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End Of The Year Insurance Letter – Use It Or Lose It!

Hello all!! Lead Coach Betty Hayden here – welcome back to Coaches Corner! 

A question I am frequently asked is “Do you have a good end-of-the-year insurance letter?” After all, we don’t want our patients to leave insurance money “on the table” when they need treatment, and neither do they! 

 
Here is a good template for a letter you can send to your patients who have diagnosed but unscheduled treatment or are overdue for their preventive visit. Of course you should customize this to your office needs and culture.

Dear Theresa,

It’s that time of year again, when you are busy with school schedules, getting ready for cooler weather, and making upcoming holiday plans. During this hectic time, you may not be thinking about your available or unused dental insurance benefits.

Whether you have insurance benefits remaining or if you have funds set aside in a flexible spending account (FSA) or healthcare saving account (HSA), now is the time to schedule treatment so your co-payment amounts can be applied to this year’s deductions.

Make sure to use all available benefits to complete any outstanding treatment or for your all-important preventive dental hygiene appointment (“checkup and cleaning”). Almost all plans do not allow you to rollover unused dollars to the next benefit year, so it’s “Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em!”

Call us today to schedule your appointment. We find that the upcoming holiday season is always our “busy time” and we are certain it is a very busy time for you too.

Beat the end of year rush and get in early! Just give us a call at 410-761-6454 to schedule. Do it right now before you forget!

Please know we are here to assist you and answer any questions you may have regarding your dental treatment.

Yours partners for better dental health,

Dr. Rightley and the team at Pasadena Smiles

A few more tips:

Personalize  – When mailing out remaining maximum letters, be sure to customize for each patient according to their treatment plan. This will help to re-create the urgency and value for treatment.  For some patients, it will take some type of additional incentive to get them to act.

Mailing Tip –  Use a bright-colored envelope and neatly hand-write the name and address. Use a “live” stamp.

Phone Calls – About a week after you mail out your letters, go ahead and start calling them to see if they received the letter and to schedule their appointment.

Document – Be sure to document that a letter was mailed, phone calls were made and what type of response you received from each patient.

Important Reminder – Before sending out these letters and making calls to your patients be sure to review your upcoming appointment schedule… Where is your open chair time? Will pre-blocking some open time be helpful? Also, before scheduling last minute appointments that require lab work, be sure to communicate with your lab guy/gal that they can in fact, get these cases back to you in time.

Please let me know if you have any questions!

Yours for Greater Success,
~Betty

Betty Hayden is the lead coach at The Madow Center For Dental Practice Success. She has over 25 years of experience in the dental profession. Her expertise is in effective telephone answering techniques, profitable scheduling, marketing campaigns, communication, social media, new patient acquisition, practice growth, and much more. She is called “The Idea Woman” because she grows practices!  

If you have a question for this column, please write to us atcoaches@madow.com. And remember, we would like to offer you a complimentary 30-minute coaching session! Please CLICK HERE to schedule yours. Doctors only please.

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Kind Of A Stupid Dental Phrase

We’ve heard it recommended by many dental “practice management experts” and have witnessed it being uttered in offices across the country – but that doesn’t make it right!

It’s a phrase said by the scheduling coordinator and involves “block scheduling” – for example, having a scheduling strategy that places the most productive procedures in the morning. (Whether or not this is a good idea is a topic for another day.)

It has been suggested by many that when getting a patient to do a highly productive procedure early in the day the following verbiage is used:

“Let’s schedule this first thing in the morning
when the doctor is fresh!”

Hmmmm….so what happens if the patient can only make it in the afternoon? They get a stale doctor? The treatment will not be as good? There will be mold growing on their brand new crowns? This is a silly phrase that should immediately be dropped from the vernacular!
Sometimes we slip into habits with things we say or do. Maybe they made sense at one time, or we were just blindly following advice (as with the old “fresh doctor / stale doctor” thing). Or maybe we just never gave it too much thought.

But please remember – every single word you say to a patient is extremely important!! Don’t take it casually and don’t wing it!

