10.15.10 Issue #449 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Key Systems Spell Success in the “New Normal”
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Patients are whittling down the extras and focusing on the fundamentals. They are more judicious in their purchases. They are focused more keenly on needs rather than wants. They are looking for greater long-term value.

For dentists, there has never been a time in which key practice systems have been more critical to profitability than in today’s “new normal.” There are 22 systems that directly impact your success and productivity, and each should be carefully evaluated and scrutinized for effectiveness. We covered three last week - the following are three more systems central to building longstanding, trusting relationships with today’s cautious patients.

1. Service, Service, Service
As you’ve likely heard many times before, there are three things that matter in selling property: location, location, location. Similarly, there are three things that matter in selling dentistry: service, service, service. This is a “cautious consumers” market, which means they are looking for reasons to not spend money unnecessarily. It is essential that practices make it easy for patients to invest in their dental care and appreciate the value of the investment. For some practices, that may require altering your philosophy for the sake of better patient service, at least for the time being. For example, many dentists are philosophically opposed to accepting insurance, but doing so means offering a critical service to patients that may be the determining factor in their decision to proceed with treatment. The financial reality is that those practices accepting insurance have not been hit as hard by the recession as those that don’t.

 Additionally, pay close attention to what the patient is asking for, and give the consumer the service they want. If they want their teeth cleaned, schedule an appointment. If they want to see the doctor, schedule a doctor visit. Provide prompt service. Set aside time for new patient appointments in the schedule to ensure any new patient can be seen within one week. Give the patient what they want to get them in the door. You don’t want your business staff telling callers “No, that’s not how we do things here.”

2. Ring In The Patients
Speaking of what staff are saying to patients, what’s your philosophy for how the telephone is handled in your practice? If you haven’t considered this, I’m willing to bet that you’ve lost more patients than you can begin to imagine for lack of telephone training. 

I see this issue time and again in dental practices. The dentist looks at the open appointment times, dwindling new patient numbers, sinking production, and blames the weather, the politicians, the economy, any outside circumstance s/he can come up with. It never occurs to her/him that the dedicated, hardworking business employees have horrible telephone skills. And it’s not because they are incapable or unwilling, they simply have never been given the opportunity to learn how to maximize the telephone lines for the good of the practice. Telephone training is fast, easy, and one of the most cost effective measures you can take to immediately improve your current patient schedule. Trust me, until you hear it for yourself, you have absolutely no idea how calls to your practice are handled.  If you want to know how the phone is being answered in your office, go HERE to order 3 mystery new patient calls.

3. Write Your Own Ending - Scripts
Most people would never deliver an important presentation without careful preparation and practice. Patient phone calls should be viewed as equally significant. What’s more, preparation ensures that those on the frontlines can anticipate and manage objections, cancellations, and many other patient scheduling challenges that arise during routine phone contact. The objective is to politely educate the patient so that they will take the desired action - but that requires careful preparation. 

The employee should know the scripted presentation so well that it comes across as a completely natural conversation. The staff member must be prepared to spell out the facts for the patient clearly and concisely. Make sure your staff are not just speaking off the top of their head, so there is no chance for error or omission. In addition, others handling phone communications should rely on the same scripts so that consistent messages are relayed to patients in each phone interaction.

The economic circumstances are what they are, and for most practices there’s simply no ignoring the “new normal.” It requires far greater attention to the 22 key practice management systems. But I can virtually guarantee that those who invest the time and energy in doing so will find the “new normal” just as satisfying and financially rewarding as the “good ‘ol days.”

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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