Signs your patients just donít appreciate you (and how itís hurting your practice)

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

Thriving practices all have this in common: a strong base of loyal patients who accept treatment and refer. Without this, practices struggle, regardless of the dentist’s clinical skills. While this is vital to success, many dentists find themselves dealing with lackluster patient retention rates and low case acceptance numbers—and it’s often because patients just don’t value what they do.

When patients don’t appreciate you, it’s not only frustrating, it eats into your bottom line. They don’t understand why making and keeping dental appointments is important, and they certainly don’t see why they should go forward with recommended treatment. This leads to a variety of issues that hurt your practice, costing you money and lowering team morale.

How can you get patients to appreciate dentistry and the services you provide? Educate them. Help them understand how their oral health impacts the rest of their body. When you do, they’ll start to see the value of dentistry, making them more likely to show up for appointments and to go forward with treatment.

Getting patients to appreciate you can be a challenge, but not to worry. I can help. Here are signs patients just don’t appreciate you, and steps you can take to help them realize how valuable your practice really is.

They cancel appointments at the last minute or just don’t show up. Broken appointments can be a real problem. Not only do they wreak havoc on your schedule and lead to extra stress, they cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenues every year. If you’re dealing with multiple last-minute cancellations and no-shows a day, it’s a sure sign patients don’t appreciate your practice or understand how keeping appointments benefits their health.

To reduce broken appointments, make sure patients know how it hurts your practice if they don’t show up, and how it hurts other patients who could have taken that appointment time.

To show them the value of their appointment, I suggest you give patients a summary of their visit when they do make it in. This should include a list of every service that was performed, a review of the hygiene evaluation and home care instructions. Be sure to outline any treatment recommendations made and include every free product they’re going home with (along with the estimated value). It won’t take long for a team member to put together, and will show patients exactly what went into their appointment—giving them a greater appreciation for the time spent in the chair.

You never see new patients again. These days, patients have certain expectations when they walk into a dental office. They want to see a doctor who offers technologies that improve patient care, and they want to feel a connection. If your practice doesn’t deliver, first-time patients will likely opt to make their next appointment at another office.

Investing in the right technology is important, but won’t do you any good if you don’t take the time to build a rapport with patients and to educate them about how the technology benefits their oral health. I suggest you start talking with patients about their families, their jobs and their oral health goals.

Educate them about their condition and how you can help get them to optimal health. Show them you care, and that you don’t just see them as a potential revenue source.

Your team members should focus on building connections too. Train them to provide exceptional customer service and to make patients feel comfortable from the moment they walk through the door, which might mean answering questions they have, offering them water as they wait or helping them fill out paperwork. These gestures will help patients feel connected to your practice, and that makes them more likely to appreciate you and to stay loyal.

They don’t accept the treatment you recommend. Patients look for excuses not to go forward with treatment, but that’s more difficult to do if they’re educated about the possible consequences of ignoring problems.

If your practice is struggling with case acceptance, I suggest you consider hiring a Treatment Coordinator who is trained in sales. This team member should be responsible for educating patients about treatment options and why it’s so important to maintain their oral health. Make sure the person you hire has a background in sales and is comfortable going over treatment with patients and then following up. Patients can sit with the coordinator in a comfortable room and ask any questions they have, rather than listening to you rush through the options while they’re still in the chair.

Patients will appreciate the extra time spent and will be more educated about why you’re recommending treatment in the first place. They’ll feel more connected to the practice and will be more likely to say yes to treatment.

Earning patient loyalty can be difficult, but without it, your practice will struggle. Getting patients to appreciate you and what dentistry offers is vital to your success. Need more guidance? Feel free to reach out. I’m happy to help.

Next Thursday: How to educate patients about your practice and grow your bottom line. Share this Newsletter

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