Hi Amy! Happy Friday! What a happy day when everything falls into place! This patient is a severe grinder who had knocked off an old crown several times last month. After finding out his objections to replacing the crown, the patient told Dr. U about a friend who had new veneers and thought they looked phenomenal. Dr. Unser, promptly replied “I could do that for you too.” A few photos later, the patient decided on a full mouth restoration. Today he wrote us a check for $26,000 and will bring the remainder for phase 2 $21,000, the 7th of March!! Dr. Mike Unser and Team Denver, CO
- Build a relationship – In a nutshell, this means that you listen more than you talk. It doesn’t mean that you vomit your knowledge all over the patient.
- Learn their name and use it several times throughout the conversation. Before answering any questions at all, connect on a personal level by introducing yourself and connecting by name. You may even ask for a quick call back number in the event you lose the call, but more importantly it will make follow up easy in the event the patient does not schedule.
- Find out their ‘story’. You can’t build a relationship without showing interest and being genuinely interested in the person on the other end of the line. This means you don’t put them on hold, and you give them 100% undivided attention.
- Show Empathy in pain/emergency situations– . ‘I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. Brady is fantastic and I’ll know he’ll be able to make your comfortable’.
- Be Curious – Don’t just go through the motions asking ‘dental’ questions, Get more information – ‘tell me more about what’s going on’. ‘it sounds like you’ve been told you might need a crown – tell me more about that’. ‘It sounds as if you’ve done your homework – tell me what you know about teeth whitening and more about what you have in mind.’ What do they know about the procedure they are asking about? Ask about desired end result – ‘Tell me what you’re wanting to accomplish’ ‘Are you looking for a long term solution, or something shorter term/quick fix’
- Show Enthusiasm! They chose YOU. They took time away from what they were doing to find your phone number and call YOU. Be enthusiastic and show gratitude, thanking them for calling. Answer the phone every time as if your caller ID says ‘Chris Hemsworth’. (:
- Avoid drawing attention to insurance. We’ve all been trained to ask ‘Do you have insurance?’ before we even know the prospective patients name! If insurance is important to them, they will bring it up. Your focus should be on helping the patient, not creating a culture that is insurance-driven. I’m not suggesting that you stop accepting insurance- yet. But if you stop talking about it, you’d be amazed at how you can decrease the impact it has on your practice. Regardless of whether you accept their ‘plan’ or not, don’t arm wrestle with the caller. ‘We work many different plans and will do everything we can to maximize your benefit’. Get them through the door and give them an experience that results in ‘insurance’ becoming secondary. The worst case scenario – you aren’t contracted with their ‘plan’, and you aren’t reimbursed the full amount of the services. Adjust off the difference, letting the patient know that you are happy to do so for their first visit. Consider it a marketing cost – otherwise, you aren’t even giving them the opportunity to be a patient.
- Remove the financial obstacles –
- Charge one simple fee for your new patient visit, probably not more than $200. By simplifying the fee, you don’t have to factor in all variables, i.e: whether or not they have x-rays, fluoride, etc. All of the different fees can potentially confuse and overwhelm your prospective patient.
- Maybe you have a ‘shopper’ – If appropriate, offer a no charge quick visit to evaluate. ‘I’ll bet I could even talk Dr. Brady into taking a look at that tooth without charging you. We can then get more information about what you want to accomplish and come up with a plan to proceed’ Other than the fee, can you tell me what’s most important to you?’ OR ‘I would love to be able to give you an accurate fee – it’s just tough to do so without more information. It sounds like cost is a major factor for you – we have some great ways to help our patients with their treatment investment – would that be helpful to you?’
- Remember, just because a patient asks about cost, it doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to be a great patient in your practice. Cost is the only barometer they have for comparing you to other practices when they call you. Your goal should be to build the relationship in a way that cost becomes secondary by the end of the call. Put the money on the shelf and focus on the person.
- ASK FOR THE APPOINTMENT! Your objective is to get them in the practice, not answer all of their questions. You see, there is a motivation behind the questions asked – they already know the answer they are seeking. If you don’t have the ‘right’ answer, you don’t earn the appointment. We have the opportunity to conduct several ‘secret shopper’ calls and believe it or not, one of the worst offenses is when the team member answering the phone simply answers questions, and never invites the caller to become a patient. You are much more than a ‘question-answerer’- you control the new patient flow in the practice!
- Continue to build the relationship between the initial phone call and first visit to your office.
- Be certain that your potential patient receives something from you between the call and visit – a welcome letter, testimonials, etc., can be sent via snail mail, or email if time is short. I’m not talking about a notice with all of your office ‘policies’, ie: cancelation policy, financial policy, etc., but a letter that sends a message of gratitude and builds the level of value for the new patient visit.
- Direct patients to updated social media and website – same parameters apply to your online presence as written communication – focus on the benefits and what you CAN do for patients. Create a culture where your patients are natural endorsements for your practice through a heavy web presence of online reviews, patient-centered social media, and an updated website
- Here’s a novel idea – What if your doctor called them the night before to touch base letting the patient know they are looking forward to meeting them? This can make an amazing impression and may be the difference between the patient showing up or not.
The way you schedule can make or break your practice. We are often asked – which comes first? The right systems for case acceptance, or blocking the schedule for the ‘ideal’ day? Some want to put off block scheduling until they get better case acceptance, but it never really seems to happen. That’s because ‘reactive’ scheduling actually gets in the way of the systems that will support better communication and case acceptance. I think of one of my favorite movies of all time when it comes to setting up your schedule for success – ‘Field of Dreams’ with Kevin Costner. In the movie, Costner plays Ray, a farmer in Iowa. One night Ray hears a voice coming from his corn field saying ‘Build it and they will come’. He interprets the message as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields, despite ridicule from his neighbors and family. Well, Ray builds it, and the Chicago White Sox come. See, we often create a false sense of security by filling the schedule with something. Anything. But if you make the commitment as a team to honor the blocks, something magical happens. Everyone is on the same page and is working toward creating the perfect day instead of just ‘filling’ the schedule. Create the schedule you want, and they will come
I have worked with a number of different consulting companies through my 10 years as a dentist. Some are the “big practice, big spend” types and are very flashy. Others are the “mom and pop shop” run by people who aren’t dentist and who have never been dentists. The problems I kept running into were that promises were made that were never fulfilled, and the systems recommended just didn’t make sense from a dental business perspective. In fact, we found that it’s possible to almost go bankrupt with 250 new patients a month producing almost $4 million a year if the systems aren’t balanced correctly and the spending is too high. About a year ago I was on the hunt for a new practice consultant and was referred to the Brady group by my accountants. I went in skeptical, wondering if they could really understand my practice. Almost overnight, things began to transform. We reduced our overhead by a very large percentage, and we began to be much more selective about the things we were and were not willing to do in dentistry. We set new standards and completely re-vamped our process. While not perfect, I feel that we’re coming along and are on the right track. This year we only have a fraction of our new patients and our production is down, but our overhead is WAY down (so we no longer have to produce 4 million a year just to stay afloat), our net is WAY up, I’m taking 7 weeks of vacation time this year, my staff is happy and the practice just feels a lot more fun to work in. In short, I’m making more than I have in years and the stress level is much lower. I recommend these processes and systems to anyone looking to reduce stress and increase the “fun” level of dentistry again!