How Strategic Marketing Can Help Dentists Increase Profitability

December 22, 2021
dental tools bright orange background

Strategic and compelling marketing can help dentists increase their production and closing percentages, and ultimately, their profitability.

In this episode of The Art of Dental Finance and Management podcast, Art meets with the Founder and CEO of Progressive Dental Marketing, Bart Knellinger to discuss how dentists can ensure their dental practice marketing is impactful. Strategies include:

  • Utilize custom, compelling imagery.
  • Build a website focused on emotion and quality of life.
  • Establish and follow a reasonable marketing budget.
  • Develop an effective sales process.
  • Train staff on communication skills to increase scheduling and case acceptance.

Reach out to Art if you have any questions regarding dental finance and management for your dental practice. More information about the Eide Bailly dental team can be found at www.eidebailly.com/dentist.

Being more strategic in all aspects of your dental practice will lead to increased profitability.

Today's Guest

Bart Knellinger
Founder and CEO
Progressive Dental Marketing
The Closing Institute – Marketing Boot Camps for Dentists


Show Notes and Resources:

The Transcript

Art Wiederman, CPA: And hello, everyone, and welcome to another edition of the Art of Dental Finance and Management with Art Wiederman, CPA. I'm your host Art Wiederman. Welcome to my podcast today. I have a great, great show for you. I always think I should have been a marketing major when I went to college at Long Beach State back in the 70s.

I've always loved selling and marketing and helping people grow their businesses. I was also good with numbers. I guess that's why I went into accounting, so I kind of have a, I have a lean towards marketing and obviously living in the dental profession, marketing is a big part of this, and today I have one of the experts in this country on dental specific marketing Bart Knellinger, who's the CEO and founder of Progressive Dental Marketing out of Florida.

Bart's got a little bit of a different take on how he does marketing for dentists, and it's been incredibly successful for close to a thousand folks that he works with. So we're going to talk about, you know, mistakes that he's seen made, and he's got a term called advertising without assets. We're going to be talking about that and a whole bunch of other stuff.

But before I get to Bart, let me give you some announcements and kind of give you some updates on where we are. We're right here at the end of December in 2021. If you can believe it. We are about to turn the page on 2021 and move into 2022. So for those of you who are have not looked at the employee retention tax credit, we get calls every week now. I got two yesterday for people who had a greater than 50 percent reduction in their gross receipts for the second quarter of 2020 versus the second quarter of 2019. We have gotten close to three and a quarter million dollars back for close to 100 dental practices, several six figure credits. Give me a call if you are interested. Also, and that's at six five seven two seven nine three two four three or awiedeman@eidebailly.com.

And also, if you had a greater than 20 percent reduction in your gross receipts for either the fourth quarter of 2020 versus fourth quarter 2019 or any of the first three quarters or all of the first three quarters of 2021 versus the first three quarters of 2019. And you look at them separately, a 20 percent reduction would get you a significantly higher credit.

Second thing. Write this down, folks. January 21st at 9:00 a.m. Pacific, we are doing a webinar on the HHS Provider Relief Fund. Yes, that reporting is coming up. And by the way, many of you are going to start receiving or by the time you hear this podcast, if you applied for the Phase four, the Department of Health and Human Services has already sent that money, started sending that money out second week of December of 2021. So if you get that money, if you get a chunk of money before the end of the year, call your CPA and let them know because we're not going to know if you got the money and we're doing your tax planning and then you get an extra $50,000, and at the end of the year you go, Hey, Art, you missed my tax projections. No, I didn't miss your tax projection. You didn't tell me about this money you got.

So January 21st, we're doing a webinar. You are going to have to report if you've got more than ten thousand dollars from the HHS Provider Relief Fund between July of twenty twenty and July one and December 31, you have to report between January one and March 31. If you do not report, the word on the street is that you'll have to give this money back and they may very well lock you out of the portal on April 1st. So you want to go on to www.HHS.gov and take a look at that and register for our webinar, the page link I just got yesterday. But if you are interested in registering for this webinar, there will be a small charge for it. Please email me at awiederman@EideBailly.com and we will get you the link to go ahead and register.

And by the way, you can register for this webinar. And even if you can't see it on January 21st, it will be available to you on demand any time you want to watch it and what you might consider doing, because we're going to go page by page on this portal, is maybe you have the webinar recorded and playing on maybe an iPad. And then while you're doing this portal filling this out, you can be what going page by page as we explained it to you. That's the goal, folks. But you got to do the work beforehand. You got to fill out the workbook beforehand. That's on the HHS website. Don't just turn on the website on March 29th and try and do this. You will not have the information available. So I don't make the rules. They give you a free money. You got to work a little bit for it.

Anyway. All right. Well, let's get to our guest because I'm really excited about this. I love talking marketing. I really do. It's one of my favorite things to do. So, Bart Knellinger is the founder and CEO of Progressive Dental Marketing out of Clearwater, Florida. He works with, I said, close to a thousand. I guess 800 is close to a thousand dentists. And one of the best marketing companies in the country for dentists. Founded in 2009. So Bart Knellinger, welcome to the Art of Dental Finance and Management.

Bart Knellinger: Thanks for having me on. And it's an honor and I love the podcast and everything that you do, so I appreciate you having me on today.

Art Wiederman, CPA: I appreciate that. Now from our conversations before I don't you come from a whole line of family of dentists, isn't that right?

Bart Knellinger: I come from a line of dentists. Yeah, my dad is a dentist. My mom works in the practice with him. She's been kind of the office manager, treatment coordinator. Pretty much everything. She's kind of the boss. My dad does the work. She's the boss. And then I've got three sisters, two of which are now in practice with them. So I was always kind of the black sheep of the family until my other sister became an attorney. So we can all kind of gang up on her about the whole attorney thing. But yep definitely from a family of dentists, been in it all my life.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Or if now do they fight over who does your dental work?

Bart Knellinger: No, I try to get my dad to do it because he's extremely fast and he doesn't talk as much, my sisters talk and they love to talk and make jokes while I can't respond. So they abuse me when I go, so I just try to get my dad to do it.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Now you understand this is going to be on the internet, so they could very well hear this right?

