What I find, when I speak with dentists, is that most dentists do not know their numbers.
Oh yeah sure they know the compressive strength of porcelain.
[The tensile strength, as determined by diametral compression, is approximately 29 MPa (4,200 psi) for opaque feldspathic porcelain and 40 MPa (5,800 psi) for gingival feldspathic porcelain. The compressive strength is reported to be 340 MPa (50,000 psi) for a feldspathic porcelain.]
And they know the marginal fit of crowns.
And they know the percentage shrinkage of composite….
But what about the serious numbers?
I ask dentists how many New Patients they see each month.
Some dentists can give me accurate numbers.
“In July we saw 53 New Patients. This was up from June where we saw 44 New Patients and May where we saw 41 New Patients.”
These are exact, accurate numbers.
More often than not I hear this:
“Around 40 to 50.”
Numbers like that mean that the dentist does not know.
Which one is it?
Is it 40?
Or is it 50?
That’s a 25% difference, which is a significant variable NOT to have a handle on.
And guess what, if they do not have a handle on New Patient Numbers per month, per week and per day, then it’s sure as eggs they don’t have a handle on new patient telephone enquiries and new patient conversions.
Per day. Per week. Per month.
And nor will they have any idea as to which ones of their team members are making the appointments for these new patients.
And what those team members’ ratios are.
Football teams know which players are better goal kickers.
And which players drop more balls when put under pressure from high kicks.
Pass completion percentages?
These are all accurately kept statistics.
*IN A SPORT!!*
IN A GAME!
Yet in the game of life, in real life business, in our businesses, I find dentists are more concerned about porcelain compressive strengths than they care whether Becky on their front desk is scheduling 55% more appointments per call in than Karen.
If you knew these numbers at your front desk then you’d be training Karen up quick smart, wouldn’t you?
Or you’d be asking her to let Becky take the calls?
And what about cancellation phone calls?
Wouldn’t it be wise to find out who in your Dental Office is taking and allowing patients to cancel appointments already made?
In one office I worked with we found that on percentage, the dental receptionist was accepting EIGHT TIMES MORE cancellations on the phone than the Office Manager was.
And so we had to do some job education there quick smart, and following that, we then did some career enhancement and some job reassignment.
So that when we ended up with the Office Manager now answering the phone the production and collections at this Dental Office just skyrocketed.
Without spending one penny more on marketing!
In fact this dentist reduced her marketing spend…
What gets measured gets improved upon.
If you do not know these numbers ACCURATELY in the first place then guessing them and acting on these guesses is pure supposition.
And I’m guessing then that NOTHING ever gets done in this field except HOPE.
And HOPE is a very poor business strategy.
Because if all you’ve got is HOPE then it really does mean that your dental practice is running you and you are not running your practice.
And the usual response to this feeling of HOPE is that Dentists cry out:
“I just need more new patients.”
But if Karen is burning off more New Patient enquiries than Becky, and Becky is not getting to the phone as much as Karen, then a simple task reassignment in their job descriptions will result in more new patients in the office without spending one extra cent on marketing.
Because you’ll have closed a massive leakage point there anyway.
A leakage point that existed on the New Patient supply that you had already been happily paying for.
A leakage that you simply hadn’t thought even existed.
Or known about?
Need more New Patients?
Let’s look at your numbers first….
Let’s dig deep into some performances.
Nineteen years ago a consultant said to me:
“We can come into a dental practice and find a staff member costing that practice $200,000.00 per year.”
What’s the accurate two year dollar value of a New Patient into your practice?
[Most dentists don’t know this number ACCURATELY either]
When you multiply the lack of conversion annually by the new patient dollar value, all of a sudden the colour just starts draining form the dentist’s face.
Failing to measure means the difference between schools for your children.
It means the difference in where you live, where you holiday, and ultimately how long you work and how well you retire…
Maybe those things aren’t so important to you?
How do you measure those numbers?
What do you do with those numbers?
How do you correct those behaviours?
Ask me. I can help.
Because the answers are NOT in the compressive strengths of feldspathic porcelain….
Over the next three weeks I’m going to tell you three horror customer service stories that I personally experienced during a twenty-four hour period.
No word of a lie.
From two large enterprises and also from a small business.
All of whom should know better.
And should try harder.
As a small business, Dental Offices need to be mindful of the fact that if we have no customers then we have no business.
That one is easy, you would think?
NO CUSTOMERS. NO BUSINESS.
Well not really.
And big businesses need to be mindful of this fact too.
I cannot believe how rudely I was treated and taken for granted as a customer in each of these three situations.
The arrogance and total lack of courtesy and empathy in each of these situations was horrifying, and it just went to show me that you don’t have to do much to turn a valued customer right off your business.
I don’t know if it’s simply a sign of our current times, or if its just my bad luck that the planets lined up for me during this time frame and I just so happened to receive three in a row of an attitude of:
“Well that’s just how it is and how you have to take it.”
Because I’m not going to put up with being treated in this way.
These three incidences only went on to show me that customer service is lacking out there, and how easy it is for any business that goes out of its way to be better to actually end up as being a whole lot better.
It’s got to be easy to rise up out of a pack of mediocre competitors, hasn’t it?
But if nobody’s telling you that what you’re doing is poor and needs fixing, then you’ll simply keep on blundering on regardless.
