Does The Rule of Seven Apply in Your Practice?
For thousands of years, we’ve been trying to figure out how to persuade others to do what we want them to do. In the dental practice, the scheduling coordinator is trying to persuade the patients to make appointments. The collections coordinator needs to nudge some to make payments. The doctor needs to persuade “Mr. Jones” that waiting to treat the cracked tooth is a risk not worth taking. The hygienist must convince the young child that brushing and flossing are important.
Persuasion is the cornerstone of marketing. Few in the dental practice would consider these seemingly “routine” efforts to persuade patients as “marketing,” yet many of the same principles apply.
For example, take the “Rule of Seven.” It used to be said that marketing prospects need to see or hear a marketing message at least seven times before they will take action. This number has been estimated as high as 12 or even 20, and frankly, in today’s promotion-saturated world, it’s probably even higher. People are bombarded with an unrelenting stream of “must-do” “must-have” “must-try” messages. You must eat this for good health. You must have this new gadget. You must try this new store. You must take advantage of this special offer now. You must have the season’s latest and on and on and on. Yet in many situations, until the prospect is ready, the message won’t resonate.
Case in point: “Mr. Jones” doesn’t respond to the doctor’s recommendations the first, second, or even third time they are discussed. It doesn’t mean that the patient won’t pursue treatment; it simply means that he isn’t ready now. Persuasion happens according to the patient’s schedule, not the doctor’s. That being said, it also doesn’t mean that you stop discussing treatment needs with the patients who don’t promptly follow your recommendations. Nor do you stop looking for opportunities to educate them on oral health, new treatments available, as well as office policies.
Call it marketing, call it educating, and whether it’s the rule of seven or the rule of twenty in your practice, your messages merit repeating multiple times directly to the patients and using multiple media; namely, your practice website, a monthly e-newsletter or blog, and text messages.
The ability to communicate essential patient and practice information has never been easier. It’s also never been more important. If you don’t create an ongoing presence in your patients’ communication sphere, your chances of being overlooked, if not forgotten, increase exponentially.
I cannot count the number of times that doctors have shared stories about patients who saw another dentist for a specific treatment because they didn’t know their family dentist provided it. “Mrs. Patient” trots off to the doctor down the street for clear braces to fix the six anterior teeth on the top and bottom, only to learn later that her family dentist has been providing adult orthodontics for years. Her dentist is baffled. He cannot understand why Mrs. Patient did not know this. After all, he asserts, there’s information in each of the operatories in the brochure holders. That’s a bit like walking past a school and expecting an education. If you want your patients to know what you have to offer, you have to tell them and you have to engage them.
The doctor down the street engages Mrs. Patient. He makes sure that he has an ongoing presence in her communication sphere. He sends targeted mailings to specific prospective patient groups, which Mrs. Patient is part of. He keeps his website dynamic and ensures that it doesn’t look like every other dentist’s in the area. He provides useful information on the practice and procedures offered. He has a Facebook page. He sends periodic e-newsletters. Patients can follow him on Twitter. He is maximizing virtually every communication channel available. As a result, when someone searches for adult ortho, straight teeth, clear braces, etcetera, etcetera, it’s his practice that shows up number one on the search page.
When it comes to marketing and patient education, if you are out of sight you are out of mind.
Next week, how much marketing? What kind? When?
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email email@example.com
How to Get Team Members to Do Their Share
I am a dental assistant in a busy practice and I am exhausted because I show up early for work and am the last to leave, and I am always busy while the other dental assistant sits in her operatory and daydreams between patients. Everyone says I have the best work ethic but I am tired of doing it all. My employer complains about the other assistant to me but doesn’t do anything about it. What should I do??
Dear Overworked, according to a recent survey by corporate training firm VitalSmarts, workers who are slackers make the rest of us put in one to three extra hours a week at the office. This affects the morale and energy of the members pulling most of the weight, and can cause a drop in performance level for their job duties. In a dental office environment it is not recommended to confront the slacker unless you have the authority to do so and also the proper training that goes with difficult situations. The responsibility lies with the dentist, who is CEO of the practice and must manage and resolve the situation.
