How to Attract and Cultivate Loyal Dental Patients

How to Attract and Cultivate Loyal Dental Patients

Hello Friends,

Loyal patients, isn’t that what we want? Loyal 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.  Sounds lovely, right?

How do you cultivate loyal dental patients?  It certainly isn’t enough to just bring new patients into the practice. You earn this privilege to serve them not just for a moment but for life.

loyal dental patients patient retention betty hayden consulting

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 and their new dental office, will learn (hopefully quickly) that having loyal patients in your practice is an earned privilege. The aforementioned struggles are greatly reduced or eliminated altogether.

How do you earn this privilege?  Consistently exceed your patients’ expectations.

Here are 12 ways you can do this (in no particular order)…

(1) 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.

(2) Post-Op Calls – Call your patients in the evening to see how well they are doing.

(3) Acknowledge and Reward Referrals  For every patient you must have a referral source, how else will you be able to track what marketing works and what doesn’t? Especially if you want more referrals from your current patients, then reward the behavior that you want to see more of. Acknowledge and Reward your referrals. If you don’t already have a protocol in place, make a plan as soon as possible. Please do me a favor, and avoid sending the same exact thank- you to the same patient every time they refer someone… no “groundhog-day thank you’s”. Change it up!

(4) Sending Cards – Keep Sympathy, Anniversary, Welcome, Congratulations, Thinking of you and Get Well cards on hand to send to your patients. As a team, remain alert to opportunities to surprise your patients with a card.

(5) Answering the Phone – This one is KEY to your success. All of your marketing efforts lead people to the phone first. Don’t waste your money by losing the potential patient or aggravating current patients due to poor telephone skills and habits. Your entire team should be trained on how to properly answer the phone and handle the call.Answering the phone is a privilege and a great opportunity!  SEE How to Effectively Answer the Dental Office Telephone

(6) Stay on Time – If you’re often running behind schedule, investigate as to the reason(s) why. If you know why, change whatever 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. 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, calculating the actual amount of time it takes to do procedures, controlling the schedules, these things will help you stay on time. Avoid working through lunch hours… everyone needs that time to recharge their batteries.

(7) Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your best patient – Communicate your goals, expectations, and vision with your team. Ask for their thoughts and ideas during your team meetings (speaking of meetings, be sure you’re having a daily morning huddle). Reward the behaviors you want to see more of. Be friendly, grateful and respectful even on the days when you don’t want to be. Do not share in or tolerate any negative gossip about team members or patients! Have FUN at work and on occasion, outside of work with employee appreciation events. Remember this, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.”– Simon Sinek

Hire (and keep) only the best employees. “Remember there is no way that the quality of customer service can exceed the quality of the people who provide it.” Liz Tahir

Invest in your team with continuing education courses (ex: TBSE), and training for your computer software, telephone skills, social media sites, dental terminology, protocols, procedures, and technology.

(8) Stay in Touch – Find/Create ways to stay in touch with your patients via telephone calls, continuing care postcards/letters and on your social media sites.  Keep your name in front of them. SEE: Ten Ways to Stay in Touch with your Dental Patients

This includes incomplete treatment & continuing care reminders. Be sure to diligently follow-up on any patients that are due, past-due or have treatment planned but not scheduled. Don’t allow patients to fall through the cracks due to poor systems for follow-up.

(9) Deliver exceptional dental care – Give your patients the best care…always!Really, LISTEN to your patients. Don’t just see and treat “teeth”. Get to know your patients as individuals. Take an interest in them. What are their oral healthcare values & priorities?  What’s in it for them, not you or the office.

Be sure to keep current with dental technology, procedures, and products.

(10) Maintain a safe and clean office – Outside & Inside your office, you want to send a positive message about your care by keeping your office very clean, well maintained and welcoming. SEE Spring Clean Your Dental Office Using Your 5 Senses

(11) Be My Guest – Treat your patients as a guest in your home. From your first patient of the day to your last patient for the day, make them feel welcome.

