The phone is ringing, the calls are coming in, but appointments (or reappointments) aren’t being made. In fact, it is quite possible potential new patients are unintentionally being turned away.
“You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.”
What kind of impression is your dental office team creating for you? Do you know how effective they are in answering the office telephone? Are you tracking how many calls come in and how many of those callers actually schedule an appointment? Does it matter? Absolutely!
All your marketing efforts lead people to the phone first. Don’t waste your money by losing potential patients 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 effectively care for the caller.
Answering the phone is a privilege and a great opportunity!
Here are 10 helpful telephone tips & ideas:
Always Smilebefore 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 office hours (including and especially during 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, and 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.
Acknowledge their question or request and reassure them that you will help them.
Get the caller’s name early on and use it often. BEFORE you answer their initial question, you should know who you are talking with. (ie: “Great question, I can help you with that. Again, my name is Betty may I ask your name?”)
If after asking when their last visit was you find out they’re new to the office – warmly welcome them and find out how they heard about your office (document the referral source in the software!).
“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 offices miss this important step. Seriously, this one is so simple, and yet it is shocking how many offices totally miss this opportunity. Remember, the goal should be to end the call with an appointment scheduled so be sure to invite them to schedule.
Set aside some time to meet as a team – everyone in the office should be trained on how to not only answer the phones but should know how to effectively handle the calls. At the very least, professionally & courteously direct the caller to someone who can help.
Practice, Practice, Practice how to effectively handle different types of calls and questions until you feel comfortable. (Yes, I am talking about role-play – I know we hate role-play it’s uncomfortable (and embarrassing) to do but it’s necessary to be truly successful. Work through the discomfort. It’s worth it!)
As a team, create your Telephone Principles(scripting guidelines) which are based on your goals & expectations for each call.
The telephone ringing should never be viewed as an interruption to your already too-busy day. 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.
Practice Owners – 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. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please... If you enjoy the complimentary ideas that I share or if they’ve been of help to you and your practice – I would truly appreciate it if you would please take a second and leave a review/recommendation for me on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK.Looking forward to hearing from you.Thank you!!
So which is more important to your practice growth – obtaining new patients or retaining established patients?
The short answer, both are very important to successfully grow your dental practice.
Yes, new patients are very important, in fact, we should have a monthly new patient goal that we are working toward each month. Offices love new patients. I hear doctors and teams all the time saying “We need more new patients!” They believe that is the answer to all of their scheduling, production, and collection woes. But is that good enough to grow your practice, just ensuring that you’re getting fresh new patients each month?
Well, if you want to spend lots of money and ultimately work harder instead of smarter, then yes. But, I think it’s safe to say, that isn’t your intention or end goal.
And yet, that is exactly what I am seeing many doctors doing in their practice. They are investing time and money to bring in new patients but are not giving the same attention to retaining those new patients. Like they are just spinning their wheels and will eventually just burn out.
Oftentimes, I will see healthy new patient numbers each month, and yet, the office isn’t growing at all and their production is weak. Why is that? When I examine the data, I learn that far too many of their new patients are one-timers. They left the office without scheduling a future appointment. Why is this a bummer situation? Calling, emailing, texting, and snail-mailing our patients to get them to reappoint can be a drag. It’s tough to reach patients once they leave. It’s possible of course, but it takes money, time, and energy that could be better spent elsewhere. Unfortunately, we don’t always see those attempts being made to reach out to those unscheduled new patients. No one really knows what happens to the patient after their first visit. Or they make minimal attempts to reach out to the patients before giving up after a couple of months.
What does your new patient experience look like from the initial call, and first visit, to how youstay in touch with them after they leave?
Do you know what your new patient retention numbers look like?
So if the most expensive patients to acquire are your new patients, the easiest and best patients to fill your schedules are those who have come to you before. But, you may be thinking… that takes time and money to reappoint established patients too. That’s true but you have a huge advantage when reaching out to established patients of record; It’s the power of pre-existing relationships. (Oh, by the way, on average, it can cost up to six times more to gain a new patient than it does to retain an existing patient.)