A great topic for a team meeting is to “calibrate” your responses to the most frequently asked questions patients ask and come up with great answers that will be used by everyone.

It’s so easy to fall into bad habits. Try to make it your goal that everything you do and say in your practice will be for a reason (hopefully a good one!)

What are some things you are saying or doing that can be improved?

What are some every day procedures and protocols that can be changed to create a better experience for your patients? This is a great topic for your next team meeting!

Coach Rich
Coach Dave

Dr. David Madow and Dr. Richard Madow are actual dentists who have been helping dental offices become more successful for over 28 years. They are down to earth, real people who personally connect with their clients and are proud to call them friends. If you have a question for this column, please write to them at coaches@madow.com.
We are now offering a complimentary
30-minute coaching session!

Please
CLICK HERE to schedule yours. Doctors only please. 

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A great idea from a reader of Coaches Corner

One of our favorite “idea guys” is Dr. Mitchell Josephs of Palm Beach, FL. Here is a great technique he uses in his practice to actually get people excited about showing up for their appointment when lab work is involved. Take it away “Dr. Joe!”

Hey guys! I came up with this idea when I was at the gym. We have been bitch’n that this one machine we like has been broken forever! Finally, my trainer told the owner to at least put a sign on the machine that says: “Parts on order; thank you for your patience!” At least this makes us feel the gym is on top of it and help is on the way.
 
I always like how Amazon and Ebay send me alerts on the shipping progress of my orders. I get excited when that 1969 Alfa Romeo taillight I ordered has been shipped and was in Arkansas yesterday, and then “out for delivery today.” 
 
See the email below I now send to every patient awaiting lab work to come in:
Subject: Your Dental Lab Work 
Dear Frank:
You lab work is in progress! (see below)
Thank you for your continued trust in our office. See you on the 15th to deliver your night guard.
Dr. J.
DIGITAL ORDER NOTIFICATION
Account Number: 10-45375
Order Received: 3/19/18
Your digital order is in production and will be shipped on 3/24/18
Patient name: Frank Reynolds
———————————–
It’s amazing – when I send this email patients actually get excited about their lab work and their appointment! I hope your readers enjoy this tip. Dr. Mitchell Josephs
Palm Beach, FL

Thanks Dr. Joe! Keep ’em coming!!

 

If you have a question for this column, please write to us at coaches@madow.com. And remember, we would like to offer you a complimentary 30-minute coaching session! Please CLICK HERE to schedule yours. Doctors only please.

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So Did He Throw A Party For The Hygienist?

 

A few weeks ago we published a question from Dr. Mitchell Josephs. Just in case you forgot, here is the question:

Dear Madow Brothers,

After 21 fantastic years in the practice, my hygienist Susie is retiring. She has treated several generations of patients here and everyone loves her.

Should I send an email blast out to our existing patients (coming from her) telling everyone of her retirement, or just inform patients the day before their recall appointments that Susie retired, Ms. Schtupalot will be seeing you today!?”

On one hand I don’t want my patients to claim I did “not inform them”, but on the other hand I don’t want to give them an opportunity to start calling around to find someone else “closer to home” for their cleanings.

Thanks for your advice,

Dr. Mitchell Josephs
Palm Beach, FL
 
So – we asked for suggestions from readers of Coaches Corner, and they came in like crazy! They ranged from doing absolutely nothing to holding a big retirement party for the hygienists and inviting the entire community. So what did Dr. Josephs do? Here it is.

All my patients who thought that my previous hygienist, Susie, of 22 years was the greatest thing since sliced Mandel loaf, now think my new hygienist Rita is the “best they ever had.”

While I was slaving over my drill for 22 years, Susie was not keeping up with perio charting, x-rays and diagnosing and treating perio disease. She would chit chat for 45 min, and clean teeth for 15 min. Poor leadership on my part! I was too busy worrying about my end of the practice and keeping my chair filled. I ignored hygiene.

The new RDH is on average producing 50% more revenue than the previous one.

