In this episode of Dental Marketing Mastery, Mark and Howie discuss phone coverage, how to do it right, and how to improve your dental marketing ROI.



Podcast highlights:

  • The best times to have your phones covered
  • How to get the most out of voicemail
  • How to screen between new patients and returning
  • When new patients are most likely to call
  • How to accommodate existing patients
  • How patients view who answers the phone
  • And, how to improve phone call conversions
  • Connecting your website to your phones and practice management software
  • The importance of reviewing your calls

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by and New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again, as my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Howie: Hello, once again, welcome to our podcast. I’ve got my good buddy Mark Dilatush on the other end of the line. How you doing Mark?

Mark: Hey, Howie doing good. Carson. Carson Wentz.

Howie: Oh, you’re going to love him.

Mark: We over here in Philly, where there’s a struggle on nickname Carson City, Pennsylvania. We don’t we don’t really know. Right, what the you know what to call? I know, here’s what I’m going to call them. I’m going to call them to with no turnovers.

Howie: Exactly. Yeah, pretty darn good. Rookie start.

Mark: I know. So okay. So, I hope you enjoyed your weekend. And we are going right into one of the subjects which is near and dear to our hearts, which almost everybody on the other end of this podcast struggles with even though they either A) don’t know it or B) don’t want to admit it.

Howie: Right.

Mark: And that is covering their phones.

Howie: Right? That’s, that’s a touchy subject and you know, I mean, you and I’ve run into a lot, a lot of dentists that just swear up and down phones totally handled, we got it, we got it down. And then we look at their call tracking reports. And we see what nearly 20%,

Mark: Right

Howie: of calls that that didn’t get dealt with or

Mark: right

Howie: to talk to a human.

Mark: right

Howie: And it’s just a waste of money.

Mark: And what do we. Howie and I run a risk every time. Every time we get on a podcast or every time, we get up on stage together. You know this subject? I guess it’s the same as practice management in those days in my old days, but you know, sometimes when we want to talk about something that involves the dentist or the dentist belief or the dentist knowledge or, you know, anytime we talk about something the dentist has to change.

Howie: Yeah

Mark: we run the risk of alienating that dentist, and then thinking that we’re picking on them. Okay, we’re not picking on you. Right? We’re, we’re trying to be as helpful as we can. And you’re probably going to hear frustration in our voice. So, let me let me go through the frustrations first. Ahh many of you know, well all of you should know, what we do. We have a you know, 27 year long, you know, marketing firm for dentists, we’ve been tracking and testing for what works and what doesn’t for all that time, and we help dentists attract high quality new patients to their dental practices.

I think if someone were to push me up against the wall and say, give me one sentence, what do you do? Well, we attract high quality new patients into our client practices, that’s basically you know, what we do. So, when we do that, and this dentist has entrusted us with the thousand dollars, or 5000, or 10,000, 20, or 50, or $100,000, right? You know, out of the phone call, this dentist has well, a phone call a couple of references, and you know, 20 some years of understanding our reputation in the industry, and they trust us, they get to a point where they trust us and then and then we put their money on the streets, and we get the phone to ring. That’s basically what we do.

So, when the phone rings, you might think that the dentist is more is more motivated to make sure it gets answered than we are. Okay. But it’s not true.

Howie: No.

Mark: So that’s where the frustration comes from. Because when we aggregate all the calls for all of our clients from all the media types, and so I’ll take one media type, let’s call it let’s just say direct mail marketing. So, if we generate 5200 phone calls in a month for our client’s direct mail, okay, and I look, and I see 18.94% of those phone calls were not answered. I get red.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay!

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Because it’s those same dentists in one of our seminars, who will, who will, you know, we will say something like, which dentist in the in the room would like to get another 20% ROI on dental marketing? Every dentist raises their hand, don’t they Howie? Everyone.

Howie: Absolutely

Mark: Everyone does, right? And so, there’s a disconnect.

Howie: And then and then and then we say, well, we can tell you how to do that. And just very few words, answer your phone to your phone. Okay, sounds stupidly simple. But it really does come down to that.

Mark: It really, it really, really, really does. Right? So, they’re so how, and I got to talk in the other day, and we said, well, there’s got to be a disconnect. Right? Between them all, every dentist wants to get 20% more pull from their marketing dollar, right? I don’t know any dentist that doesn’t want to get 20% more pull right? To actually doing it there’s a disconnect. Maybe they don’t know how or they don’t know what the problem is or what have. Okay, so that THAT is why we’re on this podcast.

Okay, we’re going to fill in those blanks. covering your phones. What does that mean? That means eight to five, Monday through Friday, a human being needs to be able to answer your phone and walk a new patient through to an appointment. We do not expect you to answer your phones outside of eight to five Monday through Friday, because you know what? Consumers don’t expect you to answer your phones outside of eight to five, Monday through Friday. But consumers absolutely do expect you to answer them eight to five, Monday through Friday. They don’t care what your day off is and they don’t care if you’re at lunch. They don’t care. Okay. That’s your responsibility.