(12) Honesty –  #1 Be honest with your patients regarding your fees and treatment. The quickest way to lose a patient is by them perceiving they’re being taken advantage of. Clearly, explain the cost to do the treatment and the cost of doing nothing. Estimate as closely as possible the patient’s financial portion for treatment. Some will tell you that you should never quote fees over the phone…I strongly disagree. Why? You’ll lose many of your shopper callers by refusing to answer their request for a quote on a fee. They’re calling because they need/want a particular service. They’re ready! Make it easy for them to choose your office by honestly answering their question. Because you cannot make an actual diagnosis over the phone, it’s impossible to know exactly what their cost will be, give a range of fees and offer for them to come in for a complimentary consultation.

#2 -When you mess up, admit it. No excuses or passing blame. Say you’re sorry and make it right. Consider keeping gift cards on hand to give to your patients when something doesn’t go as planned. (ex: lab case error, scheduling error, etc) Oh, if you find yourself apologizing a lot… see what you can do proactively to minimize future mistakes.

There are no short cuts, if your goal is to grow your practice with patients that are not merely satisfied but are delighted with your service and remain loyal to your practice, you must remain loyal to your goals, your mission, and your promise.

I love hearing your comments and ideas, please continue sharing them with me. Remember, I’m happy to answer any questions and concerns you may have.

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 (bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com) your email address 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!

Yours for Greater Success!

~Betty

P.S. Please stop by and say hello to me on  FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and Pinterest

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Scripting for when your dental patient calls to cancel their cleaning appointment…

Scripting for when your dental patient calls to cancel their cleaning appointment…

Hello Friends,

I OFTEN get asked the question, what should we say when a patient calls to cancel their hygiene appointment?

Today, I’ll share with you some scripting examples for handling calls from patients that want to cancel same-day hygiene appointments.

what do I say when patient calls to cancel their dental hygiene appointment

Please note: this isn’t scripting for perio appointment cancellations. You would use different scripting for those types of appointments.

Scenario #1:

Patient: I’m calling to cancel my appointment for today at 10:00, it’s just for a cleaning.

Admin: NOOOOO!

What do you do? It’s 9:00, how are you supposed to fill that time slot?

Scenario #2:

Patient: I’m calling to cancel my appointment for today at 4:00, it’s just for a cleaning.

Admin: YESSSSS!

What do you do? Celebrate, of course! Now you can get out early.

I’m kidding! We hate cancellations (even the “just a cleaning” ones) at any time of day because they all kill profitability.

So what do you say to the patient when they try to cancel? How do you save the appointment?

You can’t save them all, there are unavoidable, legitimate reasons that some patients are canceling their appointment. For help filling the schedule with those inevitable last-minute cancellations, please see: Ideas to Fill Holes in the Dental Hygiene Schedule

For all others, try this:

Patient: I’m calling to cancel my appointment for today at 10:00, it’s just for a cleaning.

Admin: (with genuine concern) “Oh no! I hope everything is alright. Jenny was really looking forward to seeing you today for your appointment. Is there any way you can make your reservation?” or

“Oh no, Jenny will be so disappointed, she reserved this time just for you, is there any way you can keep your reservation?” or

“Oh no! Thank you for calling, I know Jenny will be concerned, is there anything we can do so that you can be here today?”

or, if you have a broken appointment policy…

Admin: “Oh no! I’d hate for you to have to pay the broken appointment fee, is there any way you can make your reservation with Jenny?”

Now, if the patient is sorry and truly can’t make the appointment and this is the first time they’ve canceled an appointment, say this:

Admin: “I know that Jenny was looking forward to seeing you, I’m sorry that you weren’t able to provide us with 48 hrs notice due to (whatever their reason was) – we’ll go ahead and waive the broken appointment fee this time. Let’s get you rescheduled…”

For patients calling to cancel due to work, try the following…

Patient: I can’t take time off of work, or I have to work…

Admin: “My job is important to me too. We really hate for you to not be able to make your appointment. Is there any way you could have someone cover for you for that time or would it help if we wrote a note to your supervisor?”

