One thing. Really. Just one. Anyone can do one thing to turn his or her practice around. One thing, anything, is better than allowing another day or year go by and settling for where you are now. One thing can make a huge difference for any practice anywhere. Keep in mind that failure is not fatal and success is not permanent. This series of doing “One Thing” is another attempt to have you become intentional rather than accidental. It’s sort of like becoming a thermostat rather than a thermometer. One just tells you the temperature while the other (your goal) can actually alter the temperature or environment.
I was reading an article the other day and the author kept referring to a BFO. For the life of me, I could not figure out what that stood for. It took me about an hour, but I traced down some of his previous writings and the meaning made me smile: BFO means Blind Flash of Obvious. I think you too will find todays suggestion for doing one thing a BFO.
Let’s review the average practice profile according to the ADA.
• Collections of $650,000/year or $54,000/month or $3,385/day (working 16 days per month)
• Overhead of 67 to 75% (roughly $36,180 to $40,500 per month in expenses)
• Net profit per month before taxes of $17,820 to $13,500
• 4 to 6 employees
• 20 to 30 new patients per month
Now do the math and see where you stand. We are going to give you one thing to explore and work on each week. Each “one thing” will give you the greatest return on investment, cost little to implement, and provide the potential for exponential gains. We are going to start with the most important piece of equipment you own in the office (the telephone) and the least worked on skill for practice growth (well trained phone skills). This is your phone call conversion rate.
The average practice converts only 35% of its calls into a patient making an appointment. This is terrible and falls squarely on the shoulders of the person(s) answering the phone. This is literally a faucet that can be turned on and your practice will flourish, or ignored and it will just limp along. When was the last time you recorded your front desk’s conversations and the patient’s response? I will wager it is pretty close to never. You base this lack of action on the assumption that everyone knows how to answer a phone. This is a deadly omission on your part and probably one of the major reasons your practice struggles. This is the first contact and the first impression that every patient forms after speaking to that staff member who answered that call. It sets the stage for case acceptance, no-shows and cancellations, and direct referrals. Ignore this one area and you are guaranteed to fall short of your potential. So, what would be a reasonable goal in improving your phone conversion key practice statistic? No challenge here. I want you to consider increasing it from 35% to 40%, a 5% increase. Remember, that could mean tens of thousands of dollars every month when we take this entry point and increase it while also adding in the other strategies we will present.
Step 1: Find out what your percentage rate actually is. It is often worse than the national average.
Step 2: Start monitoring calls and listen to them, critique them, and retrain your staff to do a better job.
Step 3: Make this a priority with your staff by measuring their performance and constantly reviewing their execution on the phone.
Step 4: Create consequences for failure to improve. We can no longer keep marginal staff members. You are responsible for the training and onboarding of your staff, creating comprehensive job descriptions, and measuring their performance. But ultimately you need some consequences if someone cannot or will not perform the duties of their job at a high level of competence and efficiency.
This is the first step of doing the “one thing” in order to Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
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