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

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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

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Ten Tips to Increase Teeth Whitening Acceptance

Ten Tips to Increase Teeth Whitening Acceptance

Hello Friends,

Many of your patients are thinking about all of the pictures that they will be smiling for at their end of the year office parties and family dinners. Help them get their smiles camera-ready with teeth whitening. Beautiful bright, white teeth for Winter. “Smiles as White as Snow”

Ever wonder why it is that some offices have a lot of success with teeth whitening sales and other offices not so much?

Here’s why…. No whitening system or whitening goals will ever be reached or work if the entire team isn’t on board with it and actually consistently offering it.

Dental Services, Teeth Whitening, Dental Marketing

Here are 10 Tips to Help Make Teeth Whitening a Successful Service in your Office…

Step One: 
White Teeth for Doctor(s) and Team Members –
Complimentary whitening trays for each & every team member. They need to have a beautiful white smile and an experience to share with your patients.

Step Two:
Take a Shade –
Let your patient know that you’re going to start the appointment by taking a shade match of their current tooth color for your records. You can show them where they are on the shade guide. This very often leads your patient to ask you about teeth whitening and other cosmetic treatment options.

Step Three: 
In office Messaging
In addition to being ENTHUSIASTIC when talking to your patients about the teeth whitening services you offer…Team members can wear buttons and/or have a nice 5×7 framed sign in each treatment room at patient’s eye level offering teeth whitening…

Get a Whiter, Brighter Smile with
Teeth Whitening!

Whiten yellow teeth & virtually eliminate
tobacco, coffee & tea stains!
Ask us how

Step Four:
Scheduling –
When scheduling hygiene appointments over the phone include these powerful words:
Would you also like to whiten your teeth at this appointment?

Step Five:
Listen to your patients –
What are they telling you about upcoming events in their lives? Wedding? Job Hunting? Recently Single? Holiday time? Special Events? Vacation? Class Reunion?
What a great time to ask if they would like to have a bright, white smile for their special event, job interview, etc.

Step Six:
External Marketing –
Include offers for teeth whitening and patient teeth whitening success stories with your… Newsletters, Postcards, Social Media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc) Website and Blog Posts. 
Video testimonials are a powerful marketing tool for your social media platforms.

Step Seven:
Tracking –
Be sure to set up computer reminders to call, text, email or send a postcard to your patients that have purchased teeth whitening trays around the time when they will be due for a refill.

Step Eight:
GOALS
Set a monthly whitening goal! Talk about daily goals at morning meetings. Consider offering a team bonus or incentive for every whitening case.

Step Nine:
Use only the BEST teeth whitening products and techniques!
Quality matters. As does comfort! Make this appointment as comfortable & sensitivity-free  as possible for your patients. 

Step Ten:
Buy sunglasses –
Because your office is going to be filled with such bright smiles you’ll need to wear shades!

Bonus Tips:

#1 – Offer a fun promotion in the community to local businesses. A drawing to win Free Take-home Teeth whitening trays to one or more people. Offer this at local salons, restaurants and schools.

#2 – BOGO Special Offer – Buy One, Get One 50% Off Teeth Whitening. This special offer increases your opportunity to bring in new patients. 

#3 – Make it convenient for your patients to say yes. Your patients are busy, assure them that this appointment will be quick. It’s helpful for all your team members to be cross-trained to take impressions and make trays.

#4 – Teeth Whitening makes a Great Gift! Make gift giving easy for your patients by suggesting that teeth whitening makes the perfect gift! Have Gift Certificates ready for purchase. See Dental Gift Certificates

I’m certain that if each step is followed closely and consistently you will see success with your teeth whitening goals.

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 and I will send you an invitation to follow my blog.

Feel free to tell your dental friends all about us so they can start benefiting from these dental ideas too. If you liked these ideas, please let me know by hitting the “like” button. Thank you!!!

Yours for Greater Success,
~
Betty

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Dental Marketing Ideas for September

Hello Friends,

September is the last month (opportunity) for you to have the best third quarter ever. Yet, many dental offices say that this is typically a slower month for them. If that is true for your office or if you just want to spice things up for September, here are some dental marketing and practice management ideas for you.

dental marketing ideas for september from betty hayden consulting

Focus: Parents – Now that their kids are back in school, it’s time for dads and moms to pamper themselves with a dental visit.

Look at your schedule for September, find any days that have a few holes in them and declare them “special days for parents”.

Reach out to all of your parents with incomplete treatment plans or that are past-due in hygiene. Invite them to come in on this “special day” for their dental visit.

Offer Incentives: $ off Ortho, Free Adult fluoride w/hygiene visit, Teeth Whitening Specials, % off treatment, etc. This could be a one day only event or you could feature a different service each day for a week. (Food & beverage is also a nice incentive 😉 )

Gift ideas: Pampering gift bag – lotion, toothbrush, lip balm, chocolate, etc. Include informational handout about the links between oral health & overall health in women & men.

You could easily team up with local businesses for some cross marketing. Salons, Massage therapists, Restaurants, etc. may be more than willing to donate gift cards that you can use in a drawing or include in a gift basket that your patients can enter to win.

Here are  4 more ways to Help your Team and Patients Smile in September!

Random Acts of Kindness Day or Be Kind Day: 1 Do something special for your team today and/or something unexpected for your patients. If you’re going to do something nice for your patients, get your entire team involved by asking for their ideas.

National Clean Hands Week: 18-24 – Give-Away for your patients during this week: Small imprinted bottles of hand sanitizer.

World Alzheimer’s Month  – Use this as an opportunity to educate your patients and the community about the importance of dental health care for Alzheimer’s patients in helping to keep them comfortable and healthy.

National Courtesy MonthThis is a great opportunity to remind your patients that: “As a courtesy to our patients we remind you of your dental reservation 1-2 days prior. We kindly request that you try to keep your dental appointments as scheduled. If you do require a scheduling change please notify us with at least a 24 hours notice of your appointment date. Thank you!”

So there you have it, some fun marketing ideas for the month of September. If you liked these ideas and plan to use some of them, PLEASE let me know. I love to hear your comments and ideas.

If you would like me to work with your office to create a custom marketing campaign for the month of September,  please contact me today at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com

Looking ahead to October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Apple Month, Candy Buy Back and more! Oh, and don’t forget, October starts your final quarter so start now figuring out your production, collection and new patient goals for October, November & December. Remember to include your entire team in your plans!

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As always, I wish you all a fantastic & productive month!

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty