I like to think of the treatment coordinator, or TC, as the treatment “closer” because the person’s role is to ensure that the treatments prescribed are fulfilled by the patients. As specialists in their fields, dentists may feel more comfortable hiring someone who has a lot of clinical knowledge for the TC position. While they may believe someone who is well versed in clinical details is the best person for the job, this is usually not the case.
A TC’s priorities should be to schedule the prescribed treatment, coordinate with other practices and referring doctors if necessary, and collect patients’ money. If the TC starts answering too many clinical questions without the doctor, patients may receive the wrong answers. While it’s OK and common for the TC to explain a doctor’s treatment plan to the patient, if a patient has lingering questions that are specific or technical, the doctor should address them.
I understand that it’s a challenge for doctors and practice owners to hire new staff, especially when there are long-term employees who may want certain roles. I’m all about loyalty and providing more opportunities for team members. But if it’s not the right fit, no one will be happy with the new person in the role.
However, if the person possesses some of the qualities of a good TC but just needs a little training, it is more than worth the practice owner’s time and energy to test out the person. We all know how time consuming it is to find and train new people. Whether training an existing employee or onboarding a new hire, consider these attributes as important indicators of the person’s success.
Top 3 things to consider when filling the TC position
People in general should like this person. Hiring someone who has a natural likeability can be difficult, but it is a very important factor in the hiring process. Liking someone is the first step in a good relationship of any kind. When patients like someone, they are more likely to trust them, listen to what they have to say, and accept and pay for their treatment.
People with a high affinity are typically happy and smile a lot, have a positive attitude, and have genuine and sincere energy. When these are strong traits in a person, that person is probably a good bet for the TC position.
2. Communication abilities
Communication is the key to success and growth in any relationship. If your patients are not engaged in conversation about their treatment, the relationship can die quickly. Once the doctor presents new treatment to a patient, the process of commitment should be started at that time. In the event that the patient needs time to think it over or talk about it with family, there needs to be a clear and direct agreement on what happens next, or more specifically, when and how follow-up will occur. This involves a high level of organization.
• Set a method, preferably the phone. Do not mention emails or texts for the initial follow up. Selling treatment via email or text is not nearly as effective.
• Set a day and time, not more than three to five days after the meeting. Any longer and emotions will wear off and people will not feel that the suggested treatment is a priority.
• During the call, set expectations. Hopefully there will be a decision based on the treatment that the doctor presented.
3. Ability to close the deal
Does the TC have the tools to close the deal? The TC should be comfortable asking for money, and should have an innate ability to close the treatment sale. However, no matter how skilled the person is, he or she still needs a few things from the doctor.
• Autonomy—The TC needs to have the authority to close treatment without having to go back to the doctor for approval. The TC should know all payment options as well as what they can upsell. The last thing we want to do is delay the patient in the midst of their excitement regarding pending treatment. Time is an important factor for everyone.
• Scripting and role playing—Just like most things in life, practice is the key to success. Setting up the TC or success by role playing various situations will create a more confident approach when the person is speaking to patients during closing.
• Explain value and handle objections—The TC should understand the value of the practice’s services and know how to speak about them with patients in terms they understand. The TC should be familiar with the other dentists and specialists in the area and what they offer. With this knowledge, the TC can collaborate and decide how to handle questions and objections from patients.
TCs are extremely valuable assets to the dental practice. While they are obviously helpful with patient relations and time management, they are essential to closing treatment in order to generate the revenue the dental practice needs to sustain, and more importantly, to grow!