Close

Archive for category: Customer Service

6 Steps for Overhauling Your Schedule

6 Steps for Overhauling Your Schedule

Your scheduling system is the core of your practice. It drives production. If you create an excellent schedule, you’ll be able to focus your resources more effectively… and grow practice income.

Revamping your scheduling system takes quite a bit of planning. Following are several basic guidelines that will ensure the best results:

  1. Conduct procedural time studies. Conditions in any dental practice change over time, such as the experience levels of you and your clinical staff, new technologies, new governmental regulations, etc. For this reason, you should measure how long it takes to perform various procedures and tasks. The timing process is relatively simple, and it can make a huge difference in how patients are scheduled.
  2. Use 10-minute increments. Most practices have already shifted from 15-minute units to the more precise 10-minute increments for planning appointments. If you haven’t done so yet, you can easily make the switch when you have the results of the time studies in hand.
  3. Structure an “ideal day” template. What’s your idea of a perfect daily schedule? The only way to make it happen is to define it, explain it to your team and train your scheduling coordinator with scripts that guide patients into the ideal schedule openings.
  4. Use scripting to control all aspects of scheduling. You can’t put together an efficient daily schedule without patient compliance. Write scripts to ensure that most practice-patient interactions about scheduling achieve the desired results.
  5. Schedule new patients within 7–10 days. In today’s more competitive dental market, you can’t afford to keep patients waiting for their first visit to your practice… because they might change their minds.
  6. Update your confirmation process. Modern communications technologies offer better ways to confirm appointments than the old postcards-and-phone-calls approach. Review the various techniques and services now available to dental offices and put together a more effective methodology.

Conclusion

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to creating a scheduling system that will decrease stress, reduce rushing and downtime, and enable you to increase production without working longer hours.


Additional Resources

For a more in-depth discussion of revamping your schedule, check out Dr. Levin’s popular how-to book, Power Cell Scheduling.

Learn more about our training course on Scheduling by going here.

Back to Practice Success Archive »
3 Strategies for Hiring the Right People

3 Strategies for Hiring the Right People

You can’t always get what you want, goes the classic Rolling Stones song. This is especially true when trying to hire quality employees. Many dentists make the mistake of only looking for a dental superstar to join their practices, while disregarding many other worthy applicants.

Think of pro sports… there are only so many superstars––whether it’s Serena Williams or Tom Brady––out there. And sometimes these high performers have their own issues, such as not “playing well” with other team members.

If you can find a superstar who’s a good fit for your practice, great. If you can’t, here are three qualities that you should look for in prospective employees:

1. Potential to Be Great

Everyone has to start somewhere. Maybe this candidate doesn’t have much experience, but has demonstrated through her education, non-dental employment and volunteer activities that she has the right stuff to be a key contributor to your practice’s success.

Early in their careers, even superstars weren’t truly superstars. If you can get someone who can become––with the right training and mentorship––a great employee, then you may end up having superstar in your practice for a long time.

2. Want to Grow, Learn, and Get Better

In your search, you will probably run across candidates who are switching careers or attempting to re-enter the work force after a hiatus as a stay-at-home parent. Many of these people possess the capabilities to become quality team members, especially on the administrative side of the practice. Look at their experience… do you see a commitment to learning, taking on new responsibilities and adding new skills?

Realize that there are far more people with non-dental work experience out there. Many of them can make excellent additions to your staff, if they have a track record that shows a demonstrated ability for achievement and growth.

3. Enthusiastic and Energetic

Personality matters. You need positive people in your practice. Expert clinical care goes hand in hand with excellent customer service. There may be times that a person with little experience but a lot of enthusiasm may be the best choice. Of course, you want to conduct at least two interviews to make sure that this person would be a good fit for the practice.

Conclusion

Will you be able to hire superstar team members every time? Probably not.

What you can do is look for people who have the potential to be superstars, who want to grow, and who are energized and enthusiastic. When people are willing to learn and improve, great things can happen.


