Dentistry is the only business that has a built in repeat business mechanism called our hygiene department. Even better, our moms and kind dentists visited our kindergarten classes and educated us that the right thing to do is see your dentist twice per year.
Fram filters tried the same approach by saying you need to change your oil filter every 3000 miles…cars have oil filters? I never changed one.
In our independent surveys we have found that only 20% of patients in a practice average two visits annually.
Looking deeper… if your marketing is attracting less new patients due to consumers overall trust for businesses being at an all time low, it is no wonder dentists find themselves frustrated, underproductive and not knowing where to turn except for waiting out the storm.
Those teams who are putting their attention and strategy on things they can control are finding themselves growing. Now is the time to re-think the age old high cost, low return strategy of hoping that “new blood” is the answer. New patient case acceptance is averaging about 15% on total treatment presented and accepted.
There are three ways to grow your practice represented by the acronym CARE: Case Acceptance, Retention and the Experience for the new patient. Build your practice from the inside out.
Focus on your existing patients and take massive action to get them coming back at least two times per year. I know it sounds so fundamental and most doctors tell me that their patients already are. Secondly, while they are in the practice generate interest and gain commitment in having them buy treatment. Once the patient has left the office without making a commitment it is virtually impossible to have them buy once they leave, the emotion is gone, the education is forgotten, nothing hurts so carry on and get the kids to soccer practice. This is why hunting down incomplete treatment shows up in the eyes of the patients as you trying to sell the patient something they don’t need. Instead of fruitless incomplete treatment calls, make calls to get them back into see the hygienist so that the process can start all over.
This is called internal marketing. We define marketing as generating interest. Instead of spending gobs of time and money on creating interest external to your four walls to attract non-trusting people, invest internally on training and have a bonus system for your team. This will get your team more driven to do the more confronting things that have your patients buy while they are inside.
Instead of telling them they need to come back (no one likes to be told what to do) explain the value of why making the commitment to their hygiene visit is the source of total health and wellness. Making regular hygiene appointments will make a difference for them and you have to locate their “why”- the internal motivation that they already have inside them….it is usually related to family, occupation or health/recreation.
When the entire team is coming from the place of purpose that dentistry is the gateway to total health and wellness it shifts the patients perception that hygienists just clean teeth and dentists just fix problems. Going from molar jockeys and gum gardeners to total healthcare providers you will see a dramatic shift in BA/CA in your hygiene schedule. You will also see your team with a daily “pep in their step” knowing they are making a difference in people’s lives versus I owe, I owe it’s off to work I go.
Emotionally touching the Personal Motivator of the patient (going along with the inside out theme…this is touching the patient’s heart on an emotional level) and show them why making and keeping their hygiene appointments will make their life better.
Your patients will shift thinking “just a cleaning” to, that-is- my-no-miss-health-and-wellness- and-bringing-sexy-back appointment. My wife never misses her hair color appointment. You can create the same level of tangible urgency with the right people, in the right places, saying the right things. The easiest way to bring tangibility to the patient is to have the patient visually seeing the problem using intra-oral cameras. Now they can see why they should come back without fail. No flat tire, no meeting, no kid’s vomiting, and no I forgot will stop them again! Just take them back to the infection and disease growing inside their mouths.
By joining this health and wellness movement and believing that dentistry is the catalyst for overall health you are opening up a new world for you, your team and the communities you serve. Instantly your patients are buying looking good, feeling good and being healthy.
You are no longer selling them. You sharing intelligent things with intelligent people so they can make intelligent decisions.
This is much different than fixing problems and your patients dreading being sold something they didn’t think they needed, would cost thousands of dollars, may hurt them and take time out of their day.
Most often, the hygienist is the only health care practitioner that gets two solid hours with a patient. Let’s elevate our hygienists and assistants as practitioners who save and change lives rather than gum gardeners that weed teeth and just assistants who turn rooms and sterilize instruments. Assistants and hygienists are the first and second most trusted positions, so the patient listens to them without judgment. When they say your hair doesn’t bleed when you brush it, nor should your gums the patient believes it.