I don’t believe increasing production is hard. I also don’t believe it’s easy. I do believe that it’s a reflection of the culture of the practice and our commitment to our patient’s health.
Dentists have shared with me over the years that a trusted advisor has suggested they can increase the practice’s production. I believe their intentions are good and this is not a case of over promising and under delivering. The first step might be raising the fees in the fee guide. Many dentists don’t do this annually and the increase suggested by their advisor is warranted. This method is still an option. Dentistry is a business and most businesses increase their fees annually to at least match the relevant Cost of Living percentages. COVID-19 related economical factors, the general state of the economy, and our patient’s own personal financial challenges should all be considered when determining an appropriate fee increase.
My team and I have never made this promise. Not because we don’t want to see the practice’s production increase. Not because we don’t think we can help with this. The reason we don’t make the promise is because we believe the source of higher production is multi-faceted. We can’t in good faith make that promise when many factors are at play.
So how can it be done? In my nearly 30 years of experience I have witnessed many failures and many successes. For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on what works.
The word ‘culture’ means many things to many people. The definition we feel speaks to culture in a dental practice includes the phrase ‘perceptions, values and behaviours shared by a group’. When we walk into a practice for the first time we quickly pick up on the culture. We can feel it in the air. Observations and conversations further our analysis. It will come as no surprise that patients feel it too. If the culture is rocky, patients are less likely to commit to appointments, to trust our recommendations and to choose to spend their discretionary income on their dental health. On the flip side, when the culture is inviting and the team genuinely shares a common goal for their patients and the business…the patients feel it and are more likely to invest in their dental health with us. If you were a new patient walking into your practice for the first time, how would you feel?
2. Patient Experience
One of our guiding principles at Tayden Consulting is that patients should expect exceptional dental treatments. They shouldn’t be surprised by a well-fitting crown or a painless injection. What sets practices apart, surprises the doubting patient and creates ‘raving fans’ is the patient experience. It’s everything.
How the practice looks…is it tidy or messy? Not every practice is brand new and shiny. Patients are fine with that. What they’re not fine with is a perceived lack of attention to tidiness and organization. Especially in these COVID-19 times, paying attention to tidiness is critical.
How is the patient greeted…warmly welcomed or like an inconvenience in the day? I don’t believe that any administrator/receptionist purposely greets patients in a manner that is intended to offend. The truth is they’re busy. Especially now with COVID-19 pre-screening. Every effort must be made to greet the patient in a way that puts them at ease and reminds them why they’ve chosen your dental practice.
How does the appointment flow…does the patient feel like they have your full attention or are they rushed in and out? Having the perspective of seeing a dental practice from all angles, I confidently share my opinion about dental fees with anyone who asks. Yes, dentistry is expensive, so is a big screen tv. The costs to produce a crown are significant and yes, that cost is passed on to the patient. I don’t claim to know the big screen tv business, but I imagine the margins aren’t huge. If the Best Buy employee rushed me through the process I would seriously consider spending my money elsewhere.
3. Patient Education
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Provide patients with the information they need to make an educated decision. Don’t try to teach them dentistry. Don’t treat them like a 5-year-old.
4. Follow Up
Dentistry is sales. It just is. I believe sales is a concept for us to embrace, not shy away from. Whether or not patients are utilizing their dental benefits or their own cash, they’re spending their money. It is our job to help them see that it is in their best interest to invest their hard-earned money in their dental health. They won’t do that if the conditions identified in steps 1-3 aren’t met. If patients feel satisfied with steps 1-3, they may make a decision on the spot or they may need some time. In a future blog I’ll talk about the process of change…it’s not quick…unless the change will eliminate pain and suffering. For those patients who need time we must follow up. Do not wait until a patient ends up on a list. If we truly support our patients in making the best decision for their dental health, we must care enough to call them in a few days to see if they have any concerns and are they ready to proceed.
This is really the tip of the iceberg in increasing production.
If you want to learn more, give us a call.
Our team of Dental Consultants, at Tayden Consulting Inc., specialize in providing,
hands-on, on-site coaching on how to create the optimal customer experience
for your patients.
Contact us today for a free consultation! We look forward to meeting you.