One ridiculously easy solution to increase new patients

May 20, 2016

Let’s face it, even with the ease of the internet, new patients want to speak with a live person. They want to know what to expect, what insurance you accept, how long it will take, etc. So they pick up the phone and call.

What’s the first thing a potential new patient does when they want to make an appointment at your practice? It’s not a trick question … they pick up the phone and call, right? Knowing that, I bet that every single marketing piece that leaves your office has your phone number on it, doesn’t it? I hope so!

Let’s face it, even with the ease of the internet, new patients want to speak with a live person. They want to know what to expect, what insurance you accept, how long it will take, etc. So they pick up the phone and call.

In fact, nearly every single person who walks into your practice calls first. Do you realize what that means? Your telephones are literally the direct portal to your practice, and whoever is answering them is the very first, most important interaction that your practice has with your potential patients.

Related link: Crushing mistakes not to make when taking calls

Does that realization strike fear in your heart or do you feel pretty good about “Debbie” answering the phones at the front desk? Have you ever listened to her? Or do you feel that “Geez, she’s been with me forever, she must be doing the right thing?” Well, if you’ve never called your office as a potential new patient, you just don’t know.

Trust me. I have been working with dentists for decades now and I do know that every one of them had turned their backs on their front desk staff before we met. Every one of them was losing potential new patients and everyone had NO IDEA how many potential new patients were being lost.

I can promise this: If you have not been paying attention to your front desk, you, too, are losing many new patients a month.

Related link: Secret to super phone skills

To prove my point, we conducted a study with over 400 anonymous calls to practices and-of those 400 calls-only 10 percent of team members asked for the patient’s name before they hung up the phone (and most didn’t even get the last name!) Only 3 percent of the team members we heard actually knew how to close on appointments! But here’s the most shocking part … 34 percent of the calls we conducted filtered through to the answering machine. This means that at about one of every three practices we called ... we weren’t even able to reach a human being!

 

Consider this: If you use your marketing to generate phone calls and 34 percent of the time no one even answers the phone, would you say that makes a difference in your stats? Your new patients? Your production? Your annual collections? Of course!

If one patient is worth (on average) $1,500 to $3,000 to your practice in a lifetime, and your team is losing five to seven new patients per week, then you’re easily losing $7,500 per week (or $390,000 per year). Just take a minute to think about what you could do with all that extra money if you were scheduling instead of losing all those new patients.

Fortunately, there’s an easy-to-fix problem. It’s so simple, it’s child’s play: Answer the phone! Yes, analyze your phones and if they aren’t being answered 100 percent of the time-FIX THAT.

Related link: How to have fun with phone calls

When I was the marketing director at a large chiropractor’s office a few years ago, I determined that there were about 47 hours during the week that people expected our office to be open. I quickly learned that with lunch breaks and half days, we were only answering the phone for 20 of those 47 hours! 20! To remedy that, I had phone lines forwarded to a cell phone during “off” hours and asked my secretary to answer the phone during those times. I sat down, trained her and then incentivized her $5 for every new patient she scheduled. From that point, she scheduled no less than 50 new patients every month. So every month she earned at least $250 more and the company gained 50 new patients (you do the math on that)!

It’s so simple, there’s got to be a catch, right? Well, sort of. If you reread that last paragraph, you will notice that I took the time to train my secretary to answer the phone correctly. After all, she will be much more successful at scheduling new patients if she knows the right way to do it. And the more success she has, the more money she and the practice will get!

You, too, can make this simple change to increase your new patient numbers. But be forewarned: If your staff is not properly trained to turn those calls into scheduled patients, your quick success will be short-lived. Think they’re good to go and don’t need training? Find out by going to www.5starchallenge.com and take the 5-star challenge. We will conduct a mystery call to your office and provide you with the results you’ve been ignoring for so long.