Mastering The Business of Dentistry
Roger P. Levin, DDS
I am very excited to provide the latest installment of “Mastering The Business of Dentistry” in the Resnik Institute newsletter. I have great respect for the educational importance of the Institute, and I sincerely hope that I will be able to contribute ideas on the business of dentistry and increasing practice production that will benefit all students and alumni. My own career as CEO of Levin Group began with one question that I am still asking 38 years later – how do you increase production in a dental practice while reducing stress? Based on this critical question, I look forward to providing more practical recommendations that can be implemented quickly to benefit all your practices. All the best, Roger
FOUR WAYS TO INCREASE CASE ACCEPTANCE
Case acceptance is both science and art. Science would indicate something that is repeatable and comes out the same way every time. Think back to your college chemistry classes. If you followed the exact same steps, the solution would always turn blue. Art is different. Art is not a series of steps to get the same result every time. Art can have different results every time, which makes it far more unpredictable. But regarding case acceptance, it is both a combination of science and art. The science of case acceptance The science aspect of case acceptance is that it is a system and like all other practice systems it will be a major determining factor of the level of practice success. Case presentation as a system is no different than systems like scheduling, finance, customer service, the new patient experience, and others. Practice success will be directly proportional to the quality of all practice systems, including case presentation. The art of case acceptance The art aspect in case acceptance is easy to understand. It is an art because you’re dealing with people and people are not standardized. They have different personalities, dental IQs, lifestyles, financial capability, and many other factors. People are complicated and unpredictable, which makes case presentation and case acceptance for patience an artform. Despite courses you may have attended that tell you if you follow the 12 steps you will close all cases, there are no steps that will provide the exact same results every single time because case acceptance is partially an art.
4 WAYS TO INCREASE CASE ACCEPTANCE
The success of case acceptance depends on how well a clinician and practice can integrate both the science and the art. You start by defining the exact steps of the case presentation system. An excellent analogy is playing poker. When you first receive your poker hand you can then make an opening bid. If you think your hand is good, you make a larger bid. If you think your hand is bad, you either bluff, make a smaller bid, or fold. When you are putting together the science of case acceptance it is an opening bid. You are in control, and you can determine the exact steps in the exact order you would like to follow. Now for the challenge. Once you’ve made your opening bid, your next bid will depend on what others are doing. There are no exact steps you can follow any longer and you are being reactive as much as proactive. The same is true for case presentation. You lay out your system scientifically exactly as you would like it to go. Unfortunately, it is the ideal and things almost never go exactly the way you think they will. That is where the art comes in. You must understand the patient, engage in conversation, build trust and relationship, and answer questions and objections. If you have done a good enough job there is a good chance the patient will accept treatment, but even that is not guaranteed. For example, you can give the best-case presentation to a patient who cannot afford dental treatment and they will still end up rejecting treatment. So, let’s examine four ways to increase case acceptance. Please keep in mind this is not about “selling” a restoration or single crown. That’s easy. Single tooth treatment represents the majority of the cases performed in most practices. This is all about larger cases which could be anywhere from a few thousand dollars and up.
- MAKE THE OPENING BID
The opening bid is how you greet the patient. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the doctor presenting treatment because most practices do not have treatment coordinators. Before a doctor enters a consult room they should stop at the door and do four things: Stop at the door, take a deep breath, smile even if wearing a mask, and make sure to know the patient’s name. When they enter, it should be with energy and a positive orientation. You don’t want to look like you’re still thinking about the last thing you were supposed to do or racing out of another room to race into this room. You want the patient to feel like you have nothing else to do but focus on that patient. Start by telling the patient how glad you are to see them and that you are looking forward to having an excellent conversation. In the new research and work we are doing at Levin Group, we’ve discovered that case presentation isn’t really about the presentation. It is about a conversation where the patient is engaged and has the opportunity to make comments, ask questions, and vocalize objections. You may think you do that today, but if you’re probably doing more than 50% of the talking, which means you’re not having a real conversation. This leads to a lack of decision-making by the patient.
- ASK THE PATIENT QUESTIONS
Questions are an excellent way to facilitate conversation and engage the patient; however, most doctors present treatment and do most of the talking. It is natural and understandable, but still a bad idea. Today’s consumer has the Internet. They can look up information before or after the presentation. They might decide to visit other offices or not have treatment at all. It will all depend on the quality of the conversation that takes place. Stop having presentations and start having conversations. One of the best ways to facilitate a conversation and engage the patient is to ask questions. Consider the following:
How much do you know about implant dentistry?
Do you know anyone that has implants?
Do you know how long implants last?
Are you aware of the success rates of implant treatment?
What made you interested in dental implants?
These and many other questions will create an elevated level of trust on the part of the patient because questions help deepen relationships. You want to build relationships with your patients, make them your friends. Remember, people like their friends, trust their friends, and like to buy from their friends
- WATCH YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
It has been repeatedly stated that 80% of communication is non- verbal. Assuming this is anywhere near true, it would suggest that your body language tells a patient more about how you were feeling, what you were thinking, and what you believe than the words you actually use. In some cases, you may be bothered by something that has nothing to do with the case presentation; however, your body language comes across to the patient as if you are distracted, unfocused, or unsure. The key to body language is to use it properly to convey the right message. Concepts like leaning forward to create positive energy, sitting at eye-level so that the patient feels they are equal in the conversation, and moving your arms and hands to demonstrate energy and convey a sense that you believe in what you’re saying are all part of body language. There is also negative language like leaning back or crossing your arms and legs, that says you are not open to conversation or discussion or that you do not really believe fully in what you are saying. We constantly respond to the way people position themselves and act even if they are not talking. Understanding body language can go a long way to creating a positive case presentation. This is why you should stop at the door, take a breath, put a smile on your face, and know the name of the patient in the console room before you go in. This gives you a moment to reset yourself to make the best presentation
- FINANCIAL OPTIONS
Levin Group has a highly successful client who presents financial options at the beginning of the case presentation. We found this remarkably interesting and began using it in more and more practices. Furthermore, we believe that one of the most important factors in the scripting of a case presentation is introducing the availability of interest-free financing or patient financing. By telling a patient this upfront you are giving them the confidence that they have an excellent chance of being able to afford treatment. Keep in mind that even people who can afford treatment are more comfortable sometimes if they don’t have to produce all the money at once. Too many dentists resist talking about patient financing because they must give up a small portion of their fee. But ask yourself, “Would you rather have 93% of your fee or 0%?“ If the patient does not accept treatment you are guaranteed to get 0% and no profit at all. Smaller in most cases is still far better.
Case presentation is one of the critical systems. Many doctors would like to increase the number of implants they place each year based on the advanced training they have received. However, your case presentation skills will increase implant cases and all cases within the practice. If you want to go to the next level, focus on case presentation.
ROGER P. LEVIN, DDS Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 30,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit www.levingroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.