Additional Resources

Back to Practice Success Archive »
Surprising Advice for Dentists from Sgt. Pepper

Surprising Advice for Dentists from Sgt. Pepper

It was 50 years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. What can the Beatles’ classic album released five decades ago teach us about practice management? You’re probably thinking not much. After all, there are no songs about dentists on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But as with every Beatles album, there’s a lot of great music and plenty of good advice. And some of it applies to dentistry. Let’s take a look…

With a Little Help from My Friends

It can be lonely at the top, but it doesn’t have to be. Even with the growth of DSOs, the majority of dentists still operate solo practices. That means you wear a lot of hats… you’re the main producer, the team leader, the CEO, the CFO and the CMO. Some days, it can seem overwhelming.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Study clubs represents one of the greatest resources for practice owners. You can learn a lot from your colleagues, many of whom have experienced similar issues and challenges. You’ll get pertinent advice, learn about new clinical procedures and develop a support network that can get you through the tough times.

Good Morning, Good Morning

Morning meetings matter. Never underestimate the power of this brief gathering. Sharing information about the day’s schedule, patients, treatments, and emergences keeps everybody on the same page. Start your day the right way with a morning meeting!

Getting Better

That should be the goal of every practice. How can we improve? What’s not working and what could be working better? What are the solutions? What are the costs? What can we accomplish with the budget and manpower we have? As the practice leader, you don’t want to settle for the status quo. Because when you stop improving, you eventually start declining.

Fixing a Hole

A full schedule drives practice growth. Gaps in the schedule are missed opportunities. To combat last-minute cancellations, keep a list of patients who are looking to move up their appointments. Contact them as soon as you have an opening. Also, use social media to get the word out. If patients have a break in their schedule, they often come in to catch up on their dental care.

When I’m Sixty Four

Are you saving enough for retirement? When was the last time you looked at your retirement plan? Are you currently working with a dental-knowledgeable advisor? Even if you’re a younger dentist and believe retirement is decades away, you need to start planning for it now.

A Day in the Life

Like any job, dentistry can become a grind… if you let it. As the practice owner, you have the power to create a fun, productive work environment. Don’t just put in your time. Create the practice you want. Sure, it takes time and effort. But the sooner you start working on it, the sooner it will happen.

Conclusion

It’s been called everything from the greatest album ever made to the most overrated record in the history of popular music. Wherever your opinion falls on that spectrum, there are still some surprising lessons Sgt. Pepper can teach us 50 years after its release.


Additional Resources

Back to Practice Success Archive »
4 Lies That Hold Dentists Back

4 Lies That Hold Dentists Back

Dear Struggling Dentist,

Here’s some advice––stop being your own worst enemy!

Yes, I know, the dental economy isn’t the greatest and competition is heating up as DSOs continue to grow. And I realize that patients are less loyal than they used to be and even the loyal ones don’t come in for their twice-yearly hygiene appointments. On top of all that, the insurance companies keep chopping reimbursements and so on and so on.

Yes, these things are all true and they make it much more challenging to run a successful practice.

But I’ve met too many dentists who are struggling and yet continue to believe in dangerous, performance-depleting myths. Let me be clear, these internalized myths are far more dangerous than all the external threats combined.

Here are four of the most pernicious lies dentists tell themselves:

1. “Something Will Rescue Me”

Nobody’s coming. This isn’t a superhero movie where Batman shows up at your office, grabs a canister of “New Patient Attractor” from his trusty bat belt, douses your reception area with this magical elixir, and then suddenly your practice is overrun with new patients. Ain’t gonna happen. No way, no how!

You’ve got to be your own superhero. That means putting together a plan, brainstorming strategies and implementing them, tracking performance, making adjustments, and getting expert help when needed. No cape or Batmobile required.

2. “It’s Just a Phase”

I’ve heard this over and over from dentists whose production has been down three or four years. That’s not a phase, it’s a permanent condition! Well, that is, unless you decide to do something about it.

I get it. You want to be positive. You want to believe the practice will turn around. But belief alone isn’t enough. For things to improve, you have to marry belief to action.

It’s like losing weight. You may want to drop 20 pounds, but if you don’t change your diet or your exercise habits, you won’t shed any weight.

3. “But It Worked Before”

That doesn’t mean it will work now or ever again. And if it’s not working now, that’s your sign to change what you’re doing. The “it” can be a marketing strategy, campaign or ad. Just because something was successful in the past, there’s no guarantee it will succeed in the present.

 4. “The Economy Will Pick Up”

It’s already picked up. So if you’re expecting some turbocharged, super-heated, macro-economic miracle to lift the dental economy out of the doldrums, you’re bound to be disappointed.

