Green Light Messages Attract More Patients to Your Practice

Today’s episode of The Personal Report is all about those green light messages to bring more patients into your office.  To see the video now on YouTube, click here.

I haven’t done a scientific survey but let me give you an example of my unscientific survey in going to many practices and talking to patients.  You know what I’ve learned? About a third of the patients think you are accepting new patients. Great, that’s the green light. About a third, they’re not sure, we call those the yellow light patients and well, the other third, they’re convinced because it’s hard to get an appointment sometimes, that you’re not taking new patients.

Really only about a third of your patients are absolutely sure it’s okay to refer. We’ve got to do better than that because those patients have record of such a good source of patients for you. The very first thing I want to tell you is put good signage out. When somebody walks into your office, we don’t want them to see all these signs that say don’t do this, don’t do that, take out your credit card, take your insurance card, or check your guns at the door. We don’t want all these negative signs. We want a sign that says “New Patients Welcome.” It sounds simple but you’d be amazed at how many practices don’t do it and how many practices start doing it after I suggest it and then say “Wow, this really works!”

The next one is we have to use the best verbal skills in as few words as possible. So walking somebody up to the front desk and saying something like, “You’re a great patient. We could use more patients like you.” Or, “Mrs. Higgenlooper when do we get to meet your husband?” Or, “Thank you so much for coming to us for all these years. Our practice is growing because of patients like you.”  Those are all green light messages.

There are a lot of ways to say it, but really an economy of words is ideal. My suggestion is to get the green light message out in response to a compliment. So when somebody says to you, “You’re fantastic, thanks so much,” or “this was so much easier than I expected,” they’ve given you a compliment. What do you do? Get your green light message out at that time: “Thanks so much for the compliment. “We really enjoy having you as a patient and we’re accepting new patients.” Or, “do you know how we get most of our new patients? It’s not from the radio, it’s not from TV, it’s really not from the Internet.  The way we get most of our new patients is from patients like you.”

You’re just making sure that people know you are accepting new patients. If you say nothing other than, “we are accepting new patients,” you’ve done a pretty good job.

My suggestion is to find your comfort level. There are all kinds of ways to say it and I’ve given you a bunch of them. But I want you to find the words that you like, that you feel most comfortable with, and then those are the words you’re going to use. The goal is to take that roughly 33% who know that you’re accepting new patients and make that go higher. Wouldn’t you love to get patients, not from 33% of your patients, but from 90% or 95% or 98%? That’s really our goal and if we can get that message out all the time, through signage and through verbal skills, we’re giving the green light message and that will really help your practice.

If you’d like more information, if you’d like me to send you our free report, “The Three Common Mistakes Dental Practices Must Avoid,” then just send an email to I’ll be glad to send it to you. You’re also welcome to find me on the web at

No Cost Dental Team Motivation

No Cost Dental Team Motivation is the topic of Episode 2 of The Personal Report, which is now available on YouTube. To see the video, click here:

Here’s the transcript of Episode 2 on motivation.

We have a great topic for you today: No Cost Team Motivation. So, how do we keep the team motivated?

Well, let me just tell you a little story. Some years ago, I was involved in a focus group. Do you ever watch “Law and Order”? They watch through the glass and they’ve got somebody in the box and the people who are being interrogated can’t see you through the one-way mirror.

Well, a focus group works that way and we interviewed people who are in the dental profession, hygienists and assistants, and so forth, and asked them what motivated them. We actually divided them into two groups. We preselected them, through a survey, happy people and unhappy people. And it didn’t matter whether we interviewed the happy people or the unhappy people: when they made a list with the focus group facilitator about what motivated them, money was not number one. Oh, it was on the list, and it’s important, but it wasn’t number one.

