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 really 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 really 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!!
It has been said that “how you present yourself is how people first view you.”
Clearly, First Impressions Matter. How are you presenting your dental practice, your services, your care, yourself and your team online? What you’re showcasing or not showcasing provides a first impression. Are you attracting potential new patients or turning them away?
Let’s consider briefly just three areas where your online presence and first impressions matter most…
It amazes me how many dental offices still don’t have a website or they have an old website with cookie-cutter, canned content and little to no information about the office, the doctor and team, and the services that they offer.
Your website should reflect the culture and personality of the practice and the team. The content should be fresh and relevant. The photos should be attractive and current. This reminds me if you have pictures on your website of team members that are no longer working at the office please remove them. Ensure that you don’t have any broken links or “coming soon” pages that have been there far too long. Think about this, when people visit your website are you welcoming them with warm and helpful messaging or inadvertently turning them away with poor messaging and unattractive pages? Keep in mind, this isn’t about what you like or dislike – this is about the patient and potential patient. For example, if I am researching dental implants on your website I do not want to see the step by step details of how an implant is placed – it freaks me out. What I want to see is the result – a beautiful tooth that allows me to smile with confidence. I don’t think that I am alone here. I feel it’s safe to say that most people care more about the why and not so much the how.
What’s in it for them to choose your dental office? Why should they choose your office over the many other dentist websites they’ve visited?
SEO – Make sure people can find you without much effort.
Listing – If you have more than one Google listing for your office that can be quite confusing to potential patients and you end up being your OWN competitor. Make it easier on everyone by merging your listings into just one. Or if you haven’t claimed your Google My Business listing as yours please do so today… it’s simple and free.
Information – Ensure that your name, address, phone number, website, etc. are all current and accurate.
Content – Are you regularly posting fresh content to your Google business page? If not, you should. It’s easy to do, it’s FREE and people visiting your listing like to see fresh content. When you post on your page you can add a link that will direct people to your website or social media pages.
Photos – Have attractive photos (both inside and outside the practice) of your office on your listing. As well, share photos of you and your team. If you have old, outdated photos of the office or team members on your listing please delete them,
Reviews – You want Google reviews. You also want to acknowledge the reviews…the positive and the negative ones.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogs, Online Community News Pages, YouTube, and more help to build your dental practice. Even if you’re not a fan of social media, please remember that most likely many of your patients and potential patients are using these platforms regularly. You want to be where they are and since first impressions matter – you want to make sure that your office is making a positive impression. Just like with reviews on your Google listing you want reviews/recommendations from your patients on your office Facebook page too.
The internet is full of information and choices so make it easy for your potential patients to find accurate information about your practice moving them to choose to make your office their dental home.
Another quick reminder is most often after someone finds your office on the internet unless they direct message you or utilize online scheduling they’ll be picking up the telephone and calling the office so please take some time now to ensure that your office phones are being answered during the times when potential patients are most likely to call and that they are being answered effectively. Learn more here: Dental Office Telephone Principles
Are you tracking your new patients each month to learn how they are finding you? What about other important data such as how many active patients you have? How many of your patients have a future appointment scheduled? To help you get that data quickly, like within minutes – if your PMS is either Dentrix, Eaglesoft, or Open Dental you can request a complimentary, no-obligation practice data snapshot here: Game-Changing Awareness from Dental Intelligence – Within minutes we’ll identify your practice’s strengths and uncover hidden opportunities. I am happy to assist you with this at no charge.
I love hearing from you and would truly appreciate for you to please leave a review/recommendation for me here on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK. 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.
Is your office past-due for a good cleaning and organizing? Maybe even some remodeling or redecorating? It’s that time of year when many take advantage of the warmer weather to “spring clean” their homes. This is also a great time to spring 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
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. Make a decision 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.
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.
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 be used properly due to 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, TV’s, Postage machines, including…dare I say, typewriters?
Employee breakroom(area) / staff lounge – don’t forget about the employee break area. Is it clean and organized? Check out the refrigerator, microwave, cabinets, counters, and tables. There is no reason for this room to be messy and/or dirty. While you’re at it freshen up the room decor and stock the cabinets/refrigerator with snacks and beverages for your team.
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 have 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 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 fruit, granola bars, etc. This is especially nice for patients that 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 that didn’t have time to or forgot to brush their teeth before their appointment.
