How to Get "Yes" Instead of "I'll Think
If I were to ask you, the doctor, what is the one thing (I know there may be several) that you would improve in your practice, what would it be? And if I asked your Schedule Coordinator the same question, what you think that she would say? You may find that the answer would be the same - “I want patients to schedule their next appointment with the doctor!”
This is quite a concept, because in many cases, we are expecting the patient to “eat the whole elephant” - when in reality, we would be thrilled if they took the first bite.
Let's review this scenario:
A new patient calls in to “get their teeth cleaned.” The patient was referred to you by an existing patient that loves you and your team. She indicates on the phone that she has no chief complaints or concerns. She just wants to change dentists. During your charting of existing restorations (which I suggest that you do opposed to your assistant or hygienist, because it allows you to build trust and rapport with the patient), this is what you observe and call out to your assistant or hygienist so that the patient can also hear.
Etc. You see the picture. Praise them when something is nice or doesn’t need treatment. Speak on a 3rd grade level so they understand what you are saying and can “co-diagnose” with you. The patient understands words such as “old, cracked, cavities, silver, mercury, tooth-colored,” etc. They don’t understand “lesions, decay, alloy, amalgam, composite, PFM,” etc. Your “dental-ese” dialogue will sell no dentistry for you. It will cause the patient to ask your assistant or hygienist exactly what it was that you just said!
OK so you have charted existing restorations for your new patient, and amazingly enough, she has some dental needs, even though nothing is hurting.
#4 Needs to have the old silver filling replaced due to a cavity - tooth-colored MOD filling
At this point, the patient is hearing what you are saying and has an idea that she has some cavities, and a cracked tooth. Let’s estimate that this treatment plan is valued at $2,500. You may be thinking that this is not a large treatment plan and the patient will easily accept this. What you may not recall is that she indicated that “nothing is hurting” and “she just wants to get her teeth cleaned.”
The Treatment Plan Presentation
If all clinical concerns are equal, which tooth would you start with in her treatment plan? Why? When I ask the doctor and the team this very question with the same scenario, I receive many different answers, and they are all correct. However, let’s think about it from a marketing standpoint. Where is the easiest and least painful area to give an injection? Upper? And which of the upper teeth is the easiest to say “yes” to from a financial standpoint? #4 - that is where I would start.
“Mrs. Jones, as you heard and as we have discussed, you have dental needs in all 4 quadrants (areas) of your mouth. With your permission, I would like to start on the upper right side with the tooth-colored filling. When you return, we will decide where you would like to go from there. How does that sound? Do you have any specific questions about my findings and what we have discussed? Are you ready to get started?”
Most of you do not like to probe the patients to see if they have questions. I think it is because you are afraid that they will! It is much better to answer their questions clinically so they are knowledgeable about what they need, as opposed to asking several questions to the Schedule Coordinator, who was not in the treatment room when you presented to the patient.
Your Schedule Coordinator will ask her how her visit was, maybe thank her again for coming to see you, and then ask her if 10am on Tuesday will be convenient for her. She does NOT ask, “Would you like to schedule this now?” We always assume that the answer is “yes” until the patient says “no.” The financial arrangements are made for this upcoming visit and the patient is dismissed. We have a “yes!” We’ve achieved our goal.
If the Schedule Coordinator had presented the $2,500 treatment plan - even though she may have said that the patient can work through it in phases - all the patient might have heard is $2,500 and she only wanted their teeth cleaned.
Let’s just get to “yes!”
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