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March 3rd, 2021

Marketing to Control Production with Dr. Tessa Miller

Dr. Tessa Miller doubled her new patient flow in 6 months. In the fall, Dr. Tessa strategically dipped her toes into marketing to combat the difficulties of a saturated market, and discovered her power as a leader and business owner. Join us today as we peel back the curtain of her success and uncover how she gained control of her production by:

  • Ensuring congruent messaging across the board
  • Harnessing the power of her team through an exciting referral program
  • Finding a marketing company that aligned with her values


CHAD: Hey everybody, this is Chad Johnson welcome back to Everyday Practices with my co host Reagan Robertson. How you doing Reagan?

REGAN: Exceptional, Chad. 

CHAD: Today we have with us Dr. Tessa Miller.  But Tessa, tell us about the last few months you were telling us before we hit record, that since August, you started investigating into marketing. So tell us, you know what brought that about?

TESSA: Yeah, so we started doing our marketing with PDA, around August. And I thought it would be really cool to go with PDA because they work you know, hand in hand to them doing the PDA coaching and, you know, having that continuity, to do the marketing with them as well. And they just totally redid like my website, we’ve been doing some SEO Marketing online. And we’ve just been getting a ton of new patients since then. I think before we were averaging, maybe like 30 ish, but now our averages doubled that and I busier than I ever imagined that we would ever be.

REGAN: I had a question just regarding that impromptu pop up in my mind. Was it exactly? What was it just double the amount of patients? Or what is it also getting the kinds of patients that you’re looking for?

TESSA: Yeah, definitely. A lot, you know, more of the patients that we are looking for some things that I told them I wanted to focus on was getting some more families within the practice, and also some more yet professionals. I like to do Invisalign, so I’m getting some more patients. Yeah, doing Invisalign, so and also patients not so like, heavily insurance focused. We are a network with a lot of PPO insurances out of network patients or patients who are cash patients. So that’s always like a thing.

REGAN: Dr. Miller, I know you’re located in the San Diego area. And that is a super tough market. It’s saturated. What were some of the struggles that you were going through before? You know, before you made the decision, that marketing would be a good choice for you. And there’s, I mean, I imagine there’s a lot of emotions wrapped up in that and making that choice.

TESSA: Yeah, I mean, I’ve never done marketing before. So I wasn’t really sure you know, what to expect and what kind of results I would get, like, being in such a heavily saturated area. I mean, I don’t even know how many dental offices are just within five miles of us. So we first kind of focused on, you know, marketing to our community, which is like the Bay Park community. But now slowly, we are expanding throughout San Diego. And I’ve noticed we have been getting patients, you know, driving, you know, 1015 minutes, 20 minutes, you know, to come to our office, because I think they see us online, and then they look at our reviews and see that, you know, we’re just an awesome place to be. And also we’re getting a lot of word of mouth referrals from our existing patients. We started doing a referral program as part of our marketing as well. And that’s also been working out great.

REGAN: So I remember the last time we interviewed you were really energetic and excited about providing care to families, and to kind of changing that demographic up a little bit. So have your goals. So it sounds to me like your goals have been begun to be realized, in that process. Have your goals changed at all during the past six months? Or do you feel like you’re getting traction and just moving forward faster than ever before?

TESSA: Yeah, I mean, I’m starting to feel like now I can kind of focus in on more of what I want to do. I do have like a couple of associates that work here. So, you know, for certain things, you know, I can have, you know, the class twos, the class ones, the little straightforward, you know, fillings here and there, they can start doing those. And I can focus more on the bigger comprehensive cases. So that’s kind of the direction that I’m trying to go now.

CHAD: Good.

REGAN: That’s fantastic. Did you mention referral program too, is that one of the tactics that you engaged in.

TESSA: So what we did with our marketing program is they put out these really cute little flyers and their little referral here, but, um, they’re a little like referral invitations. And so we hand them out to our patients at the ends of our headset. So we’ll say like, thank you so much for being a great patient here with us are always you know, looking for great patients like you, if you have any friends or family who are looking for a dentist, we would love to see that. And if they come in, then both you and then we’ll get a special little gift. 

REGAN: Did you guys workshop that over the phone or like over a zoom call? You know how your team should talk about that?

TESSA: Yeah. So with the marketing team to get our scripting on what to say. So it’s not awkward, you know, you’re not just like, hey, go. So it can be a little bit awkward at first, you know, try to promote yourself. But once you’ve done it a couple times that we find most patients are kind of, you know, excited about it. They’re like, Oh, great, thank you.

