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Making The Right Appointment


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Lesson #2: CORE Lesson #2 – Phone Screening is Pivotal While Building a Blue Ocean

About This Lesson

Instructions coming soon..


Action Items

  1. Create a call sheet that reflects actual information you want answered during that initial call
  2. Role-play with front office team members on every possible question that may be asked during that initial call and how to respond.
  3. Create a flow-chart of how patients can enter practice.
  4. Track # of potential new patient calls vs conversions to appointments. Set target percentage and work on improving it!

Full Video Transcript / MP3

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Hey, what is up everybody? Welcome back to Module Number Three, and on this video we are going to dig further and further into making the right appointment. This is going to be a primer about one of the most dreaded things in all of dentistry, which is the new patient phone call. Now, I am not naive to think this five- to 10-minute video is going to explore every possible nuance of making the right introduction to this potential new patient, but I'm going to give you some things to think about as you are creating this new patient call.

Okay. Phone screening is absolutely pivotal while building a Blue Ocean. So, my focus is really on how do we build this practice within a practice through the phone, which is going to be the next video, and on this one, all we're doing is creating a template to start this process. This is not an easy process. I will tell you it is, it's one of the most difficult things to teach. It's one of the things that commonly comes up when dentists are talking about how to develop their practice, and "This is so difficult and I can't get this to work." There are so many different things that you can look into, but we're going to talk about some of the basic elements here for this phone screening appointment.

Now, a proper call sheet is in order to ensure success. Every call sheet is going to be different. I've included one in Dental Sales Secrets in my office manual. It's a very simple call sheet, but if you look at the way that the call sheet is designed, it's not "What is your insurance plan? "Tell me a little bit about your insurance, where you're at, location." No. It's digging into what is that patient ultimately looking for? It is one of the major differentiators. You want to get them off of those questions about insurance and, initially. But what's interesting is when you actually ask offices what they ask, some of the first things they ask is, Do you have insurance? What's your plan? Even before they ask them what's their name.

Something simple, "Hi, this is Steve. So nice being able to talk to you. Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today? How can we help you?" Get their name, get their phone number, right? So simple, but it's so not done. This goes back to that knowing, doing, get that I've talked about for so long. Listen, most of the stuff that I'm going to talk about in this specific video, in the following videos, you've probably already heard at least 30 or 40 times. That's the reality. There's nothing new that I can can put onto this take to get you to do certain things or get your team to do certain things. It's understanding behavioral patterns. You have to understand that knowing this information is not enough. You have to do something with it.

One of the things that I can talk to you about is this idea of defining your points of entry into your practice. I'm going to talk about this in two different videos. The points of entry into the practice, if you have questions about that, refer back to that office manual. But there are very specific points of entry into my practice. There's an emergency entry, there's a comprehensive entry, there's a TMJ entry, and there's a routine care entry. Those four entry points are going to have drastically different types of calls. They're going to have drastically different types of appointments. It's all based on a flow chart, and so you have to have something like that in place so that your team understands where these [inaudible 00:03:33] patients are potentially going, which route they're taking. And at any point in time if you have a routine care, for example, and it turns into a comprehensive care, there's ways to change that track and get them into a more comprehensive-based approach.

One of the keys with all of this is as you're going through you want to be firm about your points of entry, but you can't be dogmatic about it. I've seen this happen too many times that dentists get very dogmatic. "All patients will go through a comprehensive exam process" because that's what this whole thing is about. When you start talking about the interview, the guided tour and the possibility session, this is all a more comprehensive-based style, co-discovery process with your patients. The reality is not every one of your patients when they come in are going to get this complete exam. It'd be ideal, but the reality is not everybody wants that or they're not aware of it right away. So if you're too dogmatic in that approach, you will end up alienating potential great patients.

You want to be firm. You want to ask the right questions to guide them in where you want to go, which is ultimately a comprehensive exam, but you can't be so dogmatic about it that you say, "Well, you don't want a comprehensive exam, you're not going to be part of our practice. I've seen that happen and it's a real travesty in shame because the reality is you always have an opportunity to convert that patient into a comprehensive-base patient, but you can't do it if they don't come into your practice.