Because you’re stupid.
When we are physically unwell we go to the doctor for a cure.
But how often do we go to the doctor to see if we really are OK although we are not experiencing any issues?
When was the last time you had someone from outside of your business look at your business and tell you what they see?
Because I tell you, in these three instances that I’m going to share with you, what I saw was not pretty.
And if I was running any of those businesses I’d like to know that this was going on at the B2C interface.
So here’s what happened to me…
And this would never ever happen in a Dental Office, would it?
On Friday last week I had a follow up appointment for myself with a medical specialist.
Scheduled for 9:45am.
So I’m thinking [about the 9:45am thing], that the doc, or should I say the professor, works on a fifteen-minute appointment basis?
I’m a good patient, and arrive five minutes before my scheduled time, and once I have notified the receptionist of who I am and when I’m scheduled to see the Professor, I’m told, as is usual, sadly, to
“Take a seat.”
That’s all I’m told.
Now the professor shares the rooms with another provider, so I think nothing of the fact that there appears to be a significant number of people in the [dare I say it?] “Waiting Room”.
However, after twenty or twenty-five minutes I come to the realization that the good professor is not running to time.
After another ten or so minutes the receptionist, and I use that term very loosely [though I suppose “cool” and “brash” are both types of reception] announces to the crowd that so-and-so is next, followed by another person, and then me and then a young man who has arrived after me.
[The young man is the only person who has arrived after me]
It really would have been nice to have been told that the Professor was running behind when I arrived.
I don’t know about you, but that’s simply common courtesy.
Patients are a dime a dozen, and for that matter, so are specialists.
Why was he running behind?
Had someone arrived late and thrown the appointment schedule out?
Had the professor arrived late to begin with?
It wasn’t a case of an emergency root canal needing to be performed on any patient that’s for sure…. these appointments with this professor are made for conditions and not for anything acute.
But the point is that the delayed announcement of “who is next” was a poor substitute for what should have been said.
There was no attempt at empathy with any of the people in the waiting room.
It was simply a brash announcement of order.
No apology, and no question as to whether any of us had been put out at all?
Or whether we needed to contact someone?
Is it simply assumed by medical specialists that if you have an appointment with them that you have given them the sole rights to your entire day?
So here’s what happened next…
The young man who arrived after me was called to be seen by a lady who appeared to be working in a room beside the professor. [I had not met this lady on this visit or a prior visit. She certainly was not associated with the other practitioner that shared the office space. She definitely appeared to be associated with the Professor’s business].
After a short time it became apparent that the young man had been segwayed in to see the Professor although he had an appointment after me and had arrived after me as well.
When I asked Mrs. Brash whether I had been gazumped, she said that they thought that the young man may have needed surgery that afternoon and so were seeing him first.
What she meant to say was:
“The Professor has a vacancy in his surgery list for this afternoon so we want to fill it with this guy before he makes other arrangements…”
Oh cynical me….
Finally, sixty-eight minutes after my scheduled appointment time the professor appeared to call me into his consulting room.
During the whole time I am with the Professor he is polite and unphased and unruffled. Though he did not appear to be on top of my condition [from his clinical notes] as much as I would have expected…
Yet at no time does he apologise to me for the inexcusable delay in seeing me.
Not a mention.
Even as I left his consulting room.
As I settled my account [for $170.00 mind you!] with Mrs. Brash she made a feeble attempt to apologise for the hold up, but it was about as genuine as a vinyl briefcase.
Could something like this ever happen in a Dental Office?
And sadly, I’ve seen it.
I saw once, where a new patient had arrived well and truly on time for an appointment with a Dental Hygienist, and the hygienist was running well behind.
And in this case, there were two receptionists who failed to even speak with the new patient.
They both failed to inform the new patient about the delay and they both failed to see what the delay was by checking with the hygienist.
In this case, the end result was a very unhappy new patient who did not schedule any further appointments.
A lost opportunity for the office.
So what should happen if the dentist or the hygienist is running behind?
Firstly, the next patient needs to be informed about the delay, about the cause of the delay, and also about the possible length of the delay.
As early as possible.
In my findings, when the practice keeps the waiting patient “in the loop” then that patient is very much appreciative of the notice.
If the delay is not a regular everyday occurrence and the reason for the delay is a rare issue, like helping to get someone out of pain, then the usual response from the waiting patient is to
“Tell the dentist to take his time. I’m OK”
Mainly because most patients never want to be on the receiving end of a drill being held by a stressed dentist.
And most dentists don’t want to be working on stressed patients who have been kept in the dark.
Finally what really works well is that when the dentist or the hygienist is running a little behind time, the waiting patients really are appreciative whenever the dentist or the hygienist personally comes out to see them to apologise for the delay.
Doing this one thing on the rare occasions when your schedule falls behind is a sure fire way to build your business.
I’m not sure what the answer is with my medical specialist?
Should I tell his office that I wasn’t happy with how things went last week?
After all, he needs to know that he has an unhappy customer.
Or is he simply going to give me the bird, because that’s just the way that specialists have to work?
In Dentistry, we cannot be as precious as a specialist doctor.
Because our patients have not been referred, and are free to choose to go elsewhere.
That’s why, in dentistry, we need to be on top of our game…