Last October, and then again in February, one of our very successful teams in Puerto Rico was blindsided with dramatic dips in cash flow and collections. In response, I decided to travel to Puerto Rico to locate the potential practice inefficiency. That's because my team and I have the same philosophy of solving a problem as you do: Don't just apply a patch and watch the condition worsen, find the source of the infection.
After a day of being immersed in hygiene appointments, treatments, patient consults, and practice management numbers, we got to the root of the problem. The practice was using the same approach for every treatment plan presentation. It was a sign they had no understanding of how patients individually process information. They didn't understand that patients accept treatment in their own unique ways.
Let's take a step back from our findings in Puerto Rico for a minute. We find that 99% of financially stuck practices are on the "new-patient treadmill" with no off switch. Whether they know it or not, they believe their lifeblood is attracting new patients. This creates a foundation built on balsa wood instead of 10 feet of concrete.
On the new-patient treadmill, low case acceptance and frequent hygiene cancellations occur because patients do not see the value in treatment. While this phenomenon is not a direct expense, it crushes the top line of your profit-and-loss statement. It whacks your cash flow, triggering fear and scarcity thinking and projecting you into a downward spiral.
If you too are on the new-patient treadmill, it's time to get out of your time- and money-scarcity thinking and into time- and money-affluence thinking. New patients can last a lifetime, so it's critical that hygiene patients see their first visits as vital. Their case acceptance is affected by one of the most challenging decisions a dentist has to make day in and day out: how to present treatment-especially to a new patient.
Hello, "Treatment Decision Matrix." This radical but common-sense system helps you create known value for your patients. The Treatment Decision Matrix has three components: personality processing, trust and urgency and point of reference. This month I'll discuss personality processing.
There are four personality profiles. Each hears and processes information differently. Most of the time, dental team members only present from their own personality profile. But in order for patients to accept treatment, they must be convinced in their own way. See if you can recognize your patients' personalities here:
• The Methodical. These patients ask lots of questions because they want to avoid making mistakes at all costs. They want to understand the process in a way they're comfortable with and know that they've got all the facts. To please methodical patients, you need to make them feel you are committed to go far beyond the treatment plan presented.
• The Competitive. This type wants to get to the bottom line and abhors long explanations. They are more apt to make the larger case purchases because their personality usually makes more money. They are driven to be the best. You will recognize these patients as having a "win or die" and "be the best me I can be" attitude. If the treatment presenter is methodically giving details, the competitive personality is squirming in the chair and going crazy.
• The Spontaneous. These patients are all about the experience. They want you believing in what you are saying and standing behind it. They want you to let them know that the solution is simple and not going to interfere with the rest of their lives. They want working with you to be an experience that will enhance their lives. You will recognize these patients as the center of attention, usually fun and the life of the party.
• The Humanist. These patients need to understand the benefits of oral health and its impact on their overall lives-more productive years to be with family. Their first concern isn't about how much you know, just how much you care. They want to know that you care enough to understand what is important to them. This patient is all about people and how your dentistry is going to make a difference for them personally and for those they connect with.
The Treatment Decision Matrix is your game changer. It lets you get out of rollercoaster collection months and convert new patients to lifetime patients. You've just learned how we train teams by first connecting with them in the ways they process and accept information. If you miss this step with your patients, they can't hear anything you have to say. Master the remaining two factors and you are an advanced treatment presentation team. We will look at those factors in coming months!
Gary Kadi is CEO of NextLevel Practice. He created NextLevel Practice to implement the Complete Health Dentistry business model, where teams willingly embrace and implement change, patients respect their treatment regimens and invest in their health, and doctors enjoy practicing the way they envisioned when they graduated from dental school.
Editor's note: This article is part one of a three-part series. Part two will appear in November. "Treatment Decision Matrix" is a trademark of NextLevel Practice.