But all is not lost. The business of dentistry is evolving and will continue to evolve. So, forget the economy and concentrate on something you can control, like the activities within your practice. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do right now to make sure your practice is successful, such as:

  • Scheduling 98% of hygiene patients
  • Reactivating inactive patients
  • Collecting 98% of fees
  • Persuading at least half of your patients to make a referral every year
  • Delegating all administrative tasks to your team, so you can focus on patient care

None of these activities has anything to do with the overall economy. These are things you and your team can make happen on your own. So, what are you waiting for? Pick one and get started!

Conclusion

What we believe can either help us or hurt us. Too often dentists cling to false beliefs that limit their performance and their potential. Take a hard look at what’s holding you back. If it’s one of these lies, toss it aside and move on.


Additional Resources

Back to Practice Success Archive »
Success Story: Dr. Cynthia Banderet

Success Story: Dr. Cynthia Banderet

Dr. Cynthia Banderet wanted to break through to the next level. She owned and operated a successful general practice in Belleville, Illinois, for more than 10 years, but she knew she could be doing better. After much deliberation, she chose Levin Group as her management and marketing consultant.

Six months into her consulting engagement, Dr. Banderet saw a dramatic difference in her practice’s performance. “Our gross production has increased by 20% over six months,” she said. “We have fewer cancellations, a higher percent of our patient base is scheduled and case acceptance has increased. I’m thankful to be in Levin Group’s care.”

At the end of her 12-month management and marketing programs, Dr. Banderet and her team achieved outstanding results, including in these key categories:

  • Production – up 34%
  • Production Per Hour – up 38%
  • Collections – up 19%

Summing up her experience, she said, “I love working with Levin Group. Everyone is very professional, friendly and caring, always going over the top! They gave us the tools and guidance to create an office environment for success.”


Additional Resources

Back to Practice Success Archive »
Do More With What You Have… Or Lose More of What You Got

Do More With What You Have… Or Lose More of What You Got

Every business has assets and liabilities.

But if you’re not maximizing your assets, that’s a liability.

And in today’s competitive market, you can’t afford to turn strength into weakness. But that’s what many practices are unintentionally doing.

The #1 mismanaged asset in a dental practice is the patient base. Time and time again, when we analyze practices, we find that they have…

  • Hundreds of inactive patients due to lack of follow-up
  • Scores of overdue patients who haven’t been scheduled
  • Dozens of patients with unfinished treatment
  • Countless one-and-done patients who were never contacted after their initial appointment

Not Enough Patients… or Not Reaching Out Enough?

Practices typically spend thousands of dollars trying to attract new patients, yet most offices devote little time to rescheduling overdue and inactive patients. Just as your financial coordinator should regularly contact patients who owe the practice money, the scheduling coordinator should designate at least one hour a week to bringing unscheduled and inactive patients back into the practice. If you have a backlog of “idle” patients, then you’ll need to devote significant resources to play catch-up.

Many of these patients will come back… if you contact them and use influential scripting to remind them that regular appointments are critical for maintaining optimal oral health and identifying minor issues before they become major problems.

Conclusion

New patients matter, but so do the patients already “on the books.”  Put procedures in place to reschedule patients who cancel and to reactivate patients who haven’t been in the office in 12–18 months. By bringing these patients back, you’ll have a fuller hygiene schedule and an infusion of new revenue.


Additional Resource

Need a systems checkup? Find out how a Practice Performance Analysis can pinpoint whatever’s limiting your growth. To learn more, click here.

Back to Practice Success Archive »
Get Ready for the Second Half of the Year

Get Ready for the Second Half of the Year

This is a dangerous time for many practices. As we enter the second half of the year, there can be a tendency to relax a little, especially if your practice is ahead of last year’s pace. You want to keep any momentum you’ve built up going for the entire year. If your practice’s off to a slow start, now’s the time to make positive changes that will pay dividends later on.

Here are three strategies for ramping up growth in the next six months:

1. Make Referrals Rewarding for Patients, Too

Patients may know someone who needs a dentist, but making a referral isn’t on the top of their to-do list. But if you can make the referral process a little more fun for them, you’ll be surprised at the results. How do you do that? By incentivizing the process.

Here’s a quick rundown on how to set up a refer-a-friend program…

  • Any patient who makes a successful referral will be entered into a drawing to win a prize. Make it something worthwhile like a gift card for dinner at a nice restaurant.
  • If patients make more than one referral, then their name goes into “the hat” that many times, increasing their chances of winning.
  • Each month give away a different prize.
  • Place signs in high-traffic areas touting the program. Train your team to promote it during interactions with patients.
  • Take photos of all the winners and place those pictures in the reception area. Also, use social media to create awareness about the program.

