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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.

 

Are You Part Of The Forty Percent?

Our good friend Fred Joyal, co-founder of 1-800-DENTIST and one of the marketing geniuses behind Patient Activator, recently told us that amazingly forty percent of telephone calls placed to dental practices during normal business hours go unanswered.

Being the skeptics that we are, we immediately got on the phone and started randomly calling practices. Well “Guess” what? He was right!

During normal business hours either no one answered or we got an answering machine. The typical messages?

“If you are hearing this message during normal hours it means that we are busy treating other patients blah, blah, blah…..”

Let’s run that one through the patient translator and see what it says. Okay – here it is:

“Gee, this practice is way too busy to see me; guess I’ll call someone else!”

Here’s another common one:

“We are currently at lunch and will return at 1:30 PM.”

Different message, same patient reaction.

How many times have we heard the old adage that our dental practice is a business? And what business would not have their phones answered during normal business hours, particularly during the lunch hour when working people have time to make personal calls? It just doesn’t make sense.

So whether it means forwarding the office line to a cell phone if everyone vacates the office during lunch, paying someone to “babysit” the office on a day that you are closed, or hiring an extra team member if you seem to constantly be short-handed, do whatever it takes to make sure the phone is answered!

This one tip should increase both your new patients numbers and your production significantly, and will be worth every penny it takes to pay for the extra team coverage times ten! Oh – that is unless whoever is answering the phone is not properly trained in how to do so. But that’s a topic for a different day!

And, since we are on this subject, we need to give you a huge apology. Even though we try extremely hard to practice what we preach, every once in a while we have a slip up at The Madow Brothers office as well – as in yesterday!

Our special pre-announcement of the brand new “Love Dentistry In A Box” caused quite a stir, and there were times during the day when people got busy signals or put on hold for longer than we ever care to do. If you were caught in that situation, you have our sincere apology.

The good news is – the announcement we put up yesterday must have been a good one, because we were seriously slammed all day! The even better news is, if you didn’t get through or maybe even missed the announcement, it’s not too late! Check it out again by clicking here.

Or, if you don’t want to read the very cool announcement and just want to skip right to the information on “Love Dentistry In A Box,” well then just click here!

And then give us a call at 1-888-88-MADOW. We promise to answer the phone right away today and not put you on hold!!

A great phone tip for the holidays!

The holidays are getting close! Here is a great phone tip that we actually teach all year long, but is especially helpful in the next couple of weeks when you’re planning on taking some time away from the office.

Instead of using your answering machine, voicemail or answering service when your office is closed, try this and you will make it much more convenient for new patients as well as patients of record to get in touch with you and get on the schedule.
When you close the office, forward the office phone to ring to a dedicated cell phone. Give the cell phone to a trusted team member who is enthusiastic about building the practice. When the phone rings during the off hours, no matter where she is, ask her to answer the phone exactly as if she were sitting in the office. Remember our article from last week? In our office, we answer the phone
 
“Thank you for calling The Madow Group, this is ____________ speaking, I CAN HELP YOU.”

When the caller asks a question, your team member will do her best to simply answer the question. It is helpful if she has remote access to the appointment book. This should be easily accomplished in a paperless office. If at all possible, make the caller an appointment if this is appropriate. And if for some reason, the answer must wait until office hours, it is very easy for your team member to say “I’m sorry Mrs. Jones, I am not at the office right now so it is difficult for me to answer your question. But I will be back at my desk on Monday, so how about if I call you Monday at 9:00AM? OK, and your phone number is ______________ ? Great I will speak with you then!”

Simple, huh? You would not believe how many offices report back to us how this technique has helped build their practices since calls NEVER go unanswered. Try it… you’ll love it. And feel free to work out a fair arrangement with the team member who takes the phone home. Many offices do it differently, but one example would be to pay her a flat amount for any new patient she is able to schedule. Or pay per call taken. Just figure out what is fair for your office. It needs to be a win-win-win!

And speaking of the phone, here is one more important point. No matter how high tech we are, the telephone is still the main artery into your dental practice. It is crucial that every single person on your team possess good phone skills to get patients from the phone into the appointment book. There are all kinds of expensive systems and institutes out there that claim to teach this. Our “Profitable Scheduling” system is the best because of its very quick learning curve and its affordability. And right now if you order Profitable Scheduling through the end of the year we are giving you a very special price. Regularly it is $597 (a great deal) but order now and we’ll give it away for $397.

Please take advantage of this now because as soon as the clock strikes midnight, it’s going back up to regular price. Order now so that you do not forget. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION! Your team will love you for it. And so will your accountant! You can write it off for this year!!!

Again, go to https://www.madow.com/profitable-dental-scheduling.html for more information or to order Profitable Scheduling! Call us with any questions. Our lines are always open!

What are these pictures worth?

We are down in sunny Boca Raton, FL getting ready to do our “Love Dentistry” seminar in front of a totally packed house today. Yesterday we were in Orlando and what a great group that was. Incredible energy in the room! Welcome to all of our new friends here today!

We just posted tons of pics from TBSE 2011 on our website and wow are they incredible! Feel free to check them out at http://www.tbse.com/tbse-photos/.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is true, these must be worth millions! If you were at TBSE 2011, see if you can find your and your team! If you were not there, please check them and you will see why they call it The Best Seminar EVER!

Either way, we know for sure we will see you on November 9-10, 2012 in Vegas, right?

Have a great weekend!