by Dr. Tom "The Gems Guy" Orent
One of the first questions I ask the dentists I coach is, "Is the following a true statement? In today's economy a fair percentage of our patients can't afford best-option long-term dentistry."
Patients say they can't afford the care. A high percentage of dentists and team members believe them. Try a little "willing suspension of disbelief"! I'm confident I can prove to you that most patients use money as an excuse. I'm not suggesting the majority of patients could afford a full-mouth reconstruction. But if we plan a quadrant at a time and find a way to help them finance it, 95% of our patients absolutely can afford our very best care.
Separate fact from fiction when patients say they can't afford the care
If you assume money is the reason for rejection, it can negatively influence your recommendations for future patients. Even if you consistently offered your very best care, until or unless you come to grips with the truth, you have no shot at improving patient acceptance of best-option care.
If your team believes patients can't afford the very best care, it may have enormously negative consequences on patient acceptance as well. The moment the doctor leaves the operatory, patients turn to the team and ask, "Do I really need to get this done right away?" Even if your team member says the right words, if they believe patients can't afford the care, patients will sense just as a wolf senses fear in its prey.
The six-question proof
1. What percentage of your patients has at least one cellphone in their family? ANSWER: 95%
2. What percentage of your patients has at least two cellphones in the family, e.g., one parent and one of the kids? ANSWER: 95%
3. What percentage of your patients has at least three cellphones in the family, e.g., both parents and at least one kid? ANSWER: 95%
Take a look out in your reception area sometime and count the number of 12- and 13-year-olds with their own cellphones these days!
4. What percentage of your patients has either cable or satellite TV? ANSWER: 95%
5. Approximately how much is the average family spending on all their cellphones and monthly TV subscriptions? ANSWER: $350 to $450 per month
6. How much is the monthly payment on a $4,000 quadrant of your very best crown and bridge using 60-month financing? ANSWER: Less than $75
This is an internal philosophy! Tell your team this is for our ears only. If Mrs. Jones says she can't afford to do that implant, it might not be wise (yikes!) to respond by asking, "But, Mrs. Jones, you have a cellphone and cable TV, don't you?" This is simply to help us realize when patients say they can't afford it, the vast majority could afford your care (a quadrant at a time, and financed), but only if they perceive an immediate and urgent need (which clearly didn't happen if they used money as their excuse for not scheduling the recommended care).
Offering CareCredit and having alternative long-term in-office financing for those patients who are unable to get financed using third-party financing is smart business. Not having these two means of helping willing patients move forward with care is throwing huge dollars out the window. But no means of financing nor "value build" will help you "sell" patients on very best-option care until they believe they need that care.
There exists a long list of things you must do in order to have patients accept the "need" for care in the absence of symptoms. When Dr. Peter Dawson wrote the foreword to one of my books, he said, "Tom, I'm doing this for you because I know that you will carry the torch for my mission, spreading the word of complete dentistry." The first item on the list is this realization that 95% of the time money is not the obstacle you think it is.
Dr. Tom "The Gems Guy" Orent has lectured in 48 states and five countries. His products have sold in 47 countries. Accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry in 1990, he served as an examiner, and as editor of the AACD Journal. Dr. Orent authored four books and hundreds of articles. He is the master of how to make more money while working less! For a complimentary 90-minute "Make More Money While Spending Less Time" strategy session with Dr. Orent, go to www.Gems12.com/A2D.
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