Building loyalty and relationships with dental patients and keeping them satisfied with the best treatment possible are three key components to making certain that you will keep your patients returning to your practice long term, even if or when their insurance changes.
On this week’s show, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dee Meacham of iTooth Dental in Cupertino, CA. Dee explains how her office incorporated a relationship marketing strategy that has had a major shift in their patient relationships and she’ll share several stories that will absolutely amaze you how effective the strategy has worked…
Kody Bateman: Hello, everybody. This is Kody Bateman coming to you live at the Salt Lake City, Utah. Welcome to our weekly relationship marketing show. We are really excited about our guest who we have on today.
And before I announce our guest, I just want to talk to you a little bit about the concept of – it’s a real simple, important concept that we talk about every single week on this show. And it’s a simple concept, and it’s one that a lot of times we take for granted. This show is all about one thing. It’s about teaching people how to be nice to each other. That’s it. I mean, that’s what the show is. We teach people how to be nice to each other.
I have the chance to be at an event this past weekend. I hosted and taught a full-day seminar down in Phoenix, Arizona. And we had several hundred people there who were masters at relationship marketing and using systems in their personal life to reach out in kindness to other people and what an inspiration it was. And it’s just – it’s a great way to live. It’s a great way to live.
And the guest that we have on today, I’m telling you I just want to get her talking because the enthusiasm that she shares, is absolutely incredible.
We’re going to go into the dental niche today. So we’ve never had a guest on from the dental industry. Our guest today is coming out of Cupertino, California. We have Dee Meacham who is a dental hygienist. Welcome to our call, Dy.
Dee Meacham: Hi, Kody. Thanks for having me.
Kody Bateman: Oh, we’re so excited to have you. I can’t – I just can’t wait.
First of all, I just want to share with you, you’re actually in your office right now, right?
Dee Meacham: Yes, we just finished the work day today.
Kody Bateman: And you got, you know, on your shirt, it says the name of your company. It’s –
Dee Meacham: Itooth Dental –
Kody Bateman: Itooth. Go up a little bit so we can all see it. There you go, Itooth Dental. Okay. And so you actually just got off your shift. You are kind enough to spend some time with us and share some things.
You know, several months ago, you’ve mentioned to me that you started using our system to send cards to people, not necessarily in your business, but just to start sending cards to people. Can you share with us what happened with that, what it meant to you?
Dee Meacham: Well, I was introduced to this by a friend. My friend Jennifer Davies sent me a card and, Kody, I thought it was nice. It was a nice card. It was personalized. It was – for me, I didn’t expect it. And I called her and thanked her for the card. And we talked for a little bit.
And then, I would say, a couple of weeks or maybe a month or so later, she end up sending me another card for a different occasion, but it had a gift attached. We had brownies. And I’m like, “Wow, this was really nice.” I haven’t really expected anything like this. I didn’t order anything. It came in a nice box and I was like, this is great. So I opened it, I loved it, I absolutely love the idea and I said I’ve got to use this for my personal friends because I want them to experience what I experienced.
So I started sending cards to some of my personal friends and my gosh, I couldn’t – I couldn’t even believe the response I was getting. It was more than a response that I gave. And I had people crying, and calling, and uncles and aunts I hadn’t spoke to before, even friends that I hadn’t seen for a while, and even one particular person that I see on a regular basis on our ministry, I had sent her a card, and the breakdown that she had, just made her day. So I said this, this is something here. I got to look into this more.
Kody Bateman: So what is it about the brownies? There’s something magical about those brownies, you know, people comment on the brownies all the time.
Dy Mitchum: My gosh, they’re so good. And it’s funny because it’s just a little gift when you think about it, but it’s not, it’s more than that. It’s the fact that someone thought about you, and they packaged it together, and it arrived, and it was personal. It was just for me. It was – someone appreciated me. Loved it, loved it.
Kody Bateman: You know what I love about your story is that you talk about how somebody sent a card and then a card of brownies to you, you instantly saw the value and you wanted people to feel the same way you did so you just started sending cards to your friends and neighbors and whatever, and people in the ministry, and all that. And you were like you were amazed at the response that you got, and then from there, you immediately say, well, gee, if this is how people feel in my personal life, why don’t I use it in my business?
Dy Mitchum: Right.
Kody Bateman: So you started doing it in your business. You started using it in your dental practice. Can you just share with us just real quick some of the main things that you do to send cards and gifts out to people, you know, your customers?
