Myths and excuses holding your practice back?
We all have “lame” excuses for not doing things and sometimes we believe these excuses instead of challenging the truth in them. In dental practices there are a gamut of excuses why the practice is not a success. Here are a few to ponder.
- There are certain times a year when our dental practice is not busy. Though some practices will have a “seasonal” flow to them based on the practice demographics, this belief should never be an excuse to not actively market your practice. Assuming no one will want to come in at certain times is partially because you haven’t offered other times to the patients. Are your practice hours convenient to the demographics? Studies show that patients like 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM appointments and will gravitate toward practices that offer more flexible times.
Practices often spread their daily schedule out to give the impression that they are busier making a one-hour appointment a two-hour appointment will block out opportunities for last minute callers to get in for treatment. Book from the top down and bottom up leaving middle appointment times for opportunities that call in to be worked into the schedule. Staying efficient will also help you better prepare to handle heavy patient loads when business picks up. Honor your practice hours even when things are slow. If you aren’t there, you cannot serve your patients.
- Patients don’t call the office when it is closed for the night or for the week-end.
Marketing firms have been collecting data on this issue to debunk this myth. According to the stats from dentalmarketing.net 25% of calls come in outside the business hours.
- Patients don’t call when we are at lunch and if a patient wants us they will leave a voicemail or will call us back.
Marketing research has shown that out of 1,000,000 tracked calls, 10.29% came in between 12:00-1:00 pm. Only 18% left a voicemail message.
Stagger lunch times so that someone is always there to field phone calls and schedule appointments. Or have lunch brought into your practice, versus going out to a restaurant. You will save time, and you can record the meals 100% as a business expense if they occur at your office.
- Patients won’t drive more than 3 miles to a dental office.
To debunk this myth run a patient analysis or demographic report generated from your software program. You will see that most of your patients do come from the closest zip codes as far as the larger number. However, the spread of zip codes the practice serves will surprise you. When these zip codes are added together the number will be larger than you expect.
The more convenient you are to your target patient base the better (e.g. pediatric or orthodontic practices near schools, etc.). Some convenience factors to keep in mind when selecting a site include patient parking, proximity to mass transit and ease of access to major thoroughfares, etc. Operating out of a location with high street visibility is important too because 24% of dental patients find their dentist either driving or walking by the office.
- Patients will not pay for services unless the insurance covers most of it.
Patients are very concerned about whether the practice accepts their insurance or not and practices that are in network with PPO have proven larger patient bases to build a schedule from. This is not a reason to only present to the patient what the insurance will cover. To assume that no one wants care other than what is covered by insurance is closing the door to patients who do want the best comprehensive care available.
The average American paid out-of-pocket dental expenses of $544 in 2013, according to a 2016 report from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute. This is an average amount but does prove patients do pay for services not paid by their insurance company.
- Patients who have not wanted cosmetic work in the past won’t want it in the future either.
If you have patients that have been coming in for twenty years yet have never wanted to replace unsightly fillings, crowns or replace missing teeth it could be because you stopped asking them about it. If you aren’t concerned, they won’t be either. Keep presenting better alternatives to what they have now. They can always say “no” but they also can say “yes.”
I have witnessed many patients say, “It is time I had this done.”