Coffee

Okay – time for another restaurant story. It’s a quick one that can have some serious implications for your practice!

At checkout in a local Baltimore lunch spot:

“Would you like anything to drink?”

“Yes – coffee please.”

“We don’t serve coffee here – but a lot of people ask for that.”

Okay – just for effect let’s repeat that line again.

“We don’t serve coffee here – but a lot of people ask for that.”

If there ever was a “duh” moment – this is it! Buy a commercial coffee maker for a few hundred bucks, or even easier, call a coffee service and tell them to set it up today!!

When our practices were young we both had a “policy” – no cleanings on the first visit. Yes – we knew that clinically that was the best decision. After all, how can you properly appoint a patient with the hygienist without an examination?

But after losing hundreds of new patients due to this policy, we both loosened up a bit and realized the number one customer service lesson in history –

Give the people what they want!

What do you hear yourself saying on a regular basis?

We don’t have Saturday hours.
We don’t take that insurance.
We don’t do cleanings on the first visit.
We don’t have a financial solution for you (so you can’t afford treatment).
We can’t get you in today or tomorrow.
We don’t do even simple orthodontics here.
We don’t do cleanings on the first visit.
We don’t.
We can’t.
We won’t.

Want your practice to grow?

Do. Can. Will.

A simple lesson. Yes.

The answer is “NO!” Now what is the question?

A short time ago we were at lunch with a coaching client at a Chinese restaurant near their office. (Some of the best ideas are generated during lunch meetings!) They were excited to take us there because they were a “regular” and knew we would get great treatment.

“The lunch special comes with an egg roll. Is it possible to get a spring roll instead?”

“NO!”

“Can the Szechuan green beans be made with no sauce?”

“NO!”

“Can brown rice be substituted for white rice?”

(Care to guess the answer?)

“NO!” (At least they could have said the classic “One dollar extra!!”)

No exaggeration here – this really did take place. And then it got worse.

Someone came in and asked, “Do you sell gift cards here?”

“NO!!”

What if that customer bought five $50 gift cards for his co-workers? That would have meant a $250 sale. Then what if one of the recipients had never been there before, and loved it so much they became a regular customer, bringing in their family ten times a year for an $80 dinner? And then what if….you get the picture!

So, every time someone in your practice says “no” – you could be missing a similar opportunity.

Even if the answer is technically no, at least try to turn it into an opportunity. Here’s an example:

“Does Dr. Garvey have appointments on Wednesday evening?”

And he doesn’t. But instead of saying “NO!” – how about something like this.

“Oh – sounds like daytime appointments are tough for you, is that right? Well we start at 7:00 AM on Mondays and Thursdays, and our new doctor, Dr. Grant, sees patients on Saturdays. Which works best for you?”

A little creativity and positivity go a long way!!

One of the most typical examples is “Do you take my insurance?  It’s a PPO and I don’t see you on the list.” The typical response to this is “NO.” Then the conversation ends.

How about trying this instead?

“While we are not a member of that plan, we are an unrestricted provider with all insurance plans. That means you can still come see us, and we will give you the best dental care possible. You can pay us directly and we will help you maximize your insurance benefits with that company.

Would you like to come in for a no-charge consultation? That way you can meet the doctor, she can answer any questions you have, and we can explain exactly how we can make financial arrangements comfortable for you! Is tomorrow at 11:30 AM convenient?”

Granted – most people on a ‘list’ will say no to this, but nothing is lost. And sometimes someone will say yes, become a great patient, refer lots of others, and well – you can figure out the rest!

Sometimes it’s the simple, easy things that can help your practice grow. And to that we say “YES!!!”

Slightly disappointed

Yes – we are slightly disappointed. In your office? Maybe. But it’s okay – it’s not too late.

You see, a few weeks ago we set out to call a bunch of practices that have attended“TBSE – The Best Seminar Ever” recently to get their opinions on some things. But the project was pretty much a flop. Why?

Fewer than half of the offices we called even answered their phones! And this was during normal business hours. Instead we received voice mail messages like:

“If you are hearing this message during regular office hours, we are currently serving other patients.”

CLICK!

“We are currently at lunch.”

CLICK!

Sorry to tell you – this is simply not acceptable. The phone is where 99% of your new patients make their first contact with your office. Way too many people tell us they need more new patients, but more often than not, that is not their real problem. If your phone isn’t answered EVERY time it rings during normal business hours (and yes – that means during lunch and during your day off) you are losing new patients you never even knew existed.

How do you make this happen? That’s a lesson for another day. And honestly – you are smart enough to figure it out!! But for now, listen to our friends from Sugar Ray, and answer the phone!!

Say this, not that…

SAY THIS

“We would love to see you as a patient in our practice! Would tomorrow at 3:00 PM or Tuesday at 11:00 AM be better for you?”

NOT THAT

“Would you like to make an appointment?”

SAY THIS

“I know what the problem is and I can help you.”

NOT THAT

“This tooth needs a crown.”

SAY THIS

“Would you mind if I place you on a brief hold? I’ll be right back and able to give you my full attention.”

NOT THAT

“Dental office – hold please….”

SAY THIS

“We have some fantastic financial options to help make the cost of treatment more comfortable.”

NOT THAT

“Sorry – it’s not covered by insurance.”

SAY THIS

“Hello Mrs. Costello, I’m Dr. Luther. What may I help you with today?

NOT THAT

“Open wide please…..”

SAY THIS

“Thank you for calling Hill Valley Family Dentistry, this is Lorraine – I can help you!”

NOT THAT

(Voice mail answers) “If you’re hearing this message during normal practice hours, we are busy treating other patients…”

SAY THIS

“When you return for your next cleaning and examination in three months, we want to pay close attention to that area on the lower right to make sure the inflammation is under control.”

NOT THAT

“You’re due for a check-up in six months.”

SAY THIS

“If you were a member of my own family, that is the treatment I would recommend.”

NOT THAT

“If you can’t afford a crown we can always do a large filling.”

SAY THIS

“Yes!”

NOT THAT

“No…..”

Tips

Everyone loves some good and simple tips to help their practice and their life, right? That’s why we asked some of our TBSE 2016 speakers to share some of their favorite ones with you! We will be presenting them from time to time throughout the year.

For the first stop in this series, we will visit Dr. Ric Zambito. “Dr. Z” was a surprise guest speaker at TBSE 2016, and even though he wasn’t on the stage for a long time, his incredible message really resonated with everyone there! Ric is a general dentist who has one of the most successful, productive and happy practices we have ever seen. His figures easily put him in the top one percent nationally, and he does it all in the small and depressed town of Wheeling, West Virginia!

One of the best things about Ric is his leadership abilities and the way he deals with his team. These four tips from Dr. Z will give you some insight into how he accomplishes this – and how you can too!!
                                                                                           

1. Leadership is the process of getting everyone to the place they are supposed to be.  It is the opposite of controlling people.  No one can be a leader unless they are trusted and possess the number one characteristic that staff and patients want – integrity.

2.  The only way a team member will know what you expect is consistency.  You must constantly be teaching your staff, and be sure to compliment them when they achieve the success you expect.  Complimenting may be important, but so is helping your staff grow.  Making them aware and accountable when they have fallen short is equally important.  This will lead to improvement of your team.

3.  Why would anyone want to settle for being an average dental office? That is the best of the worst and the worst of the best.  Dreamers and achievers will never stop at this level.  It is always the doctor’s opportunity to help team members become the best they can be.

4.  Have you noticed that your dental office takes on your personality?  By speaking to just one employee, you should be able to decipher the tone of the entire office.  If you have a positive doctor, it will permeate throughout the office to the rest of the staff.

Want to hear more from Dr. Z and get his tips delivered to your inbox on a regular basis, including some fantastic ways to handle 14 scary situations that are probably happening in your dental practice right now?

Just visit www.integritydentalpracticemanagement.com.

Simple Referral Tip

After over twenty-five years of teaching, we have learned quite a bit. And one thing that we have definitely learned is that most people will not take action, even on a good thing.

It’s pretty safe to say that if we wrote:

“Fax us your address and we will send you a crisp new twenty dollar bill” most people would not do it.

The odds get even worse with something like asking a patient to refer someone to your practice. No matter how many courses you take with some great script that is supposed to do the magic, the reality is most patients simply will not do it.

One of the problems is that when it comes time to ask for the referral, the doctor or team member makes it about them and not the patient.

Picture the typical scenario. A patient is happy with the new crowns you just cemented. They are glowing and say:

“Oh Doctor Pickles – I just love my new teeth!”

Boom! You know that’s the best time to ask for a referral. But why doesn’t it work? Because we say something like:

“That’s great Lucinda. If you have any friends or family who could benefit from the same type of dentistry, we would be glad to see them here at Pickles Dental Care.”

Okay – Lucinda knows that at this point it’s all about trying to increase your practice.

When asking for a referral – it’s crucial to work with human nature. Make it about the patient. Engage in a little conversation first before jumping on the referral question. Let’s do an example.

“Oh Doctor Pickles – I just love my new teeth!”

“Lucinda – thanks for saying that. It really made my day! But actually, you made it easy. It’s a pleasure treating you here.”

“Oh – thanks!”

“As you can imagine – in the dental field we hear all kinds of crazy stories, so it’s our goal here to make every single patient as comfortable as possible.”

“Yeah – I know what you mean. My Mom went to the dentist and they started drilling before she was even numb!”

“Oh – so sorry to hear that Lucinda. We would be glad to make room for her in our practice and would be sure to treat her extra gently. Debbie will even give you a few cards.”

See the difference? We engaged Lucinda in a valuable conversation before jumping to the referral issue. It was about her (and subsequently her Mom) – not about the practice.

And most importantly, the conversation was tailored to lead to the referral of a specific person. This is SO much more powerful than asking for a referral of generic “friends and family.”

So yes – asking for referrals can work, especially if you put a little bit of extra oomph into it, make it about the patient not the practice, and try to hone in on a specific referral.

The point is, don’t get discouraged. It’s normal for people to not take action on anything! Just keep the gentle reminders coming and don’t be too pushy, whether it is asking for referrals, treatment recommendations that have not been completed, or anything else. The goal is not always instant gratification, but the fact that when the patient is ready to refer or have their treatment completed, you are the beneficiary of the action.

Trust us – it works!!

Would You Have Sex With a New Patient?

Would you have sex with a new patient?

Sounds like a crazy question. And before you get too offended, in a certain way you just may be trying to do just that!

In the dating world, most women complain that men are way too aggressive.  They’re always going for the “close,” without paying attention to the real details!

“I want to know more about my man before I have sex with him.”
~A somewhat famous woman

Do you think that sounds crazy?

How about this typical scenario at the bar:

Step 1. Man: Here is my cheesiest pickup line.
Step 2. Man: Give me your phone number.
Step 3. Man: Let’s have sex.

Now if you are a man, we know YOU would never do anything like this. You’re probably not even going to any bars!  We realize that!

But whether you are a man or woman, could you be possibly be doing something like this?

Step 1. Doc: Here is my cheesy brochure!
Step 2. Doc: Thanks for calling our office. Come on in.
Step 3. Doc: You need $20,000 worth of treatment. Sign form!

Funny, do you see any similarities above to that scene at the bar?

You might as well be asking for sex. You may have a better chance!

Now don’t get us wrong, this approach will likely work some of the times. And if you don’t mind getting slapped in the face a lot, maybe it’s worth a try.

But as a dentist, you probably don’t want to get slapped in the face every day by new patients.  You want to build relationships, right?

We have been huge proponents of nurturing your new patients. And using the “100% treatment plan acceptance strategy” (see your Mega-Bundle, module 6) is a big one because it always works!

Wouldn’t it be nice if you got them to like you first?

Get them to believe in you.

Get them to trust you.

Now you have yourself a great patient!

Doctor, we are slammed at the front desk!!

A frequently asked question / observation we often get at our seminars:

“You guys are up here stressing customer service, treating every patient like they are the most important person in your practice, never putting anyone on hold, listening patiently, etc…

Unfortunately you have NO IDEA what it is like to be in the front desk hot seat. What are we supposed to do when we have a patient on the phone and the other line keeps ringing? What if there is a patient waiting at the front desk to talk to us? Doesn’t a live person deserve priority? It’s not easy to juggle five things at once you know….”

If your office is frequently in this situation – congratulations! You are busy! People want to come to your practice! Way to go – you must be doing something right!!

But if the front desk is constantly slammed, you are losing new patients left and right. Possibly center too.

Doctor – it may be time to crowbar your wallet open and invite another talented team member in. And the good news is – that team member will pay for themselves many times over!

Think about what a great front desk team member would earn. Then think about what a lost new patient costs your practice. (By some estimates it $10,000+!) This is what’s called a no-brainer!!

Staff up, offer the best customer service possible, and watch your practice grow!!

The Dreaded Question. Here’s Your Answer.

It’s a phrase you should have at the ready – an answer to a frequently asked question that many of us dread –

“What do you do?”

I’m a dental assistant.
I’m a dentist.
I’m a dental hygienist.
I’m a dental practice administrator.

Accurate – yes. Will it turn the asker into a new patient? Not likely.

So let’s do a simple exercise.

What is the name of your practice? (Don’t worry – the questions will get tougher.)

Dr. Leonard Cohen’s office.
Majestic Hills Dentistry.
The Smile Shack.
Drs. Johnston and Simmons.

Now (a little tougher) what is a one or two word phrase that describes your practice? Here are some examples:

High-tech.
Family oriented.
Cosmetically advanced.
Center-city.
Friendly.
Modern.
Large group.

Next come up with a slightly longer phrase that tells the story of your practice philosophy.

Treating patients comfortably is our number one goal.
We believe in high-tech dentistry in a patient-friendly environment.
We make high quality dentistry affordable.

Take a few minutes to come up with one – it’s not easy!

Okay – you’re almost ready. Next time someone asks you “what do you do?” – fill in the blanks like this…

I’m a answer one at answer two. We’re an answer three practice and answer four!

Using some of the above examples, here is how it would sound.

Dreaded question: “What do you do?”

Your amazing response:

“I’m a dental practice administrator at Majestic Hills Dentistry. We are a cosmetically advanced practice and we make high quality dentistry affordable!”

If it fits the situation, add your location as well.

“I’m a dental assistant at Dr. Leonard Cohen’s office in Montreal. We’re a center-city practice and treating patients comfortably is our number one goal!”

So what’s your answer to the dreaded question? Take a few minutes now or at a team meeting and develop a great one. Feel free to send us your response.