Before bringing the issues to the boss or office manager, define the problem and come up with a possible workable solution. No one wants to hear a venting whine, so make the discussion about how the situation affects office production, clinical efficiency and customer service. Be prepared to give specific dates, people involved and circumstances to validate your claim.
Try setting boundaries with the other teammates by explaining why it would benefit the practice for him/her to help more. S/he could be thinking that you don’t want the help. If you both share the same job description, you would both share the same job responsibilities. Offer to alternate so that you are not the first to arrive and the last to leave every day. If you work overtime on Monday then s/he should work overtime on Tuesday or the next day you work over. Set up a schedule where you take turns with tasks such as maintenance of equipment, stocking supplies or cleaning sterilizers etc. Keep a log where each of you writes the date of service and initials for completion. Create a clinical procedural manual to create a standard by which each of you will perform your tasks. This would include sterilization, OSHA manual updates and MSDS recordings, management and proper storage of supplies and equipment, tray set-ups and follow-up with patients who have not completed scheduled treatment or have been referred to a specialist for care.
When you are up against a wall and can get no resolve from your teammate, your next step is to bring it to the boss’s attention. You may want to script the situation and rehearse it so that you sound concerned and not just like a “squealer.”
“Dr. Smith, I would like to have a meeting with you to discuss how we might increase clinical efficiency and manage our time better. One of the reasons the room is not set up completely is that instruments are being left in the sterilization center. I think that whoever breaks down the room should be the one to finish the task by preparing the instruments for the sterilizer. In the last two months it appears that I am the one who is doing most of the instruments and I would like the task to be shared evenly so that both of us are on time and have the rooms set up completely.”
Listen to your employer’s response in regard to the issue. It may be that your employer will ask the clinical team to sit down and work out the differences in a meeting. The purpose of the meeting will be to bring resolve to the issue.
The importance of monthly business meetings cannot be overlooked to solve problems. Put your issue on the agenda for the next monthly team meeting so that everyone can listen and give the support that you need to solve problems positively.
For more help organizing your practice to run efficiently, call McKenzie Management at (877) 777-6151 for professional training in business management systems.
Are Your New Patients Happy With You?
Is your practice like an “old school” popcorn box where the popcorn goes in the top and just as much or more goes out through the bottom? Do you, Doctor, know if your patients are staying in your practice? Do you know if all those patient charts that you see on the shelves are actually coming in and if they aren’t, would you prefer not to know? Do you have a practice that is over 10 years old and you still only have one hygienist working? These are questions you need to seriously ask yourself if you find that your practice has reached a plateau, or even worse, declining revenue - even though you are working just as hard.
A good business owner would ask the question - WHY? McKenzie Management is all about the “why” as well as the solutions for the “why.” This article is only a small part of the big picture of the difference between a successful practice and one that is not as successful.
Top 6 Reasons Why New Patients Choose A Practice:
4. Office Hours
5. Appearance of the Building (Curb Appeal)
We hope that your practice falls within at least one of these categories. There are other reasons, such as being the only dentist in town, and even that scenario is no guarantee of a reception room full of patients.
Now that you have new patients contacting you for their first appointment, it is the goal of the dentist, clinical team and business team to focus on making this new patient feel special and not just another “mouth” to treat.
1. Warm and Friendly Doctor and Team
2. Cleanliness - No Clutter!
3. Up-to-Date Facility
4. Waiting Time
5. Post-Operative Calls from the Dentist
How do you know if the new patients coming in to visit you and your team for the first time “like” you? Ask them! Yes - ask. Don’t be afraid of the answer, because you may learn something about yourself and/or your team. The easiest way to find out how your new patients feel about their first visit is to invite them to complete a short survey about your practice. This can be accomplished through many of the appointment confirmation softwares or you can create your own. Jot down the 5 questions that you would most likely want to know from your new patients, and have them rate the answer from 1-5 with 5 being the best, and room to comment if scored less than 4.They can complete the survey in the reception area before they leave and drop it into a comment box, or you can give them a stamped self-addressed envelope and mail it.
If you would like assistance in putting your survey together, contact McKenzie Management today!
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