Reception Room – Is it comfortable & welcoming? (Please keep COVID safety guidelines in mind before implementing some of these ideas/recommendations.)
Reading Material – Have a variety of magazine 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 exceptonally 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 that 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 and remove anything that is hindering you from reaching that goal.
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 to reach/exceed your goals.
If you enjoy the complimentary ideas that I share each month, I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK
Are you receiving my free dental marketing and practice management ideas every month to your email? If not, PLEASE take a second and follow today or send me your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you an invitation to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea. Feel free to share my blog with your dental friends. ~ Thank you!
Here you will find my Top Ten FREE Dental Practice Improvement Tips for 2021. They’re not just free to read, they’re free to implement. How awesome is that?! Ideas that when implemented, WILL help you increase production, attract more new patients, build relationships within the community, have more fun as a team, as well as exceed your established patients’ expectations.
Betty’s Top Ten FREE Dental Practice Improvement Tips for 2021
#1 – Mission, Vision, Core Values – Knowing why you show up every morning will help to create a culture of happiness and excellence.
Mission – A clear definition of the purpose and focus of the practice today.
Vision – It is about what you want your practice to be in the future. It is the outcome/result of your mission.
Core Values – Core Values represent the beliefs and principles that define your practice, your team, and the patient experience you aim for in your dental practice.
Involve the entire team in your vision, mission, and goals for the practice. Involving your team will help to keep everyone on the same page, working together for the greater good of the practice. Encourage and empower your team to not only come up with new ideas and solutions to problems but to implement these ideas and solutions.
#2 – Lead by Example– “Treat your employees how you would like them to treat your best patient!“
If you want to see a positive change in your practice, you must consistently lead by example… be the change. It starts at the top. You set the tone for the day, make certain that it’s a happy & productive one. This includes any employee in a management position – if you have employees complaining about your office manager, take it seriously. A toxic office manager will destroy your practice over time, at the very least, cause a staff turnover nightmare. In fact, any employee that is toxic to your vision, to your team, and/or your patients…needs to go. It’s not easy to make the decision to terminate someone’s employment, yet absolutely necessary if you want to improve your practice. It’s been said that “what you allow you encourage.” Once you make the decision to no longer tolerate or allow the poor behavior and attitudes in your practice, you’ll breathe a huge sigh of relief.
#3 – Communication – “The art of communication is the language of leadership.”
Job Expectations & Job Responsibilities – What are the performance expectations for your team? Does each employee clearly understand their role in the practice? Have every team member write down a detailed list of all 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.
Hello, Good Morning! – Make it a point to greet your fellow team members every morning. Let people know that you see them and acknowledge them with a hello.
Thank you – Express your appreciation. Saying thank you improves your office, your health, and the patient’s experience.
Commendation – Commend your employees when you catch them doing something “right”. Commendation boosts morale. Applaud & reward the behavior and actions that you want to see more of. Simply thanking your team at the end of the day goes a long way in making them feel appreciated. Little surprise treats and gifts every now and then are also much appreciated.
#4 – Know your Numbers – “If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going.” – Maya Angelou
Knowing your practice numbers and doing something with what you know about those numbers is key to growing and improving your practice. Numbers tell a story. Numbers tell you if your practice is healthy or unhealthy.
Get a baseline of where you’re at in order to make a goal for where you want to go. For example,
Overhead – Evaluate your true costs of doing business. What does it cost you per hour to keep the practice running?
Supplies – What is your supply budget vs what you are actually spending?
Payroll – What is your payroll percentage? Are you hygienists producing 3.3 times their salary?
Collections – Are you collecting what you produce and how long is it taking to collect your money?
Adjustments/Write-Offs – Are you closely monitoring your adjustments and write-offs?
Production – What are your hourly, daily, monthly, and yearly restorative and hygiene production goals?
New Patients – How many new patients do you want per month? What are you doing to welcome more new patients each month?
Attrition – How many patients are you losing each month and why?
Treatment Acceptance Vs Diagnosis – How many of your patients are saying yes to your best care? How are you keeping track of your unscheduled treatment plans?
If your numbers reveal unhealthiness be quick to act and get help to restore your practice to health and happiness.
Friends, do you know how many of your active patients have a future appointment and how many do not? Do you know how many new patients you are welcoming into the practice AND how many patients you’re losing each month? To help you get that data quickly, like within minutes – if your PMS is either Dentrix, Eaglesoft, or Open Dental you can request a complimentary, no-obligation practice data snapshot here: Game-Changing Awareness from Dental Intelligence – Within minutes we’ll identify your practice’s strengths and uncover hidden opportunities. I am happy to assist you with this at no charge and with absolutely no obligation to do anything further with me.