STILL NO:

Admin: “We obviously made an appointment for you that isn’t convenient. Since your appointments are important I want to make sure we never do that again. Is there a time we can schedule that you know you will be convenient?”

Document your conversation and that you waived the fee for this time and that the patient is aware next time they’ll be charged.

If the patient refuses to reschedule their appointment…

Admin: “That’s fine, but if I don’t hear back from you, I will call you on ______, how does that sound?” (Follow through on that promise.)

For patients that habitually cancel, I urge you to charge them your broken appointment fee and do not reschedule their appointment.

Admin:  “Mr/Ms (use their name), I can see that you have a really busy schedule and that makes it difficult for you to commit to an appointment time. I thought I was a busy person!
What I recommend is that we place you on our “same day” call list. If we have an unexpected change in our schedule we’ll give you a call. How does that sound?”

Document your conversation! Follow-up accordingly.

Work together as a team to come up with scripting that works for your office. Think of all the different scenarios and reasons patients call to cancel (cost, illness, no babysitter, schedule conflicts, etc.) and role-play the best responses. Your goal should be, if appropriate, respectfully help the patient find a way to keep the appointment as scheduled without threatening or embarrassing them.

If you have created this cancellation monster, it will take some time to re-train your team and your patients. How do we train our patients that it’s ok to cancel last-minute?

  • Not creating true value for the appointment through patient education.
  • Constantly rescheduling patients appointments because of some change to the provider’s schedule.
  • Not respecting the patients time by running behind and not giving the very best experience from start to finish.
  • Telling the patient, no problem or that it’s OK when they call to cancel.
  • Poor and inconsistent appointment reminder systems and protocols.
  • Not acknowledging no-shows with a telephone call 5 minutes after their scheduled appointment time and with a follow-up letter/text/email.

Sadly, I have heard many offices tell the patients, no problem when they call to cancel. They don’t even attempt to reschedule. They just say OK and hang up. I’m not joking. This really happens.

Ultimately, preventing cancellations starts with creating value for the appointment before it’s even scheduled… it’s never “just a cleaning” that they are trying to cancel.

Create a strong hygiene continuing care protocol for your team and consistently follow it.

If your office needs help in creating a protocol for how to track hygiene continuing care reports/numbers, appointment scripting, patient correspondence, etc. please contact me today for a complimentary consultation at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com

Are you receiving my free dental marketing and practice management ideas every month to your inbox? If not, PLEASE take a second and follow today or send me your email address 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!

Yours for Greater Success!

~Betty

P.S. Please stop by and say hello to me on  FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and Pinterest

 

Dental Marketing and Practice Management Ideas for July 2016

Dental Marketing and Practice Management Ideas for July 2016

Hello Friends,

Take time now to make plans to start your third quarter off strong. Discuss with your team the plans to reach your production, collection, new patient and marketing goals. Encourage them to share any thoughts or ideas on how you can work to make the third quarter your best yet. Here’s a fun idea…July is National Grilling Month – Why not have a BBQ themed lunch with the team to discuss your marketing plans? Remember to include plans on how to fill and keep the schedule full for August and September as they are typically slower months for some offices.

Doctors, if you don’t already know, I strongly urge you to be aware of your office numbers. Know what’s going on with your patient and insurance aging reports, your daily patient collections, your new patient #’s, referral sources, hygiene continuing care reports, incomplete treatment reports and what internal & external marketing is working and what needs to be eliminated. Don’t leave these things to chance or assume they’re healthy numbers or maybe even beyond repair.

Would you like a few ideas to boost production, collection and new patient numbers? I’ll share with you a couple of ideas to do just that as well as exceed your current patients’ expectations.

dental-marketing-ideas-for-july

July is National Ice Cream Month! Your product/service feature is Desensitizing agents to treat tooth sensitivity. Your give-away treat is free ice cream.

Yes, I’ve shared this one in the past but I’m sharing it again because it is so easy and effective not to mention, delicious.