2. Don’t Let Money Walk Out the Door

Practices are only collecting 91% of their production, according to the latest survey by the Levin Group Data Center. If you’re below 95%, making a few adjustments can lead to a big improvement in your bottom line. Train your team to ask for payment at the time of service, including co-payments. If this is the policy, verify that it’s being followed. If members of your front desk team are uncomfortable asking for payment, give them the training they need to perform at a higher level. In addition, the financial coordinator should contact all patients who owe the practice money. Levin Group recommends a 3–3–3 system of 3 phone calls, 3 emails and 3 letters over 9 weeks. Using this system, our clients have recouped significant amounts of revenue they once thought uncollectible.

3. Give Your Patients One More Thing to Smile About

People at any age want to look their best. Most practices aren’t doing enough to create awareness about their cosmetic services. Have you ever had regular patients come in with a brand-new cosmetically enhanced smile… that they got from another dentist? If so, you’re not alone. I’ve heard similar stories from many other dentists. If you’re not actively letting patients know about what cosmetic treatments you offer, you’re basically telling them to go elsewhere.

Conclusion

Owning a practice is like running a marathon, not a sprint. There are plenty of mile markers along the way, but you don’t cross the finish line until the end of the year. Use these three strategies to build on your success and to grow your practice even more in the next six months.


Additional Resource

Need more patients? Learn more about our marketing consulting program by clicking here.

Back to Practice Success Archive »
What’s the Quickest Way to Lose Patients?

What’s the Quickest Way to Lose Patients?

That’s an easy one––don’t listen to them. People find it infuriating when they’re ignored especially by the person they’re talking to. In a dental practice, this happens when staff members fail to give patients their undivided attention by multi-tasking, answering phones, texting, talking to their colleagues, looking at their computers, etc.

Active listening is a physical activity. It takes focus and energy to listen to someone and not do anything else. Even routine requests require active listening. If patients feel that the practice doesn’t value their time, there’s a good chance they won’t be back.

The Impact of Not Listening

I recently spoke to a dentist who was upset because his front desk coordinator had cost the practice a patient and her family. The mother was trying to schedule her three children for appointments. She told the staff member that she needed to leave quickly to pick up one of her kids. The front desk coordinator kept stopping to answer the phone and talking with callers before returning to the waiting patient. After the third call, the mother canceled all of our appointments and stormed out of the office. It’s obvious that the mother felt that customer service was less than satisfactory, but she also felt she wasn’t being heard.

Scenarios like this happen every day in dental practices. During interactions with dentists and staff, patients want to feel they are your #1 priority. They don’t want to repeat things two or three times, be put on hold endlessly, or be left in the treatment room unattended for 10 minutes. All of these are great ways to lose patients quickly.

How do you actively listen? Here are a few key tips:

  1. Always look directly at patients when they are speaking. This will keep you from multi-tasking and reassure them that you are focused on them.
  2. Repeat and summarize what they said. For example start the sentence with “So what I hear you saying is ….”
  3. Ask questions if clarification is needed. For example, “So you would prefer a Tuesday afternoon over a Thursday morning?”
  4. Nod and smile at patients when they are speaking. Even leaning forward creates a positive energy and a sense of listening.

Additional Resource

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper Stage III Customer Service by clicking here.

Back to Practice Success Archive »
Case Presentation: 4 Easy Fixes

Case Presentation: 4 Easy Fixes

You’re the expert on oral health, yet you have trouble persuading patients to accept beneficial treatment. They feign interest in your recommendations, but most of the time they  don’t follow through, especially for larger cases and cosmetic treatment. It’s frustrating.

