Iron-Out Your Dental Practice Communications

Iron-Out Your Dental Practice Communications

The Start Line

June 26th, 2005, I was about to compete in my first IRONMAN: 2.4-mile swim, cycling 112 miles, finishing with a full marathon, 26.2 miles.

I signed up to compete in the Coeur d’Alene, ID Ironman one year in advance.  At that moment, mental training began and physical soon followed.  I joined a Triathlon team that specialized in Ironman training.  Together, the coach and I prepared a detailed customized plan.  One that accommodated my personal and professional lifestyle and took my travel schedule into consideration.  We agreed…it was a plan or a guide, which meant there was always room for adjustments and alterations as the training progressed.

After 72,000 yards of swimming, 800 miles of cycling, and 400 miles of running, the event day arrived…and I was ready!

I walked to the front of the swimming pack and turned back to see 2,499 triathletes ready to stampede into the lake.  I whispered my mantra for the day, “Do what you can in the moment, things will get better”, and the cannon blast erupted!

Life offers us many challenges on a daily basis, but what drives us to accept a challenge?  And more importantly, what drives us to keep moving forward toward success?  My Ironman events have been a celebration of hard work and dedication.  The planning and the preparation are what played the biggest role in my success.

Having an iRONMAN communication formula for your practice will prepare everyone to deliver an impactful message to clients all day, every day.

We’ll use the IRONMAN acronym to guide us through the process.  The “I” stands for:

I mpressions

First impressions are lasting impressions. Research from New York University indicates that people make eleven major decisions about us in the first seven seconds of meeting. It is referred to as the 7/11 Rule.

R elationships

Relationships are the bridges that lead us to success by building trust and loyalty. Practice using high-quality communication first, followed by our technical excellence to help patients understand their needs wins. Communication consistency is the key.

O pportunities 

Determine where your practice has opportunities to influence the patient’s journey. Optimize the patient experience from every interaction: before, during, and after delivering care.  Provide your team growth opportunities to UP-Skill and RE-Skill to promote engagement, accountability, and loyalty.

N eeds vs. Wants

As dental professionals, we would be more trustworthy and impactful if we focused on the patient’s wants before focusing on what they need. This leads to increased case acceptance and higher production. Focus on what the patient wants with what they need as the end result.

M anagement

Management relates to practice culture: Leadership, Mentoring, Coaching, and expressing Gratitude. Attracting and retaining team members is one of the top three issues currently impacting dentistry. Practicing bi-directional leadership and customizing generational language allows us to focus on people’s strengths and create a happy, engaged, and productive team. It links everyone together, no matter what role they play on the team.

A ction

People want to succeed. They want to follow up, and they want to do the right thing. If we don’t provide guidance, such as a call to action or a CTA, they will probably not follow through. Always give your team and patients a call to action with the three W format.

  • What’s next?
  • Who will be following up / completing any needed tasks?
  • When will you be contacting them again?

 N urture

Think of nurturing as follow-up. Nurture our patient and team member relationships with consistent engagement, recognition, and gratitude. Varying touchpoints will increase positive interactions and experiences for your employee and patient journey.


Communicating Confidence With Team Members and Patients

Whether employees are feeling undervalued or overwhelmed, or patients are baffled by arduous procedures and unfriendly systems, ironing out your communication is the prime opportunity to improve productivity, stellar performance, satisfied patients, and ultimately bigger profits. The 7-step methodology presented here and in my new book: Iron Out Your Communications: 7 Simple Steps to a Successful Dental Team and Loyal Patients, is a simple yet effective way to empower your team to build relationships, identify opportunities, and nurture both their careers and the loyalty of your patients.

Dive deeper into the strategies shared here by watching our video at

The Finish Line

It’s 8:30 PM. I am running in the dark and I have been on the course for 13.5 hours. The temperature has dropped 20 degrees and the cold rain is stinging when it hits my fatigued muscles.  Every step takes mental and physical effort. My body is exhausted.  My husband is riding alongside me on his mountain bike encouraging me to push through it.  “Lisa…keep moving forward”.  “You are so close”!  “I know you can do this”.  I turn the final corner into the finish line “chute” which is 5 blocks long.  I had a renewed jolt of energy as the crowd encouraged me to finish.

The announcer bellowed as I crossed the line.  LISA COPELAND…YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!  The grand total for the day was 140.3 miles.  Which ironically, was my exact sequence of numbers on the clock as I crossed the line.

My iRONMAN Challenge To You:

Develop a dental practice communication plan to cross the finish line and deliver an impactful impression and message to your team and patients all day, every day.



Lisa Copeland, RDH, CSP, CVP

Communicate With Influence LLC