Dentists, what business are you really in?
Determining the business of your dental practice is the first priority
Before spending money on marketing or a new website, determining the business of the practice is the first priority. The desires of patients will determine that business. What is it that they dream about, aspire to, or imagine? When these basic, often secret, desires are satisfied, the practice will grow. The primary objective of marketing is to make prospective patients aware of the office and to communicate that you have the ability to provide them with what they are seeking.
Often the patient is thwarted by the process of getting to the office, for example:
- The right and left hands don’t talk to each other. Everyone in the office needs to deliver the same message and work for the same outcome. The patient should never have to give the office the same information twice. It shows a lack of organization and communication.
- Anyone who interacts with the potential patient must be ready with all the information a patient might ask for or hope to receive: the administrator’s voice on the phone, the ability to ask good questions, and to interpret what the patient means by what she says. Does the first person a potential new patient comes into contact with have the knowledge and ability to answer questions and move this person to the next step; i.e., make an appointment or a follow-up call? call?
- The doctor and team must be clear about what the patient actually experiences when doing business with the office. The experience a patient has while processing through the office is as important as the clinical delivery of care. Offices who want patients to accept larger treatment plans must pay careful attention to the office environment, level of personal service, amenities, knowledgeable team members and a little extra pizzazz whenever possible and appropriate. Better restaurants are masters at creating an experience for their patrons.
It’s been said that the business of the practice is the set of feelings the patient leaves with, not the set of procedures that were completed.
Patients don’t care what you think they need; they care more about what they want. If practice growth is important, find a way to discover what they want.
In some practices, the new patient is intentionally diverted to a highly trained patient coordinator who is charged with the task of building the relationship and gaining under-standing of the patient’s wants. This is done before the new patient sees the doctor on the first visit. She spends time talking with new patients to learn what they believe they need or want and why they need or want it. What problems are they trying to solve? What pain are they seeking to alleviate or avoid? What pleasure or gain are they hoping to experience? What do they see as the ideal outcome and how will that make them feel?
The treatment plan will optimally highlight what the doctor can deliver and will describe how it will benefit them clinically and non-clinically. The doctor must answer the question the patient asks, “If I give the money you require, what will change in my life as well as my mouth?” The doctor must have well in hand what the patient is looking for and why and what they see as the ideal outcome. This is the message that will move patients to a “yes.”