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Patients have got used to a certain dentist-patient relationship, however you can change that by asking them two simple yet profound questions. In today’s episode, Gary introduces two powerful questions that will help your new patients realize that you are their partner in health and not a mere member in a transactional relationship. This episode will help you build a strong sense of trust in all aspects of dentist-patient interactions.

  • The invisible cheque > 01:54
  • Join the journey of success > 02:50
  • Intro to today’s topic > 05:53
  • Question #1 > 10:02
  • Question #2 > 11:38
  • Talk to Gary > 23:13


Naren: This is the less insurance dependence podcast show with my good friend Gary Takacs and myself Naren Arulrajah. We appreciate your listenership, your time, and most of all we appreciate your intention to reduce insurance dependence in your practice. Our goal is to provide information that will help you successfully reduce insurance dependence and convert your practice into a thriving and profitable dental practice, that provides you with personal, professional, and financial satisfaction.

Naren: Hello everyone, welcome to another episode of the less insurance dependence podcast show. This is Naren your co-host and today I wanted to share something a little bit personal before we jump into today’s episode. Some of you may know that back in 2018, I had brain surgery, and it kind of shook me a little bit I mean of course the recovery and so I got some time to think and reflect and I started thinking about things that perhaps I didn’t think about up until that point because I was so busy with life just getting up in the morning and doing my thing and doing it again, going on vacation coming back doing it again and I think the COVID did something like that for all of us. I mean, it’s a once in a hundred-year event, that shook all of us to the core, and it made us ask questions like do I want to be on the same path or do the same things I did the last 10 years or 15 years or five years going forward, what’s important to me, and I’ve talked to many of my friends who happen to be dentists and many people said not really I want to change and one of the biggest things that we have been hearing Gary and I is this idea that writing a half a million-dollar check or 400 000 invisible check to the insurance company in exchange for patients and doing it year after year after year after year and running a low margin practice where everyone is pedaling faster and faster tomorrow just to make ends meet, a lot of people said I don’t want to go back to that life. So we saw a groundswell of interest in reducing insurance dependence and Gary said you know what, I’m going to make this affordable he so he came up with the COVID pricing, a special plan, no upfront fee and he cut his fees significantly even his monthly fees and he added more services to it, which is the practice management support. So, it’s not just Gary and his ideas it’s a team that helps you implement those ideas with the help of champions. So, you do dentistry, so the team kind of works with all the champions to make things happen. So, I just wanted to invite everyone to seriously look at this. If you don’t want to be writing this three hundred thousand four hundred thousand of course we have a PPO calculator we’ll put a link so you can figure out what this invisible PPO  write-off check is if you don’t want to do that and you want to get on this journey, Gary has agreed to kind of extend this COVID pricing into the new year, a little bit so we are posting this in early December. It’s 1500 a month, so if you are interested either book a coaching strategy meeting with Gary or go to the website and check it out. You can learn more by going to coaching and hey seriously look at it. Do you want to live the same life you lived prior to COVID, have the same practice you had prior to COVID after COVID, and if the answer is no and you want to figure out how to build a thriving practice, that’s relationship-driven that is TGIM where you feel like thank god it’s Monday, you want to get up and go to work. Then I strongly recommend either talk to Gary and or you know check out the coaching program

Gary: Naren, if I can jump in on that thank you for the kind comments by the way and if I can jump in for just a second, one of the things obviously one of the core elements of our coaching is helping dentists reduce insurance dependence, that’s one of the core elements, and that for that’s the number one reason why clients come to us and when we get started with the client, I kind of feel like uh if I can describe this personally I’m going to a movie that I’ve already seen but it’s a fun movie, it’s an enjoyable movie, I don’t know if you go to movies or watch movies multiple times but we’ll do that, uh you know whether it’s on Netflix or 

Naren: Yeah

Gary: Back when theatres were actually open we would sometimes go to a movie, uh you know multiple times, and I kind of feel like I’m watching a movie that I’ve already seen but it’s very interesting I know the ending and yet it still is interesting what I mean by that is the most common phrase that we hear from our clients when we pop through the other side after successfully reducing insurance dependence is Gary the only regret that I have is I didn’t do this sooner, why didn’t I do this sooner. Yeah, that’s the most common thing we hear. We hear it every time you know it’s like the ending of the movie here it comes again we see it and I tell them they don’t be yourself up about it celebrate the fact that you’re here now uh and we have a future moving forward that’s going to provide you so much joy but that is the most common statement we hear is the only regret I have is I didn’t do this sooner. So, doctors maybe you could jump on the shoulders of some of your colleagues that have been on this journey and join the journey yourself and we’d love the opportunity to help you if that was your interest as well.

