Six steps to converting emergency patients into new patients


Consider converting your emergency new patients into new patients if the schedule, staffing, and operatory status is possible. Start on the phone, and use a “you, you, you” focus.

This is the process:

An emergency new patient calls and says, “Hi, I need to get in. I broke a tooth and it’s bugging me.” Say, “Absolutely, I can help you!

1. Create the relationship: Say, “Can I have your name, please?” Then use the first name at least three or four times during the phone call. Talk up the doctor and the practice.

2. Talking up the doctor and create value for the appointment: Say, “I’m not sure how much you know about our practice, but on the first appointment, we’ll take any necessary X-rays and the doctor will spend quality time with you. He’ll talk with you about your options. It’s good to know what your choices are. You’ll REALLY like our doctor. He’s so kind and caring, plus patients compliment him all the time about how gentle he is!”

3. Empathy: Say, “Tell me about your tooth. Has it woken you up at night yet? Is it sensitive to hot or cold yet?”

4. Convert the patient to a new patient: Say, “You know, I’m not sure you’re aware, but you could consider doing a full exam and have a complete set of X-rays, then the doctor could tell you about your needs.

Sometimes, patients make different decisions on one tooth when they know the needs of all their teeth. The complete exam is definitely best for you, so you can make decisions that are best for your needs and your budget. We rarely have an opportunity on our schedule to do this, but we do have time today. Is this something you’d like to do today? Having a complete exam also saves you time. You wouldn’t need to return for it in the future.”

If the patient says, “No, I just want to focus on this one tooth,” say, “No worries! Let’s get you in and see what’s going on. I have 10 o’clock this morning and I’ve also reserved time at 2:30. Which would be best for you?” Guide the patient into your least popular times. 80% will pick one of two choices.

5. If the patient says “No,” your dental assistant can still ask again at the chair. “Sam, I know Tina talked with you on the phone about a complete exam and full set of X-rays, which are definitely the best for you. Would you like to do this today? We rarely have time on our schedule, but do today, and this would save you a return visit.”

Don’t give up too early. The patient may have thought about Tina’s suggestion on the way in and may be more accepting now that he or she is in your facility.

6. If the patient refuses at this second point, don’t try to talk him or her into making an appointment. Instead, doctor, if you could say, upon completion of the emergency appointment, “Sam, I know you’re aware you have other needs. We know emergency dentistry may be uncomfortable and it is more of an expense than preventive care.

When you’re ready, give Tina a call and she can set you up with an appointment. We can make the dentistry fit your time and budget.” Give him a business card.

Sam will look at the card and then say, “Well, can’t I just make that appointment now?” Now it’s his idea. You’ll have a higher “show” rate. If it’s your idea, you’ll have a higher “no-show” rate.

Take action, create goals, and add a smile. Drive your day forward and make this week be the best it can be!

Let me know how it goes! Pop me an email at Rhonda@MilesGlobal and share with me the results.

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