Bart Knellinger: For sure, and they'll know it's true and they know I can't do anything about it and they love it. Love it.

Art Wiederman, CPA: That's great. Oh, that's too funny. All right. So Bart let's start off. Tell us a little bit about your history, how you formed the company and a little bit about that.

Bart Knellinger: OK. Well, my path was a little bit different. I said out of out of my three sisters. We've got two dentists and an attorney, and they were all straight As. And I was just trying to just barely make good enough grades to stay eligible for sports. When I was in school, when I got out, I didn't go to college. I decided to go straight. I moved to Chicago and I started selling door to door for four or five years, whatever I could get my hands on to sell. And that kind of led me into some advertising and living down a path where my dad asked me, probably during the recession. He said, Hey, it doesn't really matter it seems like it doesn't matter what we spend. If I spend three grand a month or if I spend 10 grand a month, we pretty much do the same revenue, you know, see if you can make heads or tails of it.

So he showed that to me and I asked him, Well, what's the problem with it? And he said, Oh, everyone's kind of calling in and asking about prices, and we don't really participate with insurance we're fee for service and just doesn't seem to be the right, the right demographic for the marketing, which was confusing to me because the whole marketing just revolved around basically price call to actions, cleanings and exams and stuff like that, right? Like a sixty nine seventy nine dollars special new patient specials, what the majority of their advertising revolved around and a direct mail piece that kind of said a little bit about everything.

So it was just confusing. So I said, I was like, Dad, you know that you're kind of giving them something to get them in the door and then you're supposed to upsell them when they get here. So you're getting people asking about price because you're advertising price, this is you're getting exactly what you're supposed to be getting. And I had never done anything dentistry before, but I could see that. And as we kind of went down the road and I was just kind of helping him at a distance.

Another thing that really confused me, and I didn't know that this was a general rule among dentists, I thought this was something specific to them, but they kind of judged the marketing success or failure by the number of patients that they got. And that was confusing to me. They always had like a new patient goal, Hey, we want to get 50 new patients or 70 or 80 or 90 or whatever it is. And every time, of course, they brought one of my sisters on, they wanted more new patients and it was just confusing me because I said I was thinking, why do we care how many new patients? Why aren't we talking about how much production and how much? And not even how much production but how much profit? Why aren't we judging the marketing in terms of production and profit as opposed to volume? And they had just never really thought about.

I said, Well, how is that? And I said, Why are we spending our money on what is your margins on an exam and a cleaning? And they just laugh and they're like, there's no margin. And then why are we discounting that? It seems to me like that should be almost full fee, right? If we're going to discount something like what are the procedures that are going to bring in the most amount of production and the maximum amount of profit and a minimal amount of time? Right. Whether it's a big cosmetic base or a multi dental implant case or a complex occlusal case, full mouth reconstruction, whatever it is. We learned really fast that we needed to focus 90 percent of the marketing dollars on their top one or maybe two most profitable procedures and handle the volume with internal marketing and marketing options that don't require cash that require just more internal marketing work that way.

So and that was kind of the basic principle that we took that I took launching it and figuring out something for them that was going to be different. So I saw that as just a major, you know, in a lot of different industries. They look at ROI not in terms of the volume they look at it in terms of in terms of cash, in terms of revenue. And that seems to be like a lot of dentists. They just have a volume goal. Hey, want 50 new patients or 60 or 70 or 80, but they get up to 80 and they're still they're nowhere near as profitable as they should be because they're not doing profitable procedures. They don't have any big cases. They come every once in a while, but there's no consistency to it.

And that was the big gap that I saw from day one, as the angle is, Hey, forget marketing for volume and forget worrying about how many new patients you have. How do we how do we drastically increase the revenue without needing to increase the space, the infrastructure or your expenses? We do specific cases. So that's kind of a long winded answer, but that's kind of how we got to the point of actually starting to consult.

Art Wiederman, CPA: You know, it's interesting. You mentioned that I have four years seeing many dentists. They go out, they're going to send out mailers, they're going to send out 10,000 mailers and they send out 10,000 mailers are going to get 100 new patients. And then the mailer says, OK, we're going to give you a cleaning and x rays for $39. And I have always been of the opinion and say, OK, if I'm going to pay, sell a cleaning and x rays for thirty nine dollars, why would somebody pay $1,500 for my crown? Because it's almost like they've commoditized the thing.

Bart Knellinger: Right, well, and it's nonspecific too. So you might be getting in people that need cleanings, but they don't need they don't need anything else, right? Which isn't ideal, right? What's ideal is you get people in that have a lot of dental problems. People that haven't been to the dentist in five, 10, 15 years that have a lot of issues that with one session of sedation, you can knock out a lot of work. Right. So we want to incentivize patients, financially incentivize them to do as much work as possible in as few visits as possible. But with a lot of dentists it's backwards.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So, all right. So that leads us into kind of getting started with a discussion here is so what are some of the biggest mistakes that you've seen dentists in all the years that you've been helping dentists with their marketing? Biggest mistakes that you've seen dentists make in marketing their practices?

Bart Knellinger: Biggest mistake is just not having it, not having a clearly defined strategy before they launch it. A lot of dentists again I think one of the most common marketing strategies a lot of dentists take when they don't have a strategy is just to start participating with insurance. And that's really their main marketing strategy because they just want people in the door. They forget about revenue, they forget about production, they forget about profit. They just want to get busy. And that's a hamster wheel that can be very, very difficult to get off of.

So the first thing is understand that having an empty chair and empty operatory holes in the schedule isn't the end of the world. It's much better than having somebody occupy the chair that's not profitable. So definitely not having a strategy for how they're going to grow. When we take on new clients, we look at and say, OK, you know, what are the most profitable procedures this particular doctor can do? And a lot of what we do now, a lot is geared towards multi implant cases full arch fixed cases and advertising to people with terminal dentition just because of the profitability and how fast we can grow practices and grow their EBIDTA with that strategy, but definitely it's not having a strategy, it's just focusing on volume and focusing more on the tactics than the strategy.

