What you say about your practice and how your team demonstrates those principles contribute to your reputation. Your vision, and therefore your reputation, must be unique and must distinguish you from the pack of other dentists in your area.
How do you stand out in a crowded market if all your services are exactly the same as the other dentists in your building? You charge about the same, have about the same number of staff members, the same office hours, and even similar reception rooms. So who are you and why should anyone choose you?
Let’s take a moment to look at why you acquire new patients. Sure, some have moved into the area and serendipitously heard about you, and some choose you because you accept their insurance. But what about the others? Why did they come to your office and why did they leave their last dentist? One the first questions you should ask every new patient is, “Tell me about your previous dental experiences, whether good or bad.” Patients leaving another dentist have a story to tell.
If you start tracking these stories, I guarantee that most patients are not leaving dentists because of the quality of their margins. They’re not leaving due to clinical problems at all. Most are leaving due to customer service issues, and that’s good news for you. You don’t have to invest in expensive courses to acquire new patients; you just need consistent customer service that beats your competition. But that’s also the bad news, you have to invest in customer service training and ongoing coaching so that when patients share stories about your practice, they’ll share how extraordinarily well they were treated.
It’s extremely important to listen to your patients and adapt your communication style to match their motivators and concerns. If a patient has just lost weight, don’t tell the person that the best part of his or her treatment plan is that they can eat anything they want. Listen to the people sitting in your chair because they have ideas and fears and questions. Spoil them! Give them lip balm, warm towels or customized music. Hold patient appreciation days and treat every patient like they are the first patient you have ever had.
Track your reputation in the community. This is actually easy. Your front desk is already asking new patients how they heard about you. If a patient indicates that they were referred by someone, direct your front desk to ask, “May I ask what you heard about this practice that influenced you to call?” This tells you a little about what folks are saying about you and about what’s important to patients. Then note the responses and share them at morning huddle.
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