From your consensus of your DDS’s way to handle the transition, I went with: “Do nothing, other than when confirming their hygiene appointment on the phone, just tell them ‘Susie retired and you will love her successor Rita.’ ” Some people suggested I “should have a retirement party for Susie, inviting my patients and introducing her to the new gal.”  My feeling on this suggestion? Screw dat!

Cheers!

Dr. Mitchell Josephs
 
Just in case you are wondering, Dr. J has an extremely successful practice in South Florida. But as we have experienced with just about every one of our coaching clients, even great practices could use some improvement, and it usually takes someone from the outside (that’s us!) to do the diagnosis. Wanna chat about it? Just let us know!
 
Coach Rich
Coach Dave

 

Dr. David Madow and Dr. Richard Madow are actual dentists who have been helping dental offices become more successful for over 28 years. They are down to earth, real people who personally connect with their clients and are proud to call them friends. If you have a question for this column, please write to them at coaches@madow.com. We are now offering a complimentary 30-minute coaching session! Please CLICK HERE to schedule yours. Doctors only please.

To sign up for our mailing list CLICK HERE

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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!!!”

How to Effectively Answer the Dental Office Telephone

Hey guys, I have been very frustrated with my front desk team member. She thinks she is great on the phone but my appointment book does not share her opinion. Ideas?
Dr. Sei Nguyen, Orange County, CA

Dear Dr. Nguyen,

This problem is one that we see all over and it does not seem to be going away. Even with the expensive “institutes” that are popping up. Sometimes it’s best to get back to basics. We would love to share some ideas from our lead coach, Betty Hayden:

Do we really need to keep talking about how to answer the telephone? Absolutely!  This is one key to your success. All of your marketing efforts lead people to the phone first. Don’t waste your money by losing the potential patient or aggravating current patients due to poor telephone skills and habits. Your entire team (clinical & admin) should be trained on how to properly answer the phone and handle the call. Answering the phone is a privilege and a great opportunity!

Here are a few tips:

  • Smile before you pick up the phone.
  • Answer the phone within the first couple of rings.
  • Answer the phone with a thank you for calling, identify the office and give your name. (ex: Thank you for calling Dr. Smiles, this is Betty. I can help you)
  • Do NOT let the caller go to voice mail (or a busy signal!) during business hours (including lunch hours). People hate leaving messages. Oftentimes, they’ll hang up and call the next office on their list.
  • Never, ever answer the phone with “hold please” or “can you hold?” Take a quick second, find out who they are and what they need. People hate to be put on hold. If you are habitually needing to put callers on hold, you need more people answering the phones.
  • For the few times when you do need to put a caller on hold – please, consider having a great message on hold service.
  • Get the caller’s name and use it often. Find out how they heard about your office (document the referral source!). “What type of insurance do you have?” shouldn’t be the first thing you ask. In fact, let the caller bring that part up. Your goal is to build a relationship with the caller, to get to know them and their expectations.
  • Offer an appointment. Sounds obvious right? You might be surprised to know how many office’s I have called as a “shopper” and was never offered an appointment.
  • There are words/phrases that should never be used on a call. Make a list of the words/phrases you want to eliminate from the office vocabulary.

Set aside some time to meet together as a team – everyone in the office should be trained on how to not only answer the phones but they should know how to handle the calls. At the very least, professionally & courteously direct the caller to someone who can help. Role playing will help all to feel more comfortable handling different types of calls.

Worried about your team members sounding like robots on the phone? Don’t be. This is what you do – create as a team your Telephone Principles (your goals & expectations for each call.)

Be Firm In Principle – Flexible in Procedure

The procedure may vary but the principles remain the same. This will allow the team member’s to customize their words to the individual caller’s. However, professionalism is always a must!

A few more things to consider during your meeting and training with your team:

What times are your phones being answered? Examine whether or not the times you’re actually available to answer the office phone is when your patients and potential patients are actually available to call the office.

What happens after hours? Ringing? Voice Mail? Answering Service? Here’s your chance to exceed expectations by answering the office phone after hours! (Forward calls to a cell phone.)