So they just go, OK, we need new patients. Let's buy a website or let's look at social media. Let's look at direct mail. Let's look at TV or YouTube or whatever, whatever it is, the tactic. But all of the tactics work. They all have their place and they all work. But they're deployed in a very different manner, depending on what types of cases that we're targeting. You know, the strategies we use for a high end cosmetic dentist, it's polar opposite from a doctor that is specializing in full arch implants, for instance.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Yeah, no, that's absolutely right. If you're advertising an HMO practice and you're in a very low income area, you're going to do the plan completely differently. Now you and I have talked about advertising and I mentioned this earlier in the show, advertising without assets like, for example, a dentist goes out just like you said, it's all kinds of social media. But the website doesn't work. Tell me about how that what do you mean by advertising without assets?

Bart Knellinger: It kind of ties in to focusing on the tactics, not having a strategy. So if there's no strategy, for instance, if we just say, Hey, we want 50 new patients a month and they go out and buy social media, what is the creative going to be? What are they actually posting? Who are they targeting? If they create a direct mail piece, what is the messaging and what are the images in the tri fold or in the postcard? If they do a TV commercial right what are the assets that need to be created for the TV commercial? It's too general to create any assets, so everything that they use from a creative standpoint is going to be super generic by nature, as opposed to having a conversation with a doctor and saying, Hey, forget how many new patients, tell me what the most profitable thing you do?

And let's say they say, Well, I like to do multi implant cases. I like to medium, I say, OK, if that's the case, then we should focus on that. How many arches are you doing a month? Well, we do one every once in a while, we do probably seven or eight a year, something like that. Not even one a month. OK. So let's get that to seven to 10 a month. Seven to 10 arches a month. So in order to do that. Who are we targeting? People with terminal dentition, people that are typically 50 years of age and older and people that haven't been to a dentist. People that are denturous, people who lose lower dentures. I can get super targeted. So once I can be super targeted now we can develop assets.

So I can go out. We can go out and send the videographers out and interview patients that mirror the demographic that we're advertising for. And now, instead of making some generic social media posts, we're posting a patient testimonial of somebody telling a story experiencing the exact same pain points that our market will be experiencing at that time. Their experience with our practice and in how it changed their life afterwards. But if you don't have a specific procedure that you're anchoring everything on, then everything, everything is in play, right?

Your advertising by nature is going to be super, super generic and by nature, you're going to have to spend much more money and hit the masses of people. And you still don't know necessarily what you're going to get back. So once we have the strategy identified and we go, Hey, this particular doctor, we're going to focus on sedation, right? This particular doctor are going to focus on full arch immediate implants. This particular doctor we're going to focus on veneers. This other guy, we're going to focus on ortho, whatever it is, whatever the big case is, once we have a focus, the very next thing you do, is you spend the money on creating good quality assets, really good videos, interviews with the doctors, video testimonials with the patients, custom before and after photography showing your results.

And that's the Catch 22. If it's not about price, it's about quality. We're advertising clinical outcomes and quality of life. Then we have to have a way to display it from a marketing perspective that can't be duplicated. You don't want to. When you're advertising for big cases, we don't want to use generic images. Shutterstock photos, generic copy. Everything needs to be custom, and that way the doctors can copyright it. They can protect it, and their advertising will never look like anybody else's advertising, and they're going to stand out. And if you're targeting people that need a lot of dental work, they're going to spend a lot of dental work, you want it to look, you want it to look really great.

Art Wiederman, CPA: I mean, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Mercedes, Ruth Chris. They don't use stock advertising in their advertising, I'm sure. No. And yeah, something I've always wondered about is I get a lot of my clients who say, you know, Art, if I do a bunch of marketing, I'm just going to get a bunch of insurance patients. Maybe some tips on how someone would as part of your plan if you hired, if someone hired you to do their marketing, they said, I want to do high end, I want to do cosmetics. I want to deal with people who don't have insurance and who don't have to worry about my fees. Maybe some tips on how do you get those patients? I've always wondered that.

Bart Knellinger: Well, with the big procedures, the insurance is irrelevant. I mean, it is irrelevant, right? It's going to max out at two thousand, twenty five hundred dollars and we're talking about twenty five, thirty thousand dollar procedures. You know, like, I mean, full arch implants, for instance, they average twenty five thousand dollars an arch and we've got clients doing twenty five, thirty, thirty five arches per month. What who cares about the insurance, right? If someone says, you know does my insurance, cover it. Sure. We'll submit to them. You know, we'll get the maximum reimbursement available, but your insurance is going to max out, fifteen hundred, two thousand, twenty five hundred, you know, whatever it is. But whatever it is, we'll get the max for you.

And even if I owned the practice and I didn't, let's say that for some reason I wouldn't send it out for them to get them reimbursed. You can always just say, OK, well, it's twenty seven thousand dollars. We'll just write $2000 off the top and give you your insurance right here. So the bigger the case, the less relevant the insurance becomes. It's not really even an issue. Where it's an issue is for cleanings. It's an issue for single extractions. It's an issue for, you know, exactly those things are where people are really honed in because they will cover it and it doesn't exceed the maximum annual allowable dollar amount.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So, so you've been you're talking about the advertising assets and having a plan. You talk about compelling assets, maybe give us some examples of some of that.

Bart Knellinger: Well, what's going to compel somebody to come in that has not been to the dentist in 10 years? Right? So again, let's say, if we're targeting somebody that has terminal dentition, what's going to be compelling about it? You know, they've been procrastinating already for a decade, whether it's because of money or it's because of anxiety, or it's because of just putting other things first, it doesn't matter, but they've been procrastinating in some way, shape or form. So how do we compel them to move forward?

