorts were there for the taking: food, diapers, clothes. I told one of the volunteers I needed 2 backpacks. She told me all of the backpacks had already been taken. She must have seen my crestfallen face and, mother-to-mother, she said to me, “Wait here. My children are older. I think I have some at home”. She returned 15 minutes later with 2 used backpacks for my children. Eternally grateful.
  • My AADOM Team. They picked up for me in every way. They showed their true colors and proved to me I have a team that has my back. You will find the same with so many in your work, and in your community. This is a blessing. You don’t always have an opportunity to find out how deeply people care about you.

For those in the throes of Harvey, these next few weeks may be harrowing for you and will certainly test your faith and your resilience. I wish you hope, sunshine, love and strength. The storm will pass, literally and figuratively. You will see rainbows again.

This blog originally appeared on

21 Tips for a Great Wait

Patients care about the clinical skills of your dentist, of course. However, people being people, they are influenced by many other factors when it comes to their comfort level and satisfaction in your practice. One of the easiest places to achieve this is in your waiting room. Here, I’ve compiled a quick checklist for you to make sure your reception area is welcoming to all patients, new and returning. A patient’s stay in your reception area can set the tone for their entire experience. These easy and inexpensive tips will ensure a great start to a fantastic visit.

21 Quick Tips

  1. Have a pleasing front entrance. Do you have a welcome mat? What condition is it in?
  2. Make sure all outdoor signage is large and easy to read.
  3. Put some pretty plants or flowers outside, as a nice welcome, if your entrance is outdoors (as opposed to within a medical building).
  4. Nothing passes the time better than a good read and some great magazines. Make sure you have something for everyone. Replace and update magazines every 2-3 months.
  5. Display your doctor’s diplomas, awards and certifications. In fact, you should do this for the entire team! Do you have your “FAADOM” award or “AADOM Membership Certificate” on display?
  6. Have reading material available/brochures available on the latest technology you have implemented in your practice. An educated patient makes a great patient.
  7. Look at your floor. Do you see stains or tears? Is it time to replace it with new, updated flooring?
  8. Distractions: Many patients are anxious about being at the dentist. Soothing or upbeat music can help calm them. Or, a TV playing with fun, apolitical programming. These sounds will also drown out any anxiety-provoking noises coming from the back, like drills.
  9. What does your waiting room smell like? Some room plug-ins with pleasing aromas are an inexpensive investment. Remember to replace them as needed.
  10. It may be time to update your furniture. No patient appreciates tired-looking, worn out or uncomfortable furniture.
  11. Speaking of furniture, do you have ample furniture? Is there enough seating for everyone? Be sure to also have enough table space available for patients to put down drinks, personal belongings, etc.
  12. Live plants or flowers in the waiting room are always a nice touch. Make sure they are in top condition. You do not want dead plants around! Not only do some consider that bad luck, what does it say about your doctor if he/she can’t even keep a plant alive?
  13. DUST. Do you or your cleaning service dust every day? They should. Not only obvious surface areas. Undusted window sills and vents show neglect.
  14. Color scheme. Does your waiting area have a color scheme? It should. The color scheme should match your practice’s overall branding. Colors should be modern and calming.
  15. Is someone there to greet patients? Your reception area should never be unattended. The person in your reception area should be cheerful, polite and helpful and should acknowledge everyone.
  16. WiFi. Patients who can use their smartphones in your office while waiting are likely less likely to complain about the wait.
  17. Make sure outlets are accessible so patients can charge their phones or tablets while they wait.
  18. Be sure to have ample lighting. Nothing too homey, yet steer away from all fluorescent lighting which can have a cold feel.
  19. Have a coat rack or coat hooks available. An umbrella stand will also come in handy on rainy days.
  20. If you are in a pediatric office, the options are endless. Have a game area, stocked with toys or arcade games. An Xbox is also a great option and who doesn’t love a fish tank?
  21. Is your artwork up to date? Pleasing paintings or wall art that tie into your practices overall look and feel are ideal.

BONUS TIP: Are you going for a comfy feel or a modern one? There is no right answer. Just make sure you are consistent, and not creating a hodge-podge with thrown together furnishings

Some Final Thoughts
The best wait is no wait at all. Make sure you schedule in such a way that patients spend a minimal amount of time in your reception area. Their time is valuable. That being said, your reception area should be comfortable, pleasing, and a reflection of your practice. If it is time for an overhaul, consider spending money in an interior designer. This investment in your practice can reap big rewards.

This blog originally appeared on