Too often we find ourselves chasing goals that we never took the time to really understand. In this instance, increased case acceptance hinges on several important aspects of human nature. We have taken lots of time to discuss consumerism, what real case acceptance is, and what patients really want from their dentist. I want to take the time, in outline form, to remind each of our readers how important these three areas are to master. This will form the underpinnings of a 90%+ case acceptance protocol that will work for anyone with any patient.
So, what is real case acceptance? It is getting patients to show up, pay for their treatment, and refer everyone they know. Each of these three characteristics of case acceptance is really the end result of doing many things well.
1. Getting the patient to show up: Patients don’t show up unless you have a great reputation reflected online in the form of reviews and word of mouth. They won’t show up unless you are in-network with their insurance, and they won’t show up unless they can bring their whole family during consumer hours.
2. Getting the patient to pay for their treatment: People will not pay for their treatment unless you have really “wowed” them. For most people, this means being on time every time, keeping the patients budget in mind, and not hurting them. It comes down to under-promising and over-delivering.
3. Getting them to refer everyone they know: People only refer when you have exceeded their expectations. Getting patients to become raving fans should be required of every team member and the doctor. The entire team must make this job one.
Consumerism is the next area we need to touch on: Consumerism can be defined as giving patients what they want, when they want it, at a price they can afford.
1. Giving patients what they want: The patient decides what they want. All we have to do is listen and follow through. Patients will always pay for what they want, but will shy away from things that they just need. The trick has always been learning how to get the patient to want what they need.
2. When they want it: Patients want to be scheduled within a day or two and most of them don’t want to miss work to see you. This necessitates early morning and late evening hours plus Saturdays. Consumer hours are the standard by which a small consumer driven business is judged. Learn this and work better hours, not more hours, and see your practice double.
3. At a price they can afford: The key word here is “afford”. Anyone can and will afford something they want. But add to that the ability for the patient to actually and painlessly fit it into their budget and boom, you have 90%+ case acceptance. We have to become experts at outside finance and interest free financial arrangements. Learn which companies accept more of your patients and go there. It will not be Care Credit.
The last area is patient psychology.
1. What you sell: Basically we sell solutions to problems and good feelings. If something hurts or is broken, we provide the solution to their problem and patients will always pay to get out of pain. The second area is good feelings. This includes high-end dentistry and a philosophy of having your smile for a lifetime. This is a perfect example where the art of case acceptance needs to be elevated, and we will cover that in the next couple of articles.
2. What the patient wants: Patients want something that looks good, feels good, and lasts a long time. Pretty simple. We just tend to make it more complicated when it really comes down to those three things.
3. How the doctor misses the mark: There should be no selling in dentistry; it’s just a discussion. The mistake most practices make is being perceived as wanting the proposed dentistry more than the patient does. If you ever cross that line, you have lost the patient. Changing to this approach of no “selling” means the encounter will be low stress. Buying is an emotional decision, not a logical one. Too often doctors revert to Dentistry 101 to justify their fees. Bad move. The minute you start thinking the patient should want what you have to sell is the moment you see them vote no and you only see the back of their head as they travel over to another dentist.
Every approach to case acceptance works with someone. If you want to Summit, it needs to work with everyone.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
PS. One thing a lot of people seem to want is whiter teeth. If you’re not yet familiar with Sinsational Smile, just follow the link below to learn all about it. I think you’ll be impressed.