Why is it so effective? Research finds that 1 in 8 Americans suffer from sensitive teeth. It’s safe to say that many of your patients may be suffering from tooth sensitivity or they know someone who does.

How is it easy? It’s a marketing plan that requires little time, no extra cost and will boost production and exceed your patients (and potential patients) expectations!

How will offering free ice cream not incur any extra cost to you? You simply visit your local ice cream shop and ask them to donate some free ice cream cone certificates. In return, you’ll be advertising for them on your social media site and in the office. Your patients, when they come in for a visit can enter a drawing to win a free ice cream courtesy of “local ice cream shop”. Depending how many free ice cream cone certificates you get donated you can draw one or two names each week for a free ice cream cone.

Now you may not have many of your patients speaking up to say they’re suffering from tooth sensitivity when they eat cold treats or drink cold beverages.

This is what you do, during the month of July have your team members wear buttons that say: Eating Ice Cream Shouldn’t Hurt

Your patients are sure to ask questions about the buttons. What an easy way to open up a discussion about tooth sensitivity.

If you would like further ideas on how to implement the Ice Cream/Tooth Sensitivity campaign such as how to handle patients that are concerned about insurance coverage and fees for desensitizing agents and ways to advertise this campaign or perhaps would prefer a different marketing campaign for the month, please contact me today at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com.

Here are 3 more ways to help your patients & team smile in July!

July 6,World Kiss Day ~ Blog & Social Media Opportunity (bad breath & kissing, periodontal disease & kissing…eeeww!)

July 7, Chocolate Day ~ I’m sure your team would welcome a surprise chocolately treat.

July 17th – 23rd Everybody Deserves A Massage Week: 

Team up with a local massage therapist for a little cross marketing – have him/her donate a free massage that your patients can enter a drawing to win.

Hope you enjoy these ideas and have a wonderful start to your third quarter!

If you have any other thoughts or ideas please feel free to comment below. Should you need any help with your July marketing campaign, please email Betty: bhaydenconsulting@gmail.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. This way, you won’t miss a single idea! PLEASE, feel free to share my blog with your colleagues. 

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty

P.S. Please stop by and say hello to me on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn andPinterest

 

 

Tips to Improve your Dental Office Part 4 ~ Happy Team

Hello Friends,

The key to successfully improving your dental practice, reaching your goals and having loyal and happy patients is to have a loyal and happy team. For some, this can be quite challenging.

I want to help. I’m going to share with you tips on how to have a Happy Team and in turn, Improve Your Office.

Before I get started, did you catch Tips to Improve your Dental Office Parts 1, 2 and 3? If not, here they are; First Impressions,  Make a Change and The Little Things. (BTW: Sign up to receive my complimentary dental marketing and practice management ideas and tips each month right to your email inbox…this way, you won’t miss a single FREE idea!)

When people feel valued, appreciated, heard, supported, acknowledged and included, they are motivated to bring their best selves forward. ~ Betsy Myers

Isn’t that the truth? I know it’s that way for me. I’m sure your team would respond the same way. Give it a try with these tips and ideas…

how to have a happy dental team

Commendation This one is easy. Commend your employees when you catch them doing something “right”. Commendation boosts morale. Commend & 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. Thank them for going the extra mile to help a patient out, or for the day running smoothly, or for always getting to work on time.

Communication   Job descriptions and expectations must be clearly defined.  Team Meetings/Morning Huddles are essential for a happy and smooth work day. Visit here for some tips on how you can have a successful morning huddle. Address quickly any needed discipline or correction, don’t wait for a staff meeting to address these problems. Instead, meet one on one with the offender.

Avoid office negativity, it’s toxic and will infect your team – Rather, focus on and share positive experiences.

Your team must know the why, what and how. They may know the what and the how but not the why, often times, this is why employees are there just to collect a paycheck. Talk about what you believe and attract those who believe what you believe. People buy the why not the what.

Training Don’t hold back in this area! Invest in your team. Thoroughly train any new employees on your practice goals, systems, software, telephone skills, dental procedures, protocols, etc.   Follow through on goals and changes. Training isn’t just for your new employees, everyone in the office needs regular training. Which leads me to the next point…

Continuing Education Continuing education, not just for the doctor or hygienist but the entire team is a wonderful way to ensure practice growth. Not to mention, it’s a great team-building experience, one that will give you a happier and motivated team. Think about this, your administrative team is the first and last impression made on each and every one of your patients. This includes potential patients that call your office. Certainly, you want to have the very best training and education for not only your clinical team but your administrative team too. You can do this with in-office training, webinars, lunch and learn, and seminars/classes outside the office.( For example, Ever hear of TBSE? Check this seminar out if you really want to boost your team: TBSE -The Best Seminar Ever.)

If you’re still unsure about the true value of continuing education for your entire team, consider the following scenario… You the doctor, come back from a dental seminar all fired up to implement some new ideas, protocol or the use of a new/improved dental procedure or cool piece of dental equipment. Only to find that your team is less than enthused, maybe a little angry that they cannot possibly add one more thing to their already too busy day. Besides, the way they do things is how they always have and it’s working out just fine… Sound familiar? Is there a chance you might have some new dental equipment or training manuals just sitting on the shelf, begging to be used? I hope not. However, if this or something similar has happened to you, it’s because your team didn’t understand the why and the how. Knowing why and how this new idea, technique, equipment or procedure works, benefits the patient and the office as a whole. Critical to its success and yours.

Example – Lead by example.  Treat your employees how you would like them to treat your best patient! If you want to see positive change in your practice, you must consistently lead by example. It starts at the top.

Have Fun! – Have more fun in your office with Team Building Activities and Events

In Office Fun: Potluck lunch, Ice Cream Truck, Carry out lunch (team choice), Craft, Games, Puzzles, Book club and Brainstorm sessions with prizes for ideas. (Purchase a Team Building Activity book such as:  Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers: 50 Exercises That Get Results in Just 15 Minutes)

These articles have some really good ideas for team building activities: Six Quick Teamwork Games to Engage Employees at Work and this one: When I work – Team Building Games

Outside the office Fun: Bowling, Paint a Canvas, Shopping, Dinner, Cooking Class, Wally Ball, Baseball Game, Spa, Escape Room, Field Day (Team up with other offices), Concert, Skating, Batting Cages, Mini Golf, Pottery Class, Theater, Community Events, Volunteering at a local charity, Nature hike/walk, Etc.

Tips to get you started:

  • Positive Gossip Only! Entire team agrees to stop gossip. Refuse to listen. Rather, encourage the person to go directly to the other person they have an issue or complaint about. Unless of course, they can let it go and move on.
  • Why are you here? What are you doing? Do you know? What about your team? Knowing why you show up every morning will help to create a culture of happiness and excellence.
  • Book Club – Start a book club with your team. Purchase a great team building book and share paragraphs or chapters at your team meetings. There are so many wonderful team building books out there. Below you will find a list of some of the ones that I have read. (Also, short team building video clips might be helpful to share at a morning huddle or team meeting. One of my absolute favorites is the FISH! Philosophy)
  • Little Surprises – Write a thank you or I appreciate you note and stick it on an employee’s computer screen. In the morning, bring in donuts and coffee.  In the afternoon when everyone is feeling sluggish, bring in a refreshing drink or treat. If possible, have everyone step outside for a few minutes of fresh air.

It is my wish that these ideas and tips will help you and your team experience greater happiness at work. If you have any other team building ideas or things that have worked well in your office, I would love to hear about them. If you have any questions or concerns about the things you’ve read today, please ask me at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.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. This way, you won’t miss a single idea!

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty

P.S. Please stop by and say hello to me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest

P.P.S. Team Building Book Suggestions: Move Your Bus; Fun Is Good; The Energy Bus (ALL books by Jon Gordon); Our Iceberg is Melting; Who Moved my Cheese?; FISH!; Full Steam Ahead; Million Dollar Dentistry; Be Our Guest; …more added soon.