6 common trends that flush a dental practice's profits down the toilet

Once you begin taking steps toward improvement within your dental practice, you can start keeping your profits in your practice and out of the toilet. Here are six ways to do that.

Almost every dentist wants more new patients, but what I’ve discovered is that most employees working in dental offices are actually turning new patients away.

Not intentionally, of course, but solely by what they are (or are not) saying on the initial phone call made into the practice. And while the need for new patients is widely acknowledged, a recent study we conducted showed that 94 percent of dentists are completely unaware of how to repair the money-sucking error that is draining their practice!

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Marketing experts, sales reps, and advertising gurus all sell you more ads, ask for more money, but aren’t delivering more new patients. Because the problem isn’t your marketing … it’s the staff that is answering the phone calls that your marketing pieces generate. That is where the real problem lies. It’s a problem preventing you from growing your practice, getting more new patients, and getting the most bang for your marketing buck! In fact, it’s sending those marketing dollars right down the toilet!

We conducted 12,617 test calls to four different countries (the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom). All calls were conducted on weekdays only between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time. A diverse selection of practices participated in the study - single-location practices, multi-location practices, single-doctor practices and multi-doctor practices located in small towns and big cities.

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What we have found is that while you may be getting phone calls from your marketing, they are not translating to patient appointments. Find out why on the next page...



1. Voicemail vortex

35 percent of the calls conducted during normal business hours went to voicemail. The number one rule when you have a business (especially one that is investing in marketing) is to answer the phone when it rings! Money is being wasted on marketing that encourages your potential new patients to call, but your staff isn’t answering the phone. That is thousands of dollars flushed down the drain.

2. Stumbling, bumbling, obviously fearful answers

Staff members were often very uncomfortable on the phones, struggling to answer questions and unsure of how to respond to the most basic inquiries by the callers. The staff members would hem, haw and often times put callers on hold for several minutes, failing to treat the potential new patient with the respect and care they deserve.

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3. Verbal vomit

The staff person spewing out unasked for and confusing information, such as how insurance works and doesn’t work, how long appointments take, pricing details, confusing information that isn’t relevant to the new patient, etc. Often we discovered staff members diagnosing, advising or prescribing to the callers, which invites significant legal danger for the practice.

4. Total failure to capture information for follow-up

If basic contact information isn’t captured, there is no option for follow-up by email or phone. This is the fundamental phone handling principle, yet it was overlooked on 12,176 of the test calls in our study.

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5. Missed “buying signals”

Even when the caller made very clear indications of intent to buy or book an appointment, staff members would miss the signal, talk over the caller, drive the patients away and never book the appointment … without ever realizing just how much damage they were doing.

6. Never closing the calls on an appointment

The simplest, most basic, most elementary scheduling questions aren’t asked, and therefore appointments go unbooked. Staff members treat the calls like “tasks” that have to be completed, not like opportunities for new patients, more revenue, more production, more referrals, etc.


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I’ve been analyzing practices for more than 25 years (tens of thousands of doctors and team members around the world) and have received numerous awards for my practice growth coaching and training programs. What that means is that I have the largest working lab in the dental industry in which to study what works and what doesn’t when it comes to growing practices.

So here’s a vital piece of information that I’ve learned from my decades of research: There are only three ways to grow your practice. Period. You have to:

1. Increase new patients

2. Increase frequency of purchase

3. Increase size of purchase.

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Once you know how to work on improving numbers two and three, you must refocus on number one! The only way to begin that process is to properly analyze how your staff is answering the phones. 97 percent of the practices we work with every day had never bothered to “test” their office prior to working with us.

Have you tested yours? Would you even know how? We can help. By going to www.thefivestarchallenge.com, you can request an analysis through a test call. You will receive a recording of the call and a rating that shows you exactly how your call “stacked up” against the 12,000+ practices in this study.

This is the only way to truly know what’s going on with your new patient calls and discover if there is room for improvement. I guarantee you’ll be surprised by what you learn. And, once you begin taking steps toward improvement, you can start keeping your profits in your practice and out of the toilet!

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