On the first day of the month we all face the same problem. We have about four weeks to make enough to pay the bills, and make a decent profit. Without the new patients and repeat visits of our existing patients, it is impossible to maintain our overhead and grow our practice. The Seven C’s of Demand should help you and your staff concentrate on the most important steps to insure a great month.
1. Cost: Comparables comparable
2. Convenience: Location, hours, hassles, services (www.zipskinny.com)
3. Control: Systems
4. Comfort: Pain free, sedation, post op
5. Compassion: Goes away without enough staff
6. Capacity: Giving patients what they want, when they want it, at a price they can afford
7. Competence: This means increased confidence
Cost: In the past, we have offered to do a free fee review for our readers. Keeping your fees in the 80-85th percentile will help insure that your fees are in line with offices in your area. Consumers shop and will go and stay with the practice that seems to offer the best balance of value and price. Don’t get the reputation as being the “most expensive dentist in town”. Once this happens, you begin a very slow consistent decrease in new patients and internal referrals.
Convenience: I could go on for pages about this but will try and keep it concise. The number one marketing outreach you can have is CONVENIENCE. If you’re not convenient, patients will go down the street. Convenience is more than just having consumer hours and a great, highly visible location. It means taking their insurance, finding a way for your patients to fit needed dentistry into their budgets, and removing the hassles that prevent new patients from getting through your front door. How many times do you find doctors creating growth killing policies that run off new patients and kill referrals? Things like: “Our policy is to never discuss fees on the phone”, OR “We never clean teeth on the first visit”, OR “We don’t see children”. In fact, if anything the patient asks is answered with any form of “no”, you’re creating a hassle, a barrier to entry. Don’t give customers the excuse to go down the street. Create convenience. Embrace consumerism.
Control: Control of every day, every measurement of success that you can name comes from great integrated systems that eliminate day to day mistakes and insure a great customer experience. The frustrating thing about coaching clients is that they usually only implement 20-30% of our systems and start to get the momentum toward better results. Don’t stop short at 30%, perfect the systems we give you and reap a career long climb to areas of profitability you thought only the “lucky others” could achieve. Great systems insure more consistent results. It makes hiring and training easier and insures a better result every time. Do this now. Once in place, these systems make your practice worth more because any associate or partner or ultimate buyer of your practice will see that everything is reproducible and transferable.
Comfort: You don’t have enough money to pay for the kind of marketing that making patients comfortable will bring. Using nitrous on every patient (at no charge), offering IV and oral sedation, headphones, TV, and painless injections (Stabident, Xtip, IntraXflow handpieces), injections of dexamethasone in the buccal fold following treatment, using Steven’s Pharmacy’s Profound Gel for a topical, always writing a RX following a procedure, follow up calls by the doctor every day, etc. I hate to have to break the bad news to you, but the only person who gets to vote on whether you have created “comfort” is the patient. Miss the mark and the vote they cast will be with their feet as they leave, never to return.
Compassion: I’m back to the “key” for consistent practice growth: Inspiring the patient. The most important piece of technology in your entire office is the telephone. 100% of your patients will test your ability to come across as compassionate and caring over the phone. Fail at this and they will not make an appointment or will make one and never show up. Being understaffed, having poor systems, and a general lack of control makes it almost impossible to come across compassionate. Keep in mind that doing fillings, sucking spit, scheduling, setting up rooms, calling insurance companies, etc., are just things your team does while you’re really doing what you’re being paid for. The Doctor and every staff position is being paid to inspire the patient so that they can’t help but tell everybody they know how great you are.
Capacity: Is defined as being able to deliver a product or service that a patient wants, at a time the patient wants it, at a price that will fit their budget. This one topic could cripple a practice if you don’t consider how not meeting the patients wants, time, and financial needs can impact your practice. Doctors call all the time trying to figure out why they are not growing. It nearly always comes down to a lack of capacity. Not enough room, staff, peak demand time, poor pricing, terrible hours, or the wrong services, and changed demographics.
Competence: You will notice that I placed your clinical ability last, and it was done for a reason. Most doctors feel like if they could take the right course, offer the next great service, or learn to do one other type of procedure their practices would take off. Your success in dentistry has always been controlled by your people skills, not your clinical skills. Patients assume you have the clinical skills or you wouldn’t be a Dentist. One good thing about a career long commitment to constant and never ending study is that as you become more competent in business and clinical areas, your confidence also increases. The psychology of increased confidence in all you do drips off of you and your staff and makes the patients feel very comfortable about following through with treatment and referring others.
I tried to keep this short, but as you can see, we could have done a six-hour lecture on the “7 C’s of Demand”. Start the journey by figuring out where you are with each of these and commit to improving them all.
Michael Abernathy DDS