We tell our partners if they’ve been in a partnership for a year or two and are still concerned about new patient flow, the problem is the Doctor. By the 2-year point in a Comfort Dental partnership, personal referrals should be so strong that marketing for new patients becomes superfluous. If not so, we re-emphasize the FANTASTIC FIVE. By the way, the problem IS the Doctor, the problem is ALWAYS the Doctor and the problem is ONLY the doctor no matter what the problem but that’s really another whole story. Dentist excuses are like, well, you know what.
If a dentist correctly and religiously does the FANTASTIC FIVE and has just average SENSATIONAL SEVEN skills (another BLOG to come), he/she will never lack for new patients in the Comfort Dental system. I was always a patient magnet as a pretty average clinical dentist, really, because I was fanatically religious about ALWAYS, meaning IN EVERY INSTANCE, doing the FANTASTIC FIVE. By the time I was in practice a couple of years, I had to beat patients off “with a stick” and my only reasonable options were to restrict new patient flow or sell another partnership. As you know, I chose the latter every time.
The FANTASTIC FIVE are simply five Doctor performed patient relation tools that are all foolproof in leading to patient magnetism. I emphasize the above referenced “Doctor Performed”. Dentists are naturally and correctly prone and bound to delegate, but in the case of the FANTASTIC FIVE, delegation, as you will see, grossly minimizes the incredibly positive impact. The FANTASTIC FIVE must be DOCTOR PERFORMED in every case. At least it must be so for the first few thousand times. More later.
Our partners often believe they have a need for more marketing in their particular geography and they are usually wrong. Upon further investigation, we nearly always discover the partner is deficient in the FANTASTIC FIVE.
Here are the FIVE: Initial Interview, Financial Arrangements, Hand Written Thank You/Welcome note, Patient Exit Interview and Post-Op Care Calls. Yet again, the FIVE are Doctor performed.
All of the FIVE are historic Lean & Mean tenets and the Initial Interview is classic. It should be done on EVERY new patient, emergency or otherwise in a non-clinical setting. Every Comfort Dental office has a small consultation room in the office design from day one. The interview should be done in a non-clinical setting and involves simply asking and noting the responses to 4 or 5 or 6 mostly non-clinical questions of the patient. Such things as length of time since previous dental visit and primary concern, discomfort and patient’s perception of their own perio condition are mandatory for us. These questions are so thoroughly covered in all historic Lean & Mean materials that I won’t discuss them in detail here. The point here is that proper use of the results of the initial interview will absolutely assure the Doctor of a successful case presentation EVERY TIME. Successful, that is, if case presentation success is properly defined. And that is, a successful cp is one in which a portion of the recommended treatment plan is accomplished. You know, hit a single not a homer and make DENTAL BUDDIES. It all starts with the initial interview. I sincerely believe the number of times I delegated initial interview can be counted on one or two hands. I love em and have done thousands of em.
Here ya go. We want Doctor quoting fees and making financial arrangements on all cases of any real size. You heard me right. DOCTOR TALKS $. We do not leave the financial side of our multi-million $ business in the hands of the high-school graduate up front. Sure, eventually, there will be a staffer experienced enough to handle the smaller simpler cases but Doctor must do the “heavy lifting” on fee quotes and financial arrangements. Once again, our financial arrangement options are Lean & Mean lore and this is not the forum for that discussion at this point. Point is Doctor is massively involved in fee discussion with patients. Of course, woven through Initial Interview and Financial Arrangements of the FIVE are the clinical exam talkover technique and our unorthodox belief in the non-clinical case presentation. Again, these are all classic Lean & Mean/Comfort Dental concepts, which, handled properly yet simply, are immensely effective.
HAND-WRITTEN THANK YOU/WELCOME NOTE
This one’s a no-brainer and even the most skill-deprived, moronic dentist can do it. It is just a matter of committing to the habit. There is no downside to any of the FIVE but this one is by far the easiest and requires NO confrontational tolerance. Send every new patient a hand-written thank you note welcoming him or her to the office. Put it in the mail the day of the new patient appointment so they have a chance to receive it before the next visit. In this day of social media and email, the hand written snail mail message is far more noticeable than ever and I’ve always done it this way. Sure you can pre-prepare dozens of them and then personalize and sign them daily. This one can even be delegated. But it must look like Doctor wrote it herself/himself. Piggy back your referral gift of logo mug or toothbrush or t-shirt. Talk about making dental buddies!
PATIENT EXIT INTERVIEW
This one might be the most difficult of the FIVE to coax Doctors to do. So it might be the most valuable. It requires a good dose of confrontational tolerance, one of Comfort Dental’s SENSATIONAL SEVEN skills for success. However, do this religiously for a few months and you’ll know everything patients think is wrong with you and your office. Do it forever and you’ll know what you did wrong before the patient knows. Doctor must attempt to personally contact EVERY patient who requests “records transfer” or otherwise indicates he/she wants to leave the practice. Our goal is to meet the patient in person and find out what we did wrong. DO NOT LEAVE THIS TO A STAFF MEMBER. Doctor must call the patient personally and extend an invitation for a no-charge meeting. If the patient will not visit the Doctor personally, a phone conversation can help, but a phone conversation is second best compared to a personal meeting. The ultimate goal is to keep the patient, but of equal value, is the knowledge of what went wrong. Many patients will not be forthcoming but often enough, Doctor will learn what patients hate about them and their office. This one can be painful, but it must be done.
POST-OP – CARE CALLS
This one REALLY makes patients talk to potential patients. My criterion has always been – injection. If the patient got an injection, even for an occlusal amalgam, the patient gets a personal phone call from me the evening of the procedure. Our docs may make 15-20 phone calls but they only take a few seconds each. Use your imagination: weave in some post-first visit care calls and any others you can think of. Leaving a message is OK and maybe even better because you can deliver your concern in even less time. I’ve heard all of the excuses and resistance to post-op care calls, and they’re all nonsense. Do not leave your office after your clinical shift without a list of phone numbers for post-op calls. MAKE THOSE CALLS!
So there you have it. Do the FANTASTIC FIVE religiously. They’re very cheap and let the rest of marketing be damned. You won’t need it.