CHAD: Very cool. So I have a question do you feel like with Productive Dentist Academy’s marketing team that you’ve begun to hone in and narrow your focus of what your brand means?

TESSA: Yes, like, I just feel like it’s kind of come, like, you know, more wrapped up and concise and cool. You know, everything is kind of like, the same like our website, when you go to our website, you see what our brand is, and then when you come into our office, that matches up and then we recently got, like, any sign on our building, so everything is, you know, kind of trying to stay on the same theme.

REGAN: Who the king of congruence say that is one of the best things about marketing to have, I mean, really, it does, it doesn’t, you don’t have to go get $100,000 logo like some big corporations do, as long as you’re congruent across the board. That’s exciting. You mentioned Tessa, that, that you engage in in our coaching services as well. And so joining marketing was kind of a natural fit for you to be congruent. So I see that concurrency is important to you. Looking back at that referral program, I know in my own experience, and talking with hundreds of doctors over the past few years, some of them seem to be really on board and understand the team training aspect to it. And others, they they’ll adopt the concept and then not really pull it through. So So could you tell listeners about that if they’re thinking of doing a referral program in their own practice? Because it’s fairly, you know, low cost? I know each state has different, you know, rules to that and whatnot. But how did it really feel? You know, once you went through design and pulling it through, like, did it Really? Did it take a couple of times? Was it easy? Were there hiccups? How did you really implement it to success? Um,

TESSA: Well, I kind of made it into a fun little game to to get everybody into a routine. So I told the team, like, you know, in order to get us used to doing this as a habit or going to make it into a game. So I gave everybody like a stack of referral cards, and I kind of like divvied it up based on, you know, the average amount of patients, they may see, you know, the hygienists, they have their own columns that they got the most, and then the assistants not as many. And then also the front office, they got their own stack to try to get anybody you know, who wasn’t given one in the back. So I said, Okay, first person to give up their stack, gets a $25 gift card. And then also, you know, make note of whoever you’re giving them to and the schedule, because if somebody refers, you know, somebody and you gave that card to that person, then you can also get a $25 gift card. So everybody got like, really into it. They’re all competing with each other. But one of my hygienist she is just always on top of it. She’s won the game twice now. So I get I even gave her like a huge stack of cards. And she’s just like, give him an out like, candy. Like she’s really on top of it. But now you know, that they’re not used to giving them out because we made it into a game. It’s, you know, now it’s like, okay, let’s take your football. Here’s a referral car type of thing.

REGAN: That’s fun to see that leadership rise in those people as they own it more, you know, that, that that that D driven disc profile person, the quintessential, you know, like, alpha is going to be like, Come on, guys. Now what’s cool is like you’ve incentivized and she’s risen to the top Now the question is, can she help pull everyone else up to?

TESSA: Yeah, I have to say, all right, Kelly, what’s your secret? She might not want to give it away.

CHAD: Unless, unless you say, Okay, now the next couple of weeks is, is if as a team, you hand out this many you’ve already picked her out now, now start making her the leader of the troop and say, okay, you know, how can I? How can I help you make sure that we hit our team goal this week? Because if you do, boom,

REGAN: I love that maybe like, give out 100 cards to everybody. All right, whoever, or as a team, we can give away 100 cards that we get for Tuesday. Right?

CHAD: Exactly. Very cool. Yeah.

REEGAN: Did you know that you were going to have so much control over your own new patient flow, that you would be generating this and harnessing your team along with it?

TESSA: No, I didn’t really know what to expect. To be honest, this is my first time doing marketing. So I wasn’t sure how well it was going to work with that. I feel like it’s kind of like a snowball I get you know, as we keep doing it. And we keep getting more and more patients coming in. And more and more referrals from other patients.

REGAN: How do you track your marketing? I know one of the big questions even even at PDA, I mean, even marketing PDA itself, tracking is really important. You know, how do you make sure that you I mean, it’s obvious to see in the books, you know, your your new patients are coming in? So you can see it that way? How do you how do you track your marketing to know that it’s working next to the referrals, which you know, really is working?

TESSA: Yes. So just whenever that you know, a new patient calls over the phone, one thing that we always ask is, how did you hear about our office. So, you know, they hear about us online, or Google or through a friend or our website or Facebook, they, there’s a section within their chart that they can put how that patient founds our office, and then every month, I’ll just pull the report to, you know, take a look and see how the patient’s found this.

