How many patients are you losing? How do you know? And, How do you keep them? We answer all of these questions in our podcast.

Podcast Highlights:

  • Promoting conveniences and technologies
  • “If your offer is your best foot forward, you have no feet!”
  • How to measure New Patients vs. Overdue Patients
  • How to see if your practice is trending up or down
  • Learn how to stop losing patients
  • Are you pre-appointing too many people?
  • How to sort patients
  • How to reward reliable patients
  • Learn how to create reliable patients
  • Closing the back door with scheduling conveniences
  • How to not create your own mess

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, everybody. Welcome once again to our podcast. And today we’re going to continue on from a previous podcast, right, Mark?

Mark: Yeah, the last, the last commitment podcast that we did ended as a pretty good segue into this podcast, and that was committed to measuring the people who are walking out your back door. We even gave it a practice analysis worksheet that people can get if they, if you email, Josh … [email protected] Just ask Josh for the practice analysis worksheet, and it will email it over to you but one of the commitments we were asking everyone was to pay attention to your front door your new patients, but also pay attention and measure on the patients leaving your back door so that you can determine whether you’re growing or shrinking.

Howie: Right,

Mark: which is a great segue into recare.

Howie: Yeah, right, because your back door, if it’s bleeding, it’s bleeding your practice dry. And then that the good news is, is that you can do something about that pretty much immediately. Right?

Mark: Yeah, it’s something that almost everybody has at least some level of control over, it’s not something that you know, you have to seek out, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of consulting advice to fix. It’s something that is, is also I’m not going to say mostly automated, but I’m going to say largely automated now. So, um, I guess we’ll just go, Oh, well, there’s a, there’s going to be a discussion about this on our Facebook forum. I’m not sure if everybody’s aware, but Dental Marketing Mastery Community, if you search for that group in Facebook, dental marketing mastery community, and just click join, we’ll get you in, and you can continue on the conversation, sort of like the conversations that happen after some TV shows on HBO. Anyway.

Okay, so recall how it’ll impact it how to fix it if it’s broke. So, um, let’s start at the very beginning where we left off, at the last commitment, we wanted you to measure your new patients each month. And we wanted you to measure that against the existing patients who are overdue on recare. We wanted you to keep that list going measure it the same day, every month, or about the same a day every month, jot it into a spreadsheet, and we gave you the spreadsheet, that’s the practice analysis worksheet. And those two numbers will, out of all the numbers that you track in a dental practice on a monthly basis, almost even more than revenues and collections and production and you know, insurance write offs and all those other numbers.

If you measure new patients in versus existing patients out over the long haul, on a rolling six-month average, you can pretty much predict what’s going to happen in a dental practice and into the future. It is and it’s really simple to do so. When we say closing the back door, there’s really, almost everything is involved in closing the back door. The best way to close the back door is to make sure that you are promoting dentistry based on the benefits of today’s dentistry or conveniences your technologies. In other words, how are you getting the patient through your front door? What are you saying to them? Are you saying here’s the best deal I can offer this month? Or are you saying here’s some really cool things about today’s dentistry? If you’re interested, come and see us.

Howie: Yeah, here are some solutions to problems you might be having.

Mark: Right? Right. Oh, well, you are maybe your mom and dad or your kids or your you know, snoring husband, whatever. Okay.

Howie: That’s a problem. Snoring husband is a problem.

Mark: That’s right. Okay so. So that’s the first way you fix the back door? Because if you’re promoting dentistry based primarily on a price incentive, if your offer is your best foot forward, you have no feet as my, my business partner has said for all these years, it’s my favorite saying of Howie’s. If that’s if, if that’s true, then you’re actually creating your own problem.

Howie: Yeah, it’s a race to the bottom at that point.

Mark: Right. And those patients are notoriously poor at retaining? You know, it’s you, you have 70% less probability of retaining a patient brought in on a price incentive than you do with one that’s not. Okay, so the first step to retaining patients through recare is promoting your practice properly at the front end. Let’s say you already do that, let’s say you already build value in your practice, you’re great in the treatment in the opportunity in the exam chair, everything’s going well, your hygienist isn’t heavy handed, and everything’s going pretty good. And you look at your numbers, and the number of patients leaving the practice is still higher than the number of patients who are coming in.

Now, I’m going to stop here, because by now, at least a half a dozen of you are sitting there tapping your foot saying how do I measure that? How do I measure that? How do I measure that? Here’s how you measure it. New patients in is measured by number of new patients between two date ranges, Its easy. March 1st 2017 to March 31st 2017. Number of new patients bam, stick that on a spreadsheet somewhere. Okay.

Now, same thing can be true about the number of patients overdue for recare March 1st 2017, the march 31st 2017. How many patients were due that month and never came in? Bam, put that on the spreadsheet. Now as you move forward, what you’re going to end up doing is you’re going to end up doing annual rolling averages.

If you’re filling out the spreadsheet, what you would do is you would take a year back, let’s say March 1st 2016 to march 1st 2017 total new patients jot that down on the spreadsheet, March 2016 to march 1st 2017, total number of patients overdue on my recare list, jot that number on the spreadsheet, do exactly the same thing. April 1st, same thing, may 1st, same thing June 1st, and pretty soon what you’re going to see is you’re going to see whether or not there’s more people coming in the front door, then are going out the back door.

The first month, it will not be obvious to you about the third or fourth month that you do this. It will become obvious what’s going on. It will also tell you which way your office is trending. Are you trending up? Are things getting better? Or are you trending down? Are things getting worse? Okay so that’s how you get the numbers and where you put them in the in the spreadsheet. But how do I impact the backdoor? How do I make that number lower?

Well, we already recognize first step, promote your practice properly. Don’t use only price incentives to promote dentistry, you’re just making your own mess. Okay, so second step would be a really a question. Are you pre appointing everyone? Because actually, we have a podcast on that it was done. It’s this is one of my favorite rants is we have practices that have unbelievably high numbers coming out the back door and they don’t know why. And invariably, what we see is we see that they pre appoint everyone no matter what. And they promote primarily based on price.

What happens if you get 100 new patients a month, you know, 70% of the market aren’t going to be compliant. And you automatically scheduled them six months out that 70 patients, your staff has to follow up with it are never going to make it into the schedule and they’re going to blow out your schedule. Okay so, that’s what happens. Right?

Howie: Just to interject something here, mark that. That seems to be a good idea, right? At first, they come in and they get the cleaning and then you appoint them right then in there. You think you’re getting their commitment. But that’s a lie. You’re not.

Mark: Yeah, no , you have no commitment. You have zero commitment.

Howie: And this this got started Oh, many years ago, I don’t know where it got started. who started it? But

Mark: Well, it’s what happened was, is it It’s easy.

Howie: Yeah

Mark: Its really easy to sell something that’s easy. Okay.

Howie: Yeah

Mark: You say hey, look, Bob, this is easy. Really? It’s easy. I’ll let me try it. Right?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: It is not hard to sell something that’s easy, right. Everybody just ran around pre appointing everybody.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: And then all of a sudden, you know, they look at their hygiene schedule. And they wow, look how full we are. Wow, look how popular we are. Wow, look how everybody loves us. Right?

Howie: And then the doctor relaxes.

Mark: Right. Right, then it’s so it’s easy with a little dose of ego. Right?

Howie: And then when the lie becomes apparent, the doctor gets really stressed out.

Mark: Exactly, exactly. Okay so, recall, here, here’s, this is not going to be something you solve in a podcast, I’m just going to tell you up front, but I always used to split my patients out A, B, and C.

‘A’ patients are patients who have proven to me that they can be trusted to be pre appointed, because they do make their appointment, they do confirm, and they do show up. Those are my A patients. I don’t have any problem at all, pre appointing every one of my A patients. Because you know what, my downside risk is almost none, almost nil. Those people deserve to be able to go out into their own schedule, find the best day and time for them. And reserve my time for me and my staff, those people deserve it because they’re loyal, they come in and they, they care about their mouth more than the deductible or more than a deal. Right? Every one of the paid, every one of the offices listening to this has a list of A patients.

