Ahhhh, we all love new. We love that new car smell. We love a new spring day with the right amount of sunshine. New clothes, new shoes, new house! New is exciting!
New patients in our practice means growth … and growth is exciting. When new patients receive impeccable customer service in our office, they leave excited. Creating an atmosphere in our practices that fosters great customer service, a friendly team, and communication where patients feel comfortable and welcomed is a tall order but absolutely necessary to set ourselves apart from the other offices around the corner.
So how many new patients does the average dental practice see in a typical month? I looked back at seven years of data points from Sikka Software that they have collected from nearly 13,000 practices across the United States. Here are the average numbers of new patients, per month, per dentist…
2010 – 19.25
2011 – 19.25
2012 – 19.75
2013 – 19.58
2014 – 20.08
2015 – 21.17
2016 – 21.75
2017 – 22.88
As you can see, not a lot has changed during that time period. How have the numbers changed in your practice?
Also, it’s important to know what percentage of new patients are making up total patient visits per month. Again, we looked at Sikka Software data to tell us the average percentage of new patients as patients in a practice per month…
2010 – 17.85%
2011 – 18.15%
2012 – 18.91%
2013 – 18.83%
2014 – 19.25%
2015 – 19.94%
2016 – 20.00%
2017 – 20.17%
While the number of new patients per month may not be changing much, the percentage of new patients to overall patient base is slowly climbing. That means dental practices aren’t doing as good of a job as they could of keeping their existing patients. That’s what we need to talk about today.
We all get complacent. We get stuck in our routine and our excitement wanes. Our existing patients love us, but they get complacent on sharing their love for our practice. But new patients! When they leave excited, they spread the cheer and tell their friends and family about the amazing dental office they just visited, much like they tell their friends about the great restaurant they found down the street or the doggy day care they had such a great experience with. In this day and age of social media where we can ask for recommendations at any time of day, or post our dislike for poor customer service, this has never been more true.
So how do we create that atmosphere? One that begs our patients to come back and bring the gang with them? It all starts with your people! I believe an investment in your team is one of the best investments your practice can make. Answering the phone is easy. Anyone can do it, right? Yes, anyone can. However, great phone skills are necessary for growth and creating that great first impression when a new patient calls our office. A friendly voice who is willing to help by asking the right questions will instill confidence in our new patients. That first phone call is all about them, and how we can help them with their needs. It’s not a rush job because you have someone standing there waiting to be checked out. Each of our patients, deserve our time and undivided attention. It’s all about them.
Our office atmosphere should be clear of turmoil and negative air! It should be a place where we all come together to provide the best dental care possible. The “Negative Nellies” in the office can do more harm than anything else. The opposite is true as well. A happy team that works together will create an environment of confidence for our patients. Every dental office in your area provides dentistry, including cleanings, fillings, crowns, etc. The only thing that can set us apart is our customer service. How we treat our patients, every patient, will create a reputation for years to come.
Patients should be greeted with a friendly smile and welcomed to our practice. We need to remember we work for them. They ultimately sign our paycheck and so everything we do must be center around them. Consistency in what we do is huge too. Do you have more than one hygienist? If so, do they all say the same thing? Are they all on the same page? Is your dental assistant properly trained to answer questions? Is your clinical team providing an atmosphere of consistency?
I believe in the power of a properly trained treatment plan coordinator. They take up where our clinical team left off by spending time with our patients and educating them on their planed treatment, going over financial arrangements and setting an expectation of treatment time. The hygienist, doctor and treatment plan coordinator must all be on the same page and support each other so the patient sees consistency. This gives them the confidence that they are in the right place to get their dental treatment done.
When new patients leave your office happy and confident, they will tell their friends and family. They are new to your practice for a reason … they need a new dental home. A place that treats them well, understands their needs and helps them get confidently where they need to be.
As patients move, go off to college, or stop coming in for various reasons, the importance of filling that hole with new patients is vital to our growth. And if we treat every patient like he or she is a new patient, with enthusiasm, confidence and smiles, even our existing patients will send in their friends and family.
Treating people right doesn’t cost a dime, yet it’s the best investment you can make. Treat your team with respect and watch them build your practice for you!
Note: Now is a great time to examine your fees and prepare for the second quarter of your business year. Get a head start with a free 10-procedure fee survey for your zip code from the app Practice Mobilizer at www.practicemobilizer.com. Or, if you want more in-depth information, you can purchase a full fee survey with more than 600 procedure codes for three zip codes at https://store.sikkasoft.com/FeeSurveyforDentistry
Tija Hunter is the office manager and chairside assistant to Dr. Eric Hurtte of O’Fallon, Mo. She is a member of the American Dental Assistants Association (ADAA) where she holds the honor of Master and sits on three national counsels. She is also the Illinois Dental Assistants Association Vice President. She is founder of the Dental Assistants Study Club of St. Louis and St. Louis Dental Office Mangers Study Club. She is the director of the Dental Careers Institute with five locations in the United States. Tija is also the author of six CE study courses. She is a national speaker and is a certified trainer in nitrous oxide in several states. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was originally published March 28th on DentistryIQ. You can view the original article here: http://bit.ly/2pKkeS6