REGAN: Do you share that with your team?

TESSA: We do we share our number of new patients like we got this many new patients? It’s always a celebration that our team meeting, but yeah, I would love to share with my team, how they found us whether it be you know, through referrals, or our reviews, or through just online Google, at your next meeting, you could do something where it’s just like, hey, do you guys want to know something? I’m gonna ask a question over the last couple of months, where do you think our biggest referral source has been from? And you know, like, kind of a little pop quiz, it’s not that they have to write it down or something, but you know, just impromptu. And then just say, actually, two thirds of them have come from internal Did you guys know that, like, the stuff that we’re doing is making a huge difference on that number that used to be 30 new patients a month, and is now you know, 50 6070 new patients a month. And those are along the lines of your numbers, right? Over the last few months, you’ve seen that difference? And so then, you know, to say, you know, like, so for example, you know, 50 of our patients from this last month are from internal referrals, the very thing that you guys are doing, so you made that happen?

REGAN: I think that would make them feel, you know, really good, like, make them feel that their efforts have been? That’s right. Well, and yeah, keep because they don’t want to think that their internal referral program has led to two girls, I mean, if that’s the case, but like, that’s also good to know, if, if your marketing is really focused on the internet stuff, then, alright, well, that’s where it’s coming from, do we want to see if we can’t put a little charm on it and make it happen more? Or is it just that, you know, the internet stuff is just killing it? And it just is that stuff that you can share with them? So that way, they can have a little bit of fun having ownership to that, too?

TESSA: Yeah, I we have a team meeting this week, so I will definitely get for them to share.

CHAD: So how did that affect your production? Um, you know, like, the marketing over the last few months.

TESSA: So every year or every, I guess, you know, month with PDA Look, just tend to set our goals for a couple months of, you know, what our hourly production is. And so, we’ve definitely been able to increase that hourly production, you know, far beyond what it used to be before we started the marketing. Right. We’ve even had to add, like some of the associates an extra couple of days to help take on some of the loans as well.

REGAN: Well, that’s a problem that most people don’t have. Do you feel like that has helped compensate for the COVID you know, difficulties of this last year.

TESSA: Definitely Yes.

CHAD: Cuz I’ve heard she not just from some other people and you know, to dental industry, they’re saying like, Oh, I had a three hour lunch break today because my schedule could have be full. And I’m like, Whoa, that’s not okay. But you know, it’s a good problem to have to be busy.

REGAN: So how were you marketing? How are you marketing yourself through COVID? You said you didn’t do marketing before. So how did you do it during COVID? And then I mean, we’re still kind of in the throes of COVID. With California, too. Are you still in full? Like, what is your lockdown situation look like?

TESSA: Um, they recently reopened I think maybe as of a couple weeks ago, outdoor dining, and like the salons and things like that, but it’s nothing that’s, you know, back to normal at all, not even close. But as far as during COVID, I didn’t really do too much marketing, but I knew like, once we opened back up again, like, the question was, are we going to have patients to fill our skin are they going to be comfortable coming in. So at that point, I was like, now, it’d probably be a great time to start marketing, because if not all of our patients are comfortable coming back, yeah, we got to get our schedule for. And it ended up being at that decision. Because, you know, not all dental offices ended up opening back up. So I think there’s a lot of patients out there and looking for somewhere else where they could go, so that they were able to find us and accepted them with open arms.

REGAN: So for doctors that are thinking about marketing or or kind of struggling to connect and struggling with the same things, what, you know, what advice would you have to them?

TESSA: For them, I would say, you know, do some research, find a great marketing company that you feel comfortable with that aligns with your goals, and just go for it. Like it’s gonna be, you know, an investment upfront and you know, may take some time to get going, but you know, you will 100% more than 100% see that return on your investment. So, I always say you got to spend money to make money, right.

REGAN: So, I think that’s kind of where that marketing that always makes me nervous to spending the money. But what’s the right money, knowing which path to go down? So I applaud your bravery. I prompt it, I applauded it last time, when we spoke what it was, like six months ago, or so it’s quite a few months ago, when we talked and thinking about the chair that you’re in today, sitting there, I know, it’s the end of the day for you, if you could go all the way back in time when you first purchase the practice. What advice would you give yourself?

