You will notice the title did not say “strategies”, but just the one strategy. I would have to say that this one strategy had more to do with increasing my case acceptance and new patient acquisition than anything I ever did. With this being a series of articles to push you to a great finish for 2015, you will need to implement this strategy today. I wish I could say it was stumbled upon in a very innocent way and was not the product of a devious mind built from the personality of an approval addicted little guy mentality, but it is what it is.
Years ago I was feeling the pressure of competition from my two partners, both of whom had better social skills than me and were every bit as good, if not better, dentists. The only advantage I held was that I was older and had founded the practice, and up to this point pretty much always out produced them each month. But that was getting more and more difficult. So the impetus for the strategy and the dilemma came as they began to approach my level of productivity. Having the little guy mind-set of just give me a challenge and I will crawl over it, under it, or around it, I set out to figure a way to create an “edge”. You know, just something to put and keep me ahead of the pack.
While standing in the hallway of our main office (there were two) and looking at todays and tomorrow’s schedule, it hit me. We averaged about 10-15 new patients a day for both offices. In one office there were two doctors and four hygienists Monday through Saturday and in the other office there was one doctor and two hygienists Monday through Friday. I worked Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and one of the days was worked in the smaller office. Now these offices were just a couple of miles from one another on the same street and the newer one was the result of really just needing more space for our hygiene department. The problem was that we couldn’t expand where we were. So we built out the second office.
Now back to our story and the “one” strategy. I had the habit of looking at a computer we had in the hallway in order to continually assess the schedule and to see if there was anything I could do to make the day go better. While staring at the monitor it hit me. We have 13 new patients on Monday between the two offices. That got me thinking and I just printed Monday’s schedule off and later took it home. It was Friday and all I did was take the schedule and call every new patient on Monday’s schedule whether they were on the hygiene or doctors schedule. Keep in mind: They had already been confirmed by the front office, had any questions answered, and they are planning on following through and keeping their appointments.
Here is what I said when I called each patient: “Hello, this is Dr. Michael Abernathy, and I see that you are coming in on Monday at ______________(time) to have a ________________ (cleaning, filling, crown, etc.) and I just wanted to call and see if there was any question you might have or anything I could do to make your appointment go better?” It was at this point that it usually sounded like the call was disconnected because there was total silence. I mean, I usually had to break the silence by say: “Hello, are you still there?” Followed shortly by the patient saying: “Yes, yes, I’m here. I was just surprised that you took the time to call.” To which I usually responded by repeating the original question or just a short: “Do you have anything that you would like to ask that might help us make your appointment go better for you?” You get the idea.
Let me take a moment more to help you understand how this affected my relationship with the patient and how it became the number one strategy for me. First of all, almost every new patient I called in advance made sure to request me by name, even on days I did not work or in an office I was not currently working in. The second thing was that these patients, even if coming for the first time due to marketing, acted as though they were direct referrals. They were more open to treatment recommendations. It was almost like we had met before and had already established some degree of rapport.
Try this tonight and begin to reap the benefits of this powerful strategy in increased case acceptance and more referrals. This is how you Summit.
Mike Abernathy, DDS