Let’s face it: going to any doctor can be a daunting task, but no one has seen the true face of fear like a dentist about to perform a root canal. As a business owner, you must ensure that your customers have a positive experience in order to be successful in the current marketplace. A comfortable, happy, returning patient is your number one priority. At the same time, health costs are rising and there’s a lack of adequate insurance options among the plethora of choices. If you are not appealing to your patients in all the right ways, your dental practice may be less viable than you originally thought.
Below are a few tips to make your practice more profitable.
Identify your specialty
Being known as the best of something can be beneficial in more ways than one. First, it enhances your profitability, as you are able to reach a niche audience that is looking for special services. Second, it gives you marketing advantage by creating brand awareness. If you are the best at crowns and implants, let everyone know. Tailor all marketing materials to highlight your specialty. This will increase new clientele and word of mouth will spread from your existing satisfied customers.
Manage Time Expectations
We live in a society where instant gratification is demanded and entitlement is at an all-time high. Just as you would like your patients to not waste your time, they don’t want their time wasted either. They want to get in and out of their appointment quickly and be on with their busy lives. The typical hygienist appointment should run no longer than an hour; make sure your team is performing within this time frame. Have your office managers schedule patients appropriate to the amount of hygienists you have on staff and stagger them so that you never have a chair empty. By doing so, you will be able to maximize daily patient numbers and revenue while reducing waiting times.
Set the tone for the office with a welcoming front desk
Earlier I spoke about the fear that some have of the dentist. One way to alleviate these fears is a friendly smile and welcoming words from the front desk staff. Their smile and expression of concern can easily settle the nerves of a patient.
This staff also sets your appointments and handles business over the phone. Make sure they are trained and well versed in the language and empathy that you would like them to convey. Don’t forget that you are in the business of smiles. Make sure everyone at your office has a smile and makes every patient feel welcome.
Work your Dental Hygienists to their maximum potential
Your dental hygienists spend the most time with your patients. They are there for the day in and day out grind and understand the gears that set your practice in motion. Having a happy, unified hygiene staff will enable you meet the demanding needs of your patients while creating an inviting office atmosphere.
Hygienists are able to interact with your patients and build a relationship. This relationship will enable them to recommend procedures, suggestively sell services, and teach patients preventative measures to guarantee their dental health. As patients trust the hygienists, they are more likely to feel safe and satisfied and become repeat patients.
Always pre-schedule future appointments
One of the biggest obstacles is getting patients back into the office for routine procedures and follow-up appointments. Why not address this concern at their current appointment? Having your front desk pre-schedule future appointments not only fills your books, but also overcomes the challenge of a busy patient forgetting to schedule a follow up appointment. It is also easier to counter objections and persuasively sell in person rather than over the phone.
Enforce a cancellation policy
In conjunction with pre-scheduling appointments, it’s necessary to make sure your books stay filled and you have ample time to fit new appointments into cancellations. Make sure your front desk knows how you would like appointments and cancellations managed. Print and display your cancellation policy and ensure that your patients are aware of the ramifications of a vacant slot. Offer to call, text, or e-mail appointment reminders at each customer’s preference. If there is a penalty for cancelling, they are more likely to give better notice or keep their appointment.
Offer Financing Options
One of the most stressful things about visiting the dentist is that insurance companies tend to offer only partial or supplementary coverage. Offering payment and financing options is a great way to appeal to those who need dental work but know their insurance coverage is inadequate. Make your payment options known via a policy posted in the office and online. Offer an incentive for early payments and a penalty for late ones. If this is a feasible option for your client, it enables you to eliminate the middleman and get paid faster than dealing with both the client and the insurance company.
Lastly, don’t forget the opportunity to reward your patients for their “good behavior” and give them a little memento to remember you by. As a child you probably received a toy or gift at the end of your dental visit. This trick still works for adults. Give every patient a brush, floss, or toothpaste at the end of the visit. This shows your appreciation and furthers the conversation of preventative dental hygiene that was started at the beginning of the appointment. This is also a great way to advertise; print your name, office, and number on these parting gifts and they will be a constant reminder of your practice whenever a patient goes to use them. Throw in a prescheduled appointment card and everyone is good to go!
Remember that there will be some trial and error and no single solution will work for you. You can determine the unique formula for your successful dental practice by continuously evolving and becoming more efficient in order to keep up with medical and patient demands.