6.8.12 Issue #535 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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Know Your Audience
By Nancy Caudill

Times - they are changing for many dental practices across the country. “Things aren’t like they used to be. Patients worry more about the cost now instead of what is best for their dental health. We have more patients that cancel or just don’t show up. Wish things were the way they used to be” and so on. You have either made these statements yourself or have heard your colleagues make them.

What does all this mean? “Times are changing?” To be successful when the surroundings are changing, the practice needs to change as well. To help illustrate this further, here are a couple of examples.

Example #1
Dr. Jones opened her practice 10 years ago in a strip shopping center. She only participated with Delta Dental Premier. The shopping center was thriving with a new grocery store and a couple of local businesses. Dr. Jones was successful in presenting comprehensive treatment plans and 50% of her new patients were coming from a large corporation down the street that provided Delta Dental Premier plans for all of their full-time and part-time employees

Today, only the grocery store remains open, along with an unemployment office. The parking lot is empty most of the day except for the cars parked in front of the unemployment office. The corporation down the street has switched their dental plan to an HMO and only offers coverage to full-time employees. Dr. Jones’ new patients are down 25%. No longer are the new patients interested in comprehensive dentistry, but instead, “only what their insurance will cover.”

Example #2
Dr. Brown sold his practice in a very upscale suburb in Texas and relocated to a more “home town” area to be closer to his grandchildren. He purchased a practice that was primarily all PPO-supported with only a small percentage of “fee for service” patients.  He found it frustrating that his patients were not accepting his recommended treatment of implants for missing teeth, veneers to improve the appearance of his patients’ smiles and treatment for periodontal disease.

Example #3
Dr. Smith had a thriving multi-doctor practice in a suburban area, but the area became depressed with the downturn in the economy. Patients were losing jobs, plants were closing and 50% of all the new patients were seeking hygiene appointments in order to avoid having to pay higher premiums for their dental insurance - not because they “wanted” to see a dentist but because they “had” to see a dentist.

Know Your Audience
Your patients are your audience. Get to know your “audience” as well. You may be surprised to find that the audience you have now is not the same audience you had 5-10 years ago. The faces and names may be the same, but they are now different. So, how do you get to know them now? 

  • Get involved with your community and learn about the changes in the employment situation and how it is affecting your patients.
  • Listen to what your patients are telling you about their lifestyle changes.
  • Be more aware of their financial concerns. Treatment they would have said “yes” to 10 years ago they are now putting on the back burner until something breaks.
  • Many of your parents now have children leaving for college; therefore, additional expenses they never had before.

Of course, this all requires you and your team to listen to what your patients are saying and sometimes what they are not saying. How does this affect you and your team? It may require a change in your approach to your patient’s dental needs. 5-10 years ago you were presenting $5-$10,000 treatment plans and they were saying: “whatever you think I need, Doc.”  Now they are saying: “I need to think about it.” How about making it easier for your patients to accept treatment by simplifying their treatment recommendations? For example, instead of insisting that they have all 3 teeth in one quadrant restored in one appointment, allow them to do only one tooth at a time if that is more affordable for them. Otherwise, offer more flexible payment arrangements for your long-time patients.

Yes, this is against your entire moral fiber. This would never have been advised 5-10 years ago. But we must acknowledge that times are changing - at least for now. In order for your practice to continue to thrive and provide quality dentistry for your patients, get to know your patients and help them to say “yes” to dentistry.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Consulting Coaching Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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