I know a thing or two about getting patients scheduled in dentists' offices. I've been doing this a long time-more than 30 years now. In fact, the Scheduling Institute name was created based on our ability to produce scheduled new patients in dental practices all over the world. What I have found in those years is that when it comes to productive scheduling, the only thing that really matters is your ability to get new patients in the door.
If you know anything about me or my company, you know we were founded on phone training. In fact, you may even think of us as the telephone people. We actually do so much more. But I'm not going to focus on the phones right now. Don't get me wrong-they are critical to the scheduling process. I mean, calling your office is the first thing people do when they consider making an appointment, and your staff must be trained to answer phones appropriately. However, I want to dig a little deeper to unveil a key element in your practice that needs to be in place even before the phone rings.
What is it? I'll give you a hint. It has to do with your staff and their capacity to embrace one four-letter word.
The word is L-O-V-E. Yes, love. Your staff needs to love new patients. I don't mean they need to hug every new patient who comes into the office. I mean they need to love getting new patients-have a fire in their belly for them. They need to be passionate about filling the schedule with them and seeing their numbers rise each month. They need to love how increased numbers help the practice grow.
Steve Jobs said, "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." Your staff needs to love getting new patients. In turn, they will do great things-above and beyond the ordinary-to help your practice thrive.
Now, you love new patients because you know it is impossible to grow your practice without them. But what is your staff's attitude toward new patients? Do staff happily stay "after hours" to accommodate new patients, or do they complain that they are infringing on their personal lives? Do they find room in today's schedule for an urgent request, or do they offer an appointment two weeks out . . . or even send them to the guy down the street? What I'm getting at here is this: Staff can't just say they love new patients. They need to be motivated to get as many as they can through the doors, even if it means sacrificing their own time or comfort.
Do you want to know how to make your team absolutely head over heels for new patients? You (yes, you) create a culture where getting new patients is a clear priority and where your team is always seeking out new patients-even when they're not "at work." How?
• Institute morning huddles to discuss the goals for the day. End them with a chant where you say, "What do we want?" and they respond, "New patients!" You respond, "How many?" They say, "(Insert goal here)!" Do that every day.
• Create contests with cool prizes for the entire team to participate in. Remind them that new patients can be found through a variety of "free" sources (think referrals, Facebook, website, etc).
• Spell out the benefits. Even if you have to create a poster that hangs in the back that says, "How do I love new patients? Let me count the ways . . ."
• Don't forget the benefit of feeling good by doing good for others! Remind your team of the impact they have on helping patients feel and look better. Share patient stories and testimonials at your huddles.
• Go beyond office hours. If potential new patients call your office and get an answering machine, they are going to hang up and move on. Extend the opportunity to schedule someone "after hours." Send a cell phone home between rotating team members to be on call for a couple of hours each night.
• Lastly, and most importantly, reward them! Offer motivating incentives for each new patient scheduled and, as a team, celebrate your successes.
So, does your staff have the kind of burning love for new patients that's necessary to get them on the schedule no matter what?
Go to 5starchallenge.com and take our five-star challenge. We will conduct a mystery call and reveal the answer. In the meantime, start spreading the love and see how quickly your schedule fills!
Jay Geier is the founder of the Scheduling Institute and creator of the world-renowned five-star telephone training program that has revolutionized the way dentists attract new patients to their practices. He is finally revealing his secret for record-setting results, 600+ new patients in one week. Visit schedulinginstitute.com/DE to learn how he did it.