Now, I know I sound like your mom now. Okay, but I’m doing that on purpose. Okay, that’s your responsibility is to answer those phones. So, the question is, well, how do I do that? We usually just put our phones on voicemail, and we go to lunch. Okay, well, alright, um, one way and this is the way I’ve seen this work anywhere from marginally effective to Holy cow, it changed my dental life. Okay, so here, here we go.

Your voicemail system offers your voicemail answers the phone. And when it answers the phone, the message offers to call are two options. One, if you’re established patient press 1 to if you’re a new patient to our practice, press 2. If they press one, it goes to your normal voicemail. When you come home from lunch, or come back to the office from lunch, you just, you know triage your voicemails. If they press 2 it goes to an office cell phone, which is manned by the dentist. Now I know there’s dentists listening to this going, Oh, Jesus, I’m 55 years old. I’m not answering my own damn phone during lunch. I just want to eat my ham sandwich and read my golf magazines.

Okay, that’s cool. But somebody in your office needs to answer that phone. It could be a staff person, you could stagger lunches. I mean, it’s possible. I have at least one person covering the phones during lunch, you know, lunch hour. Umm, the dentist to actually take the calls themselves from new. Remember, we are screening established patients, only new patients are getting through on the cell phone. Okay, so remember that come back to that. Right? These are only new patients, the dentists that engage new patients, so the ones that are willing to find it to be incredibly rewarding.

Howie: Oh, yeah.

Mark: They do. It’s, it’s, it’s one of those things in their lives, where they thought it was going to be a complete pain in the ass. But it ended up being really cool change they make. Right?

Howie: Right, It’s funny too for us to look back and we’ve been advocates of calling your patients

Mark: Oh gosh

Howie: for quite a while since the beginning.

Mark: Yeah. 25 years.

Howie: And, you know, and then finally, what, you know, you’ll see some guy post something on a dome forum and, and they’ll say something like, well, I’ve been hearing this for years and years, and I finally did it. And guess what? It the patients loved it. And my new patient, you know, the patient knows shows go down. And they’re, they’re a new person all of a sudden with this very old piece of advice.

Mark: Oh, it’s amazing! New patient no shows they don’t go down to zero, but they go down to one. So and you know that that first visit from the patient is it can be one of two things, it can be hesitant, or it can be almost warm and friendly. And, the difference between the two is the dentist having that communication with that new patient before they come in.

That’s difference. Because the person at the front desk who books the appointment isn’t going to have a sharp instrument in my mouth. Right? I don’t even have to be friendly to that person. I kind of have to be friendly to the person with a sharp instrument in my mouth. At least temporarily. I have to be right? See,

Howie: You have to trust the person.

Mark: I got to trust them I have to have some level of respect for them, right? Well, without that conversation, that first visit because you know becomes all decide after I actually meet the guy or gal with the conversation. Poof, it’s gone. The whole reservation side. You’ve already chatted doctors already shared, you know where the offices located best parking, you know, traffic, whatever patterns and nice to see you and you already.

You are not best friends. But you kind of know each other before they even walk in the door. So Howie and I in order to cover your phones, we’re going to be the first ones to say that if you’re not booked up completely, and you’re willing to have that office cell phone and you’re willing to forward your voicemail to that office cell phone for new patients only, we’re going to be the ones who say; Doc, go for it.

Howie: Absolutely.

Mark: Okay, it’s going to change how you, It could change a lot of things about how you feel about new patients. Now, another thing will tell you which is same thing we’ve been telling people for 25 years is if you don’t want to be the person with the cell phone, at least be the doctor who does call the new patients the day they call and make their first appointment. Just have your front desk person give you a list of all the new patients that called and the day and time that they call that they’re going to have their first appointment and their phone number and call them on your way home, in the car, whatever.

And just introduce yourself to them and make sure they’re comfortable. And they know that your location that they know the directions and they know where to park and they’re just comfortable. Make sure they’re comfortable before they come in.

Howie: Yeah. And even if you end up getting their voicemail, that’s still good.

Mark: That’s fine. Yeah.

Howie: They are hearing from you.

Mark: Right, they are hearing from you. You took the time you anyway. Okay, so we’re getting kind of sidetracked here. But yeah. As far as covering the phones is concerned, if you’re willing to be that dentist, be that dentist, okay? Because that’s going to pack your book faster. You know, it is it’s gonna it’s that it is that rewarding to you and that rewarding to the new patient that you answered the phone and made their appointment. So, if you’re not willing to do that, then a staff person has to do it.

