PATIENT SATISFACTION IS KEY
An interview on the opening of a new practice.
Dr Ines Laible and Maike Laible
Radiant and healthy teeth throughout life—that is the ultimate goal of the practice run by Dr Ines Laible and Maike Laible. The practice opened in late 2017 near Stuttgart in Germany and saw a real rush of patients within a few weeks—the magic formula: only the best for prophylaxis. In pursuit of radiantly beautiful smiles on patients’ faces, the two dentists opted exclusively for state-of-the-art technology and equipment. We spoke with Dr Ines Laible and her sister-in-law Maike Laible four weeks after the opening of the new practice. The conversation touched on how best to plan the opening of a new practice, the importance of good patient education, and the decision to rely on the latest ultrasonic and powder jet equipment.
Congratulations on the new practice. Why did you choose to open a new practice rather than enter someone else’s employment?
Dr Ines Laible: I always wanted to be self-employed rather than being permanently on the payroll. We had ideas and dreams of our own practice early on and we wanted to fulfil them. A regular salaried position was never really an option. However, the search for premises was very difficult and tedious. In addition, we didn’t want to stick with a specific dental depot because of dental units. So we talked to the bank, reached an agreement and decided to go for very high-quality equipment and the new premises.
Maike Laible: I worked for years as a dental surgeon in various practices. I often encountered very old technology, but also old treatment methods. I realised pretty quickly that I wanted my own practice. That’s when every dentist wonders whether to take over an established practice or start a new one.
Dr Ines Laible: I never wanted to take on a practice alone. Of course, we didn’t just want an old practice that would basically have to be renovated for the same money as it would take to start a new one. So we decided to start afresh. My husband called the local business development unit, and a few weeks later, we received a call to say that the owner of a new building could very well imagine a dental practice there. Even when premises for the practice had been found, we had to wait another three years, since everything still had to be built. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but we’re sitting here now!
How long did it take to set things up, from putting up the first wall to receiving the first patient?
Dr Ines Laible: At the beginning of November, after years of hard planning, the walls in the premises were erected and the floor with all the wiring had been laid. Then everything went very quickly. Together with the architect and an amazingly dedicated team, we got the whole practice together within two weeks. Up to 30 expert craftspeople were in our practice every day. And we were there in the midst of it all. We were able to plan and furnish our space, and we had free rein and lots of fun. There were no compromises to be made. On 20 November, we welcomed the first patients.
Opening a new business involves a great deal of marketing to make yourself known quickly.
Dr Ines Laible: We were naturally visible long before the practice opened. We had been distributing flyers since October and taking out ads and participated in an autumn festival with a stand to gain publicity. In the end, we welcomed over 300 people to the opening, allowing people to have a look at the practice without any fear.
Maike Laible: The logo design wasn’t easy either. We looked at different designs, gathered impressions and tried to find a nice colour. At the beginning, we wanted to combine blue with a tooth.
Dr Ines Laible: But then the architect came and said, Nothing with teeth! That’s what everyone has!
Maike Laible: So we chose pink, a strikingly feminine colour considering the male-dominated businesses in the town of Fellbach. The colour and style are reflected throughout the practice and our communications. Even the “2” in our logo fits—and we did, in fact, incorporate a tooth and two “L”s, for “Laible”.
Dr Ines Laible: Of course, an informative website with fresh colours and good images is as important as having a Facebook page. We dentists are people too and celebrate Christmas like everyone else. If our patients can follow us on Facebook and evaluate us, this is a great opportunity.
The comments prove you right: “Super practice, great emergency service, sensational interaction even with children!”, “When you feel so well cared for, you even like going to the dentist.”, “Brand-new modern practice with a super team and great practitioners! Highly recommended.”
Maike Laible: The patient is king, not just a number. Many practices with long opening hours also have many practitioners. There’s no kind of connection or trust. After root canal therapy, the patient goes somewhere else. In contrast, we want to participate in the development of patients and give them radiantly beautiful and healthy teeth.
How can this connection and trust be fostered?
Maike Laible: We focus on educating patients and providing comprehensive information about the treatment. Our patients know why something is being done and that makes them feel better. That’s good for us.
Dr Ines Laible: The key thing is, of course, patient satisfaction. We achieve this through a pleasant atmosphere, friendly, well-trained staff, and responsible treatment for the benefit of patients, as well as through communication. It is important that patients understand everything, and they need to get feedback from dentists during their treatment.
Maike Laible: A patient told me today that she now understands why we consider prophylaxis to be so important and how we perform it. Many dentists don’t explain things. Patients then think, for example, that dentists just use prophylaxis to make money when they haven’t found anything else that’s profitable.
How did the first few weeks go?
Dr Ines Laible: Within a few weeks, we were booked up for the next one to two weeks, and we still have a large influx of new patients. Prophylaxis is a very big focus at the practice. We’re lucky to still have two further treatment rooms. We need to equip them with treatment units and hire a new worker for prophylaxis. We can say that after just a few weeks. At the beginning, we told our employee, whose job it is to take care of registration and office management, that she would also have to carry out a prophylaxis session here and there. Now, she performs seven to eight prophylaxis sessions per day and has no time at all for admin. And all after such a short time! I think our success has to do with our new equipment but also with prophylaxis.
Maike Laible: Patients soon realised that prophylaxis is the most important thing for us. But only those who are shown and taught prophylaxis can achieve good oral health. If patients don’t see it, how are they supposed to understand it? I don’t know how to repair a car and why it costs so much, but if the mechanic explains it to me, I feel better and have more confidence. One can even build on top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but the basic substance has to be right first.
On the topic of equipment, you opted for the AIRFLOW Prophylaxis Master from EMS. Why this device?
Dr Ines Laible: I focus on periodontics and implantology. Prophylaxis is, of course, essential here. We told ourselves early on that, if we want to offer and carry out prophylaxis sensibly, it would have to be with EMS’s new device. We can offer painless, safe and complete cleaning with the Prophylaxis Master. This is good for our patients and, of course, for us too.
Maike Laible: We were also familiar with the previous models and were always satisfied. Plus, neither of us had done a professional tooth cleaning for a long time. At the same time, I recently had a patient with calculus as hard as bone. The PIEZON was able to remove the calculus quickly and easily, without any pain for the patient.
Dr Ines Laible: I have already had several patients who have said they had never had such thorough tooth cleaning. Other patients told me that prophylaxis was always painful. After explaining to them that prophylaxis is extremely important to prevent and treat periodontal disease, they all said that they hadn’t felt a thing after being treated with the Prophylaxis Master. Our patients are really impressed.
How do you approach tooth cleaning?
Maike Laible: We offer professional tooth cleaning sessions of at least one hour. Explaining things plays a major part in this. As dentists, we also talk a lot about tooth cleaning and interdental cleaning.
Dr Ines Laible: We also almost always use staining. Staining is an important factor: the dentist and patient see what needs to be done and where the patient’s oral hygiene can be improved at home. Staining motivates patients and brings them back to the practice.
What’s the future for the Laible practice?
Dr Ines Laible: We will definitely need a second or third EMS device soon. Our goal is to use a careful recall system and sensitive prophylaxis to deliver great results for patients if they come for prophylaxis twice a year and have healthy teeth.
Maike Laible: We want lifelong wellness for teeth.