#5 – Declutter – “Clutter in your physical surroundings will clutter your mind and spirit.”
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. Along with unnecessary things sitting on treatment room counters. What about your sterilization area? Does it look clean and sterile? Or cluttered and unclean?
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 have 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.
#6 – Stay on Time– “Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.”
If you’re often running behind schedule, investigate the reason(s) why. If you know the why… change whatever it is causing you to stray from the schedule. Running behind schedule sends a message to your patients and your team that you don’t respect their time. Respect your team by sticking to the scheduled work hours. Be sure that they are not habitually working through their lunch or having to work late. They need breaks to refresh and refuel. Give them that. They have a life outside of work and making them work past their scheduled end time is a real drag. I understand that sometimes unexpected events may occur so they might be asked to work late or into a lunch hour but this should be a rare occasion, not a daily or even occurrence.
Arriving at the office with plenty of time before the first scheduled patient, expecting your patients to arrive on time, never wait on hygiene exams, calculate the actual amount of time it takes to do procedures, control the schedules, these things will help you stay on time.
#7 – Show you Care – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” – Theodore Roosevelt
Post-Op Calls – Doctors and Hygienists, call your patients at the end of the day to see how well they are doing. (Tip: Call all patients that received an extraction, perio treatment, difficult procedure, were fearful or new to the office.)
Pre-Op Calls – Doctors and Hygienists start building your relationship with a new patient before they step foot in the practice. Call and give a warm welcome, let them know you are looking forward to meeting them at their appointment. It’s unexpected, takes only a few minutes, and will really make your new patient feel special.
Say My Name – Everyone likes to hear his or her name. Greet your patient’s by name. Use their name during treatment. Thank them by name for coming in or calling.
Memorable Goodbyes– Make a great last impression with a friendly goodbye…be sure to use the patient’s name. Give them something good to talk about.
Thank you’s – Send handwritten thank you cards to your new patients and to your new patient referral sources.
#8 – Reappointments & Reactivation – “Do what matters, now.”
Reappointment – The best way to keep your patients active is to be sure to reappoint them for their next hygiene visit when they are there at the office. Also, help more of your patients say yes to your treatment recommendations and have them reserve their appointment at the time of treatment presentation.
Reactivation – Stay in touch with your unscheduled and/or inactive patients.
#9 – Online Presence – “You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.”
How are you presenting your dental practice, your services, your care, yourself, and your team online? Are you attracting potential new patients or turning them away? Consider briefly these four important areas…
Website – Your website should reflect the culture and personality of the practice and the team. The content should be fresh and relevant. The photos should be attractive and current. Think about this, when people visit your website are you welcoming them with warm and helpful messaging or inadvertently turning them away with poor messaging and unattractive pages?
Social Media – Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogs, Online Community News Pages, YouTube, and more help to build your dental practice. Even if you’re not a fan of social media, please remember that most likely many of your patients and potential patients are using these platforms regularly.
Google My Business – Are you consistently posting fresh content to your Google business page? If not, you should. It’s free, easy to do and people visiting your listing like to see fresh content.
Reviews & Recommendations – Ask your patients to please review your office on Google and recommend you on Facebook. Don’t simply rely on third party companies to do this for you. It’s so simple (& free) to invite your patients to do this for you.
#10 – Training – “There is no way the quality of your patient care and experiences will exceed the quality of the people who provide it.”
Don’t hold back in this area! Investin your team. Thoroughly train any new employees on your practice goals, systems, software, telephone skills, dental procedures, protocols, etc. However, training isn’t just for your new employees, everyone in the office needs regular training.
Is there a chance you might have some new dental equipment or training manuals just sitting on the shelf, collecting dust? It’s most likely because your team didn’t understand or appreciate the why and the how. Knowing why and how this new idea, technique, equipment, or procedure works, benefits the patient, the team, and the office is critical to enthused implementation.
Doctors, 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.
Wishing you all a healthy and happy start to 2021!
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!
Do you enjoy the dental leadership, management, and marketing tips and ideas that I share each month? I would love and truly appreciate (seriously, it would make my day!) for you to please leave a review/recommendation for me here on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK