We promise, by the time you read this 5-minute blog your team will be equipped to fill your dental office schedule, immediately. Don't worry, if you are short on team members, just connect with us and we have your back... and your schedule :).
Six months ago was the beginning of the Pandemic. Six months ago, everything changed in Dentistry and a lot was left on the table we could not finish. So, before you read the best practices we recommend, head back to April and take a look at what was on the schedule then and completed (if you were able to).
Alrighty...What patients to call...its the big question...
Follow these steps... they really really work.
Do not start with everyone who is due next month...
Start with patients who were scheduled 6 months ago that were not able to be seen.
Work your way forward on your schedule from there. Pull a list in your software of everyone due from six months ago to today.
Once you contact all of those patients (according to the schedule below, then pull a reactivation list (patients 18 months back who have not returned)
The first thought must be, let's get the low hanging fruit first. It is better to call people due that aren't scheduled. We think it all depends on what your dental office considers low hanging fruit. We have tried so many versions of pulling reports and contacting patients, and this method has proven to be most successful for our team.
How to contact...
Did you know, 70% of patients prefer text/email contact over phone contact? I bet you are about to say you have an automated texting service that currently is working great for your office and it's already in place, cool... yep... we love it. We actually recommend many offices go ahead and get an automated reactivation going as a backup. Now let's talk about what you can still do...
Those texts are the same verbiage every office uses to schedule. Your patient is likely reading the first couple of lines and then never calling in. I mean maybe 10% scheduling (if we are lucky) is coming from this.
Verbiage is key. What we say is everything and if the verbiage you're saying/texting is still a version of
"Hi Sam, you are overdue for your next cleaning appointment, please call 777-777-7777 to schedule your appointment"
"Hi Angie, this is Sarah Beth from Happy Smiles Dentistry and I am calling because Dr. Tooth is concerned because you are overdue for a cleaning."
I think we are missing the boat on "sticky statements"
"A sticky statement is that one line, that one statement that if the patient wants to disregard anything you're saying, they will most likely to respond to this statement."
-Sarah Beth Herman CEO, Dentistry Support
So, how do we do this? How do we get the patient to respond when we know we are calling to "sell them on an appointment"?
Here is what works for us ...
(Our current record is over 30,000 Continuing care calls in 1 month)
First, let's talk about the best one-liner ever.
Truths about this statement:
1.) We are calling about their dental appointment. We are hoping to schedule it.
2.) It generates a call especially if the patient does not think they have a dental appointment.
3.) If the patient calls, it means it (the best "one-liner" ever) worked. We generated a call!!!!
Get the phone ringing.
How to Answer...
When the patient calls back and proclaims they "have no appointment" be sweet. Share with them you did not mean to alarm them but were hoping to schedule an appointment for their next cleaning appointment. You can express concern, or simply well-being sentiments for them. The nicer you are, the more you smile, the kinder you sound... the more likely the patient will respond in likeness.
So, what is "the magic?" I once had a dentist tell me, I had the magic. I always knew what to say and how to say it to change everything about the way a patient would schedule or accept treatment. I had the magic to just make it happen. Well, I'm sharing the magic we use here at Dentistry Support with you now.
This one sentence below is the one I hope you will always remember. When you speak to the patient and are hoping to schedule them, say only this.
What if they still do not want to schedule and they are irritated?
This is an opportunity to still get them on the schedule.
We can still count this as a success because we did connect with them.
Focus on updating their contact information or private information if it has been a while
What can I say when they do not want to schedule or want to call me back?
Why would I say this?
We do want to schedule now. We always want to say we had a "change" in the schedule. Avoid the word "opening" because it gives the illusion that the schedule is open, and at any time if they cancel in the future, you will offer their "opening" to another patient and it will be just fine.
We always encourage dental offices to please focus on today first. Today is the best day for any patient to come in. When is the next best day? TOMORROW! :) Our goal is to schedule no further out that the most immediate 5 business days. We need our chances of someone arriving for an appointment to be greater than 50%.
Can I force my patient to schedule?
Well, kind of...
When a patient says no, and then no again and they just want to get off the phone, how about you try this?
Offer to place them on the schedule 1 week from now (yes we know there is a more than 50% chance they will no show) and tell them you will call them 2 days before the appointment to check availability and ensure they can make it. Explain how important it is that we do schedule now.
Of course, if the patient is uninterested, that is ok. You have done your best. You have made every effort and we will keep trying. Begin again with the same message, call about their appointment, after all, you hope to schedule it.
We hope you found this mini-training helpful. We hope you are using the tips here to fill your schedule and bring more patients than ever into your dental office.
These materials are intended to provide helpful information to dentists and dental team members. They are in no way a substitute for actual professional advice based upon your unique facts and circumstances. This content is not intended or offered, nor should it be taken, as legal or other professional advice. You should always consult with your own professional advisors (e.g. attorney, accountant, insurance carrier). To the extent Dentistry Support has included links to any third party web site(s), Dentistry Support intends no endorsement of their content and implies no affiliation with the organizations that provide their content. Further, Dentistry Support makes no representations or warranties about the information provided on those sites.