Naren: Now let’s jump into our topic the topic today is a fascinating topic and it’s fascinating for two reasons, I love the questions. I got a sneak peek on what these questions are and the topic is two powerful questions to ask all new patients, two powerful questions to ask all new patients and the second reason I love this is, who taught this to Gary Doctor Omar Reed himself and I’ve heard so much I’ve never really met Doctor Omar Reed but I guess I have vicariously met him through Gary, so he looks like I mean at least from what I’ve heard, he’s just an amazing human being. 

Gary: So yeah, that’s just truly a giant in our profession and has influenced dentist so many ways sadly we lost him in January of 2020. He was 87 years old but he continues to influence me today posthumously through his wonderful guidance and influence and what I’m going to share with you today are two questions that I want you, doctors, to ask all new patients. They’re simple questions but they’re profound and I want to tell you how I learned this, Naren, I learned it as a patient of Doctor Reed. So not only was Doctor Reed one of my mentors but he was also my dentist. This was before I owned life smiles dental care and Paul and Tim but Doctor Reed was my dentist and I went to see him as gosh I have to think back now I was in my early no I was in my late 20s Naren, I was in my late 20s young professional kind of just getting started out and I had moved to Phoenix, I was actually recruited by Doctor Reed to be on his board of directors for his consulting firm and so he was my employer as my work but he was also my dentist and  I was in his chair and he had gathered some records, had taken some radiographs.

Naren: I didn’t know you worked for him Gary, you said he was your employer 

Gary: Yeah, he was my employer 

Naren: Oh cool 

Gary: Yeah, he actually, that’s why I’m in phoenix Omer recruited me, he was starting a new consulting firm called Pentigra some of our way back listeners might remember that in the 80s and I was recommended to him, he was putting together a board of directors and I was recommended him by Doctor Bert Press. Bert press was the past president of the ADA the American dental association and Doctor Press was a colleague and friend of Doctor Reed and Omar was talking to Bert and said hey I’m putting together an interesting company and I’m looking for the right board members. Do you have anyone that you’d recommend? And Doctor Press recommended me and long story short I that’s how we relocated to phoenix and I worked for him as a coach it is I was also on the board of directors and I was a coach and now I’m a patient of his and he took some radiographs, he had the predecessor to an intro camera Omar always had he was a progressive guy, he was the first dentist that I knew that had computer system in his practice and that goes back to the early 1980s and he said something like this to me Naren. He said Gary I’ve had a chance to study these radiographs. I’ve had a chance to study the records. I’ve had a chance to get to know you a little bit as a patient of course I know you as one of my team members but I’ve also had a chance to get to know you as a patient and I’d like to make some recommendations for you but before I do that I’d like to ask you a couple of questions would that be okay and notice the tone of this Naren what is everyone’s answer going to be you know would that be okay, what’s everyone’s answer going to be? 

Naren: Everyone’s answer is going to be of course 

Gary: Of course, Doctor 

Naren: Yeah 

Gary: He said okay here’s the first one. How healthy would you like to be? Pause

Naren: Pause

Gary: Pause, how hell I was ready for like a sophisticated question which by the way it is a very sophisticated question, but it’s also very simple. How healthy would you like to be? He stopped and he just looked at me and I said I’ve heard this question now asked thousands of times. That was the first time I heard it and I said what I’ve heard everybody say when asked that question. What do you think the answer is, how healthy would you like to be? Well, Doctor Reed all the way. I want to be healthy

Naren: Right

Gary: I want to be healthy. Yeah, I mean we don’t think about… pause for a minute, what are you guys well kind of healthy kind of a little bit 

Naren: A little healthy yeah 

Gary: Like maybe on a one to ten tens healthy two or three, nobody’s going to say that 

Naren: Yeah 

Gary: What does everybody say, everybody. 

Naren: All the way 

Gary: All the way, I want to be healthy Doctor Reed. That’s why I’m here, that’s why I’m here. I want to be healthy. It’s okay, I’m glad, I asked, great, by when and pause 

Naren: Pause

Gary: And now if the first question was simple, the second question was simpler, right?

