3 Reasons Patients Don't Appreciate You
Your patients just don’t seem to understand the value of the services you provide, and it’s killing your bottom line. They’re either not showing up for their appointments or they’re not scheduling needed treatment at all. To make matters worse, your patient retention rates are abysmal. Patients come for their first appointment, never to be heard from again. It’s all beyond frustrating, and it’s holding you back from practice success and profitability.
No matter how skilled you are as a clinician, it doesn’t do you much good if you don’t have any patients to treat. If you’re going to be successful, you need to develop a strong base of loyal patients who understand the importance of maintaining their oral health and who trust you with their care. Simply put, you have to get them to appreciate you.
When patients don’t appreciate you, it wreaks havoc on your practice and hurts your bottom line. They don’t view keeping their appointments as a priority, or see a need to go forward with any treatment you recommend. They feel no connection to you or your practice, and can be easily swayed to visit the practice down the street. All of this is costing you thousands of dollars in revenue every year. The good news is, I can help you turn it around. Here’s a look at three reasons your patients don’t appreciate you, and how you can get them to see the value of the services you provide.
1. You don’t provide enough education. If patients don’t understand the value of dentistry, they’re not going to appreciate what you can do for them. Take the time to educate your patients about the importance of maintaining their oral health, and actually show them what’s going on in their mouths using x-rays and an intraoral camera.
Let patients know the possible consequences of ignoring any problems you find, and explain how you can help them get back on the right track. Show them before and after photos of successful cases you’ve completed and encourage them to ask questions so you can address any concerns they might have. Help them to see you’re a skilled clinician who has their best interest at heart.
Providing top-notch education will help patients truly value what you have to offer, and that means fewer broken appointments, higher patient retention rates and improved case acceptance.
2. You’re not connecting with your patients. It’s difficult for patients to appreciate a dentist or a practice they just don’t feel connected to. If there’s no connection, there’s often no reason to come back. That’s why you have to take the time to get to know your patients and build a rapport.
I know most dentists would rather focus on performing the dentistry than building relationships, but that’s why so many practices struggle with patient retention. If you want to grow your patient retention rates and create loyal patients who appreciate you and what your practice offers, you have to focus on making connections.
Ask patients about their families and their jobs. Talk to them about their dental health goals and the services you offer that can help them meet those goals. Show them you care about their oral health and want to provide them with the best care possible. They’ll start to understand the value of dentistry and appreciate the services you provide, and that means they’ll be more likely to accept treatment, show up on time to their appointments and stay loyal to your practice.
3. You don’t spend much time on case presentations. If you only spend five or ten minutes going over case presentations with your patients in the treatment room, they’re not going to appreciate the importance of the treatment or what’s involved with the procedure. That’s where a dedicated Treatment Coordinator comes in. Consider hiring a Treatment Coordinator to perform case presentations for all the producers in your practice. This person, trained in sales, should meet with patients in a private room to go over the details of the treatment before mentioning the price tag.
Take the focus off the cost and train your Treatment Coordinator to walk patients through what they can expect before, during and after the procedure. This person should create a comfortable environment where patients are encouraged to ask questions. Make sure the Treatment Coordinator spends as much time as necessary explaining treatment and addressing concerns. This will not only help patients better understand the benefits of going through with treatment, it will also help them appreciate the time and effort that goes into the procedure.
When patients appreciate you and your practice, they’re more likely to become loyal patients who sing your praises to family and friends. But you can’t expect them to appreciate you just because you’re a skilled clinician; you have to earn it. If you take the time to educate your patients, get to know them and show you care about their oral health, they’ll be much more likely to appreciate your practice and value the dentistry you provide. And that will mean a boost in patient retention numbers, productivity and your bottom line.
Next week: How to educate your patients about your practice.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
How About a PAID Vacation This Year?
This article is directed towards those solo practitioners who struggle to financially recover from a well-deserved vacation. Do you mark your calendar off six months in advance and start planning for that week in Hawaii you and your family have been dreaming about since dental school? Do you feel you need a break from the tedious and strenuous day-to-day activities in your office? Do you mark days off in the appointment book for seminars that “might” be interesting because even if they aren’t, you need a few days away from the practice? My guess is that at some point in your career you have done all of the above, and it’s okay as long as you can afford it! But wouldn’t it be nice if you could be away from the office AND get paid? First, let’s talk about what happens when your office is closed for holidays and/or vacation.