But, what about my B patients? But where did my B patients come from? Is that arbitrary? Well, no, it’s not arbitrary. Everyone. Everyone is an A patient until they prove to you otherwise. Who are the B patients? B patients are people we trusted initially as A patients who, you know what? They had an emergency one day, maybe the last appointment? Maybe they didn’t confirm maybe they came maybe they missed or cancelled and rescheduled but made their last hygiene appointment. But they’re just not A patients. Okay? So, B patients are not going to get pre appointed.

Well, I’m going to, I’m going to let them know that that’s a special privilege. And I can get them back there. All they have to do is make and keep their next appointment. But this time patient Howie, what we’re going to do is we’re going to send you a card. When you get that card, I’d like you to call, make your appointment for your next cleaning. And if you make that appointment and keep it then you know what, I’m going to put you back on the on the pre appoint list. Okay. All right. Okay, so Howie goes home, he’s a little dejected. But it’s his fault. It was his behavior that created the problem. It took away something that he valued. It’s amazing when you pre appoint everyone how nobody values it.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Right.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: It’s amazing how much they value it when you take it away.

Howie: They expect to be able to bag out

Mark: Yeah, they’re a little entitled, don’t you think?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay, so those are my B patients now with my B patients I’m going to send them I’m going to send them a recall, notice a postcard, or an email or a text however you want to do it or however you normally do it. I’m about a about 180th day since their last because I don’t want to mess with insurance. And I don’t want to have to have my staff look all the time, I’m going to send it out at the 180th day. There are a lot of those people are going to respond. And they’re going to respond and either going to go on to your dental office website and book their appointment. That would be cool.

Howie: Yeah, I wonder how they could do that. But that

Mark: I wonder how they could do that. But that’s a whole different podcast, right? So, um, so and then then some people, some of those are going to respond, and some of them are not. So then about 30 days later, I’m going to send them another one. And my third one is about 30 days later, and it’s always been my favorite. It’s a recall notice that basically ask’s the patient, where would you like us to send your dental records?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Really? Where would you like us to send your dental records because you haven’t responded? We don’t know where you are on. You know, please give us a call at your earliest convenience. It’s amazing how many people respond to that one, right? Oh, my God, I got tired. I got I was in work and I was on vacation and my dog ate and i had grass and I had to cut the grass and whatever.

Okay, so excuse, excuse and then I finally call and then you’re going to get a few more there. Now here’s. So now those are that’s going to create C patients. If A patients are wonderfully compliant to our recare system and B patients are still great people, great patients, they’re just, you know, they didn’t value our time as much as we had hoped. But that’s okay, there. So, we’re still going to recall them, we’re still going to get them in. Maybe they can earn their way back up to A status, right.

What do you think C patients are? C patients are those patients who constantly miss or break their appointment. It’s like, it’s like the weather. You just look outside. And there is not Bob. There’s not Bob showing up for his next nada point. Right? Or you just cringe when you know, Bob is scheduled on a Monday. And you know, before you even drive to the office, when you listen to the voicemail, you know, you’re going to hear Bob’s voice and you know, his grand mom was going to die for the seventh year in a row. You just know who your C patients are. Everyone listening to this is sitting there shaking their head up and down. Yeah, you’re right. I guess. I do know who my C patients are. Here’s my question to you. Why are you pre appointing them?

Mark: Now I hope that sunk in cuz it’s insanity. It’s statistical insanity to schedule your C.. to preschedule your C patients. What do you do with your C patients? You wait 180 days you send them a card, and you don’t even send them a second one. You say, you know, maybe you wait a month and you send them the third card that says “hey, where would you like us to send your dental records?” And maybe they wake up the next time. What do you mean, where you going to send the records? You’re my dentist? Oh, yeah, we know.

We reached out to get two or three times we hadn’t heard from you. And the last couple of times you made appointments, but you didn’t show. We were wondering if you chose a different dental home? Did you choose a different dental home? Well, no I didn’t choose it. You’re my dentist. Well, okay, that’s why we that’s wonder you see how this conversation should go. Okay. So it shouldn’t be about you constantly complaining that C patients are breaking their appointments, you knew they were going to break their appointment, or at least you knew there was a really good chance they were going to break their appointment when you rescheduled them.