What does retaining, reactivating, and reappointing established patients mean for you and the patient?
We are creatures of habit. It’s easier to do something we are already doing than to do something different.
Established relationship. (They already know, like, and trust you. You just need to focus on strengthening that relationship)
No marketing costs – you’ve already paid the initial investment in getting the patient.
What are you doing to keep track of your established patients? What are you doing to ensure your established patients don’t slip through the cracks?
What are you doing to keep your new and established patients loyal to your practice?
Loyal patients, isn’t that what we want? Patients that return year after year, accept your treatment recommendations and refer their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. They are loyal to your dental practice because they like and trust you. You’ve earned the privilege to serve them not just for a moment but for life.
Is it really a privilege to serve them? Absolutely! Any office that struggles with getting and keeping new patients, struggles with getting patients to accept their treatment recommendations, struggles with the hygiene department’s continuing care reports and Swiss cheese-like appointment schedules, struggles to keep up with all the record transfer requests from patients for their new dental office, will learn (hopefully quickly) that having loyal patients in your practice is an earned privilege. The best part with loyal patients is the aforementioned struggles are greatly reduced or eliminated altogether.
Of course, this takes some work – implementing and following closely, effective office systems/protocols are critical to you successfully retaining your patients and reaching/exceeding your practice goals.
Practice Owners, if you would like to grow and improve your dental practice and have wondered what it might be like to work with me and what coaching is all about… please feel free to reach out to me to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation coaching call at email@example.com.
Have you signed up to receive my complimentary dental marketing and practice management ideas that are sent right to your email inbox each month? If not, take a second and sign up. Or send me your email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send you an invite to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea
Yours for Greater Success,
~Betty (Dental Coach)
P.S.If you enjoy the complimentary ideas that I share or if they’ve been of help to you and your practice – I would truly appreciate it if you would please take a second and leave a review/recommendation for me on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK.Looking forward to hearing from you.Thank you!!
Goal: Bring in New Patients, Increase Production & Exceed Patients’ Expectations
Community Engagement and Appreciation Ideas – The month of May has National Police Officers Week, Nurses Week, and Teacher Appreciation Week.
Educational Ideas –
May is Save Your Tooth Month
National Root Canal Appreciation Week: 7-13
National Stroke Awareness Month
Social Media Post Content Ideasto Boost Engagement during the Month of May
National Strawberry Month
National Pet Week: 7-13
Star Wars Day: 4th (May the Floss With You!)
Lemonade Day: 7th
National Piercing Day: 16th
Eat More Fruits & Vegetables Day: 25th
National Alligator Day: 29th
National Senior Health & Fitness Day: 31st
I would love to hear from you.If you enjoy the complimentary ideas that I share or if they’ve been of help to you and your practice – I would truly appreciate it if you would please take a second and leave a review/recommendation for me on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK.Looking forward to hearing from you.Thank you!!
Don’t miss out on any of the ideas that I share each month! Are you receiving my complimentary Practice Management and Marketing Ideas in your email inbox each month? If not, please start following us today. If you prefer, send me your email address at email@example.com and I will send you an invitation to follow my blog.
As always, wishing you all a fun, stress-free, and productive month!
Cleaning and Organizing Tips for Your Dental Practice
Is your office due or past-due for a good cleaning and organizing? Maybe even some remodeling or redecorating? This is also a great time to clean your dental practice.
I encourage you to make a checklist of all the areas in your office that may need some cleaning. I’ll help you get started by showing you how to take advantage of using your 5 senses while cleaning your office. This is by no means an exhaustive cleaning list but it will give you ideas of where and what to clean.
Before you read on please remember that the patients’ (and potential patients’) perception of you, your team, the office, and the quality and safety of the care you provide is your reality. This means that everything that you do or don’t do…matters!
Even if you feel like you’re just too busy to tackle a project like this you’ll want to make the time; why? The long-term growth and success of your practice depend on it.
Sight, Smell, Sound, Touch, and Taste.
What do your patients and potential patients see?
Areas to “see” include;
Office Exterior (Curb Appeal)
Safety Concerns/Handicap accessibility
Are you welcoming or turning people away?
