I get, at a minimum, a dozen emails a week from specialists asking about how to attract more new patients other than relying on GPs.
So I thought I’d discuss one of the quickest and cheapest ways that we can do this ASAP.
I don’t get it! Why are my new patients numbers down!?!?
This is probably the number one question I get, so I’ll spend the most time laying out how you can actually attack this as we start the new year.
Think of your new patient flow as water (new patients) and bucket (your practice.) If we have holes in the bucket, as in the above image, and we pour water into it. no matter how much we pour in, it NEVER stays full, right?
The typical office is just like this.
We spend money for new patients/referrals by networking with dentists, putting on CE events/in-house implant seminars to the public, web marketing, direct mail, etc. You name it, we try it.
It’s really NOT that hard to get the phone to ring, it’s what we do after that that REALLY matters.
If we keep pouring in more new patients to call our practice (water), but our under-trained staff do not know how to handle the calls, then nothing happens (water drains out) which keeps the cycle going.
The key is simple… train your team to handle these types of calls.
Here are four common mistakes to avoid when considering a dental front office training program:
- Sporadic Training – Most of us don’t think twice about sticking anybody on the phone (no matter what type of education they have). We, on the other hand, spend thousands and thousands of dollars each year getting ourselves trained with the latest surgical techniques to return frustrated that we can’t get more people coming through the door to do the treatment on.
- Difficult/Expensive Training – Whenever we do get around to training our team on certain aspects of customer service (i.e. answering the phone), most of the time it’s either too difficult for us to administer the training ourselves (a company sends over a refrigerator sized box full of videos, CDs and training manuals) and/or it’s too expensive to drag our whole team off to learn.
- Unethical Sales Training – Often, when we select a training program for the dental team, we don’t know what to look for, and many times get lead down the wrong path. An unfortunate truth is many “training” companies promote a “Get ‘em in” approach where the team is trained to do or say whatever it takes to get a new patient to make an appointment. A “Get ‘em in” approach almost always has mixed results: your new patient numbers may go up, but so do your no-shows and cancellations. And the patients that do show up often have the wrong expectations about insurance and the cost of treatment. So these companies do claim that they can get us MORE patients, but they are severely under-qualified.
- The Art of Mystery Calls – You’ve dealt with this sneaky sales tactic before. An audio CD is sent to you from a “training” company that “mystery” shopped your office. Unfortunately, most of these “mystery” calls remind me of the booths at our local fair. They look so easy to win at, right? “Step right up! Put your money down and hit 4 darts and pick any prize you want!!” But they are set up to make it too difficult for anybody to win the prize. Whenever they call your office, your team are given questions/scenarios that are so difficult, it makes them look like they don’t know what they’re doing.
The real problem with this is… I could also write a script that would lead to failure for ANYONE answering the phone. So, the typical “mystery call” is not exactly a legitimate measurement of performance. Now, recording and evaluating patient calls is an extremely powerful tool to measure the effectiveness of your front office team. BUT, call evaluations need to be done in a constructive and positive manner, using REAL patient calls, and avoiding the contrivance of “secret shoppers.”
Avoiding these four common mistakes will ensure that you are investing in you & your team’s time, energy and money in the right kind of dental front office training. Get it right, and your team and your new patient numbers will thrive.
P.S. Do you want to add 8 or more new patients a month withOUT spending another dime on marketing? Click here to find out more.