Written by Joseph Havill, DMD Tuesday, 30 April 2002 19:00
THE CHAIN OF SUCCESS
Link No. 1: Productive Scheduling—The Telephone
The primary objective for the person answering the telephone is to schedule the patient. A pleasant phone voice is a must. This contact is usually the very first impression the patient has of the practice. You want to make a good one! When talking on the phone, smile into the phone. You want the person at the other end to feel welcome. If you have a negative tone, the patient might schedule, but may think again about the appointment and not show up at all.
Link No. 2: Reception
It is important that you extend every effort to make the patient feel comfortable and at ease in the reception area. Here are three important points:
Link No. 3: New Patient Exam
Regardless of who orchestrates the new patient exam, his role is that of liaison between the new patient and the doctor. If you use a patient coordinator, he assists the doctor with the new patient exams by gathering all the information needed in order to diagnose by building a rapport with the patient, by promoting the practice and the doctor, and by assisting in selling the dentistry the patient needs. The exam process begins by building rapport with the patient, ie, talking about where they live or work, how they heard about your practice, etc. The next step is reviewing the medical history that the patient has completed. If there are any medical problems, the patient coordinator needs to alert the doctor during the exam.
Link No. 4: Treatment Presentation
When presenting treatment, the doctor should summarize the treatment plan—especially after the “guided tour”—and explain the treatment to the patient. However, the patient coordinator (if used) should explain the details because the doctor can be too technical with explanations concerning needed treatment. This approach allows the doctor to continue producing in other areas in the practice. Visual aids, a hand mirror, and the intraoral camera at this juncture of the appointment are very important. The patient must completely understand the treatment that the doctor proposes. A confused patient will not accept treatment. The patient needs to understand:
- what the problems are
- what it is going to take to fix the problems, and
- what will happen if the problems are not fixed.
This is absolutely critical. The patient needs to be so involved in the process that he feels as if the treatment plan was at least in part his idea. At this point, the doctor or patient coordinator is to be directive, but at the same time let the patient feel in control.
Link No. 5: Financial Presentation
Financial arrangements should be presented in an area where the patient is most comfortable, either at the chair or in the business office/consultation room. Most people are not comfortable discussing their financial condition where the rest of the office can hear. Always be conscious of the patient’s attitude. Try to make sure the patient is at ease. Watch the patient’s body language, and if the patient is in a negative posture, attempt to eliminate any barriers before proceeding with financial arrangements.
Link No. 6: Technical Expertise
Patients deserve quality, efficient, and speedy treatment. Further, the doctor must be certain that he is proficient in delivering most, if not all, the general dentistry procedures needed by the patient. Obviously, the doctor must be able to prepare teeth for veneers in order to be able to treatment plan veneers or any of the plethora of new sophisticated techniques and procedures not taught in dental schools: if you can’t do it, you can’t treatment plan for it. This includes many of the specialty areas, eg, endodontics and orthodontics. Technical training is a must in today’s practice if you are to provide your patients with advanced aesthetic and reconstructive dentistry.
Link No. 7: Marketing and Producing Missionaries
We made marketing a “link” in the Chain of Success as it is an ongoing, conscious, planned effort to build your practice by providing outstanding services in a comfortable, friendly environment and asking your existing patients to refer others to your practice. Consumers not only want convenience, but also quality in services they receive. You want to make the patient feel good about spending time and money at your office, and having visits that are happy, rewarding experiences. You especially want them to refer other people to your practice. One of the most basic and effective marketing techniques to stimulate practice growth is simply asking your existing patients for referrals. This can be done at any time during the patient’s visits, but it is probably most effective when treatment is completed, the patient is happy with the results, and truly is in a mood to “tell the world.”
Link No. 8: Retention
MARKETING SUCCESS WITH THE CHAIN OF SUCCESS
The key to a successful practice is to be absolutely certain that each link in your practice’s Chain of Success is strong. One weak link will undermine all the rest. The fabric weaving those links together is your internal marketing techniques.
Dr. Havill is part-owner of Dental SolutionsNOW, a company dedicated to providing dentists with timely information to increase practice income. Dr. Havill is a dental practice management consultant in Louisville, Ky, and has been involved in all areas of dentistry, including general practice, consulting, and practice management. In 1989 Dr. Havill and Dr. Jerry Mayes collaborated to develop the Dentistry 2000 Total Operating System, which has been successfully implemented in dental practices nationally. Dr. Havill can be contacted at (502) 245-3991. For additional information about Dental SolutionsNOW, visit www.Dental SolutionsNOW.com.
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