Dentistry is a service industry, so to succeed, we must change from the authoritative figures filled with answers to a mind-set of open-minded servitude. In the sales process, this is an essential ingredient to forming a relationship. Your guests must believe you are really listening to their dreams and concerns.
Everything you think, say, and do must be oriented toward your guests. What is the protocol in your office to welcome a new friend at the initial phone conversation? Shake up your standard list of questions and manners (it is too routine to sound sincere) to demonstrate the thought that “it is all about you.” How can guests know you are different in your commitment to a relationship? Is everyone on your team skilled in conducting meaningful phone conversations? Record your greeting and conversation. Does it sound fresh and enthusiastic? Do you have a tag line when announcing your office that causes your guests to pause and comment? Do you talk so fast that people have to ask you to repeat yourself?
Because it is all about them and not you, sending medical forms and four-color office brochures about your financial policies is passé. In trying to create a smooth entry for guests, we actually make the road bumpy by asking them to complete forms at home and then try to remember to bring them to their initial visit. We are not operating at the first appointment, so a lengthy health history is unnecessary at this point. Eliminate the barriers to entry. Establish a new protocol that allows patients to enter your life as people with their teeth secondary.
Be prepared upon the patient’s arrival to greet him or her personally. At Nordstrom, the associates always step away from their desks to greet you. Then, upon completion, they bring your purchases from around the desk. Little things count.
A warm welcome area needs to be well-designed to develop relationships. Just a few comfortable chairs says, “We aim to please a few, not the masses.” Reading material should elevate your guests’ mood and learning. Warm colors, recently refreshed, serve as welcome backgrounds for handsomely framed “after” pictures of all ages, gender, and ethnicity. There should be no “treatment things” present like skulls, bridge models, “during” treatment pictures or retracted views of smiles.
Have a full, upscale juice bar. Trust your guests with real cups, real lemons, fancy tea bags, and coffees. Find out how they like their refreshments and make a note in the computer to be prepared upon their next arrival.
The patient restroom is another area where everything counts. What amenities would your guests like? What would impress you? Establish a system for checking cleanliness and supplies. You never want a guest to have to say, “Things are not so good in there.”
New patients evaluate you constantly during the first visit. They watch to see if your actions match your advertising or the friendly voice on the phone. Does your office look like you could deliver what your marketing touts?
I am not a fan of giving new clients a tour at their first visit. If the reception area is welcoming, the bathroom impeccable, and the consultation room inviting, showing them the lab or treatment areas is not necessary unless they ask. Your purpose at the first visit is to make patients comfortable in the consultation area and find out about them, not just their teeth. Why did they select you, and why now? Many team members busy themselves with other tasks while guests cool their heels filling out forms and hearing all about the doctor. Shift your paradigm from “they really want to hear about how great we are” to “it is all about them.”
Ask questions with your own position statement in mind about how and why you are different in discovering your patient’s dreams. Be bold. Ask questions with confidence, and demonstrate your interest by listening. Give patients lots of openings to express themselves.“Everything counts” means that your parking lot, the smells, the changing pictures, and your doctor’s clean glasses and white lab coat that fits are all noticeable. What an opportunity to revisit your whole new-patient protocol and choreograph a fresh picture of who you are and what values and standards are important to you. Videotape your present sequence from initial phone conversation ... through the patient entry (both physical and psychological) ... to treatment acceptance. There is always room for improvement and change when the major theme is it’s all about them.
Dr. Bill Blatchford’s Custom Coaching Program is now available anytime, anywhere. Utilizing 18 years of practice-management experience with more than 1,100 offices, he focuses on leadership, systems, case-presentation skills, communication, and profitability. The program involves maximum personal time with the coach and interaction with other doctors. He has a new book available, “Playing Your ‘A’ Game - Inspirational Coaching to Profitability.” Contact him at (800) 578-9155 or visit his Web site at www.blatchford.com.