It’s not magic. It’s training.
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So you’ve got a great dental clinic, great doctors, a great hygiene team, and great support staff. But you’re just not scheduling as many new patients as you’d like. You’re scratching your head. Every patient you see says they love you. What’s up?
A couple of things…
You’re not using direct mail. Not to sound self-serving, but mail is the only way to reach 100% of your market area and it’s the number-one driver of practice visibility and overall new-patient growth for most dentists. Direct mail grabs “mind share,” and the practice with the most, wins the most.
You’re not pumping patient reviews. These days your reviews have to be plenty, positive, and recent.
You’re not answering patient calls live – or with enthusiasm.
Let’s focus on #3. Call handling.
On average, one new patient contributes $2,000 in first-year production. This value is often close to double that of an active patient which is why a steady flow of new patients will stabilize and boost production. To ensure practice revenue stays consistent, new patients must beat lost-patient production each month. For growth, new-patient conversion must outstrip attrition by a good margin.
Pre-pandemic, there was a basic industry average that a practice needed 50 new patients per month per doctor. Adding 600 new patients per year is a pretty good pace for an average clinic, but you’ll want to review your metrics to see if that number has changed now that many patients have lapsed and new-patient acquisition efforts were hit and miss over the past two years. Remember practice valuation is based on tangible and intangible activity and production growth.
With so much on the line then, in terms of revenue, practice security, and valuation, isn’t a focus on call handling – and training your receptionist to not only to delight new-patient callers, but to also be skilled in building trust and belief in your services, skilled in call control and obtaining new appointments, and at a strong pace – one of the most critical areas to ensure practice stability, security, and growth?
As stated, you can have a great clinic and a great doctor, but when a new patient calls and the person answering the phone sounds ho-hum … put yourself in the consumer role… Would you want to schedule?
We can help you with Phone Power telephone training. Its included with your Practice ZEBRA.
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Patients have choice. They need to hear gratitude when they call your practice. They need enthusiasm about the great choice they’ve made, and they great care they will receive. This is one of the most important patient touchpoints in the patient journey.
As with everything, it’s often not WHAT you say but HOW you say it. If the call handler sounds miserable, why would a new patient think your practice is great place to go?
Consider your own recent experiences as a consumer. Especially in a digital world, should your phone call ever be taken lightly? When you phone a new business, there’s a good chance it will be your first live experience with that business, and what happens on that phone call will make or break your decision to work with that company.
For example, if it takes too many rings before your call is answered, you might hang up, think there is something wrong with the business, that it’s disorganized or out-of-business. If voicemail answers at a company you haven’t worked with before, and you’re like most new clients, you’re unlikely to leave a message.
Being a receptionist in a dental practice isn’t easy with so many distractions and competing priorities: doctors, staff, patients, supplies, vendors, insurance processing, walk-ins, check-ins, check-outs, and … the phone. Without knowledge of new-patient value, behavior, and expectations, without training, reward, or understanding which calls matter, many new-patient calls are either missed, mismanaged, or viewed as more work.
I asked our Account Managers for feedback on this topic. Universally they all responded that the dental offices with the best marketing and new-patient results make call handling a priority. They work the phones. They train. They roll play. They rehearse. They study and know practice benefits. They are enthusiastic about their dentists. They take calls from anywhere and everywhere, in the car driving to and from the office, at home, on weekends; they simply don’t miss a call. I remember when one of our favorite clients was first introduced to Practice ZEBRA, she said, “When I saw that top practices answer over 90% of calls, I said, we can do that.” And with that, she got to work on her team and boosted her answer rates – which automatically boosts new-patient bookings!
And when these successful practices answer calls, they sound upbeat and eager on every call and promote the benefits of the practice and offer suggestions to overcome objections, like explaining a membership program or offering up a free consultation appointment. And they use our magic trick to book more new patients – once they get the first patient scheduled, they ask the magic question to increase from 1 new patient to multiple: “While I have you, do you have any other family members who also need a dental appointment? I can schedule them today too!” Implement that tactic. You’ll be amazed!
We’ve listened to and scored thousands of dental calls, and when the team that answers the phone shares their dedication to the doctors and is eager to share this good news, they book more new patients. You can literally hear it when a staff member loves their job and has the best interest of the doctor and practice and patients at heart. It shines through over the phone.
Right now, many offices are facing staffing challenges and using new and temporary staff to answer phones. These folks still need to be trained because you’re literally handing them $2,000 of potential practice production to play with every time they answer a new-patient call. Phone Power telephone training is included with your Practice ZEBRA subscription. Use it to help and support the team that is there to help and support your practice.
How your new-patient calls are handled sets the stage for a superior experience with your practice. Not only is it very professional and personalized, as a result, patients feel appreciated, valued, and are more likely to book with your practice.
The benefits of focusing on this single activity in your practice are astronomical. As I mentioned, the average new patient contributes almost $2,000 to production – using the same overhead you are already paying for – so missing just 1 new patient conversion per day, 5 per week, 20 per month … quickly adds up to losing out on half a million in production a year. And the majority of those dollars go straight to the bottom line because you’re not adding operatories or more staff to take on one more new patient a day.
Seriously. Do the math for your practice. Your average new-patient value is on your Practice ZEBRA dashboard. If you haven’t pulled your ZebraBite Benchmark report yet this year, do it. All of this data and your trends are there.
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