Compelling is done through sales and influence, and sales and influence is extremely powerful in a peer to peer level. So a lot of times, what's the most compelling with patients isn't hearing us say that that we're the best when it comes to implants or veneers or crowns or reconstructions. Sometimes what is really compelling is listening to a story from another patient describing the exact situation that they're dealing with, right? Not being able to eat, not being able to chew, not enjoying social events, just not enjoying the way they look, their self-confidence and just kind of listening to their story. What was the point in time when they said, Hey, forget this, I've got to get this taken care of? What was your experience and how it changed their life? You know what's going to compel people?

And that's why I really love advertising for transformative type of dental procedures that really change the way people look, feel and live and function on a day to day basis. Because I mean, these people, it's unbelievable how you change their life. And in my experience, the doctors enjoy it much more. And but that's what's compelling, it's not the protocol, it's not the procedure, and it's not the price. Right? But what I'm talking about when I'm speaking about right now transcends all of those things and it gets someone going. I mean, how do you put a value on that? Going from a place of suffering and pain and embarrassment to the exact opposite, what is the fair market value of that?

So it's much less about advertising dental implants. It's much more about advertising the process of transforming your life and how that translates in a day to day. So that's going to be all about compelling the emotional aspect of actually advertising.

Art Wiederman, CPA: And doctors, let me tell you something. I have talked about this till I'm blue in the face. You guys don't fix teeth. I'm going to say this over and over again. You're about a better life, a better relationship, a better job, a better self-esteem. That is what you do. And that's exactly what you're talking about is this is not about, Oh, well, I can only spend $1000 on my dentistry. This is about taking their mouth and turning it into something that's going to improve the quality of life. That's what we do, right?

Bart Knellinger: Mm hmm. And I mean, in the marketing, for those big cases, it would shock you Art. But frankly, for the big cases, we just don't have near the level of competition that you do for advertising cleanings and free exams. Cleanings and free exams, that's 75 percent of where the dollars go. Unbelievable, right? You know, these big transformative cases, you only have a handful of people in every market that are really advertising for them, even if they're big advertisers. Still, the sheer volume of people that that are competing for those cases is so much lower in the cases are so much larger, have so much more profit. You know, even a couple cases a month can double certain practices.

Art Wiederman, CPA: You know, it's interesting, too, is we've just come off of well, having come off, I don't think it may never end, 18 months basically being locked down in the COVID 19 pandemic. You've got people that haven't been to the dentist, you've got people who haven't spent a lot of money. So there are people out there who have been, you know, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is that what they say. There's people have money and they are waiting for a compelling reason to do this. So, you know, this is another this is a good time if you're going to do a paradigm shift and guys like what Bart is talking about is, you know, he's talking about a call to action.

My podcast is a call to action. This today is a call to action. If you are going after patients, then you're offering $39 specials and you're not happy with the profitability and the bottom line of your practice, maybe you need to look at something else, you know. So this is what we talk about on these podcasts and why I love doing them. So Bart, OK, marketing.

Bart Knellinger: Just a quick add on to what you said is a really good point being a good time to do this. It's a good time, but not only because people have money, because there's a lot of people, a lot of people that need a lot of dental work, the reason why they procrastinated is due to financial hold backs. What's different right now is how aggressive lenders are at getting patients financed. That's what's different. Because a lot of these people that let's say they have terminal dentition or they're a dentialist, they have inherent finding that demographics gonna inherently have financial challenges with coming up with 25, 30, 35 thousand.

What's different about right now is that now we're getting patients financed with a 580 credit score where we could never. We're getting finance for 50, 60, 70 thousand on stated income, unsecured loans. That just has never happened. So it's not that they have money, it's that they have access to money right now. That's why it's so hot.

Art Wiederman, CPA: All right. So let's talk about and I get this question all the time Art, how much, you're the CPA, you're the dental specialist. You know about the numbers of the dental practice. What kind of how do we figure out a marketing budget? What's reasonable for a general dentist? Let's just say.

Bart Knellinger: Marketing budget should mirror what the goals are. So you always have to start with what the goals are. So I get asked this question all the time say, look, how much should I be spending on advertising? I say, Well, it depends on what you're advertising and how and what kind of volume you're expecting. OK, so if they say, Hey, we want to advertise for full arch implants or multi implant cases, what do we need to spend? Say well, how many full arches are you looking for? That's what it's going to depend. It doesn't matter what you spend, right? Because the money's going to media, the money's going to clicks and impressions, and that's what you're actually buying. You're not buying leads and you're not buying patients. You're buying eyeballs. So the more eyeballs that you get, if the creative is good and you spent the money on the assets and the assets are good, you're going to get a lot of leads and which will funnel down in to cases.

But what I tell doctors doesn't matter how much you spend as long as in line, and it makes sense with what the goal is. So you always start with the goal and everything works backwards. So if they say Bart, I want to do 10 arches per month. I've got a marketing budget of three thousand dollars per month. I would say, Well, that's not going to happen. You know, it's just that's not close. So for something like full arch, you know, your average cost to acquire an arch, and a lot of this depends on what their closing percentages are. But it's going to be anywhere from a thousand to two thousand dollars per arch. That's where you're going to pay, but they're twenty five to thirty thousand dollar cases and the margins are over 70 percent. So you're going to spend ten thousand, you're going to you want 10 arches, you're going to be spending an absolute minimum if they're really efficient in terms of handling leads and closing the business. A whole nother conversation. If they're really efficient, they'll be spending 10 grand.

So for me, it doesn't matter what they spend, it just matters that the budget is in line. And that's another reason when they don't have a strategy, when we're not targeting anything specific, how do you even come up with a budget? Some people say, Oh, let's just spend five percent of gross or seven percent of gross. It's like the most ridiculous way of looking at that I ever heard of. Why spend seven percent of gross on patients that are not profitable? That's insane. And you know that certain big cases are going to cost more to acquire.

But it doesn't matter. You have to have something more specific. So if we're targeting big cosmetic cases in a market, we have to be specific on how many you want. And then we look at the market. We help the doctors kind of stay in line with what we think it's going to require to actually hit that goal.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So a couple of weeks ago, I did a podcast on setting your goals for what you are going to do in your practice in 2022. We talked about staff, dental team, we talked about equipment, we talked about everything. And now is the time folks getting to start 2022 for you to think about what are you going to do in marketing in your practice in 2022? This is a perfect opportunity to start 2022 off.

So talk a little bit about before we go into some of the other things, I want to talk about verbal skills and which is really the whole thing. I mean, you get the phone to ring, but if you've got somebody answering the phone who just doesn't get it, you know you're wasting your money. But talk about your company, like if someone hired you, how do you work and what would be the steps and how would that work? I also want you to give out your contact information.

Bart Knellinger: OK, well, the first thing that we do is we have a consultation to figure out where the practice is now and where they're trying to get the practice. So if we have a practice that's, say, doing a million dollars in production a year and they'd like to get that to two million or three million over the next year or two years, then what we try to do is work with the doctor to figure out what is the straightest line or the shortest path between A and B. How do we get them there, doing the least the least amount of effort, least amount of marketing and least amount of patients. That's the first thing we do.

Second thing that we do once we have a strategy defined and we know, OK, we're going to be focused on sedation cases or big cosmetic cases whatever it is, we create all the assets send the video team out, photographers, who get the photos, the videos, create the copy, create whatever we need to actually run these campaigns, create it all custom. And then we train the team. We train the team on how to handle the leads and how to close the cases.

That was probably our biggest challenge and remains our biggest challenge as a company. If our clients aren't making money, if the patients aren't closing, it doesn't really matter how well the marketing is performing, they're going to leave eventually. So a big part of when a doctor starts advertising for large procedures and they're not used to, that is getting their team trained and implementing a sales process so that the treatment coordinators can close the cases so they have the options, they understand how to close those cases and show the patients they're getting a great deal and prevent themselves from losing second or third opinions all the time. So we're the only company in dental that handles it from front to back, from actually creating all the assets in-house. We don't outsource anything. Building the strategy, executing all the marketing and training the team through the closing institute. We handle it from A to Z and we're the only company that does that.

Art Wiederman, CPA: What's your closing institute, talk about your closing institute for a minute.

Bart Knellinger: Yeah. And I was just going to say www.progressivedental.com, any of any of your listeners can learn about that, about all of our services right there on the Closing Institute as well. But the Closing Institute is actually a continuing education course that we put on. We put it on four times a year, twice on the West Coast and twice on the East Coast. West Coast is in Vegas, East Coast is in Clearwater. It specifically oriented towards doctors who want to do big, full arch cases. So and it's a mentorship style course. So it's a boot camp. But then we actually train every single month on how to close these deals.

And that was our biggest obstacle was the marketing would work. They'd get a bunch of leads, but they just weren't able to close the deals. They didn't have anyone who understood how to sell these. So that's something that's been a huge initiative of ours and it's really, really, really taken off over the last two years. So we have fewer events this year coming up, but all the events are a little bit larger, with 200 plus in attendance at every single boot camp. And then we have power sessions at our facility in Clearwater on a monthly basis, as well.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Nice. So www.progressivedental.com. And is there a phone number if they want to give you a call?

Bart Knellinger: Seven two seven two eight six six two one one. And we're in Clearwater, Florida.

Art Wiederman, CPA: And we'll put that in the show notes, too. You mentioned a couple of things that I really want to hit on here. I got so much I want to talk to you about. Verbal skills. I mean, folks, you got, you know, you get the phone to ring, but someone answers the phone. Here's an example. First question is how much do you charge for cleaning? And then the doctors and then the person on the phone says, $150. Goodbye. Goodbye new patient.

So I don't think that's what you train. Talk a little bit about the skills you teach your doctors. Give some tips on the verbal skills you teach your doctors and the teams, and then you talk about effective sales processes versus ineffective. So get into that for a little bit. That's really important.

Bart Knellinger: Yeah. Well, verbal skills are just going to come down to what the sales process is. And that's a big problem with dentistry is there's very few doctors that actually have a sales process in place. They have what's called the treatment planning process or new patient consultation. But that new patient consultation doesn't change from patient to patient. You know, for instance, I'm much less concerned about a patient that calls up and says how much you charge for cleaning versus patients says, Hey. How much you charge for all on four.

You know, because the patient calling about all on four is worth twenty five thousand to fifty sixty thousand dollars. Patient for cleaning is going to be significantly less than that. So it's very hard to create language patterns and scripting to account for every single type of patient. Right? Which again, it kind of boils back down to having the strategy set so we can actually create custom sales processes and for big cases, big cosmetic cases, big implant cases, big full mouth reconstruction cases. The difference is they're calling in and they're not asking for cleanings. They're asking for something very specific.

So we already know what it is that they're interested in. But because of the price, the dollar amount, we have to do some type of triage, some type of pre-qualification so that, you know, the last thing we want, especially with the implant market, is to bring a patient and get them scheduled, bring them in. And we go through an hour and a half consultation or two hour consultation only to get to the end for them to say, hold on, doesn't Medicaid cover this, doesn't Medicare cover this, or I thought this was about five hundred dollars. Is it more than that?

Art Wiederman, CPA: Where's my coupon?

Bart Knellinger: Exactly. That can't happen, right? It just can't. Now, with regular dental marketing, they're bringing in patients that are just coming in, right? And maybe they just moved to the area or whatever. So you're doing a new patient, a full blown new patient exam, you know, with things like all on four and full mouth implants. You know, we can do and it's necessary to do some type of an abbreviated consultation process, and we have to have language patterns that are set up to handle price shoppers. And we have to have a different treatment options for patients with different budgets, and we have to have an answer for triage and we have to have an answer for pre qualifying patients so that we're not wasting a lot of doctor time.

Because in order to get to do five, 10, 15 arches a month, you have to get hundreds of leads and you have to triage through them because there's a large percentage of these patients that will not financially qualify to actually move forward. So you have to have an efficient way to get through them, which kind of takes me back to the talk track. If we don't have a specific strategy, how do you create a talk track? Right. Because we're not creating anything specific.

