Think’ vs. ‘I Know’
Add up the Difference
I want you to stop thinking
about your practice. That may sound like a tall order, but when
you go home at the end of the day I don’t want you to be saying
to yourself “I think we had some problems with the schedule.”
Or “I think collections have been good lately.” Or “I
think the Baker family was in here within the last year.”
Dentists think about their practices all
the time - wondering about this system or that situation.
not enough dentists really know what is happening, and
the difference between “I think”
“I know” is usually several thousand dollars in practice
revenues. Take patient retention, often doctors are oblivious to
a patient retention problem for months before it manifests itself
in serious scheduling/revenue troubles. The typical line is “Well,
I’m busy so I think we’re doing ok.”
But you’re not thinking about the fact that there are so many
inactive charts the staff has to move them out of the microwave
before they warm up their lunch and shove them along the walls so
no one trips over them in the hallway, but hey you’re busy
... or so you think.
Patients slip away quietly, taking their spouse, significant other,
children, and sometimes friends with them. Seldom is there any fanfare
in their departure just a sudden realization one day that you haven’t
seen so and so for a very long time, or you run into Mrs. Such and
Such in the grocery store and after some small talk you realize
that you cannot remember the last time you saw her in the chair.
It’s time to get to know patient retention in your
practice. Answer the following questions.
many inactive patient records are hidden away somewhere?
Have you increased hygiene days per week in the last year?
Is your hygienist’s salary more than 33% of what she/he
If the number of inactive charts is enough to open a second practice
or if you answered yes to question two or three, you have patient
retention issues. So what can you do right now to stop the patient
exodus? First, get out of the “routine” mindset.
and their teams see patients day after day. You perform dentistry
well, but it can become routine. You may be an excellent clinician
but today’s “high expectation” patients want to
feel they are more than just a routine patient
otherwise you quickly become just another routine dentist.
that make even a minimal effort to take the ordinary appointment
and offer a bit of extraordinary service and patient attention see
a very real impact on the value patients place on returning to the
practice. For starters, try these simple strategies today and watch
how well your patients respond
1. Show appreciation. Don’t assume patients
know you value their trust in your practice. Tell Them! Tell them
verbally, tell them in writing, it doesn’t really matter how,
just do it.
2. Encourage patients to ask questions and answer
3. Anticipate needs and concerns and address them.
If the patient appears to be cold give them a blanket or sweatshirt
before they start shivering.
4. Be considerate of the patient’s time.
If the doctor is running 30-45 minutes behind schedule let the patient
5. Make sure the patient feels they are your number
one priority when they are in the chair. Discourage staff and personal
interruptions that are not absolutely necessary.
6. Follow-up with the patient. This is absolutely
the cheapest most effective patient retention protocol you can implement.
Nothing says “I care” more than a personal phone call
from the doctor to the patient.
week reactivate those piles of patient records
and reconnect with patients who never really wanted to leave your
practice in the first place.
you have any questions or comments, please email Sally McKenzie
in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club?
YOU FIND YOURSELF WAIST DEEP IN
HERE TO ANSWER THESE
10 EASY QUESTIONS
to improve management techniques through your technology platform
VP Professional Relations
Last week, [see
article], I discussed insurance estimation and why many of you
struggle with keeping it clean and accurate. It is my hope that
you are well on your way to providing a faster more enjoyable experience
for both you and your patients when it comes to the business reality
of dealing with insurance processing.
This week I want to respond to two emails I received from e-Motivator
readers. The topic this
is hygiene recall. Both questions had similar themes.
They came from business administrative staff who were unsure of
how to “set up” their system to do whatever it is the
doctor wanted them to do. In both cases, we discovered there was
no overall “game plan”. So, they were
When dental offices call me to discuss their particular practice
goals, objectives, and challenges, about half of them don’t
have a game plan for their recall system. Today’s installment
is about how to establish that game plan.
What you want to happen
This seems to be a big hang-up in most offices. Below is an example
game plan. If you don’t have a written game plan, how is the
person responsible supposed to follow through? The following isn’t
necessarily our recommended perfect game plan for your office -
just one to use as a reference. Even if you just
document your existing recall game-plan, you will be moving in the
Pre-appointed patients receive an appointment reminder in the
mail 3 weeks in advance of their recall appointment. The appointment
reminder tells the patient their scheduled appointment day and
time. The appointment reminder asks the patient to call the office
and confirm the appointment.
Non pre-appointed patients receive a recall notice 4 weeks prior
to their due date that explains the need for them to call the
office to book their next appointment.
confirmed pre-appointed patients are called one week prior to
their appointment date and time.
Non confirmed non pre-appointed patients are called one week prior
to their due date.
All overdue recall patients are called one week after they become
overdue and continued calling at diversified times to make contact.
