Make sure all team members are on the same page. When team members give patients different answers to the same question, your practice will seem unprofessional, disorganized and inefficient. Use scripting to solve this problem. Excellent scripts lead to consistent messaging, which projects a more professional image and can ultimately increase production.
Advice for the Practice Leader – Have a sense of humor. No matter how well-run, all practices have their share of tough days. Things go wrong. Team members call in sick. Procedures take longer than expected. A little well-timed levity can turn a stressful day into a much more manageable one. The ability to laugh is a great way to keep things in perspective.
Give encouragement and compliments to patients. If patients are doing a great job sitting still for a lengthy procedure, compliment them. They’ll appreciate it and feel better about the appointment. Saying something as simple as, “You seem very relaxed in the chair! You’re a great patient!” will instantly put patients at ease, especially if they aren’t quite as relaxed in the chair as you say they are.
Advice for the Dentist – Work on case presentation skills. It takes time for even the most experienced dentists to master case presentation skills. Case presentation has to be learned, practiced and mastered if doctors are committed to taking the next step toward greater profitability. A little short-term frustration will be offset by long-term gains to the practice.
Advice for the Hygienist: Inform patients about what you’re doing. Counteract the idea that a hygiene visit is “just a cleaning” by identifying the many steps you go through during a routine hygiene appointment. Better still, explain what each procedure accomplishes and why it’s important for maintaining oral health. The more value you build, the easier it will be to keep patients on a regular hygiene schedule.
Add texting as a confirmation option. If your practice confirms appointments with postcards or land-line calls, it’s time to upgrade your communication efforts. Emails, calls to mobile phones and texting are far more effective ways to contact patients and prevent no-shows. Offer a choice, so older patients can still get postcard reminders and younger ones can opt for text messages.
Management Monday: Check out Dr. Levin’s whitepaper, “Wherever You Are Today, You Won’t Be There Tomorrow,” by clicking here.
Advice for the Practice Leader – Make business education a priority. The Great Recession and its aftermath have ushered in a host of permanent changes that have forever altered the dental profession. In this new competitive environment, the business of dentistry has taken on far greater importance than in the past. To be successful, dentists must continue to improve their business skills. Enhance your knowledge by reading articles and books, taking courses and attending seminars focused on running a profitable dental business.
Friday Freebie: Watch Dr. Levin’s video, “Continuing Education – Get The Most Out Of Seminars” by clicking here.
Advice for the Hygienist – Look for ways to improve your verbal skills. Do you make patients feel welcome and comfortable during their hygiene appointments? Do you inform patients about appropriate need-based and elective services? Are there any areas where you feel you could do a better job communicating? Review all of the practice’s scripts for customer service and hygiene to improve your verbal skills.
Create a systems manual. Up-to-date documentation for all systems should be gathered together in one place—a systems manual. This is an essential reference for the entire practice. Among other purposes, it serves as a jumping-off point when determining individual and group training priorities. It can also play a role in troubleshooting practice operations when performance lags in some area.
Maintain a lively practice atmosphere. Professionalism and attentive care don’t preclude pleasant human interaction around and with patients. As long as it doesn’t interfere with the quality of service or project a frivolous manner, lively conversation helps make patients feel more confident and relaxed in the practice. It creates a comfort level that contributes a great deal to patient satisfaction.
Additional Resource: Watch Dr. Levin’s video, “The New Patient Experience – How To Impress The New Patient” by clicking here.