Same thing as the assets. There's not one way to answer the phone. So I tell the doctors, Hey, this is going to be our ad funnel, this is going to be focused on the veneers. This is our talk track for the patients calling in specifically for this ad funnel because we already know something about them. And there's more and more communication being done through chat, email and text messaging, and less and less and less communication is being done over the phone in order to get patients scheduled. So we create custom talk tracks based on what the doctor's strategy is because the talk tracks for cosmetic, for instance, people for veneers and people that want smile makeovers, a lot of times it's more effective to give the impression that you're the absolute most expensive option in town, whereas the implant market is far more financially burdened typically than somebody that's looking for a high end elective procedure.

The implant market, by the time they become a lead, something's gotten really bad, right, because if it wasn't really bad, they'd still be waiting. So they wait until the absolute last second to getting in touch with the dentist until they just can't take it anymore. Whereas high end elective procedures and cosmetic procedures, the talk tracks couldn't be any different and the consultation process couldn't be any different.

But the big thing is to understand the strategy and understand, Hey, from a cosmetic standpoint, we don't have to worry about triage and pre qualifying as much. We're going to have a higher close rate. But with the implant market, you know, terminal dentition or denture market or bar over dentures or whatever it is that you're doing, that market, we have to triage, we have to pre-qualify and we're going to have to hit a lot more people to get five to 10 closed. So we need to be able to close them and 20 to 30 minutes maximum using about 10 to 15 minutes of doctor time.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So, let's talk about the biggest thing that my doctors I know they've talked to me about this for years is, Oh my god, I'm so afraid I have to tell someone that it's going to be $30,000 to do their dental work. How, when someone in an initial conversation, when do you like to bring up the cost? In other words, someone calls in and their conversation is not I just need my teeth cleaned. The conversation is you know, I really want to have this great smile. I'm applying for a new job. It's a big deal. I know it's going to be, you know, they know it's going to be costly. If you hear, they know it's going to be costly. When do you bring the cost up and how do you do it? That's a big I think that would be a big thing for our doctors to hear.

Bart Knellinger: Well, I'll give you an example here. And just as a rule of thumb, the patients that if cost is a major issue for them, most of the time, they bring it up early and often. My motto and my rule of thumb is I don't want to create an obstacle that doesn't exist. So I'm not going to bring up costs if they don't bring it up. In my experience, if it's a big deal, they're going to bring it up, sometimes right over the phone, sometimes within the first 10 minutes of your consultation, sometimes when they meet the doctor. But they're going to say something like, Hey, you know, I need to get an idea of cost about all this, you know, before I waste a bunch of time. I just I don't know if it's going to be feasible for me or whatever. So once they bring it up, then we're going to discuss it. But I don't like to create an obstacle that doesn't exist, and I don't want to come off the wrong way.

It can come off a bit rude if we bring up price before we've actually made a treatment recommendation and try to be too aggressive in terms of triage. So if someone calls in, they say, Hey, you know how much you charge for all on four and they're actually on the phone. First thing we have to do is just get a little bit of information from them about what it is that they're experiencing and tell them, Yeah, no problem. We can help you with that. Let me ask, are you missing one tooth, multiple teeth, full arch of teeth? Give me an idea. They give us a little idea about their background, and then they'll continue and say, Listen, I just really need to get an idea of how much this is going to cost. So I know that it's feasible for me, you know, and say, Listen, based on everything that you've told me, you know, it sounds like you'd be a candidate for three or four or even five different full arch treatment options that we have here.

We've got different options with different pros and cons for people with different budgets. But, you know, it kind of sounds to me like you may have a number in your head that you're trying to stay within, that maybe you have a budget for what you're looking for here. So if that's the case might be a lot faster and I can just cut through all the red tape if you tell me how much you're looking to spend in terms of, you know, full arch implants or full arch reconstruction, whatever it is that we're talking about. You tell me how much you're looking to spend, and I'll just back in and give you some information about the treatment that would be closest.

Because what I'm trying to do, our philosophy is not to quote is to understand that you're in a negotiation. At this point, this patient doesn't need to be sold on implants. They're already in the shopping phase, so they've already decided that's what they're going to get. They don't need to be sold on the emotional aspect. They already get all of that. They're simply looking at price. But what a lot of practices don't tell them, a lot of practices get it all on four crazy, right? Like one way to do it is twenty five or thirty thousand dollars. But to somebody with terminal dentition, a bar over denture is unbelievable, right? Or a removable with locators. Or there's different ways to scale on a full arch using different types of material for the teeth that can drastically affect the price.

So our philosophy on price shopping, as long as it's specific to a procedure, is to understand that we're in a negotiation and in a negotiation, I don't want to give the number. I'm going to get a number from them and then I'm going to use that number to qualify them. So if they give me a number, let's say we're advertising for all on four. If they give me a number ten thousand dollars or up, I'm telling them that we've got something for them, right? You're in the ballparks where we're going to be able to get some type of full arch implant option, understanding fully that whatever number they give you is going to be drastically underestimated. Very few consumers that are going to give you a number, it's going to be their top, the top at the top of the top. But if they give me a number like a thousand dollars, right, that doesn't even qualify for the most basic full arch option, which would be a well-made denture, right?

So we would triage that out if or if they say, I don't have any money, I need payments right, then we can take their information and can pre-qualify right over the phone with Proceed Finance and or Lending Point. And again, I'm triaging and prequalifying. No sense bringing somebody in that isn't financially qualified to actually make a purchase. We need to help them in a different way. So our strategy with price shoppers is to get them to give us the number and then we can back into it because so many times patients will come in and they're inquiring about it. Twenty five or thirty or thirty five thousand on a procedure, maybe they only got approved for fifteen thousand. Right. But there's a fifteen thousand dollar check that just walked out the door because we only we never asked them what their budget was and we never catered something towards their budget. We just said it's twenty five grand, thirty grand. They said we only have 15 and they leave and it's over.

Art Wiederman, CPA: But we can do some stuff for 15,000.

Bart Knellinger: Heck, yeah. And from a marketing perspective, it kills us because I'm telling the doctor's, Well, we don't want to do removable. I was like, OK, then don't do removable only if you're booked out with fixed. So if you're booked out to three weeks with $30,000 cases right, then fine. Let's not do it. But if you're not, what are you replacing for a $12,000 over denture case right, implant supported denture. If you're going to let that walk out the door, what is that timeslot being replaced with, right? Because it's been replaced with a single crown. There's a problem with that.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Well, and let me jump in and say one more thing. So you have that 10 to $15,000 case. It's not the 40,000 that you're looking for, but you do that case and you wow them and you and you show them what you do. They might go find that money to do the rest of it, right?

Bart Knellinger: Totally, totally. But what's going to happen, the patients are going to call in about price and they're going to hear one or two things, they're going to hear a practice say, I can't give you price over the phone. You have to come in for an exam and consultation with the doctor. That's going to be one or number two. They're going to quote him a fee, both of which are wrong. We don't want to do that.

We want to tell the patient that based on what they're telling us, it sounds like most likely there would be a good candidate for several different types of procedures, all of which is going to put them in a significantly better situation than they're in now. But it sounds like you may have a budget in your head that you're trying to stay within. Why don't you tell me what you're looking to spend and then I'll back in to whatever treatment would be there at that point in time? Just save you a bunch of time, and that works extremely well.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So let's talk for a second about who's going to have these conversations. In other words, the person at the front desk may not have the dental IQ that a full blown treatment coordinator who's been in dentistry for 30 years. Maybe he's been an assistant, maybe he's been a hygienist who knows. So what does the dentist look? I mean, I'm assuming that the technical part of all of this, the technical part of all this needs to be communicated by somebody who really understands it. And that's probably a treatment coordinator, right?

Bart Knellinger: Yeah, 100 percent. So what we have been doing is basically just trying to get the treatment coordinator as many opportunities as possible. So with whoever the receptionist is, you know, without receptionist knowing that a lot of times they don't have the same background and familiarity with those top procedures that the treatment coordinators do, we just get them to get the information from the patient and try to get them scheduled. And then a lot of the conversation we're on articulating now takes place in the first 10 minutes of the consultation between the treatment coordinator and the patient.

Having said that, there's a lot of treatment coordinators that if they're not in a consultation, will take the call if it's a full arch lead or a smile makeover lead or something like that. But what we're doing next year in the Closing Institute for most of the of the doctors, and they have a significant advertising initiative and they're trying to get these big cases in volume. They really need a patient advocate or somebody that's responsible for handling the leads. And next year in the Closing Institute, we're bringing in and we're training the person handling leads and the treatment coordinator so that a lot of this can be done over the phone.

But they absolutely have to go through the same training as the treatment coordinator goes through in terms of closing the case. So I think that's going to, we haven't done that in the past. We're doing that next year is bringing the treatment coordinator and the patient advocate in as a team. And it's really important for the doctors if they have a significant initiative to make sure that they have one person that has the time and that they're not being asked to do a million different things in the practice. They have the time to just follow up on the leads. Answer the phone. Reply to the inquiries. And focus 100 percent of their time and energy on qualifying. Getting people in the door because there's these patients are extremely valuable. The dollar amounts and the profit that they bring into practices are staggering.

Art Wiederman, CPA: So let me ask you another question because I get this too, OK? Hey, Bart, I've got a great dental team there. I love them. They're wonderful. They get great attitudes. But you know, they're just not. They're afraid of selling, and they're afraid of communicating this type of information to patients. So if I have a really good team member, but maybe their verbal skills might be their weak point, can we take a really great team member, I have always said in my CPA firm for 33 years. I will hire attitude and I can teach skills. Can a great team member who's got a great attitude, great smile, everything like that. Can we teach them these skills?

Bart Knellinger: You can. It's easier to hire it, right? Teaching the skill, teaching the skill, the skill of selling, the skill of influence. You can have a great attitude and not be a person of influence, for instance, right? You can have a great attitude and be the nicest person ever and be absolutely horrible in a sales job, right? But for the most part, the advantage that we have in dentistry versus other industries is that this is not outbound sales. We don't have to make cold calls. It's much easier. These people already have urgency. They're coming to us and they have pain. They're either in physical pain or emotional pain. But one of the two and that holds true 100 percent of the time when it comes to big procedures.

So complacency isn't really an issue. We don't need someone that's an expert in disturbing complacency, create an urgency in that manner because it's already built in. That's what makes it easier here. But yes, you can absolutely train it. And one of the things we have to train out of their psyche is the whole idea that, oh gosh, I don't want to like, sell. Well, we are selling that is there's a transaction taking place that's exactly what's happening. We just want to do it efficiently. We want to do it in a manner where the patient doesn't feel like anything is ever being pushed right.

In order to do that, you have to be price agnostic. It doesn't matter just like me with the doctor's marketing budget, it makes no difference to me whether they spend five hundred dollars or fifty thousand one hundred thousand a month. It makes zero difference to me because I'm looking at the goal. What are we trying to accomplish and what makes sense? And whatever that number is, it is right. Because if I don't hit the client's expectation, the dollar amount is irrelevant. I'm doing my job. It's the same thing with dentistry. They're there to find out what is the patient going through, what's the current state and what is the desired state? What are we trying to accomplish here?

The treatment plan simply is a reflection of what the patient has articulated in describing their vision or what they what they want in terms of a desired clinical outcome. Whatever it is that they're describing, they want. That's what the treatment plan is going to mirror. So we don't have to worry about it, whether it now, if that's $30,000, it's thirty thousand, if it's 10 it's 10. I run into a bigger issue with doctors under treatment planning people under treatment planning, which is the definition of selling, that's selling based on price. That's pre-judging saying. All right. Well, how about we do this? Let's start with this for $5,000 and get you going. Then we'll come in next year and go.

