Critical update: the missing link!

Jan. 1, 2006
Ithought I had finished writing about The Brazilian Project. I was wrong.

I thought I had finished writing about The Brazilian Project. I was wrong. It turns out I neglected to share one very important aspect that is critical to success!

The other day I spoke with one of my Gems Gold Dozen coaching members from Pennsylvania. He told me he had enormous early success with implementation of my Brazilian Project .... enormous success, but no patients!

He had succeeded in attracting 31 new patients during the first two months of running The Brazilian Project. Given that this is a guerilla marketing strategy, a moderately low budget approach bringing 31 new patients into the practice in only two months was incredible. Or was it?

He then went on to explain that the 31 new patients stopped by for the free whitening offer, which was part of the Brazilian Project during month two or three. The problem was not a single one of these patients returned for any other treatment.

The missing link is conversion

This gem will not only serve you well for use with new patients from The Brazilian Project, but it also will work with new patients who come into your practice for any reason other than a new-patient exam.

The conversion rate for dental practices across the U.S. - i.e., new patients into the practice converted into new-patient exams -- is much lower than you would imagine.

One of the parameters I ask Brazilian Project participants to report is “total adult new-patient exams” versus “total adult new patients into the practice.” In the beginning of our program, starting numbers are usually no more than 60 to 70 percent. Many exclaim, “I figure we’re close to 100 percent,” before they look at their numbers. Most are dismayed when faced with reality.

Conversion of new patient to new-patient exam

Conversion is much easier than you’d think, as long as you focus on Step 2 of my “sales process.” Step 2 equals “agitate.” Agitate equals telling patients about the potential consequences of not acting now.

How do you “agitate” new patients and convince them to return for an exam? The bottom line is that you need only find one or two items of which they were not aware (asymptomatic), and “agitate” them emotionally about the consequences of inaction.


The DIAGNOdent is a tremendous way to find previously undiscovered small pit, fissure, and groove cavities. Be careful not to do a full DIAGNOdent exam during the emergency (or new-patient whitening or any new-patient visit other than the new-patient exam). You don’t want to complete the exam! You simply want to point out something you saw that is of concern.

How do we justify using the DIAGNOdent if the patient comes in just for whitening or a chipped tooth or some other nonexam reason? Simple. Explain prior to whitening (for a new patient), “Mrs. Jones, although today we are doing whitening and not a new-patient examination, we routinely do a brief, no-charge screening to be sure there is no reason we shouldn’t proceed with your whitening today.

“We will look for broken fillings, open areas of decay, infection, mouth sores, or early potentially cancerous changes and more. It is a very brief routine screening and, in most instances, we find there is no reason not to proceed with whitening.”

Next month, we’ll talk about “The Missing Link Found,” as we again visit The Brazilian Project.

Dr. Tom Orent, the “Gems Guy,” is a founding member and past president of the New England Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. His “1000 Gems Seminars” span five countries and 48 states. He is the author of five books and hundreds of articles on practice management, TMJ, and “Extreme Customer Service.” To receive three free issues of his “Independent Dentist,” “Mastermind of the Month” CDs, and other special offers available for 21 days after this article appears in Dental Economics®, please refer to, and type “DentalEcon” in the yellow “Special Code” box at the top. You may also call (888) 880-4367 and ask for the “Free GIC Silver Test Drive.”

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