That’s how you close your back door, you take control of your recare you do a great job with your patients. You give them many scheduling opportunities, you give them dental appointment scheduling conveniences by allowing it online, but you make sure they understand that pre appointment, the ability to preschedule with your practice is something reserved only for them. Not every patient qualifies. And the reason you qualify is because you come in when you’re appointed, that’s all we ask. You make yourself a practice filled with A’s. And if you give away pre appointment to everyone, the value goes away. So that’s the way or one of the big ways that you close the back door. Okay.

Let me review, promote dentistry properly. Don’t use if you use price, to promote dentistry to get your new patients and then you pre appoint all of them. And you drive your administrative team crazy because all they do is chase around patients who are never going to be compliant to you anyway. Well, you’ve made your bed. Now you lay in it?

Howie: Yeah. And think about the poor person who has to do all the scheduling make all those calls that doing that procedure. The numbers just mount up pretty soon she’s on the phone all the time.

Mark: Yeah,

Howie: chasing down patients.

Mark: Yeah, I get it, I get I get calls from clients and non clients. Um, man, I, here’s what they say, Man, I cannot keep a hygiene coordinator.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Really? Yeah,

Howie: Wonder why?

Mark: I wonder why? I want. You know, and then they go through all this hiring, you know, consulting and, you know, they do the disc test and they do all the personality, you can do all the personality tests you want. If that poor lady has 2700 phone calls to make in the in the amount of time that you employ her, when she can only really make about 300. Okay so, you’re never going to keep anybody there happy. It’s a job nobody wants to do anyway.

Howie: Right?

Mark: Okay, so stop, create, here’s the bottom line, stop creating your own mess. Many of you are creating you’re an enormous mess. And it just doesn’t have to be, you’re not going to lose. If you take away pre appointment from your patients, because they break an appointment, you’re not going to lose any of them. Believe me, they’re gonna want it back. Hey, Howie, what would happen? What golf balls do you use? Titleist?

Howie: Yeah, usually.

Mark: Okay, so. So you go out and you’re golfing with your Titleist, and I come up to you at the end of a great round. And I say Howie you can’t use those golf balls anymore. How much, now, how much? How much more? Do you want to use those golf balls?

Howie: Yeah, well.

Mark: Right?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: See, see what I’m saying. It’s like if you just take it away and you can use your own judgment. So, if somebody really like some lady starts crying in a dental in the hygiene chair, oh my god, I can’t use my day in my own time, whatever, use your own judgment. Okay, so just don’t pre appoint everyone. statistical insanity. So that’s, that’s my, the first one was a real rant. This one was really about hygiene, and recare and how to organize it and how to automate it, and what to do and what messages how to measure it. And compare it to the number of patients coming in over a long period of time. Um, those when we get a we’ll get a client survey.

A client survey is if you go to our website, there’s, there’s a rotating iPad at the top. And if you click that, and you answer the questions, our advisory team builds a marketing plan for you and calls you and talks to you about it. Just to see if it’s something you might want to do. And, you know, invariably, twice a week, three times a week, we get a client survey and from a single doctor, who should really only need about 19 to 23 or 24 good quality new patients a month, right? But we’ll see, I get 35 new patients a month now I want 100. Okay, so

Howie: yeah.

Mark: And then we have a questionnaire it says what do we need to address immediately, I need to fill my hygiene schedule.

Howie: Yeah. Always.

Mark: Right, what’s wrong with this picture? You already have twice as many new patients as you need. And you’re complaining that hygiene isn’t full?

Howie: Yeah

Mark: Why wasn’t the first thing you looked at the back door of your practice? And the answer is because you pre appoint everybody and it’s easy and you promote dentistry based on price. Okay, so all of those things converge to create the end result that many of you feel, I hope this podcast opened your eyes to a few of the areas that you could take a deeper look. And maybe this will help.

Howie: Yeah, that sounds good. Well, thank you everybody, for listening in once again, and you know what, we’ll be back.

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