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Everything Dental Blog – June 2012

EVERYONE’S AN EXPERT

Watch the political pundits on Sunday morning and you’ll see how these famous news gatherers can’t agree on anything. These shows try to be balanced (?) and make sure to have a token voice from the alternative perspective but those voices are easily quieted by the moderator’s political slant.

In the marketing community, different perspectives and agendas also exist. In a perfect world, a professional’s recommendations (treatment plan) will reflect the best solution for you. However, marketing professionals tone down their strategies like a dentist reduces his/her treatment plans to gain patient acceptance.

Often times the prospective client tells the marketing professional what they want (Web page, Brochure, Logo design, Direct mail, Social Media presence etc…) instead of asking what they need. There are many analytical tools and strategies that must be investigated before anyone can develop a marketing plan for you. However, marketers want the work (case acceptance) so marketing plans and campaigns do get watered down. It’s unfortunate but before any creative energy is harnessed, the project’s cost becomes the central theme. This is similar to the transaction a dentist may have with a patient who will only approve work that is covered (in full) by their health insurance benefit. In both cases, the client fails to connect and accept the professional’s recommendation and is willing to settle for second best or less! The end result is a less than perfect treatment plan.

Dentistry and marketing are similar because neither is a commodity. Both require in depth analysis, time and skill, to achieve the desired outcome. A dentist requires radiographs, an impression, the patient’s medical history and an oral exam before he/she makes a diagnosis. Likewise a marketing person will want to familiarize themselves with the client’s business, their competition and various demographics before suggesting a strategy.

What if that marketing professional could deliver everything you ever dreamed of? What if they could actually deliver a nice flow of new patients, a creative logo, a colorful brochure, visibility on the web and a great reputation? If you knew the outcome in advance, would you pay the fee? Likewise, what if that dentist could eliminate your hot/cold sensitivity, could close up those unwanted spaces between your teeth, could whiten your smile and could create the smile of your dreams? If you knew the outcome in advance, would you pay the fee?

Dentists and marketers walk a fine line. They want to prescribe the correct treatment plan but often times present what they believe the customer will accept. This is a reality for many professionals who find themselves in this predicament. Best practices would suggest that you prescribe the comprehensive treatment plan and provide the customer with payment options.

Many books have been written on this subject and there are many qualified consultants who can teach practitioners how to improve their treatment planning and case acceptance skills. Sometimes the difference between case acceptance and case rejection is dependent on good communication, operational systems and execution.

I believe the dentist and his/her team must work on their treatment planning skills. Treatment planning is an art. It is a critical business process that is often under served in the dental community. When presenting costly procedures or products, the seller must be prepared and the presenter should address the common reservations. It is always advisable to use a patient education program or Intra-oral images and x-rays to explain the patient’s dental needs. Images will compliment your verbal presentation and can show the patient the finished product/solution to their problem. Be mindful about the emotional aspect inherent in these transactions. Your patient may have many emotional roadblocks to manage before agreeing to the treatment you have presented.

What is your patient thinking?

Why don’t they just agree to the dentistry you prescribe?

Common patient feedback/concerns:

• Fear of dentistry
• Lack of trust
• Lack of funds
• Don’t fully understand the need and the ramifications if left untreated
• Lack of urgency

If you want patients to accept dental work, than provide them with a professional treatment plan and address their concerns. Most patients haven’t budgeted discretionary money for dental work. They need to believe the work is necessary and that it will resolve an issue or improve their life. Yes – dentistry is a business and we must be good presenters.

One of the most common reasons for patients saying no to treatment is financial. Providing affordable payment options must be a component of your case presentation. All offices must be well trained on the benefits of third party financing (Citi Health™ and Care Credit™ ) and their offices financial policy. This will help you gain acceptance when the objection is monetary.

Successful marketing programs rely on your commitment, the team’s engagement and the appropriate resources!

The dental community is unique because the CEO, CFO and V/P of Marketing are generally in the treatment rooms and have little to do with the daily operational aspect of their practice. Sure, they have policies and procedures in place but for the most part the dental team is running the operation and providing customer care without supervision.

The best marketing tools are those that expand your reach, support your brand, produce results (with little effort) and can be measured for success.

Try to limit your time and participation in the actual marketing efforts and event planning. Use professionals or assign an employee to manage projects for additional compensation or privileges. Make sure you are updated regularly. You should be aware of all the events and marketing activities that you are participating in and updated on progress and deadlines accordingly.

If you are reading this blog and don’t feel the need to employ any of these ideas into your practice, than you have obviously identified what works for you. You are amongst the special few.

Every aspect of your business is either producing revenue or costing you money. The administration and many other business processes do not make you money. They may schedule work and collect money but they do not produce revenue. That is why many larger firms and corporations have centralized their call centers. Your emphasis must be on managing administrative costs and growing those areas that produce revenue!

You must embrace strategic relationships that bring you unique opportunities. Expand your network and work with people who care about your marketing and branding efforts. Those relationships will yield you intangible and practical benefits. These relationships must be developed, supported and rewarded.

In closing, dentistry is and has been a wonderful profession for decades. The challenges of being a dentist today are much more complicated than they were for your predecessor but it is still a wonderful profession. Technology and efficiency were not hot topics for dentists even 15 years ago. Branding and reputation management were not issues that dentists paid attention to or had to. There was no internet, no smart phones and dentistry was a small cottage industry, insulated from most common business pressures. Human resources, government regulations and compliance issues were minimal and everything was much simpler then.

The good news is that dentistry is more relevant today. The dentists and his/her team can make a difference in someone’s health and appearance. Cosmetic dentistry and implantology has changed dentistry forever. There is a greater emphasis on prevention and the systemic link. And believe it or not – the patients dental IQ is much greater today!

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One comment

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