UNPAID Vacations Work Like This…
It is now time for vacation. If you are not on schedule to collect the amount that you should have planned for, the dollars lost due to your office being closed for your vacation is coming directly from your pocket. What does this mean to you financially?
In order to collect $800,000 for the year with a 5% production adjustment percentage, your practice needs to produce $842,105. This is assuming you are collecting 100% of adjusted production. Unfortunately you don’t have a goal, so in June when you are planning to take the family to Hawaii, the practice has only collected $295,000 instead of $333,333 during the first five months of the year. You are short $38,333 in revenue, you are closing the office for a week which will cost you an additional $14,936 in production for those four days, plus the cost of the vacation itself.
PAID Vacations Work Like This…
Your monthly practice statistics indicate that you are on track to reach your goals through the end of May. You and your hygienist have collectively gross produced $358,877 and your wonderful business team has collected $340,933. This is an overage of $7,600 YTD. As a result, your vacation time away from the office has been paid for by your previous hard work! And because you and your team produced an extra $100/day, you have an additional $7,600 to pay for your hotel and airfare.
Plan for your vacations and holidays by determining your daily goals. Leave your worries behind when you close the office, knowing that your expenses are covered (which also includes your team’s vacation pay) and you have a little extra in your pocket.
Now go have some fun this summer!
Ten Vital Practice Management Numbers
If you have worked in the dental field as a Business Coordinator or Office Manager, you know that the doctor is seldom seen at the front desk during the day unless there is a problem. The fear of “rocking the boat” or seeming confrontational prevents many dentists from visiting the front desk, unless motivated by the falling off of revenue or patients on the schedule.
A common lament of many dentists is: “I don’t know what is going on at the front desk and I’m not even sure what they do up there all day.” Finding someone experienced to fill the front office position is the most challenging of all the hiring duties of the dentist or manager. It may be safe to say that no one is completely trained upon being hired, and there is always a learning curve and adjustment period. It is during this period that discovering the potential of this new hire is very important.
The experience level of the person you just hired is often not exactly what you want, but the potential to improve and learn new skills is evident. This eagerness to learn and please in a new position is a desired response with a new Business Coordinator. However, without careful nurturing this potential can be swallowed up by a multitude of tasks and duties, with little direction and even less training leading to a “sink or swim” situation.
As the CEO of your dental practice, it is up to you to have a clear understanding of the expectations you have of this person. It is more than answering the phone, booking appointments and collecting money. Your Business Coordinator is fundamental to providing you with information necessary to understand the current health of your practice in the form of timely management reports. By making this clear in the beginning period of the hiring process, your Business Coordinator will anticipate meeting regularly with you to discuss these reports and numbers. Do not avoid these meetings.
Your monthly meeting agenda with your Business Coordinator would include the following:
2. The number of reactivated recall patients. These are patients who returned to the practice after being contacted by the office. There should be five calls made daily to reactivate patients.
3. Comparison of new patients versus number of inactivated patients (measures practice growth) quarterly.
4. Referral sources for all patients. This shows you where your patients are coming from and where marketing would be advised.
5. Scheduling to production goal (set by CEO/dentist or accountant) and whether the goal is being met. The schedule is a system that requires management of patients and procedures, not just filling the lines.
6. Net monthly production compared to goal numbers for solo or all providers.
7. Percent of treatment accepted versus what was presented. If you aren’t aware of this number you will not know whether to improve the way you are communicating with patients.
8. Accounts Receivable totals with less than 10% in the 90 days column ensures a good cash flow.
9. Review credit balances for accuracy prior to issuing refund checks. The insurance write-off adjustment may not be accurate and if the patient hasn’t paid any out of pocket they should not be getting a refund.
10. Outstanding dental insurance claims. There should be no claims aged to 90 days. “Clean claims” should pay within 30 business days.
If you go over this list every month it will give your new Business Coordinator or Office Manager the opportunity to build on their potential. Going over the practice numbers together will give you both an opportunity to understand and value how each of you contribute to the success of the practice. During a monthly business meeting with the entire staff, these numbers can be reviewed so the entire team can become involved in moving the practice in the direction you want. The perfect instruction on how to accomplish this is with a Dental Business Training Course at McKenzie Management. Call today!
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