More New Patients Now (Increase New Patient Flow By 30, 50, 100% for FREE)
Hello, Dental Nation! I’m thrilled to welcome you to what I like to call a masterclass.
Today is not just about learning; it’s about walking away with actionable strategies to transform your dental practice.
I’m excited to introduce Steven Anderson, a visionary making waves in healthcare, youth success, and philanthropy.
Steven, founder of Total Patient Service Institute…Click to open link in new tab…, Crown Counsel, and Smiles For Life, is here to help dentists and their teams bridge the gap between clinical excellence and patient acceptance.
Steven’s management systems are the secret sauce behind creating cultures of success in dental practices, focusing on action and thinking outside the box.
With his wealth of knowledge from books, articles, videos, and seminars, Steven is more than equipped to guide us through today’s evolving landscape.
Leveraging opportunities for increased patient flow
Today, we’re diving into how to systematically leverage the plethora of prospects served up by effective marketing strategies.
Steven brings a unique perspective based on his extensive experience in dental practice coaching and education, focusing on high-level patient service and case acceptance systems.
Our goal is to widen the funnel, allowing more prospective patients to become active patients in your practice.
It’s about maximizing the opportunities presented each day and implementing systems that can consistently turn prospects into loyal patients.
A purpose-driven approach to your dental practice
When you walk into your practice, what’s your purpose? Is it to serve patients, provide quality dental care, or something else?
We challenge you to adopt this philosophy:
Every team member’s purpose is to create happy, paying patients who repeat, refer, and pay more than it costs to serve them.
This philosophy applies to clinical roles and those across the entire practice.
Whether it’s answering phones, cleaning treatment rooms, or performing procedures, everyone contributes to creating an environment where patients are happy, pay for services, and become promoters of your practice.
Implementing the 2×2 system in your day-to-day
One practical strategy is the “2×2” system, a daily cadence focusing on referrals and reviews.
Each day, target at least two patients for referral discussions and two for specific review conversations.
Reviews with stories are more compelling and engaging.
Consistency in these meetings is a strategy employed by the best teams, focusing on maximizing daily opportunities.
Understanding your competition and market trends
Let’s take a brief look at your competition and market trends. Understanding the landscape and how other practices operate provides valuable insights that can be applied to your strategy.
The biggest competition isn’t always other practices.
Potential patients are often prevented from prioritizing their oral health by the myriad of competing demands and distractions.
With about 50% of Americans visiting a dentist at least once a year, there’s a huge untapped market.
This presents an incredible opportunity for dental practices to attract and engage the other half who don’t have a current dental provider.
Reality check: how businesses respond to inquiries
A recent study surveyed 5,000 service-oriented businesses, including dental practices, to understand their response to simple price inquiries.
The findings were eye-opening:
- 78% of the calls did not include asking the caller’s name.
- 56% took more than eight rings to answer the phone.
- 42% provided a price and then listed other services, leading to confusion.
- 34% provided a price and hung up immediately.
Other notable issues included:
- Not knowing the answer.
- Asking the caller to call back.
- Placing the caller on hold for an extended period.
How does dentistry compare?
When comparing these general service business responses to those of dental practices, the results were startling.
The majority of dental practices surveyed didn’t fare well:
- 92% did not ask for the caller’s name.
- 76% did not thank the caller for inquiring.
- 88% immediately gave the price without building any value.
- 40% provided separate prices for each service.
Other issues included:
- Phone lines being busy.
- Not knowing the price.
- Varying prices for new patients.
These statistics show numerous missed opportunities in dentistry, particularly in the first interaction with potential patients.
So how do we fix this?
Monitoring calls to schedule appointments
It’s essential to keep a scorecard to track how many prospective patients called and how many were successfully scheduled.
Aim for a winning ratio of at least 80%.
With the right approach and training, you can even exceed 100%.
This scorecard (see video) serves as a reality check and a powerful tool to improve your appointment scheduling effectiveness.
Begin by manually tracking these interactions. This exercise can be a real eye-opener.