You know what number one was? Praise, recognition, somebody cares, somebody noticed. So, the no cost way is to praise, but let’s be more specific about that, and when you give praise, always make it specific. Don’t just say, “Oh, you know, you’re wonderful,” or “Oh, I’m so happy you’re here.” That’s good, you need to say that, but make it more specific. “Yesterday, when the patient was starting to get upset, you handled it so well.” The other day the entire schedule was going to fall apart, but you got on the phone and we had a good schedule. The schedule is full–wow, what a great job!”

So you want to be very specific in your praise. We always say, praise in public, criticize in private. Now, you can praise in private, but if you happen to say it publicly, if you praise in public, if other people hear the praise, believe me, the person who’s hearing the praise, they’re not going to mind that other people know that somebody is getting praise and that they’re the one who’s being praised, because they did a good job for something specific.

Any criticism, though, has to be in private. No matter how mild the criticism, you want to really make that private, but that praise, specific praise, and public praise, are very, very important. And the next thing I will tell you is, don’t couch the praise; never use the word “but” when you’re praising.

Here’s what you don’t want to do: you don’t want to say, “You know yesterday, you stayed late, nobody asked you stay late, You took your initiative and you just did it without anybody asking and you got all the work done, but you know, if you were more organized, you wouldn’t have to stay late.” You’ve just taken it all away. First you were on a roll, you were saying all these good things, and then you added “but,” and here comes some criticism in underneath.

Praise is praise. “You did a great job.” Period. And let people know that. Now, if at another time, you need to talk to somebody on the side and say, “work on your organizational skills,” that’s a different story, but praise has to be specific and it has to be unqualified; we don’t want to say the word “but.”

Let me leave you with this thought: when I talk about praise, I can just hear all the staff out there saying, “yeah, I’ve got to get the doctor to watch this video. See, see, you should say nice things about us.” Okay, fair point, but I think that everybody on the team needs to praise other people on the team–when it’s deserved, of course. When somebody does something praise worthy, don’t be shy, tell them. And, by the way, sometimes even the doctor does something praise worthy and you can say something nice about him or her also.

I hope you’re enjoying the Personal Report. You know, I do have my Free Report; we’re getting a lot of good feedback. If you want a copy of the Free Report, “The Three Mistakes Every Dental Practice Must Avoid,” then just go to Just send a quick email to and we’ll send you the Free Report.

You’re always, of course, welcome to contact me through my website, which is Thanks so much for watching The Personal Report.

You May Need a Coach If. . .

Great athletes need coaches.  Great dentists need coaches, too.  Take advantage of the free consultation offer below.

You may need a dental coach if:

  1. You are facing major decisions about the future of your practice. You are wondering if you should buy, sell, expand, cut back, or bring in another dentist.  Ask yourself:  Do I need a trusted confident, outside of my business and family—someone who can lead me to the right choices?
  2. You feel that your team needs more training. Ask yourself:  Could targeted training for specific individuals improve their performance and help the bottom line?
  3. You are not sure if all team members “get it.” Ask yourself: Have I clearly and consistently communicated my expectations to my team?
  4. You feel that your practice has reached a plateau. Ask yourself:  Am I feeling burned out?  Or, do I have a lot of energy but just need direction?
  5. You think that case acceptance should be higher. Ask yourself:  Am I using the best verbal skills and teaching my team to follow my lead?  Do I have an effective follow-up protocol in place to prevent patients from “falling through the cracks”?
  6. You are feeling unsure about your management style. Ask yourself: As an employer, am I too harsh, too lenient, or just right? 
  7. You are worried about overhead but you need more help at busy times. Ask yourself: Am I adequately staffed to provide outstanding customer service?  Am I utilizing the full talents of everyone on the payroll?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions—or if you have other issues that you would like to discuss in confidence with a highly experienced dental coach, please contact me.

Coaching services are conducted by phone consultations, in-person visits to the office, or both.

Free consultation.  Contact me to schedule a free 30-minute telephone coaching session (limited time offer) so I can start helping you immediately.  I promise to listen carefully and provide cogent, confidential advice.

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