Still the same thing on your voicemail, 1 if you’re established patient, 2 if you’re new patient to our practice. 2 goes to the cell phone, cell phone goes to an employee, someone willing to do it. Coverage the two biggest gaping holes, the 9 the 18.94% of missed phone calls, aggregate from all of our clients are coming on their day off and at lunchtime. Right? So, 18.94% of what you’re paying for is getting leak. It’s sort of like turning your air conditioning on in your car and lowering all the windows.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay.

Howie: It’s actually more like opening the window up and throwing a bucket load of cash.

Mark: Right, right, right. Okay, so now beyond that, I now again, eight to five, Monday through Friday, don’t expect Saturdays don’t expect Sundays don’t expect holiday, we don’t expect you to cover your have a personal life, go on vacation, go golf, go fish go, whatever. Okay. Not asking me to be soon Superman or Superwoman here. Right. But beyond, beyond that, now, let’s say that you fixed it and you still want to improve things, you want to improve the conversion of your dental office marketing.

We’ve been doing due diligence on a company for a while now that connects your dental office website to your practice management software very unlike the way other folks do it. These folks, they actually spent three or four years developing this, okay? It doesn’t allow you to double book. It’s not a form that you fill out and just you know, leave an email for the front desk and get back to me.

Now your new patients and your established patients can literally book an appointment for their examine their cleaning in the appropriate time, the appropriate chair, the appropriate column with the appropriate provider taking the appropriate amount of time, and they can do it all online. So basically, that’s phone coverage 360-365 24/7 365 appointment covers, let’s call it that. Okay, so we’re trying to help you get from losing 19% of your calls to losing, let’s say 10? That would be a dramatic improvement, by the way. Totally awesome.

Okay, then we want to work on getting that 10 to zero. And I think the then once you get to zero, you actually can get you got can actually even go further and that is by incorporating the convenience of scheduling dentist appointment online, appropriate online scheduling. Well thought out online dental appointment scheduling, you know, not scheduling that’s going to double or triple book you. But the right scheduling integration with your dental office website, because my goodness, you know, can you imagine how convenient that would be for one of your established patients or a new patient.

They could be sitting in their living room watching HD TV at eight o’clock at night on a Friday and grab their iPad and make their appointment for their exam and cleaning next Thursday. They don’t need to call you at all. You don’t need to have an answering machine hang up at all. Boom, it’s in your schedule.

Howie: Yeah, we’re pretty excited about that.

Mark: Yeah, yeah. So, I mean, there’s possibility the possibilities are endless. I think the focus of this podcast was to make sure the audience understood that they have a problem. And, we should also point out that it’s very uncommon for a dentist to admit they have this problem.

Howie: Right!

Mark: Right Howie?

Howie: Absolutely.

Mark: Hundreds of our clients are on our call tracking right now and that and we encourage them, we train them, we set up their login their passwords, we teach their staff, we show them where the reports are, but they don’t look at them. It’s like the It’s like the three monkeys they put, you know, hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. Right?

Howie: Right.

Mark: So, what we’re telling our podcast audience because some of you aren’t our clients, you’re you know, you’re not customers of NPI, you have a problem too. You can’t tell it tell us it’s just our customers. Okay. I won’t accept that. Okay?

Howie: Our customers are that number is smaller.

Mark: You’re right, our customers. Yeah, yeah, we are maybe it’s just our pride, but we think our customers, you know, through our own prodding, our customers service people are campaign managers are constantly monthly telling them to pay attention to their call their numbers, and, and there’s four hang ups, five, hang ups, six, hang ups a month, whatever, whatever the number is, we’re constantly bringing it to their attention and only some of them are responding to it. So, the podcast goes to everybody, everybody can listen to this. So, dentists out there, you all have this problem. Somewhere between zero and 21 and 20% of your new patient phone calls are going unanswered.

You can challenge that belief if you want to. But it’s not going to do you any good without us. We will really encourage you to go really take a look. All right? And you know, hang ups or not old. They’re certainly hardly ever established patients. Established patients already know you. They already know the name of the person at the front desk. They’ll leave a message. Hello. Hi, Peggy. Yeah, I’m just calling to reschedule my appointment Thursday. Can you give me a call my cell blah, blah, blah. That’s the kind of message you get from an established patient. The kind of message you get from a new patient sounds like this. Don’t?

Howie: Yeah. That’s the sound of money being thrown out the window.

Mark: That’s right. So, I think have we beaten them into it?

Howie: I have, I think we should let them go now.

Mark: Okay. All right. So y’all, y’all go rest. Okay. But please understand, we come at this with nothing but love and admiration and respect, right. We’re trying to help you, right? And share with you what we’ve learned so that fewer dentists can make the same mistakes.

Howie: All right.

Mark: All right.

Howie: Well, thank you everybody for listening. And we’re going to be back shortly before you know it.

Mark: Thank you.

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