Dee Meacham: Well, I have to say, if you don’t mind, I want to back up for just a moment if it’s okay, Kody?
Kody Bateman: You can do anything you want.
Dee Meacham: Okay. Now, when I brought it to the business, me and the doctor talked about it and because I’ve been an office manager in the past, and now that I do dental hygiene, I knew that this was something that was going to create a culture for our staff and for our office.
We were the type of office where we really understood that you should appreciate people and because, in our field, I want to share with you, it’s very cyclical. Anyone in the dental field, health field, chiropractic field, health – in any of these fields, you know, that there are good times and there are bad times, and so insurance changes and things of this sort, and patients can change right along with that. Because when you think about it they have to pass dozens of offices to get to yours.
So we needed to stand apart. We needed to make sure that we were just not the regular office. So we already understood that you need to do a little more to stand out. We did a nice thing, the coffee and the tea and all these other things when they came in, but what were we really doing to our patient space. So think about it. A patient will send us someone who already likes us. So they’ll send us a referral and we would thank them. And that was fine. We had our way of doing it. We thank them with some fruit. That’s great.
But honestly, that can be very costly. You know, you’re talking about $50, $75 or more for one arrangement of those things. But when you think about it, you’re sending people thank yous for referring that’s great. They do it and you refer. But what we were understanding is that what about the patients that they were referring to us? What about our now new patients? What were we doing for them?
So we thought about that, like, well, we send them a welcome letter. Yeah, but that’s laced with insurance and financial arrangements and all these other things about us. What were we doing about them? So that’s one of the ways that we thought about we needed to turn. These are people trying to get to know us. And we want them to have a good experience because they’re coming to us by way of word of mouth. So we felt that we needed to do something more.
Along with that – and I’ll talk about what that more was in a second. But along with that, we have a patient base of patients who’ve coming to us for years. What are we doing for them? They’ve been with us, they held us up, they come week after week and, you know, they have treatment done here and there and month after month, and we didn’t really invest enough into those patients. Though we were nice, we weren’t really appreciating on them.
So, an answer to your question, we – when I put together what was sent to me from my skating friend, Jennifer Davis, and that was in my personal life, and I put together what we were doing at work, I figured, “Wow, we can marry this concept, the idea of loving on our patients, of appreciating on them.” because it’s about people. So my personal friends were people. The office sees people. So I started sending cards to my patients because I mentioned it here and there to the doctor that I worked with and because he was so busy and he had so many things going on, we didn’t implement it right away.
So as I started to send it on my own, I said, “We’ve got something here.” I said, “Can we talk about it?” And so he set up a meeting with me and I said, “Just give me 15 minutes.” And I showed him the response that I received from our patients, his patients, my patients, and he got it. He got it, Kody. So what he got was the fact that patients are now responding to us appreciating them on something that’s tangible.
Now, don’t get me wrong. We sent our emails, we sent text messages, our office is able to do that. We have Facebook. We have all of those things. But that type of appreciation is here and it’s gone. It’s gone in an instant. And the difference is I can write a letter. My friend, Steph, can write a letter so a lot of work for her to try to figure out putting it together, getting it stamped, getting it mailed, getting it sent out, but this was a little bit different, Kody, because this was something that was personal. This is something that we were sending to them because we love them.
Kody Bateman: You know, Dy, we’ve talked about this. I talked about this in the events that we put on all the time that there’s some key statistics behind what you’re saying that we’ve learned over the years. First of all, a greeting card in a mail. So a different shape thing in the mail, it’s a form letter. So a number 10 envelope is what most mail comes in, right? A greeting card of the mail is 11 times more likely to be opened and cherished than any other piece of mail. In fact, it goes right to the top of the pile. Most of the pile goes in the garbage but the greeting card always gets opened, and I think that’s part of what you experienced.
Second thing that I want to share with what you mentioned, you made it personal to the person you were sending it to. Like, you know, in the past you send the form letters and it’s got all the business stuff in and all of the things, well, that’s business. That feels like a business interaction where now you’re sending a greeting card that’s basically just – yeah, I love how you say that. How do you say? You say your loving on them. So you use the greeting card and your loving on your patient meaning that you’re just – it’s all about them and just saying, “Hey, I hope you’re okay and we’re thinking about you.” Do you have some examples of some of those?
