By John Ross
For those of you who have ever talked to dental practice growth consultants, you may have noticed that the very first question they all ask is: “How many new patients do you have a month?” The reason is simple, real success does not happen in the past, but in the future: and the future is measured in new patients.
So, what is a new patient worth to your practice? In terms of office morale, new patients indicate to your staff and to you that the team is doing such a good job that people continuously choose you for their dental care. In terms of economic value of gaining new patients, they make the difference between expansion or contraction. There is no way of growing, or even maintaining a practice without them.
For many legacy practices that have passed from one generation to the next, the need for bringing in new patients can be a challenge. In the past, living off of referrals was the only way to have success. And while referrals continue to be the absolute best way to grow in terms of cash outlay, due to the availability of information about services and pricing online, billboards and postcard campaigns the competition for new patients has heated up.
Winning new patients begins with an honest appraisal of the office. As consultants, we always start with an observation day. We try to look at the practice and staff as would a new patient. First the easy part: the physical office. Is the signage attractive and visible? Etc. These are the big obvious things that will be more quickly noticed more by new patients than by existing patients or staff; and they are important.
Next, you and your staff. Is there a dress code? There is a huge variety of options here, from relaxed polo shirts to fitted Italian-made scrubs. Is the environment focused on making patients feel welcome and comfortable? Amenities like water, coffee and WIFI are the norm, not the exception. Still, these are simple problems to solve.
Now the hard part. Staff performance is key to what wins the new patient competition, but it is the hardest to change. Any group of workers left unguided will find how they want to do things, and then make those methods into habits and cling to them. Overcoming that tendency takes effort and discipline.
Remember, few dentists and clinical staff members have adequate training to organize and run a business. And until the last decade with the rise of groups like AADOM, many office managers were ill-prepared to run modern dental offices. Every office needs to have a trained office manager with the resources to guide the front office. Every front office employee needs real training in best practices in business operations, however, phone training is a must. Since over 95% of new patients call before they come into the office, it is logical that the right phone training can make the call staff the main driver of new patient growth. But getting upset with your staff members who have not been trained to answer the phone, is like being upset with a first year dental student who does not know how to oral surgery. Concierge Contact Center can train them.
Also, a 24/7 contact center can be a huge asset to the bringing in new patients. Think about it; most dentists are publishing webpages and social media posts all the time, so, it is natural that their followers should be able to call with questions about the practice and to schedule an appointment whether their call arrives at 4:00 PM or 4:00 AM.
At Concierge Contact Center our agents are trained to answer the phone professionally and schedule the appointment quickly and courteously when you and your staff are out at dinner or asleep. Suddenly your office will be providing your patients excellent customer service around the clock: your great staff during the workday, and Concierge Contact Center the rest of the time.