3 Shocking Things Dental Offices Still Aren’t Doing
With 2016 on horizon, many offices are looking back on what went well, what didn’t go well, or maybe asking what the hell happened in 2015.
In an effort to kick 2016 off on the right foot I’ve created a quick list of items that offices can start doing today with little to no money that are guaranteed to make a huge impact on businesses.
1. A formalized referral program
Before we get into the “In my state we can’t give…blah blah blah,” let me just give away the ending: The success of referral programs has nothing to do with the offer itself. The biggest problem that I see is consistency. 99% of the time, offices are just not asking.
Most management companies would like to see at least 50% of your new patients coming from internal initiatives. So, why don’t offices do this? Simple: it’s awkward and horrible.
So here’s what you do. Create an ideal patient profile. Maybe they’re a fee-for-service patient, doing sedation and implants. Whatever. Every morning look at the schedule and see who fits the profile (or close enough). Those patients don’t leave the building without asking for a referral.
Here’s a simple, acceptably-awkward script you can use:
“Mr. Johnson, I wish we saw patients just like you all day long. Now, I know you’ve been spreading the word and it means the world to us. Can you do me a favor? When you send people to us, can you have them let us know that it was you that sent them? It’s my worst nightmare that I won’t know how they found us it and I wouldn’t be able to thank you next time I see you.”
At the end of the day, everyone wants to be known for influence and they want to be appreciated.
Constancy and authenticity will create an unstoppable program for you.
2. A reactivation campaign that works
Dear patient so-and-so…our records indicate that you’re overdue for….. [they stop reading at this point].
How the hell did this become the industry standard? When you’re communicating with people there are basically three ways to address them: parent, adult and child. This type of letter jams everybody into the parent/child ego state. Why is this a problem? You are communicating with adults!
Your finger-wagging letter will only leave you scratching your head. Here’s what you do. You find a reason to celebrate. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you launch a new website. Make a big deal out it! Use the launch as the reason for you reaching out. Now, pay close attention, it’s not difficult to make this work, but you need to be authentic in your excitement and understanding that your loyal patients are the only reason you’re growing.
“Greetings Ms. Jones! We’re taking a minute to thank all of our patients for helping us grow and better serve our community. The relationships we’ve built over the years mean everything to us. We’re launching our new website this week and we’d love you to take a look and help us celebrate our community. As a thank you, please accept a credit of X (or a gift of Y) when you come in to see us this month.”
It doesn’t have to be a website. Paint a wall and tell people to check out your ‘new-look.” Hell, go on Facebook and have people vote on the color! Hey, that’s a good idea.
The point it, focus on relationship. If they haven’t been to the dentist in a while, trust me, they know.
3. Be an advocate for the work
This one is a little less straight forward, but bear with me. The toughest part about relationships with patients is they have very little ability to appreciate the dental work itself. With the exception of obvious cosmetic work, they can’t participate in satisfaction of a perfect margin or a clean extraction.
You don’t need to over-educate, but you need to allow for participation. Doctors, focus on the work, and teams focus on the doctor. When things go well, say something. Brag, brag, brag about your doctor.
This should be happening at all phases of the visit.
Before: “Ms. Smith, I saw you on the schedule this morning and you are in the right place!”
During: “Doctor, that is beautiful!” It doesn’t matter what it is. You are the expert and if it caught your eye, the doc must be hitting a home run.
After: “Oh my gosh I just love it, a healthy smile just makes my day.” You just told the patient that they look good and they’re better off having been there.
These tips are not difficult, but they take effort. You do it long enough and it will become second nature. We can’t have positive change go out the window on the first stressful day.