Dee Meacham: Yes, I do. I definitely want to show these because I want – I really want to show the power of what things can do. We definitely can, send cards, you know, for our children, our kids that we have in our office, we’re not just an office that sees kids, we see adults as well, but for the kids, for their first visit who’s afraid, and who’s you know, moms, they send us their – they talk about us in the network, and they like who are your kids going to and who are your kids going to?
So when you make it about them, and you send cards like this, to them, they want their friends to experience that. They absolutely want their – when it’s the first time they’re having a baby, or their second baby, they want to be able to share that information with their family. And their family is like, who sent you that card, like your dental office?
So that’s the type of relationships that we like building. And I have to tell you a story of something that happened specifically, other with the idea that, you know, offices, we run out of time, so we want to definitely love to know that we care about them for that. When we meet our first patients, this is what I was saying what should we do for new patients, we now not just have insurance based things, but after their visit, we brand ourselves –
Kody Bateman: So that’s a picture of the staff on the inside of the card, right?
Dee Meacham: Yes, that was the staff –
Kody Bateman: And then a personal message to them on the right.
Dee Meacham: And a personal message.
Kody Bateman: Yeah, excellent, okay.
Dee Meacham: Then you’ll have, you know, us, branding ourselves.
Kody Bateman: You move it over there, so that’s the staff on the back, and then it’s got your name, IT Dental Team with the phone number, and a website, it looks like, right?
Dee Meacham: Yes.
Kody Bateman: Excellent. I love the branding you do, that’s great.
Dee Meacham: So one of the things I wanted to say is that, we have patients that have been seeing us for years and years, and years, Kody, and I thought about it. And now, when you’re sending cards, you think of reasons why you should be appreciating people. And I can’t believe why we haven’t ever done this before.
And I have a patient who was just in my chair, and he was saying how he’s been here for over 20 years, he’s been here longer than us, because we’ve taken our practice over someone else, we’ve been here for 15 years, which is no longer with us. And I thought about what he said, that he’s been here so long, so we made sure to give him a card, and this card says, happy anniversary. But it’s not for his marriage, it’s for the fact that he’s been married to us.
Kody Bateman: That’s great, I love it. I love it, love it. That’s cool. You coming up with all these ideas?
Dee Meacham: We’re all coming up with ideas now. Not only just our welcome cards, but out thank you cards, when people complete treatment, we want to thank them for that, like I said, the anniversary times. The other thing too is that, we see a lot of re-care patients who come in every three months, or every six months, and we want to remind them, you could use a card or a post card that you could send it automatically, you can set certain ways to do that, where their name is already inserted. And it just takes out so much of the guess work, and it makes it so easy.
When you think about having to send out a card in Marriott with all of the things that it comes with, you want to be able to do this that’s easy, that’s efficient, and that’s affordable. And I have to say that, but I don’t really want to say that, because this service works so well, it wouldn’t matter, but it is just that, it makes it so easy to do that.
And then also, your staff, your staff holds you up, and you want to love on them as well. So I’ll look at an example of that.
Kody Bateman: Do they bring it – there you go. So this is someone on your staff?
Dee Meacham: This is an example of what you would do for someone that you really care about that’s on your staff. And it says that, “You deserve an appreciation.” And they absolutely do. I mean hands down, your staff deserves more than you can say.
Kody Bateman: So how long is the practice there – have been doing this?
Dee Meacham: Since December of 2017.
Kody Bateman: Okay, so really just getting out, just getting started. And a lot of activities going on in getting those cards out, which is incredible. You know, you shared some incredible things, very personal, like you can tell – and I’m – Dy, you’re going to help me out here, because I am very passionate about what we’re going to talk about, and I want you to talk about it, because people hear me talk about it all the time.
It is so important to let these cards and the tangible touches that you’re sending out, it’s so important that those things come from your heart. You’re trying to show people that you genuinely care about them. You’re creating a relationship with them. You know, we talk about this show being called relationship marketing, and a lot of people tune into it because they want to know what marketing they can get out of it.
What I try to explain is, no, you don’t understand. There’s a reason that the word relationship comes first, marketing comes second. You want to be focusing on the relationship 80% to 90% of the time without even trying to market anything, and then maybe doing the marketing 10% to 20% of the time. You’ve done that. Your examples do that. You show that you genuinely care.
Did you know that that’s the hardest thing for us, it’s the hardest thing for us to teach a business person how to get that person caring into the greeting card they send out. Most people that join this are like, yeah, I just need to get some cards out, let’s just get some cards out, just telling them all come back and see us again. And it’s kind of, they just want to do it quick.