The Greeting – First impressions matter!!

Shopper Callers – Great opportunity! Typically, the shopper caller has a need and is ready to “buy”, that’s why they are “shopping”.  Don’t blow it by refusing to quote fees over the phone. By all means, offer them to come in for a complimentary consultation.

Insurance Questions – (Have a great response to: “Do you take —-ins?)

Wrong Numbers – offer an appointment anyway.

Sales Calls – Be kind, they’re just doing their job. Maybe they need an appointment. Plus, you don’t know who they know. It’s simple – always be kind.

Moms calling for donations or any organization that asks for donations – Empower your team to fulfill their request. At the very least, offer them an appointment.

Certainly, handling the phones is a big responsibility but it’s an even bigger privilege. Don’t miss out on any opportunities to set your office apart from the others by always exceeding the caller’s expectations.

If you have questions about how to successfully handle telephone calls or need help training your team, don’t wait, ask for help. I’m ready to help you.

Yours for Greater Success,
~Betty

Betty Hayden is the lead coach at The Madow Center For Dental Practice Excellence. She has over 25 years of experience in the dental profession. Her expertise is in effective telephone answering techniques, profitable scheduling, marketing campaigns, communication, social media, new patient acquisition, practice growth, and much more. She has been labeled “The Idea Woman” by many of her clients!

If you have a question for this column, please write to them at coaches@madow.com. If you would like to ask a confidential question, please CLICK HERE to schedule a free call.

 

 

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!!

Think about it

Picture this. You are presenting a treatment plan to a patient. Everything is going great. You think you have it wrapped up. But then they pull out the dreaded excuse…

“Let me think about it.”
You know from past experience that whenever you hear this objection there is a 99% chance this patient will turn into a ghost, not to be heard from in ever again.

Up until now you have tried all of the crappy comebacks that the two-bit consultants have taught you over the years but you know in your heart they just don’t work.

Today we are going to give you a new response to “Let me think about it” that should take care of this problem once and for all. It has proven to be very effective in our testing.

Can you guess what the best response to  “I need to think about it” may be?

Here is our suggestion:  DO NOTHING!

That is correct. When a patient tells you that they need to think about it, you know damn well it’s simply a stall tactic. There is something else on their mind but they are not saying what that is. Maybe it’s financial. Perhaps they are worried about the actual procedure. Pain. We are not sure.  If you just let them go and tell them it’s ok to think about it, you will not hear from them in 99% of the cases.

So try this. When they tell you they need to think about it, don’t say a word. That’s right… just keep quiet. You can look at them or look down a little bit. Or a combination of the two. Your body language must convey that you are concerned. But remember…

Do not say anything!

So what will happen next?

After a short time, your patient will feel very uncomfortable with the dead silence. Human nature is such that we want to fill in silence with words. So he or she will begin talking.

Once he begins talking, he will normally make his objection very clear and oftentimes come up with a solution without you even getting involved.

For example after a period of silence he may say “I don’t have the money at the moment but I am getting a fairly nice inheritance in October so would it be okay to wait until then?”

Bingo! You win.

Your response is “Sure Mr. Jones, why don’t we have Madge set you up right now for mid October?” Then have Madge give Mr. Jones two good options on dates and times and you are all set. You have treatment scheduled that in the past never would have happened.

Understand this. The silence at least gets them talking. Then it’s up to you to take the objection that comes up and turn it around and come up with a solution.

Will this work 100% of the time? Of course not. But we do guarantee it will increase your acceptance MUCH MORE than what you have been doing up until now.

Did you like this tip? Our goal is to make you more profitable! Please stay tuned for more answers to some of the most common objections in dentistry! We want you to be incredibly successful, and knowing the best responses will be a tremendous help to you and your practice! Stay in touch!

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!!

We don’t. We can’t. We won’t. Sorry.

We don’t. We can’t. We won’t. Sorry.

Okay – time for another very quick restaurant story. It’s 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.