Reception Room – Sit in your reception room, what do your patients see, touch, hear, smell, and taste? Look high and low. What do you see? Dirty carpeting/flooring? Outdated magazines & decor? Stained or worn chairs? Peeling wallpaper? Cobwebs? Dusty plants/floral arrangements? Light bulbs that are out? Look over at the front desk area, if you see a sliding glass window that is full of signs and papers telling your patients what to do and what not to do…remove them immediately. It’s very unwelcoming!
Restroom – Most if not all of your patients that visit your restroom WILL determine the quality and safety of your care from that experience. (Isn’t that true of you when you’re at a restaurant or any public restroom? No one wants the gas station bathroom experience…not even when you’re at a gas station.) Your restroom should be clean, nicely decorated, and well-stocked with quality paper products and soap.
Front Desk Area – Clutter represents indecision. Decide to get rid of the clutter! (That includes any sticky notes attached to computer monitors, coats/sweaters hanging on the backs of chairs, and fast-food drink containers sitting out on the counters.) Purchase hot/cold beverage tumblers, preferably with your office logo on them for your team members to use at their workstations – this looks much nicer than your patients seeing soda bottles or coffee shop cups.
While you’re visiting the front office area, don’t forget about cleaning these areas too…
Current Protocols– Hygiene Continuing Care, Incomplete Treatment Reports, Confirmation, A/R-Collections, Greetings, Patient Hand-off, New Patient Welcomes, and Referral Thank you’s, etc.
Paper Communication Materials –Intake forms, Letterhead, HIPAA forms, Financial Policy & Postcards.
Job Responsibilities/Descriptions –Have every team member write down a detailed list of all of their job responsibilities. This is VERY helpful in determining more effective ways of doing things as well as finding out what is NOT being done.
Practice Owners – If you’re struggling to reach your goals each month or struggling to get your team on board with your vision for the practice maybe a coaching relationship is just what you need. Feel free to reach out to me to set up a complimentary 30-minute call to discuss how a customized coaching program will help you reach/exceed your goals.
Moving on to other areas of the practice…
Operatories – Sit in the treatment room chairs. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you taste? What do you smell? How do you feel? Again, your patients don’t measure the quality of care, they measure the quality of their experience. Keep your patients loyal to your practice by making certain they consistently have great experiences.
Lab & Sterilization Area – What do these areas look like? Unorganized, Cluttered, and/or Dirty? From the CDC: “In dental health care settings, all instrument cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing should occur in a designated central processing area in order to more easily control quality and ensure safety. The instrument processing area should be physically divided into sections for 1) receiving, cleaning, and decontamination; 2) preparation and packaging; 3) sterilization; and 4) storage. This division is designed to contain contaminated items in an area designed specifically for cleaning, thus preventing contamination of the clean areas where packaging, sterilization, and storage of sterile items occurs. Reusable contaminated instruments and devices are received, sorted, and cleaned in the cleaning area. The packaging area is for inspecting, assembling, and packaging clean instruments in preparation for final processing. The sterilization and storage areas contain the sterilizers and related supplies, as well as incubators for analyzing spore tests, and can contain enclosed storage for sterile items and disposable (single-use) items. When it is not possible to have physical separation of these areas, clearly labeling each area (e.g., from contaminated to sterile) might be satisfactory if the personnel who process the instruments are trained in work practices to prevent contamination of clean areas. ” Here is a helpful article: IS YOUR DENTAL STERILIZATION AREA SETUP EFFICIENT — OR A BOTTLENECK?
Closets – Make an inventory checklist. Throw away any expired or outdated products, equipment, manuals, etc. While you’re at it, if there is anything that isn’t being used properly due to a lack of education or training, go ahead and schedule a time for continuing education/training.
Equipment/Technology – What needs repairs, upgrades or to be tossed? Computers, Software, Internet Speed & Access, Printers, Scanners, Copiers, Telephone Systems, TVs, Postage machines, including…dare I say, typewriters?
