It only takes a few minutes to make the difference between a tolerable appointment and one that actually is enjoyable.
Cindy L. Hutcheson, CDA, CDPMA, BS
Each day that your staff members go to work, they expect to have something to do. The schedule will be full, except for that occasional "no-show" or last-minute cancellation. But do you ever stop to think about where these patients come from?
Patients drive by dozens of practices to get to your practice, but what if they didn`t? What if they didn`t come back, because they were not treated in the special way in which we all want to be treated? Would the patients we now have be replaced by new patients? Where would these patients come from?
You may not have given much thought to those questions, but you should. Advertising in the Yellow Pages, community papers, radio, TV, etc., is a way to attract new patients, but it can cost thousands of dollars - dollars that could be spent on that new intraoral camera or that staff trip to the Hinman Dental Meeting. How can your staff help?
Staff members always should have their business cards on hand to give to a stranger. They should talk about their dentist and how great he or she is. (If your employees can`t say it and mean it, they`re in the wrong practice.) Most of all, your staff members should demonstrate the ultimate in professionalism, kindness, courtesy, and knowledge.
I have heard some staff members comment that they just don`t get out much to meet new people, and that`s why they have not referred many new patients to their practice. If staff members respond in this manner, ask them: Do you go to the grocery store? The mall? Church? These are all sources of potential patients.
Additionally, there are many things your staff members can do to market the practice from right within the practice walls. Try the following ideas and discuss them at your next staff meeting.
Y Build rapport with patients to make them feel more at ease.
Y Escort patients from the front office to the treatment rooms before and after procedures.
Y Focus conversation on the patient and record any pertinent, personal information.
Y Use nontreatment time to educate patients about dentistry.
Y Explain the treatment in terms the patient can understand.
Y Make sure the assistant and/or hygienist shows the patient the work performed that day and verbally supports your skill and quality of care.
Y Complete post-treatment-care calls as a courtesy after any type of treatment for which the patient may need some extra attention.
Y Inform the entire staff of positive and negative comments shared by patients.
Y Clarify the patient`s expectations of the practice and then check with the patient to determine if those needs were met.
Remember, it only takes a few minutes to make the difference between a tolerable appointment and one that actually is enjoyable. Believe me, you have marketed the practice, because that patient will tell all of her family and friends how great her dentist and his staff are. When the dentist is successful, the staff is successful as well. This success can be measured not only with monetary rewards, but with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that staff members are being the most they can be and are contributing their part to the overall success of the team.