Welcome to this month’s issue of SmartBox Insights: What You Need To Succeed.
In From Our Founder & CEO, Colin discusses why we publish this newsletter – to help make the practice of dentistry what it should be.
Discover why dental insurance is at best a mixed blessing and how you can minimize its impact on your practice in When The Wheels Come Off.
In When The Wheels Stay On, you’ll learn the three most important things your front office needs to do to drive growth.
And in SmartBox Spotlight, discover how even busy dental practices can smooth the path to success and growth.
Thanks for reading SmartBox Insights. We’ll keep you posted about What You Need To Succeed.
From Our Founder & CEO
Welcome to the latest issue of SmartBox Insights.
I want to share a quick story with you. Last week, I talked with a dentist from southwest Texas who was seriously thinking about selling out. I guess that contacting me was his last attempt at finding a way out of his situation without giving up.
“I’ve had it,” he said. “I’m sick to death of insurance. I’m tired of all the routine exams and not having people accept my case solutions. I’m exhausted from running from room to room, day after day, and not getting enough for working so hard.”
This wasn’t my first rodeo with this problem by any means, so I knew what to ask. “Who are you targeting with your marketing? What’s the message you’re sending out?”
“What do you mean? I market to dental patients.”
“Let me put it this way,” I answered. “If you were the sales manager for a dealership, would you rather have a high-volume, low-value dealership, or a higher-end dealership that attracted customers who could pay for the vehicles they want?”
The silence told me that the light had dawned. We talked for an hour about what it takes to get more of the financially “able” dental patients in a market. We talked about how to get more niche patients, how to attract more patients wanting and needing more complex dental care, and how to work less and earn more while growing the practice.
In a nutshell, that’s why I publish this newsletter. Dentistry is too good a profession to be this bad. Better is out there; you just need to know how to get it. Every article in this issue is a nuts-and-bolts feature on doing exactly that.
Of course, if you have what this Texas doctor has, and you like it, enough said. But I’m pretty sure that you want better.
Thanks for reading SmartBox Insights. As always, I’ll keep you posted.
Keep Moving Forward,
Colin Receveur, Founder & CEO
When The Wheels Come Off
Dental Insurance: Savior and PIA
Dental insurance is great for patients needing routine care. But due to limitations on coverage and cost-shifting, it’s nearly worthless for people needing more complex dental solutions.
Dental insurance helps keep your chairs full, but mostly with low-value, “I want only what my insurance will cover” patients. It’s arguably the driver of the dental treadmill – same old, same old with too much work and not enough revenue.
Dental insurance is also a seemingly inescapable fact of life for most dentists. Seemingly, because there is a way to escape from the insurance trap. While relatively few doctors are willing to give up accepting insurance – you may be one of them – it’s easy to minimize its presence in your revenue stream. Here’s how you do it.
- Phase out of competing on price. Low-price offers bring low-value patients, and you’re a skilled doctor who (hopefully) didn’t sign up for a lifetime of drill-and-fills.
- Get into the heads of your better patients. They can afford to be choosy, and they are. Motel 6 doesn’t appeal to them, but a Hilton or an Omni will do just fine. They’re interested in what their experience in your practice will be. Paint a picture for them of friendly, helpful, concerned, and caring staff working in a comfortable, modern practice with the amenities these patients want and expect.
- Separate yourself from the great mass of dentists. You don’t have to have the best hands in the business. You do need to position yourself as the dentist they can trust to take care of them, understand their hopes and fears, and solve their problems. They’ll decide that you’re the dental expert for them.
Prioritize appointments for your better patients when feasible. The longer price-shoppers have to wait, the more likely they are to go elsewhere. That leaves your chairs somewhat freer for the cases you love to do and that pay you what you’re truly worth.
When The Wheels Stay On
When You’ve Got It Going On
When you’ve fine-tuned your external practice growth efforts to appeal to better patients – the ones who pay, stay, and refer – you’ve taken the first vital steps toward practicing dentistry the way it should be.
The next steps are these: Answer every possible incoming call, Appoint every qualified new patient caller, and ensure those new patients Attend their initial appointments.
You might think your staff is already doing that. You’d be wrong, based on SmartBox’s carefully acquired and analyzed data. We found that dentists routinely overestimate their front office team’s performance on answering calls, appointing patients, and taking the needed follow-up steps.
That’s not to take anything away from your team. They’re great people (you hired them, after all) doing the best they can. But dental offices are very busy places, and things happen in spite of good intentions.
Moreover, most dental front office staff are largely winging it when it comes to dealing with the unique hopes, fears, wants, and concerns of dental patients. It takes knowledge and skill to elicit (often hidden) objections, overcome those objections, take control of the call, and ask for the appointment at the perfect moment.
It also takes skill to get a “tire kicker” off the phone quickly to free up the line for higher-value prospects.
Here’s why the three A’s listed above – Answer, Appoint, and Attend – are so vital to your growth and success. Better patients expect the phone to be answered the first time they call. While they’ll tolerate being on hold briefly, they’ll be lost if you leave them in limbo.
Appointing a high-value patient is a worthwhile investment of time, so be sure that your team is thoroughly trained to do just that. Even when trust is preliminarily established, lingering doubts and fears can remain. Generic customer service training isn’t up to the job. You might consider SmartBox’s proprietary, dental practice-specific Patient Attraction Phone Training™ program. Check out the Spotlight article in this issue to learn more.
Your front office needs to obtain a verbal commitment from new patients to Attend their appointments. The phone answerer should also repeat the day, date, and time at least once at the close of the call.
Finally, you need to have an automated appointment reminder system in place.
Take The Freeway To Growth
There is always room for improvement in how any dental practice goes about attracting, appointing, and retaining new dental patients. However, handling those improvements internally is generally a hit-or-miss, as-time-allows process.
For already busy dental practices, the road to growth is often paved with obstacles.
That’s why SmartBox offers our Success Academy – to streamline and smooth the processes and procedures your staff needs to master to drive huge revenue growth.
Success Academy was covered in the previous issue. In case you missed it, here’s the lowdown.
SmartBox’s online, on-demand, video-driven curriculum addresses each vital growth metric in depth. Incremental gains in each of the 5 A’s – Answer, Appoint, Attend, Accept, and Average – turn into huge bottom-line benefits. Success Academy includes our proprietary, dental practice-specific Patient Attraction Phone Training™.
Success Academy also empowers you to quickly and easily establish goals for each department, track accomplishment to goal, and address any issues quickly. It turns the stop-and-go of practice growth into a nonstop freeway.
And right now, you can try it for 14 days for just one dollar. That’s $1.
Here’s why you should try it.
It’s the most efficient – and cost-efficient – way to increase your revenue to $1 million annually, or more.
Try it for 14 days for just a buck and then walk away if you like.
Or you can invest just $300 a month with a 12-month contract for Success Academy.
And when you add Dental Intel – which lets you pull the latest performance figures for your weekly meetings – you get both for only $599 a month with a 12-month contract.
Please note: At this time, Dental Intel is only compatible with Dentrix, Eaglesoft, and Open Dental. We’re adding additional practice management systems monthly.