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  • Chris Ciardello

What's on Your Menu?

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

Recently while visiting an office in Texas, I was on the hunt to find some dinner. This was a town I had been to many times before and always found myself eating at the same restaurants. On this particular trip I was feeling adventurous and decided that I was going to find a new place to eat.

After doing some digging I found this local diner that was close to my hotel. I walked into this quaint little country themed diner and it appeared to be a slow night because there were only a couple people eating. In this establishment, you walk up to the counter to order your food, go pick a table and they bring out your order.

I walked up to the counter and looked at their menu that was plastered on the wall. As I am reading the menu I noticed they had very creative names for each of their burgers, however, there was no description of the ingredients on the burgers. I asked the young lady at the counter what was on the cowboy burger, she didn’t know. Then I asked about the southwest burger. Again she didn’t know, but this time she turned to one of her co-workers to see if they knew and they did not have a clue.

I was excited to try out a new place, but I did not get a good feeling about this establishment. I can understand someone who is new to the team not knowing everything on every item on the menu, but that was not the case with this experience. Both of the team members I dealt with gave me the perception they have been working there for a while, yet neither really knew what went into the creation of their burgers. They proceeded to tell me which burgers they liked, they just didn’t know what was on them.

I worked in a restaurant in college and it was imperative that we knew every little ingredient on each entrée we served. It was extremely important because we needed to be able to warn people that may have dietary restrictions. Needless to say I was blown away at the idea that multiple employees did not know the composition of their burgers. They lost my confidence in them, so I left and ended up in one of the restaurants that I typically frequent.

This story, although not dental related, made me think about the offices that you work in. Do you know what services your practice offers? Are you giving patients a reason to lose confidence in you? It seems like a silly question however if we are going to call ourselves professionals we need to know the answer to just about any question a patient will ask. More importantly, everyone on your team needs to know that answer as well. If you are unsure about the services you offer, patients will surely be able to tell. They are going to walk out the front door and go to a dentist who is confident in the services they provide, which is exactly what I did with this diner.

Let’s find ways to help our team know the products and services we offer. Not all general practices are equal. We have met general practices that will perform root canals on molars, while others will only do them on anterior teeth. We’ve also met general dentists that are comfortable and proficient in extracting third molars. It is very important that we have a team meeting to go over all the procedures that are performed in house as well as what is referred out, along with whom we refer our patients to. Is whitening a service your office offers? If so, is it strictly in house or does your doctor prefer patients use a take home system with custom trays? What is the difference? Do you prefer one system to another?

The easiest way that we have found to keep the entire office informed on all the procedures and processes is quite simple.

Every month, during your team meeting, cover one procedure.

It is most beneficial if you start from the beginning:

  • Set the room up for the procedure – let everyone see what is needed

  • Read through the consent form that the patient will be asked to sign

  • Go step by step with the process – who does what, when & how

  • Review post op instructions; when should the patient contact the office, if they feel there is a problem

  • Allow the admin team to discuss the needs on the insurance side and the cost to the patient.

We are in the smile business! A sure fire way to prevent people from smiling is not knowing about the products and services you offer. If a patient asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to say, “That’s a great question, let me go ask . I’ll be right back.” This verbiage will help build trust to your patients. They will recognize that you don’t know everything, and you don’t want to just give them an answer, you want to give them the right answer. I want to encourage you to help everyone on your team know your “menu”, as well as be able to find the answers for patients without seeming incompetent.

Chris can be reached at:

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