Naren: Right

Gary: Think about that for a minute think about that, I think about some of the influencers in my life in dentistry people like Doctor Frank Spear think people like Doctor Leanne Brady, Doctor David Horn brook Doctor Frank Kois, John Coyze, I was thinking Frank Spear but Doctor John Coyze, Omer others. They have the ability to take very complex concepts and make them simple. So how healthy would you like to be well doc all the way, I’m in

Naren: Yeah

Gary: That’s why I’m here, by when? Now that answer there’s not necessarily, there is a dominant answer that we get but the answer could there could be multiple choices on that one. What do you think most people say when you ask that question, by when?

Naren: As soon as possible 

Gary: As soon as possible, that’s right, that’s right. Now sometimes they could qualify it. As soon as possible if I can afford it, right? Maybe if you’re very busy right now might be as soon as possible that I can fit it into my schedule, okay? There are different possible answers there but it tends to line up towards as soon as possible, as soon as possible. 

Naren: Now let me ask you a question, Gary. I know sometimes, I overthink when somebody asks me a simple question, I think this is a trick question right? Do you run into this when some like do people just get taken aback by this question how healthy would you like to be?

Gary: Universally, okay, I think what might be a surprise they’d never been asked that question in a dental office 

Naren: Right 

Gary: It never happened 

Naren: Yeah

Gary: So, it’s just a white surprise

Naren: Yeah

Gary: I mean it but it becomes like the ha, ha, moment, 

Naren: Right, like all the way I want my teeth to be held I want to keep my teeth, I want to be healthy, I’m all in. Now I heard that question almost 40 years ago as a patient. I believe the questions are more relevant today. Fast forward 40 years because today many people not everybody but many people understand the oral-systemic link, in other words, the health of your teeth and gums is they’re not just here in a vacuum in your mouth but we know there’s a direct connection to overall health heart disease stroke diabetes early-term birth cancer dementia Alzheimer’s disease fertility. So many people realize so they start thinking I know if my mouth’s healthy that helps my heart be healthier. So yeah, I’m all in and I love framing it that way with every patient, how healthy would you like to be? And today if you have been following this podcast and you’re influencing people, the answer might be doc I’d like I want all the way and that’s why I chose you as my dentist because I spent some time on your website and clearly you have the skills and abilities to help me enjoy great oral health. I mean patients will… might say that’s why I’m here and then that a warm feeling the for the dentist to realize that the patient is all in when it comes to their health. They’re a model patient at this point. Notice what we’re not talking about what are we not talking about in these discussions how healthy would you like to be in by one what are we not talking about their insurance?

Naren: yeah, yeah, you’re shifting their mindset from 

Gary: Shifting a mindset’s absolutely shifting a mindset, now again I’m not going to stick my head in the sand and pretend that patients won’t bring up questions about their insurance but they’re already thinking differently 

Naren: right now, I remember Doctor Robert Chaldini was talking about, if you’re selling a mattress that’s all about comfort, you may want to have pictures of clouds and like comfort right warm and fun usually when you think of clouds it’s comfort, right. So, what you’re doing the same thing you’re just shifting that people who are used to a certain relationship, certain repeated conversation with a dentist about what’s covered that’s kind of the relationship and the conversation to hey we are your partner in your health, how healthy you like to be just shifting their thinking just by that one question.

Gary: I love the way you just framed it, Naren, a partner in your health. Now let me link something to this that will help. I’ve never talked about it in this podcast and I’m excited to talk about it now. In our office in our life smiles office in the front office in the reception room, we have beautiful photos taken of landscape photos of the southwest. So oak creek canyon Sedona grand canyon lake Powell and we purchased those photos online from a photography artist and they’re printed on metal and I don’t know if any of you have ever seen photos printed on metal but one of the characteristics of them is they tend to really pop and they really are quite impressive photos because of the medium and so we have these beautiful photos in the reception area that represent our area where our practice is located in the southwest but every other piece of artwork in our practice every other than right there in the reception room are beautiful after photos of patients of ours, after photos, and they’re two foot by three foot they’re big photos that are done in the camera you know the canvas wrap type frames kind of frameless 

Naren: Yeah 

Gary: And they’re they range in age from some teenage patients to patients in their eighties and they’re beautiful, professionally done with them with the photographer beautiful and so think about made the comment about an actress and seeing these photos and asked the question how did you want to be what might be going on in my mind is these photos that I see how it is people in your practice and we make a point of telling when we take model office tour that all of the foods are actual people of ours that we’ve helped have a smile of their dreams. I’ve already heard that so that’s just a little sidebar that helps them visualize what great health looks like and when you see these photos you want me in the club.