You started using our system in a certain way, and I believe that the way you started using our system probably had an impact on how you know use it in your business. Can you talk to us about that?
Dee Meacham: So I was using SendOutCards a few months before that in my own personal life. And I even started sending it out to our patients on behalf of myself just because I thought it was a great idea. And I have to say, one of the things that I have to regret is the office not starting sooner. I have to say that. Because when you’re prompted to start immediately, it’s going to work immediately. What’s going to work? Your relationship building. And we’re to the point where it doesn’t even matter whether they send us a referral or not.
It’s weird to ask a referral sometimes, it’s hard to do that, but you don’t have to do that when you’re appreciating on them. And that’s really the point right there, is when you take the time to love on them, when you take the time to just listen to what they’re saying and create a friendship level to build them to be your friends, when they’re your friends, business is going to follow anyways because they love the experience, they love you, people want to do business with those type of people that they already know love interest.
And you get to a point to where just that type of ministry of kindness and then being your friend is going to send so much your way. If it’s not a specific referral, it’s the fact that they had an experience that’s not going anywhere, because in our business, with the insurance and things changing, they have the choice to go wherever they want. But if you want them to stay with you, they’re going to stay with you not because your – that practice, they’re going to stay with you because they’re your friends.
And once you get that point, once you understand that it’s about that and building those type of relationships, then you really – then you get it. Because the type of experiences that you’re going to get, the quality of the type of people, the patients that you’re going to be attracting, are going to be the ones that you want to be their friends as well.
Kody Bateman: Wow, that’s incredible. I do these events all over the world and I have guest speakers come. I’m going to have to get you to come and be one of our guest speakers one of these times, seriously, because you’re fantastic in sharing this, you’re speaking through your heart and it’s really, really cool to see the example that you’re showing for all of us.
So, you know, there’s a phrase we have around here. We actually say, don’t ask for the referral, deserve it.
Dee Meacham: Right.
Kody Bateman: And that’s what you said. That’s basically what you said. You really don’t have to ask for a referral if you’re just nice to people and you’re kind to people and that kind of thing.
You know, I just think the evolution that you went through is somebody sent you a personal card with brownies, and it made you feel good.
Dee Meacham: Yeah.
Kody Bateman: So you turned around and sent out cards and brownies to your personal friends and it made them feel good, and they called you with all kinds of response. That’s kind of what I’m getting at, is that you have that personal – so the card system got into your heart. And that’s what you took to your business.
Dee Meacham: Right.
Kody Bateman: Most people, when they start this, they go into their business and they just wanted a system. We’re not just a system here. We’re teaching a philosophy, kindness, which you just portrayed an incredible example.
So I’m going to – we’re going to – here’s how we’re going to close this show, okay? Are you ready for this?
Dee Meacham: No.
Kody Bateman: Well, you will be great. Dy Mitchum. Dy Mitchum?
Dee Mitchum: Yes.
Kody Bateman: We like to close the show today by you giving us a final 30 seconds or one minute of wisdom, share your genius with 40 to 50,000 listeners right now. Go ahead.
Dee Meacham: Well, I have to say this. Yes, I am put on a spot. But what you want to do – and it doesn’t necessarily matter and I’m just going to say this. So it doesn’t really matter if you’re dental officer or not. I realize by doing this in my personal life and moving it over dentistry that this works in a business of people who deal with people. If you deal with people, you want to create whether you’re doing an appointment or a service, or whatever you’re providing to that person, if you can create an experience. And the experience is all-encompassing. It’s what you do – what you’re good at doing already.
But if you add something, if you add a little bit of tangible touch to that, that is so easy, so simple to do, a touch of a button, hit send, and your company will send it, stamp the stuff on it, all those things for us and making our job that much easier, all you have to do is just think about who you want to care on, who you want to love on, who do you want to appreciate. And if that happens to be everyone who’s holding up and you want to attract more people like that, this is what you want to do. Cold marketing has its – it has its advantages to a point, but the warmth of someone who knows that you care about them and you really feel that way, that’s the difference. You really feel that way, that’s what makes all the difference.
Kody Bateman: Wow. Dy, thank you so much for the time you spent with us. We love your passion, your enthusiasm. You’re an incredible guest on the show today. So all of you, make sure you share this with all your friends and neighbors and come on back and see you soon.