Empathy, tenacity, and perseverance are keys to this clinician’s flourishing practice
What can you tell us about your background?
I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington, and lived there until I was 13 years old. My family relocated...
Focus on patients, family, academics, and endodontics
What can you tell us about your background?
I have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in business. I was accepted off of the alternate list for dental school and then attained...
Practice Profile | Dr. Anthony Horalek: The art and science of endodontics.
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In part 1 of his series, Dr. Ace Goerig offers the first steps to becoming debt-free
I was presenting at a recent AAE national meeting with over 200 endodontists in the room, and I asked the question, “How many of you are completely debt-free?” ...
Ashley Latter shares a few strategies that reception can adopt when dealing with new leads
I often say that the receptionist is probably the most important person in your practice. They can decide whether patients even come into the practice or not when they deal with new inquiries. Therefore, they play a large part in your practice’s success. Here is a true story to back this up, and although it is related to a hotel, there is plenty to learn from the experience.
My parents were having a party on a Sunday afternoon a while ago. My brother called me and suggested that it would be a good idea if the two families stayed in a hotel the night before and had a family get together. I thought it was a great idea, and said that I would contact the hotel where we have both stayed on several occasions. It is a family hotel, with a swimming pool, play area, and great food. Here is how the conversation went, more or less word-for-word.
AL: Hello, can I please book two family rooms for a week from Saturday? Do you have availability? (By the way, I am holding my credit card in my hand.)
SPO: Yes we have availability, but I cannot offer you those rooms unless you stay Friday night as well.
AL: I’m sorry, but my brother works on a Saturday, and we can only stay on the Saturday night. Can you please accommodate
SPO: No, I am sorry; it is the policy of the hotel.
AL: We really like your hotel. Do you have any family rooms available?
SPO: Yes, they are all available.
AL: How much is it to stay then?
SPO: $264 a night, bed and breakfast.
AL: So, for 2 nights it would be $254 times two?
AL: Okay, so it looks like you cannot help me here?
SPO: No, I am afraid not, sorry.
AL: Bye, then.
First, let me please acknowledge that I respect their business model. If they ﬁll their rooms just for one night, then it is obviously going to affect their proﬁts, as they would be turning away weekend bookings. I understand; I am in business myself. However, the receptionist could have done several things differently:
I would have been delighted if they had offered us the last option, as our family likes the hotel and the brand.
The result was no sale and a lost opportunity. The hotel probably lost a sale of around $960; after all, we would have had dinner there, a few bottles of wine, etc. They have probably lost future sales from us as well.
I know a lot of practices that spend thousands of dollars on advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) for their websites, and other marketing strategies. The inquiries that they generate are worth thousands of dollars and should be treated like gold.
It is imperative that your receptionist’s end goal is to ensure that any new inquiries make an appointment with your practice and not another.
I would also urge you to get your receptionist to ask further questions and dig for more information. For example, if the patient saw your website and it prompted them to contact you, ask the patient what it was about your website that they liked. Again, it is useful information, especially if you are constantly updating your websites, and you can establish what your potential patients like about your current format.
If it is a referral, ﬁnd out who the introducer was, and you can then thank them in an appropriate way. This is vital information to your practice. If it is referral, it will be easy to build rapport with the new patient, and it will also demonstrate that you have a very keen client.
At a future team meeting, I urge you to ask this question and discuss it in detail: “What is the lifetime value of an average patient to your practice?”
I’m going to use an example to show why this is so important: Let’s say, for example, a patient is on a membership scheme with you and they pay $27 per month. For the purpose of this discussion, let’s say they stay with you for 20 years. That means without the patient even spending a penny on treatment with you, which I am sure they will, conservatively allowing for inﬂation and membership increases, this patient could possibly spend between $8,000 and $9,600 over a lifetime with you. Remember that this does not include any referrals they may give you, such as family members or friends, etc.
So why is this important? I want your receptionist and everyone in the practice to answer the telephone as if the patient is worth $11,000 to the practice.
If they did, would they possibly handle it differently than they do now? It is certainly worth a discussion.
Each new lead to your practice should be treated like gold. I know I do this in my business. Through my experience, I know that each client is worth thousands of dollars. I have clients who have taken several programs with me and have also introduced many new clients to my business.
I honestly believe that if people are calling your practice inquiring about your services, they are genuinely interested in buying. People do not create a list of people to call to annoy and waste time. We all know some people like shopping around, so please ensure that your practice stands out from the crowd and that they end up at your practice and on your appointment book.
Top tips for making your practice more productive:
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There remains a growing belief among clinicians that obturation is to blame for endodontic failures. This notion has more recently fallen under scrutiny as researchers have discovered that the most thorough obturation can only reflect the quality of the cleaning and shaping of the canal. In fact, a number of researchers point to the thorough use of irrigants — making sure that the debris and irrigant itself are lifted completely out of the canal, not forced out the apex — as the most important determinant in the long-term success of an endodontic procedure.
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