This month Kelly and I begin our 14th year helping doctors and practices raise their standard of care, raise their patients’ appreciation of the value of that care, and organically helping their practices grow and become more successful. Our goal is to inspire doctors and their teams to create an environment where patients are welcomed in increasing numbers, systems enable these patients to accept more dentistry than ever before, and patient satisfaction is the highest ever, which generates more referrals and positive reviews to feed the new patient flow and this compounds the growth of the practice. We have been very successful in working with over 100 practices in the last 6 years and we have helped them cumulatively generate over $75 million in increased revenue. But despite this increase in production/collection, greater fulfillment and higher level of fun, there is still the understanding that “you can’t please everyone all the time.”
Too many of the dentists that we meet seem to constantly be in fear of losing patients. Many have not yet brought everyone back from COVID. There are certainly skills that can be learned on how to inspire these patients to finally return by invoking a program of emphasis of the oral-systemic connection. Everyone wants to be well, so a dedication to taking patient blood pressures, doing thorough Oral Cancer Screenings, using adjunctive devices for the OCS, doing FULL periodontal probing to diagnose periodontal disease, scanning for wellness and doing more thorough comprehensive exams would certainly seem like a good place to begin in differentiating your practices. But, when practices make these changes, they often encounter some patients who give pushback to the improved practices and they toy with going back to the same old – same old.
A farmer and his son were bringing a donkey to sell at the market in their village. They passed a group of girls who made fun of them walking alongside the donkey. So, the farmer put his son on the donkey. Further down the road they passed a group of older women who scolded the farmer for allowing his son to ride, when he should be riding because of his age. So, the farmer asked his son to get off of the donkey and he got on. Later, they passed some travelers going in the opposite direction who told them that if they wanted to sell their donkey, they should not tire the donkey out, for it would be worthless when they finally got to the market. So, they tied the donkey’s legs to a pole and they carried it to the village. When they approached the market in the village square, the people who were in the market began laughing at the site of them carrying their donkey.
They laughed and screamed so loud that the noise frightened the donkey and the donkey kicked itself free from the bindings and ran away. The farmer and his son returned home empty handed, except for learning the lesson that you will achieve nothing by trying to please everyone.
We cannot satisfy the demands of every patient, but we can purify the services we offer and how we deliver those services and care, so that the majority of our patients see the value of doing things to a higher standard.
1. Establish your vision for your care and service so that your patients become more concerned with missing appointments with you than of what they will experience in your office. This comes from raising your standard of care.
2. Dare to be different, because differentiation gives you your competitive advantage over the other doctors in your area who do things the same ways they have always done them. Be proud of what differentiates you and your practice and team from others.
3. Show more empathy, be more caring and be willing to listen more than you speak. Show more sensitivity to patients’ anxiety, and build a greater understanding about how you can make a difference in their lives.
4. Raise the value of what you do in the eyes of your patients. This comes by not educating them about what they need, what you do, or how you do it, but rather, by emphasizing the benefits to THEM of WHY they should WANT the care that you know they need.
5. Make your office become a place where people want to be. This means that you want to create a culture of common courtesies, everyone saying please and thank you for everything, and constantly giving praise in every direction. When team and patients experience this type of an environment, the team wants to be more empathic and deliver the greater care, and patients appreciate the concern for them and accept more comprehensive care without concern for cost or insurance coverage.