Let's get right to it, shall we? Every single office has the same opportunity
today to either KICK ASS or SUCK. It's your choice. Sometimes you might
need support with systems to get you there, but every single
office/person has the same opportunity available to them upon opening
their peepers for the day.
You have less than stellar, grand, charming, warm, friendly,
charismatic, smiling, energetic, enthusiastic, go-getting, appreciative,
gracious and aware front desk representation. You heard
me. I called an office in New York a few weeks back to be greeted with a
cold, clipped, nasty "Dental Office". Really, that is all the lady
said. If you have someone without at least some of these qualities being
the face/representative of your practice, answering your phones and
greeting your patients this might be clue #1 on the empty chair
syndrome. Lets face it, all of your team needs to step up in this area
because it is the ONLY thing that separates you from the practice down
the street. Your customer service. Do patients feel better walking out
of your practice than they did walking in? Do they hang up after calling
with a smile? These things MATTER!
2) Lack of follow-up.
Good Lord, please let me say it again. LACK. OF. FOLLOW-UP. Patient
called to cancel and couldn't reschedule right now? Is someone marking
the calendar/tickler to make a connection with this patient within two weeks?
Patient doesn't schedule for recommended treatment prior to leaving
because they need to check with their wife, check their calendar or
whatever other excuse they might have? Who is following up or are you
just waiting until they come back 'round in 6 months? Send a patient to a
specialist and haven't heard anything since? Follow-up. Post-op calls
anyone? How about a nice, caring "how you doin'?" call at the end of the
day for any patient who has had anesthetic or any other invasive
procedure? Or even to a new patient who has extremely high fear? What
are you doing to follow up? The Fortune is in the Follow-up. (read my
blog on this one!)
3) Ineffective, unused or inconsistent systems.
There I said it. Do you fly by the seat of your pants every day hoping
on a wing and a prayer that somehow, someway you might eek out your goal
today? Or do you PLAN for your success by using the systems within each
department to ensure the concentrated effort of working in unison
towards the same common goal. When you have strategic systems that are
used consistently, it allows for the whole team to focus on patient care
and delivering the WOW to each and every patient without ever having to
miss a beat. This includes having an effective recare system (Please
pull your past due recare report today!!), effective undone treatment
system, new patient system, clinical systems and hygiene systems.
Confirmations are another big one. Solid confirmations systems, although
will never ever eliminate no shows or late cancels, will drastically
reduce and allow your team ample time to fill last minute holes. Knowing
your monthly monitors to ensure you are aware of challenging areas and
what needs immediate attention. If you don't know the status of your
past due recare report, insurance aging, monthly new patient stats, avg
hyg production, YOUR avg hourly production, % of open chair time etc.,
how the heck do you know where you would like to be?? Job Descriptions,
clearly defined expectations and job ownership required - all with a
4) Poor New Patient Experience
- If the new patient experience sucks, not only are the patients
probably not going to come back but they sure as heck aren't going to
refer you to anyone either. The new patient experience starts with that
first phone call (in which the customer service provided should be
UNMATCHED) - It then continues to the delivery of the new patient
packet, the initial welcoming into the office, the pass off from
clerical to clinical, the actual treatment chair visit, (does everyone
in your office take a quick moment to introduce themselves and welcome
the new patient?) back to the clinical to clerical hand off, then the
exit and first visit follow-up (thank you anyone??). It goes full
circle, is extremely involved and should never, ever be compromised.
5) Lack of team cohesion
- If your team has a fracture in it, well, guess what? That is
reflected to the patient whether you think so or not. The goal of each
patient visit should be to have the patient feeling better when they
leave than they did upon arrival. Team friction, somebody is having a
bad day - that is all reflected and is FELT. The team that works
together, stays together and SUCCEEDS together. The team that is working
towards the same common goal is FELT. The team that is fractured with a
few "I's", well, not so much. Successful teams not only work well
together, they have FUN!
6) Lack of financial options
- Care credit, pre-pay courtesy's, automatic debits, etc. Quality
Dental Plan is another great option for patients without dental
insurance. (I've seen some practices average 50+ new patients a month on
this program. Oh, and guess what? The practices who have this success
are the ones who have SUPERB front line representation who are super
excited and motivated to be able to offer this great program!!)
7) Lack of TLC
- That is all anyone in life wants to know is that they matter. On the
phone, in person, in an email. Its all reflected and if you provide less
than stellar TLC it will be reflected in your schedule.
8) Lack of community involvement - Get engaged. Get involved. BE the place that everyone goes to.
9) Lack of web presence
. If you don't have a website you don't exist in over 80% of the
households. How's that for scary? For all of you iPhone users out there -
Go ahead and tell your SIRI right now you have a toothache. Where is
she directing you to go? If you are sitting in your office and she
directs you elsewhere there is a problem. Google the name of the city
you are in then dentist. Where are you on this list? Check out mobile websites too!
10) Lack of Internal/External marketing.
Keeping your name out there. Building relationships, enhancing
connections at all times.Facebook checkins. Holiday themed cookies to
celebrate. Refreshments. Office logo mugs for patients who have
birthdays the week they are in. Do you invest in electronic
communications software (demand force, smile reminder etc) and yet don't
use it to communicate with your patients on a consistent basis? If so,
what a waste of money. Use the resources and systems at your
11) Not respecting patient time.
Are you always running late? Scrambling? (systems please) Always
rescheduling patient appointment times? Nothing screams your time means
nothing to me than a practice who makes a habit of this. Don't expect
them to respect you then.
12) You aren't available to connect with your patients or answer your phones 40 hours a week. Patients
want to talk to a live person when they are calling - and expect to do
so if they are calling during "normal" business hours. Nothing is more
frustrating than calling on your lunch hour to schedule appointments for
your family only to be told that the office is now on their lunch hour
for 1 1/2 hours and to please call back. Say what?! THAT is NOT being
aware of patient connections or needs. Come on folks! If you are out of
the office 1 or 2 days a week - yes, you might say, "Well our patients
know we aren't in on those days". Might be true, but doesn't mean they
don't WISH you were available and new patients calling usually DON'T
know that (otherwise they wouldn't be calling!). Why cut off the
opportunity that is continually flowing into your offices for 8-16 hours
There is nothing on this list that will
cost you mad money. There is nothing on this list that you can't
implement. We work with some offices daily who are ROCKING consistently
and it's pretty much because they have a plan, systems, top notch team
member who WANT to make a difference. They are thriving in this economy.
all this being said, you must be aware. You must surround yourself with
team members who not only own their position but are also aware.
Excited. Motivated. Engage with your patients. Are you thinking about
your golf game in the middle of a crown prep or actively engaged with
your patients? Are you excited to get to the office on Monday morning to
see what the week will bring? Are your team members motivated to make
You have every opportunity at your fingertips. It takes
a plan, some systems and consistent hard work. But for the most part,
your chairs aren't empty because of the economy. Think about it.
Just do it.
Here's to a FULL schedule!