That lack of success can quickly turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. You don’t want to come into the presentation with a negative mindset that patients will automatically turn down your treatment. Break the cycle of rejection with these four simple but effective “powers of persuasion” to win over patients:

  1. Be Enthusiastic
    Enthusiasm engages patients. Many dentists are simply too professorial in their presentations. You’re not pontificating on a research paper at a symposium––you’re beautifying smiles, saving teeth and improving lives. All good things, right? Your attitude, demeanor and manner should reflect that critical mission.
  2. Stay Focused
    During the case presentation, there’s nothing more important than the patient in the chair.Don’t get distracted. Tell your team you’re not to be interrupted, except for a major emergency. Make eye contact, use the patient’s name, and periodically ask if there are any questions. Act as if the only thing you have to do that day is talk to that patient about treatment. Rushing, interruptions, and bad body language will guarantee that the answer is NO.
  3. Be Compelling
    We’ve all seen TV shows and movies where lawyers make a powerful case in court. The operatory is your courtroom and the patient is the judge and jury. If you think through every element of the case––the type of treatment, benefits, points to emphasize, financial issues, potential patient concerns, etc.––you can anticipate patient objections. Never react defensively when a patient asks a tough question. Treat it simply as a normal part of the discussion. Throughout the presentation, make sure patients know you have their best interests in mind.
  4. Ask For The Close
    In any type of sales situation, and case presentation is a professional level of sales, you have to ask for the close. If you simply present a case without asking for the close, you’ve made it easy for patients to say “no.” In fact, they don’t have to say anything. By asking for the close, patients are compelled to respond.  If you’ve done an excellent job at making the case treatment, more patients will say “yes.”An excellent script to ask for the close is “Mrs. Jones, would you like to have this treatment performed?” Give the patient time to think and respond and then be ready to answer questions or objections.

Conclusion

Everything matters during case presentation. Even the seemingly small stuff. Make these “little” adjustments to your case presentations and you’ll reap big rewards.


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from 43 Rules to Increase Practice Production by clicking here

Back to Practice Success Archive »
The Top 3 Reasons New Patients Are Avoiding Your Practice

The Top 3 Reasons New Patients Are Avoiding Your Practice

Every practice wants more new patients. You need them to grow your production and help maintain your current level of revenue because every year you will lose patients. That’s a fact!

Your practice may have the greatest team in the world and you may be the most beloved dentist in the tristate region, but you’re still going to lose patients because people…

  • Move away
  • Become sick or incapacitated
  • Die

There’s nothing you can do about those patients. Then there are those other patients who decide to stop coming in due to a variety of reasons:

  • They lost or changed their dental insurance
  • They had a bad experience at your practice
  • They switched to another dentist

Depending on your customer service and patient outreach, you and your team may be able to persuade some, but not all, of them to return to your practice. But that’s not enough. You’ll always need a steady stream of new patients coming in the door to ensure practice success.

Where Have All the New Patients Gone?

Most practices don’t have enough new patients. There are a lot of reasons why, but based on what we see in new consulting client practices, here are the top 3 reasons why new patients aren’t coming in…

1. Your Team’s Phone Skills are Terrible

Your marketing may be top-notch, but if your front desk team doesn’t know how to talk to prospective patients, it doesn’t matter. If your staff isn’t enthusiastic… isn’t building value for your skills, your team and your practice… isn’t motivating callers to schedule and show up for their appointments, then all the money you’re investing in marketing campaigns is going to waste.

Solution: Give your front desk the scripting and training they need to excel at what they do.

2. Your Website is Older than Betty White (and Far Less Interesting)

Does your website make people flashback to the days of AOL, Geocities and dial-up? If so, it’s like you posted a giant neon NO TRESPASSING sign on the internet, warning prospective patients not to visit your practice. If you don’t care enough to keep your website current, what does that say about the care and treatment patients can expect to receive at your office?

Solution: Work with a web design company to bring your website into the 21st century.

3. Your Customer Service is Worse than the Cable Company’s

In reality, your customer service doesn’t have to be awful to keep new patients from calling… it just has to be less than great. Because if your current patients aren’t singing your praises about the amazing customer service they experienced, you’re sabotaging your new patient outreach activities. You don’t want to be perceived as just another dental practice that “cleans” teeth and fills cavities. You want to stand out in a crowded field, and WOW customer service is one way to do that.

Solution: Review the entire patient experience through the eyes of new patients. Be as critical and thorough as possible, listing deficiencies and opportunities for improvement. Implement customer service upgrades for all noted items within two months.

Conclusion

Many practices are their own worst enemies when it comes to growing their patient base. They send mixed signals to prospective patients. A powerful marketing message is undermined by the front desk’s team poor phone skills, a lackluster website or less-than-stellar customer service. Take a hard look at your practice. If you have any of these issues, correct them now.


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s popular book The 31 Biggest Mistakes Dentists Make by clicking here and then hitting the Read an Excerpt button.

Back to Practice Success Archive »
Go and get grab your copy now!