All overdue recall patients are sent a reactivation letter one
month after they become overdue if no telephone contact.
All overdue recall patients are sent the final reactivation letter
three months after they become overdue.
Non-compliant patients are inactivated after 6 months.
For reference of letter examples go
For reference of recall notices go
makes it happen?
This is a culprit in some offices. Someone has to be responsible
for implementing the game-plan. It can’t be everyone. It shouldn’t
be more than one person. Someone in the office is responsible and
accountable for the recall system – period! If this isn’t
established in your office, stop here! This is your step #1.
How to set up your computer system to make it happen
In the example game-plan above, the person responsible for the recall
system would continually run recall reports, letters, every week
as part of their everyday work routine. Manually setting up those
reports to run every time can tend to be a waste of time. After
all, you keep setting them up the same way every time, right? Many
practice management software packages have a way of “saving”
a report run setup so that all you have to do is click on it and
tell it to run. Some software packages can “prompt”
or “alert” the person responsible for the game-plan
to remind them to run the reports. There are even practice management
software packages out there that actually “pre” run
the reports based on your game-plan and bring up everything you
need when you log into the computer system in the morning!
everything else involved in running the operational business systems
of a dental practice – you have to have a game-plan
and someone responsible for implementing the plan first.
Then you get to use the “cool” features of your software
to make your life easier and your business more profitable.
I welcome any and all readers to email
me with specific questions, problems, requests and challenges.
Who knows? Maybe your inquiry will lead to a new Tips For Today
article! Don’t worry, your inquiry will remain anonymous unless
you want credit for the question.
in having Mark speak to your dental society or study club?
DOES YOUR OVERHEAD
following email was sent to me from one of our readers regarding
MY article on Sky
High Facility Costs. His honesty is refreshing and with permission
I wanted to share it with you.
I read with interest your articles the last two weeks about the
danger of overbuilding a facility.
I couldn't agree with you more regarding your assessment that an
over built office and under planned management system will result
in a cloud of debt that seems impossible to escape from.
lost my lease after 10 years and had to find a new facility. Fortunately,
a space was available in a beautiful new building less than two
miles away, and a lease agreement was negotiated. My goal was to
build a "cost-no-object" office which would "cause
patients to spontaneously appear and schedule full-mouth reconstructions."--as
told, our leasehold space with build out, equipment, and furnishings
was $876,000. Even though this was financed at 5.125% (through the
equity in our home), I feel as though I am making no headway at
all on the debt re-payment, even after two years of occupancy. It
has been a tremendous stress financially and I'm taking home a fraction
of what I used to earn before the move (we actually had about a
60% overhead). The overhead now is in the 80-85% range.
Yes, our production has gone from 75K to over 100K, and that's really
exciting. And our new patient volume has increased about 15%, but
we've lost a bunch of patients also because they think the new facility
has made their cost of dentistry go up, and many are intimidated
by the anticipated expense of treatment, based on the appearance
of the office.
also had to increase the number of staff to handle the new business,
and the payroll has gone from 170K to 250K. And now, with a gorgeous
new facility and the accolades that come along with it, one must
advertise and get the word out about why it's necessary to come
see the world's best dentist, etc. The opportunity for spending
money never seems to stop.
didn't have a choice in moving, but we did have a choice in the
level of design and integration of technology. I went overboard
because I have a penchant for buying the best "and only crying
once". I second the thought that if you're not careful, you
may have an opportunity to cry many times. . What buried me was
the Dentist Gone Wild approach to purchasing new digital panoramic
x-ray, computer, video & camera equipment which was not in the
original plan. That added an extra $260,000 before it was all said
The bottom line here is that it was ME who was the problem. It wasn't
the supply company, the contractor, the computer rep or anyone else
who was to blame--just my lust of the eyes.
let me convince you that I hate our new facility. It's wonderful
to work in an office space like this, and it's a bit of a staff
magnet. It's also a big pride thing to have so many colleagues come
around and oogle, but that doesn't fund the pension and it sure
doesn't lead to early retirement. This plan needs to be a conscious
decision to work an extra 10 years in practice--or maybe longer!
Who knows? Oy Vey!
you would be remiss if you didn't take the opportunity to reply
back and say "You need my services".
than it is?. . .
. . . but not sure
where to start?
To Make New Patients…Patients for a lifetime
is a must read for every office that wants to reduce or eliminate
"one-shot" patients, complete ideal treatment and retain
patients in recall.
Sample scripts are included for the entire staff for easy implementation.
US TRAIN YOUR
Center for Dental Career Development
Business Education for Dental Professionals
737 Pearl Street,
La Jolla, CA 92037
OUT OF YOUR
Hygiene Clinical Consultant for
CAN HELP YOU
develop a profitable
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