Naren: Yeah

Gary: So Naren I’d like to role play this as if I was one of our listeners a dentist and you’re the patient and I’m going to role play, how I’d present these uh given the technology that we have today in 2020. Is that okay if I do that?

Naren: Yeah 

Gary: Yeah, so Naren, I’ve had a chance to look at, we’ve taken a wonderful set of records today, we’ve taken radiographs we’ve taken some digital photos and I have all kinds of information from you I’ve had a chance to look at those and I’ve also had a chance to understand from you what’s important to you I’ve had a chance to get to know you a little bit and understand what’s important and I’d like to make some recommendations but before I do that may I ask you two simple questions okay if I ask you those questions 

Naren: Yes, please 

Gary: The first question is this how healthy would you like to be all the way ah love to hear that that’s wonderful music to my ears and if you were to ask me that question, I’d answer it the same way, Naren, all the way okay? I have a second, question by when?

Naren: As soon as possible 

Gary: Ah okay again we’re reading from the same uh same hymnal we’re singing the same song because that would be my answer as well. Let me share with you my findings and provide some recommendations, so there we go. So now you just have a green light doctor to be comprehensive with the patient and when you talk to when you talk about how soon I might say again it depends on the technology you have in your office, you might be able to say we can actually do all that in one appointment Naren if that was the case. Now it might be the case where we could actually do that fairly quickly in two or three appointments, get you healthy right away. How’s that sound to you? 

Naren: Perfect, sounds great and then patients might have questions about fees and insurance and everything but you’ve framed it in a way that has them thinking and coloring outside the lines 

Naren: yeah it’s like they want it now because you didn’t because if you don’t ask that question and you don’t have that commitment that they want to be healthy and you start prescribing all these things, it’s like you’re selling something they don’t want so step one is to get them to want it 

Gary: so key when they’re asking for it. I mean you know just in another context the patient that is interested say… in a smile design case. Imagine the patient saying “hey doc the reason I’m here is that my co-worker Bob, you might remember you did his smile and he looks amazing and we started talking and that’s why I’m here today I want to have a smile like Bob’s” but they’re asking for that’s a pretty easy conversation when the patient has that right when they’re asking in those ways and so what these two questions do is allow that to become the conversation, how healthy would you like to be and listen and they comment, well that’s when they say all the way, awesome that’s what I love to hear that would be my answer as well. I have a second question for you it’s simple but it’s important by when well sooner rather than later doc, awesome,

Naren: Right

Gary: okay and then we can go from there well these two questions can transform your practice and it can it’s almost like a switch goes off in your new patient’s mind from going to the dentist to actually becoming as healthy as possible and that’s the switch that would be great to make with all new patients. So, let me encourage you to follow the lead of Doctor Reed ask those two questions incorporate them into your communication tool belt and watch what happens. Hey, thanks for joining us today it’s been a pleasure on this less insurance dependence podcast. If coaching is something, you’re interested in love to see you in our coaching client ranks if you’d like to talk to me there’s a link, you’ll see it in the show notes to determine if this would be a fit for you. Feel welcome to schedule that coaching strategy session with me and together we’ll sit down and determine if it’s a good fit for you. On that note thank you for the privilege of your time and I can’t wait to hear how this information positively affects your practice.

Gary Takacs

Gary Takacs One of Gary's most significant achievements as a dental practice management coach is transforming his own practice, LifeSmiles, from one that was infected with PPO plans, no effective marketing strategy, and an overhead of 80% to a very successful dental practice that is currently one of the top-performing practices in the US.

With over 2,200 coaching clients, Gary has first-hand experience transforming insurance-dependent practices into thriving and profitable practices.

Through his Personalized Coaching Program, Gary shares access to the systems, strategies, processes, and experience gained over 41 years of coaching dentists and transforming over 2200 practices worldwide.

Learn More:
Connect with Gary Takacs on Linkedin

Naren Arulrajah

Naren ArulrajahAs CEO of Ekwa Marketing, Naren has over a decade of experience working with dental practices and helping them attract the ideal type of patients to their practices. It is his goal to help dentists do more of the type of dentistry they love with the help and support of effective digital marketing.

Ekwa’s "Done-For-You" Digital Marketing model blends fundamental persuasion principles with an all-in-one Digital Marketing solution to help your ideal patients find you and choose you for reasons other than being on their insurance plan.

If you’re interested in finding out if Ekwa is the right fit for you and your practice, book a Free Marketing Strategy Meeting with Ekwa’s Marketing Director, Lila Stone.

Book Free Marketing Strategy Meeting:

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