Optional vs. Essential Lessons From TARGET?

May 22, 2022
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Turning OPTIONAL into ESSENTIAL is one key to surviving inflation and economic disruption. And it’s all about perception and emotion. That was my takeaway from the earnings report by the CEO of Target, just before the stock plummeted 25% in just one day last week.

What he said is important for YOU as a dentist!

He said that contrary to what one might expect, his customers were buying” sunscreen and luggage”. But wait. Those aren’t “essential”!!!

Everything is about perception and emotion. After 2 years of Pandemic restraints, people just want to burst out and renew their lifetime goals of travel. FREEDOM means different things to different people at different times. But everyone wants some form of FREEDOM.

What does that have to do with dentistry?

Jarvis Analytics publishes a report that compares benchmarks and actual #’s for various KPI’s.

The key forward-looking numbers that can predict one’s performance, include:

ACTUAL                                          BENCHMARK
Case Acceptance:          35%.                      70%
No Show Rate:              15%                       10%
Patient Retention:        41%.                     85%

Here’s what we know about these KPI’s.
• They are dependent upon the PERCEIVED VALUE and EMOTIONAL attachment patients have in your services/outcomes.
• You and your team can impact both PERCEPTION and EMOTION.

It’s all about communication in 3 areas.
1. Pre-visit: marketing and phone call
2. Intra-visit: case presentation
3. Post-visit: follow-up

How you and your team perform in these 3 areas will have a significant impact on the 3 aforementioned KPI’s and predict how you will fare in the coming months and years.


The Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder’s meeting is legendary. When Warren Buffett speaks, people listen. His recent advice about how to deal with inflation?

“The best thing you can do is to be exceptionally good at something,”

I agree, with a caveat. If no one KNOWS, VALUES, or is EMOTIONALLY attached to what you’re exceptionally good at, nothing happens.

Look at any dental meeting. There are dozens of courses on the theory, application, and processes. How many are focused on getting patients to say YES?

Many dentists rely on marketing people for pre-visit “framing”. Few companies do this well, as a look at most dental websites attest. Few sites promote a Unique Value Proposition. Few have compelling photos, testimonials, or videos.

The new-prospect phone call might be the most neglected part of the process, often left up to the lowest paid team member in the practice, who are trained by being thrown in without any formal training. The “DO YOU TAKE MY INSURANCE?” question is rarely answered effectively, even if the practice accepts insurance!

Dentists tend to focus on procedures because that’s within their “area of expertise” and something they should be “exceptionally good” at. They neglect that without a presentation that results in acceptance, nothing happens. Everyone, patient, practice, and doctor suffer. Jarvis’ numbers tell us that’s the case. 35%????

And as for follow-up? Rarely do practices have systems geared to deal with patients who;
o Don’t schedule appointments
o Don’t accept care
o Don’t schedule or cancel follow-up appointments

If your practice suffers in these areas…GREAT NEWS! Just a few simple, inexpensive tweaks and you can significantly improve your performance and outcomes.

During economic disruptions, getting patients to YES requires more attention. Do you have that

Don’t wait to get help.

You know where I am.


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Dr. Michael Goldberg is one of the leading educators on dental practice management in the United States.

Michael ran and sold a prestigious group practice in Manhattan and has been on Faculty at Columbia University and New York-Presbyterian Medical Center for 30 years including Director of the GPR program and Director of the course on Practice Management.

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