You want to always gear your call towards patient wants, not insurance. You would be amazed if you listened to your team, and I really highly recommend you do a couple things. One is either work with a company that phone screens and listens to call recordings for you, or you start to figure out and listen to how your team members are responding to calls. Sit up front or maybe even record these for quality assurance purposes, right, how your team is actually responding on this phone. You would be amazed at how many times the team is bringing up insurance and not the patient. Okay. This is a very fundamental piece of the puzzle.

I would consider adding complimentary consults to ensure success, and what I mean by that is if you don't know exactly if this patient's going to be a great patient or not, I have a 20- to 30-minute consult lined up for every new patient as a possibility. I don't get a lot of new patients in comparison to some offices. I might get anywhere between four and 10 a month depending on how busy we are and what we're doing, and for me, a lot of these patients are coming in, they're coming in as TMJ referrals. I do a complimentary consult to see if I can even help them before I set up an exam. It saves me immeasurable time on the backend, and if you're struggling getting these patients into the right type of appointment to begin with, I would highly encourage adding a complimentary consult upfront.

I say, "Hey, listen, this is just a great way for me to get to know you and you get to know us and our practice and make sure it's a great fit. Before we set up an appointment with you, we do the exam, and we realize that we're not a good fit for each other, I'd much rather be able to figure that out on the front end by having you come in and see if we can even help you, and then at whatever level we can help you, then we can figure that out at that complimentary consult. How does that sound to you?" So something like that can deflate some of the pressure and making sure that these appointments are made properly.

So, as you're taking action steps on this, what I want you to do is create a call sheet that reflects actual information you want answered during that initial call. You can use my call sheet as a guide, but again, it's gotta be something that's directed. How did you hear about us? What do you look for in a dentist? What are you currently struggling with that you want a solution for? Things like that. Those are going to be very important questions to start the dialogue and just listen to the patient.

I want you to role-play with the front office team members on every possible question that'd be asked during the initial call and how to respond. "Do you take my insurance?" Listen, you've heard probably 13 to 15 different ways on how to answer that. Here's the problem. Most of the time it's not role-played to death, and all of a sudden when that same question gets asked to the team member, they have never properly prepared for that, so they stumble, they stutter, they don't know what to say. You need to role-play with your team members. You need to find something that you want to say for every call, so when that question is asked, your team members can move into that answer with confidence and move on to the next question. You want to answer their question with confidence and move on away from that insurance question, right?

Every team is going to be different. The key is you have to role-play that so there's confidence. It doesn't matter as much what you say. It's how you say it and the confidence behind what it is you say. So you say, "Listen, we work with every insurance plan..." This is just an example. "We work with every insurance plan. What we found is we can be able to maximize your benefits in a lot of different ways by really focusing on what you want so that you can move beyond some of the things that have probably plagued you in the past, so you don't have to worry about spending a lot of money on dentistry in the future. How do you feel about that?" Right? Something of that nature, and every office is going to be different, but you've got to have confidence when you say it.

Here's something I really want you to work on. I want you to create a flow chart of how patients enter into your practice. Those different points of entries that I talked about. There's a video in Dental Sales Secrets about how to create a proper flow for a new patient. I want you to really start to focus on how are we bringing patients in and how are they moving once they get into our practice? where do they go? Where are the next points of entry? What are the next exams or structures that we put in place to follow them through a path of least resistance, so at the end of this they can say yes to more of your fine dentistry. Then what I want you to do is track the number of potential new patient calls versus conversions to appointment. You need to set a target percentage and start working on this.

In the next video we're going to talk about something that you need to be aware of is it the number of calls that are coming in. If you're struggling with new patients, is it the number of calls that are coming in are too low or you just not converting the calls once they get into your practice? Those are two fundamentally different problems, and they require two fundamentally different solutions. So the only way that you can start to measure and improve these things is by tracking this. You can use a simple excel spreadsheet. Whatever that is, you need to track the number of potential new calls versus conversions to appointments and figure out how to improve that target percentage and always work on that. Once you do all of these action steps, then I'll see you at the next video.