Track details like:
- Patient’s name
- Phone number
- Whether they scheduled an appointment
This simple yet effective method will help you understand the effectiveness of your team’s patient interaction and scheduling skills.
So, how can you turn a phone call into a scheduled appointment?
Four steps to effective patient conversion
Here’s a framework that guides the patient through the initial process and almost guarantees a scheduled appointment.
The process involves key questions for converting inquiries into appointments, particularly when someone asks about basic services like teeth cleaning.
- Greet with a smile
1. Greet with a smile
Treat every caller as a VIP guest, as if they were visiting your home. Emphasize warmth, friendliness, and a personalized approach.
Avoid these common pitfalls:
Never start a conversation by asking if the patient is new or if they have insurance.
These questions can set the wrong tone and imply that insurance is the primary consideration in your practice.
Ask research questions.
Dive into clarifying questions to understand the patient’s needs and preferences. Ask questions like:
- When was the last time we saw you?
- How did you hear about our office?
- Are you having any difficulties?
- What’s the most important thing to you about your visit?
- What other concerns do you have?
Engage in meaningful conversations rather than just processing a transaction. These initial interactions are about building long-term relationships.
For instance, when asked how they found your practice, delve deeper into what specific aspect of your service attracted them.
This approach helps in understanding what the patient values and is looking for.
Inquiring about immediate problems or concerns can expedite the conversation, especially in emergencies.
Questions like “What’s the most important thing to you about your visit?” can help shift the focus from procedures to patient needs and desires.
Take control of the appointment scheduling by offering two choices based on your availability.
Ensure a proactive approach rather than a reactive one.
Stay persistent and continue offering choices until a suitable appointment time is found.
Remember, your goal is to find the best possible time for the patient to come in.
Ask an open-ended question to every patient:
“Who else should we go ahead and schedule today while we’re talking and it’s convenient for you?”
This approach can significantly increase your scheduling ratio from 80% to 130%, potentially scheduling more patients than the number of calls received.
Addressing common patient questions
“How much is a cleaning?”
Avoid getting stuck in a price discussion. Instead, focus on building a relationship and understanding the patient’s needs. This approach can help guide the conversation toward scheduling an appointment rather than just quoting a price.
Here’s an example dialogue:
Patient: “I’m just wondering; I haven’t been in for a while. How much is a cleaning?”
You: “Thanks for calling, Shannon. Tell me, what motivated you to call today?”
Patient: “I need to take care of my health; I’ve been putting it off for three years.”
You: “It sounds like you’ve had a busy schedule. Let’s discuss how we can get you back on track.”
“Do you take my insurance?”
Insurance questions are common and tricky to navigate, especially if the practice is not in their provider network.
The key is to stay positive and explain the value of choosing your practice despite the insurance network status.
Here’s an example dialogue:
Patient: “Do you take my insurance? I have XYZ insurance.”
You: “Thanks again for calling, Shannon. It’s great that you’re considering us for your dental care. Regarding your insurance, we have many patients who have XYZ benefits.”
Patient: “So, are you in network with XYZ insurance?”
You: “We’re actually an unrestricted provider, which means we’re not limited to a specific network and can work with various types of insurance. This approach allows us to focus on providing the highest quality care and personalized patient service.”
Patient: “Does that mean you don’t accept my insurance?”
You: “Not at all, Shannon. We value our patients who have XYZ insurance and work closely with them to maximize their benefits. Many of our patients with XYZ insurance choose our practice for a few key reasons. Would you like to know why they prefer us?”
Patient: “Yes, please. That would be helpful.”
You: “Our patients appreciate the exceptional clinical quality–it’s something we’re really proud of. And importantly, we assist all our patients, including those with XYZ insurance, in making the most of their benefits. Our team will handle the insurance claims for you to ensure you get the maximum advantage from your plan.”
“I just want my teeth cleaned?”
When patients request specific services like teeth cleaning without an exam or X-rays, it’s essential to steer the conversation toward the comprehensive care approach your practice offers.
Explain how starting with a routine exam helps customize their care, ensuring they receive exactly what they need.
Here’s an example dialogue:
Patient: “I just want to get my teeth cleaned. I don’t think I need an exam or X-rays.”
You: “I appreciate you calling, Shannon, and it’s great to hear you’re focused on your dental health. Tell me, what do you find most important about getting your teeth cleaned?”
Patient: “Well, I just want to make sure they’re clean and healthy. I haven’t had any major issues, so I thought a cleaning would be enough.”
You: “Absolutely, Shannon, keeping your teeth clean is a big part of maintaining overall oral health. Many of our patients feel the same way. Can I share with you how we typically get started with cleanings, especially for someone who hasn’t visited us in a while?”
Patient: “Sure, that would be helpful.”
You: “Great! When you come in for your cleaning, our approach is to ensure you’re fully informed about your oral health. So, our dentist would first do a routine checkup to give you a current health snapshot. This way, you’re always in the driver’s seat, knowing exactly what’s happening with your dental health.”
Patient: “So, the exam is necessary even for cleaning?”
You: “Yes, Shannon. It’s part of our commitment to your overall dental care. It’s not just about cleaning but ensuring that we comprehensively take care of your oral health. After the exam, the dentist can determine the best course for your cleaning, tailored specifically to your needs. You’ll have a clear understanding and can make an informed decision about your treatment.”
“Are you open on (weekends, evenings, etc.)?”
You want to become a “YES” practice, so ask deeper questions. Don’t say, “No, we’re not open on Saturdays.”
Show you’re willing to work with their schedule.
Here’s an example dialogue:
Patient: “Are you open on weekends or evenings? My schedule is pretty tight.”
You: “It sounds like you have a lot on your plate, Shannon. We’re always looking to accommodate our patients’ schedules as best as we can. Could you tell me a bit more about your schedule? Knowing your availability will help us find the most convenient time for your appointment.”
Getting rid of patient no-shows
Scheduling a patient is one thing, but ensuring they show up is another critical step.
In today’s culture, there’s been a shift in commitment levels, making it common for people to not follow through with their commitments.
To counteract this trend, we’ve adopted a proactive approach: the new patient welcome call by the doctor.
This call isn’t just a standard confirmation or reminder.
It’s a personal welcome from the doctor, utilizing technology such as video and text messages to add a personal touch.
Here’s what you need to do:
The day before the appointment, the patient receives a message or call from the doctor.
This communication is more than just a reminder; it conveys excitement and preparedness for the patient’s visit, setting the stage for an extraordinary experience.
Here’s an example dialogue:
“Hello, Shannon. This is Dr. Steve Anderson. I’m calling about your appointment tomorrow at our office at 2 PM. I want to personally let you know that we are excited to meet you. We have everything prepared for your visit, and we look forward to providing you with an outstanding experience. If there’s anything we can do in advance to make your visit more comfortable, please don’t hesitate to let us know.”
This approach does more than remind the patient of their appointment.
It shows them they’re not just an anonymous chart or number. We’ve got them on our radar, and we’re actively preparing for their visit.
This level of personal attention significantly increases the likelihood of the patient showing up.
Final takeaway: always measure results
It’s vital to track the number of calls and scheduled appointments and manage your cancellation and no-show rates.
Every day, remind yourself of your purpose: to create happy, paying patients who repeat and refer and bring more value than the cost of serving them.
Implement proven systems, practice and master your communication skills, and measure your results for continuous improvement.
Check out the video for some freebies Steven has provided.
Remember, this journey is about continuous learning and adapting to ensure success in your dental practice.
ABOUT STEVEN J. ANDERSON:
Steven J. Anderson is the founder of a group of organizations that have made significant inroads into positive change in healthcare, youth success, and philanthropy.
He has pioneered leading patient care and communication methods that allow top dentists and professionals to connect excellent clinical skills with patient acceptance. He has teamed up with top dental clinicians to help dentists implement clinical protocols for treating periodontal disease with the latest science for total health.
His management systems are at the heart of helping professional practices create and maintain a culture of success. He has conducted hundreds of seminars and spoken at hundreds of conventions, authored hundreds of articles for professional industry publications, and produced entire libraries of audio and video learning programs.