TESSA: I still feel like I’m, I’m learning so much, and there’s so much more to learn. But maybe just say, he confident in who you are. And what you know, I think that, you know, when I started out, I was kind of afraid to put myself out there. And I just kind of, you know, wanted to still do the way that all the practice was running before I didn’t want to change too many things, which I think is not necessarily a bad thing. But then again, it wasn’t, you know, showcasing myself as much.

REGAN: I remember I remember I was very wide eyed at you stepping into leadership and being so transparent and honest. And I would like to reflect to you that, you know, vulnerability and that type of honesty is such a hallmark of a fantastic leader. And it I feel like I’m just beaming for you, you inspire me to have to build your confidence like that, did you? Could you have looked back even a year ago, and told yourself, I have control over my production. Now. I have control with my team. I collaborate with them. I know team culture has always been very important to you. And so you’re bringing them along for that journey together. Do you take a moment Do you take that moment and sit back and really, it’s not just patting yourself on the back but just reflecting how far you’ve grown and come

TESSA: Um, sometimes like it’s hard to see it you know, like day by day, you know, like, but, you know, when I think back to where I started by For example, like one of my assistants, she was looking at our schedule from last January. And there were so many holes in the schedule. It wasn’t always full. And now we’re working to three columns. And, you know, we’re booked out for, you know, four weeks. So, yeah, looking back, I have come a long way in our office has come a long way. And it’s exciting because our team is on board and wanting to grow and asking, what are you going to do? We’re growing like, running out of space. So that’s the next step, trying to figure out where we’re going to how we’re going to accommodate these patients and everything that we’re doing here.

REGAN: Well, what a spectacular year to have your coach Valerie come into, and you know, be doing regular zoom calls and stuff. Have you had her come in your office yet? I mean, I know this is kind of a tough year to do that. I mean, have you? How’s that worked?

TESSA: Yeah, she actually was able to come out in the beginning of January, okay, now, you know, asked her, like, Are you comfortable coming out to our office? And she said, Yes, so she was able to come out for a day and a half. And it was so great having her there, you know, really connected with her, you know, over zoom, and it just really reinforced that having her there in person, it was wonderful. creates good team harmony to have your coach come in.

CHAD: I love when Kari comes in a couple times a year to be able to, you know, to interview the staff kind of informally, you know, while they’re working, or if they have a break and stuff like that. And then also get everyone together as a big huddle, you know, for a while and talk over Okay, you know, what we’re doing? Well, what we could do better? You know, what do you guys want to work on? You know, stuff like that. So? No, that’s that’s just great. You know, that, that she’s helping you cuz you got you just recently signed up for coaching. And this last year, right. Does that sound right?

REGAN: Well, I have one last question. We are sitting together again, Chad, and Tessa and I, one year from now, what’s next for you? And what do you see yourself and your patients and your practice? What do you what do you see on the horizon for you?

TESSA: Well, I’m hoping to be able to, you know, like I had mentioned before, really focus in on the comprehensive care for my patients and, you know, continue to feel more confident, offering you know, them everything that to stay has to offer and not being nervous, you know, like, Oh, my God, if I tell them all this stuff, are they gonna, you know, run away scared, because this is a huge shipment plan. So, this year, my focus was to really focus in on doing more CDs, and really immersing myself in education. So, for you, yeah.

CHAD: Tell us again, how many years you are out of school?

TESSA: I graduated in 2016. So it’s gonna be five years coming up? Yes.

CHAD: Yep. You’re you’re just you’re you’re just hitting your stride. I mean, right at the five year mark, that’s just hitting the stride. But the cool thing is, you’re well poised to hit a good stride as opposed to what I’m supposed to be striving for you to say, don’t you? I mean, I hear get the type of the type of command that I see being held by Tessa right now is what I usually see in doctors that are around the 20 year, Mark, you said 20, year 20. Okay, 10 years? Well, listen, it’s not all time dependent, right? I mean, some people are wandering in the wilderness in the desert land for, you know, 40 years, and some people are wandering for 10 years. So it’s not just, and I forget, who says that, you know, practicing the same way, this year, first year, 10 years in a row or 20 years in a row that might be hard for him. You know, doing that 20 years in a row doesn’t make you 20 years better, it makes you you know, one year better at doing it wrong. 20 times, you know, that’s no good. So, yeah. Well, Tessa, thanks for joining us. 

TESSA: Thank you so much for having me again.

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