Why? Why are we doing that? They want to go from here to here. They want to go from A to B. What does it take to get to B, make a treatment plan, show them what it is and if there's a financial obstacle, then let's solve it. We either solve it with financing or if we can't solve it with financing, that's the part where then we may start to stage that treatment out. But the dollar amount, if you're doing it the right way, the dollar amount should be completely irrelevant to you. If it's not, then you're already on the wrong side of the coin.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Yeah, so I'm going to, time flies when you're having fun, we're getting close to the end of our time here. So I'm going to give you a challenge. In a couple of minutes. First, I want you to tell me what makes a good dental website in a couple minutes. That's a four hour conversation, but just a couple of hot points on what should be in a good dental website.

Bart Knellinger: OK. Number one, a good dental website is going to have, is all about the content and the assets. So content is copy, photography and videography for the most part. OK. A lot of people look at content just as copy, but it's not. Copy, photos and videographer, and all three should be custom and all three should be related not to what it is that we do in terms of crowns, veneers, bridges, implants, but the outcomes that they provide right. Websites with good custom content. If I have videos, good quality videos, have good quality photography and good content. The design process of the website is extremely straightforward and very, very easy. If I have none of those things, the design aspect becomes very, very, very difficult. Because you have to use, you have to use graphics, you have to use stock images and you have to use their content or however you are going to generate it. But it becomes much more difficult.

So number one is add custom assets and content built in. Number two is that it's designed first for mobile, second for desktop, right? 70 percent of the traffic is going to be on mobile. So it's completely different, whereas we used to design websites for the computer and make them quote unquote responsive so that they would respond to cell phone. It's complete opposite now where all of our designs are designed for a cell phone and mobile device. And they respond, they reverse respond to a computer screen or laptop or a TV. That's number two.

Number three, the website should have a specific focus on the most profitable types of the cases that you have and those pages should be inherently more comprehensive than pages that don't matter. If you have a page on piaggo scale or a page on growth factors, pages on things that don't have high search volume, they don't need to be as long. You can have it there, but it doesn't do a whole lot.

Even pages on crown and bridge, they don't do much. It needs to be something specific. But if you want big cosmetic cases, then the section on cosmetic dentistry, smile makeovers, veneers should be comprehensive, and it should be loaded with before and after photos and patient testimonials.

And then the last thing of a good website would be that you have different ways to capture leads. So to call and schedule an appointment or a consultation might be want to do a virtual consultation might be another to fill out a form to fill out an evaluation, find out if you're a candidate. Get pricing, that could be another one. E-book could be another one. We want to have four or five or six different ways to capture leads of patients that are different phases in the buying cycle.

If all those things are done, a lot of the technical aspect that people make a big deal out of the coding of the website and you know, the on page SEO of the website and all that stuff, it's important, but there's tons of people that can do it. There's tons of companies that can do a really good job there. Where they miss is that there's no strategy. We don't put any particular emphasis on big procedures and there's no custom CTAs and it just falls flat and it just looks like another dental website.

Art Wiederman, CPA: All right. Well, listen, this has been amazing information. I wish we could talk for another hour, but this is a one hour podcast, so Bart, last time, give out your contact information, folks. If you're looking for and what Bart and his team can sounds like that their sweet spot and their wheelhouse is, you know, big cases, you know, full-on arches, all on four. I mean, if you're looking for these big cases, Bart, this is what he does all day long. How do we get a hold of you?

Bart Knellinger: www.ProgressiveDental.com and the Closing Institute, we've got bootcamp coming up. The next one is in Las Vegas at the Aria Casino and Hotel. That's January 28th and 29th. Orlando's April 8th and 9th, and that's at the Ritz-Carlton and then Las Vegas Caesars Palace is June 24th and 25th and then Clearwater Beach at the Wyndham Grand Resort is September 23rd through the 24th. So and those bootcamps are for doctors to attend with their treatment coordinator and whoever they have in the practice that's going to be handling the leads. And it's a day and a half. So if they need a consultation in terms of marketing, they can go to Progressive Dental Marketing. We take care of that over the phone. If they want to go to, if they want to attend the Closing Institute bootcamp, they can go to the website and they can they can fill out a form for that as well. So anything they need, they're going to be able to find that on our website.

Art Wiederman, CPA: Bart Knellinger from Progressive Dental Marketing, great, great information. I love the stuff that you were talking about on the verbal skills. I mean, that's invaluable. Hang on as I take the podcast out and folks, again, every one of my podcasts, whether it's me talking or one of my great experts in dentistry in the world that I live in, I meet so many great people like Bart.

It's a call to action, if this is what you're looking for. You know, if you're happy with your PPO practice giving away 40 percent and, you know, fighting with people over $60 prophies, you know that's OK, but that's not what we want you to do. We want you to be looking at the bigger cases which are much more profitable.

Don't forget to, you know, our partner Decisions in Dentistry magazine, www.DecisionsinDentistry.com, fantastic clinical content, one hundred and forty continuing education courses that are absolutely the best in the business for a very reasonable price.

If you're looking for a dental CPA, you know we take care of a thousand dentists at Eide Bailly. The Academy of Dental CPAs has over 10,000 clients www.ADCPA.org. Take a look at that. Do send me an email awiederman@EideBailly.com for our January 21st webinar.

Every one of you, for the most part, 90 percent of the dentists in America, got over $10,000 in HHS Provider Relief Fund Money. You need to fill out that portal. It is a bit daunting, although if you prepare for it, it's really not that bad. Send me an email or call me six five seven two seven nine three two four three.

Bart, like I say, hang on. Thank you so much for all of your great time and expertise and for everybody, we're getting going with 2022. Make your plan, make your plan for your practice, make your plan for your marketing, make your plan for your personal finances. And you know, planning is the number one thing that I push people to do. And you know, that's what we've been talking about today is planning your marketing plan, not just helter skelter. I'm going to put up a website or I'm going to send out a bunch of mailers that doesn't work.

So with that said, folks, this has been Art Wiederman for the Art of Dental Finance and Management with Art Wiederman, CPA. Thank you for the honor and privilege of your time. Please tell your friends about our podcast. We have thousands of people that listen to us every single month, and I'm very proud of the work we do, like what we did today. So that's it for today, folks. Great to see you, and we'll talk to you next time.