The Team – Appearance – Wear clothes that reflect the excellent care you give your patients. Professional, clean, and wrinkle-free clothes. Clean hair, nails & body). Attitudes – Remove any toxic attitudes.
Office Policies – Review and update employee benefits and expectations. If you don’t have an office manual and/or employee handbook please get one ASAP.
TIP: Make a cleaning schedule – including the who, what & when. When will the parking lot, restrooms & reception room be checked & cleaned? This should be done several times throughout the day. Do not wait for the “cleaning person” to take care of those areas. If the flooring needs to be vacuumed… vacuum it. If the glass on the windows/doors has fingerprints…clean them. If the restroom toilet and sink are dirty… clean them. Make a promise as a team that if you see it (and you know you do) clean it.
Online Presence – What do your potential patients “see” when looking for a dentist in your area? Remember to spring clean your online presence too. Your website, Google My Business listing, and Social Media Pages. See: Dental Office First Impressions – Online Presence
Get rid of the dreaded dental office smell. There are products out there that will eliminate that smell without aggravating patients with allergies. Bake chocolate chip cookies if necessary. Be cautious when using scented candles, air fresheners, and essential oils – you’ll want to make sure that they are mild and won’t aggravate those with allergies.
Keep the noise down! Patients want to be put at ease; they don’t want to hear the latest office gossip or a TV that is too loud. Avoid using patients’ full names or complaining about patients when you can be heard from the reception room or treatment chair.
Music – Consider playing music in the reception and treatment rooms. Wireless headphones will allow patients’ to listen to music or the TV while in the chair.
Beverage Station in the reception room. Complimentary coffee, tea, cold bottled water, juice, etc. See this Pinterest board for beverage station design ideas.
Snacks – Offer snacks such as fresh fruit, granola bars, etc. This is especially nice for patients who may have been in for a lengthy appointment and need a little boost in energy.
Allow patients to rinse with mouthwash before and after the appointment.
Offer pre-pasted toothbrushes for patients who didn’t have time to or forgot to brush their teeth before their appointment.
Reception Room – Is it comfortable & welcoming? (If you emptied the reception room of all comfort and distraction items because of COVID you probably can start returning these items. Just be sure to frequently clean high-touch/traffic surfaces.)
Reading Material – Have a variety of magazines and books for patients to read.
Temperature – Keep the temperature in the reception room at a comfortable setting.
Lighting – Be sure that the sunlight from the windows isn’t blinding some of your patients during the day.
Treatment Rooms – Be sure that your patients are comfortable during their visit. Your treatment rooms should be exceptionally clean from top to bottom. Get rid of any clutter sitting out on the counters, floor, or shelves.
Massage Pads on Chairs
Blankets (If you have a patient who is always cold, pop the blanket in the dryer for them right before appt). Consider offering a weighted blanket during treatment to help reduce anxiety.
Distractions – (Movies, Music, Digital Aquarium, Etc.)
Give Painless Injections…always.
Put your patients at ease by talking with them before you start looking in their mouth.
Free Stuff – Give away items imprinted with your office name, website, and phone number to each patient at their appointment. Such as; toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, calendars, pens, and lip balm.
Using your 5 senses, look closely at yourself, your team, the exterior, and interior of your building, all office systems, your lab, sterilization procedures, website & social media sites, marketing materials, marketing programs, and the patient experience.
Your goal should be to find ways to consistently exceed your patients’ expectations, attract more new patients, and remove anything that is hindering you from reaching that goal. You and your team need and deserve to enjoy a nice, clean, and welcoming work environment.
If you appreciate the ideas that I share or if they’ve been of help to you and your practice – I would love it if you would please take just a second and leave a review/recommendation for me on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK.Looking forward to hearing from you.Thank you!!!
Are you receiving my complimentary Practice Management and Marketing Ideas in your email inbox each month? If not, please start following us today.
Yours for Greater Success!
Practice Owners, if you’re ready to grow and improve your dental practice and have wondered what it might be like to work with me and what coaching is all about, or would like to learn what opportunities for improvement exist in your practice... please feel free to reach out to me to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation coaching call at firstname.lastname@example.org.