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 Implant 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 increase practice production that will benefit all students and alumni.
My career as CEO of Levin Group began with this 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,
7 WAYS TO INCREASE IMPLANT CASE ACCEPTANCE
Just imagine if every patient in your practice who could benefit from dental implants was interested in learning about them, had unlimited finances to afford them, and accepted treatment. While that may be a great fantasy, there is a greater reality and by understanding certain factors or “reality checks,” and learning the seven ways to increase implant case acceptance, you’ll experience practice success.
Patients must be educated. There are simple steps that you can take to educate patients. First, you should have an every-30-day email communication with your patients updating them on the practice services, technologies, the team, and, of course, dental implants. Second, you can have a script to help the front desk staff talk about dental implants with patients. Third, the hygienist should identify which patients would benefit from dental implants and have their own script that reviews those benefits directly with those patients.
Patients do not have unlimited money, but it doesn’t necessarily matter. Most patients do not have unlimited finances. In fact, one national economic study found that 60% of Americans do not have $500 in cash for an emergency. The good news is that most people do not care as much about the total fee as they do about how it is paid for. Many patients think their dental insurance will cover dental implants; however, they often discover that coverage is not available. Then they pivot to payment plans and other options. Financing dental implants is a critical aspect, and you must also keep in mind that there are options beyond dental implants that include bridges, dentures, or doing nothing. These options are not as good, but they are less expensive. You must make dental implants affordable through patient financing.
You may have to change your approach. Many patients either lose teeth and view dental implants as expensive or extravagant or they are already missing teeth and are willing to continue the way they have been. There are millions of partially and fully edentulous patients that can benefit from dental implants. One of the biggest factors in transforming their opinion may be transforming your approach!
SEVEN STEPS TO INCREASE CASE ACCEPTANCE
- Build powerful relationships.
Relationships are the foundation of selling any service. The best way to build great relationships is to become interested in people. Every new patient should experience what we call The Golden 10 questions, which involve learning 10 personal things about them. Psychologists tell us that when you get to numbers eight, nine, or ten you will move from a professional relationship to a personal relationship. This goes to the heart of the Levin Group mantra: “Make your patients your friends!”
- Treat every patient with respect.
We recently talked to a client who ended up providing a $30,000 dental implant case. The patient had come as a second opinion, because their doctor, who they had been with for many years, left them confused. After meeting with our client, the patient understood implants completely, felt comfortable, and wanted to have implants placed in that practice. Taking time with patients is a sign of respect. Giving an enthusiastic greeting, running on time, thanking them for coming, and giving clear explanations and then asking questions will go a long way toward increasing implant case acceptance. Don’t simply assume that because the patient has been with you for years you can rush through the treatment explanations.
- Provide third-party proof.
One of the best ways to create trust is third-party proof or social proof. It is essentially an endorsement and the best people to give you that endorsement is your clinical team. Don’t be shy about asking your front desk and assistants to talk to patients about the excellent care they receive, the high quality of the dentist, and the dentist’s extensive continuing education and years of experience. Keep in mind that four out of five patients ask a question about their case presentation when they get to the front desk. Don’t underestimate the importance of your front desk team endorsing the doctor and dental implants.
- Be likable.
Being likable is one of the key factors in building relationships, relating to patients, and providing 5-star customer service. For anyone who has not read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, I cannot recommend it highly enough. For those of you who have read it, I encourage you to read it once a year. You want to make sure patients can feel your energy and enthusiasm and that alone can raise your likability factor. Being open, comfortable, relaxed not rushing, and showing enthusiasm for dental implants all before presenting the detailed case will help patients like you. Developing a personality that is instantly likable and relatable to patients may be one of the most important behaviors to increase implant case acceptance and overall practice success.
- Be seen as an authority.
Authorities create confidence and confidence is a major factor in patient decision making. Patients need to develop confidence based on certain logistical information and that logistical information can make you an authority. This information includes how many implants you have placed, how many cases you have completed, what your results have been, what you expect their results to be, and the amount of education that you have. Being in authority is one of the most powerful factors in having people make rapid decisions and you shouldn’t be afraid to let patients know that you are considered an expert in dental implants, especially if you have certifications, credentials, or Continuing Education credits.
- Tell a story.
Stories can help you to make points and influence other people. We know that if you can tell a story to help a patient understand that you have seen cases like this before with excellent results, you have a much better chance of case acceptance. In general, we recommend having three stories for every service that you offer, but this is especially important for dental implants. Hearing stories helps patients visualize the benefits of dental implants, the expected results, and how you will improve the quality of their life. It is also important to tell stories about patients who did not follow through with dental implants and how their cases became more expensive, more complex, or even more painful later. Stories are one of the most beneficial ways to help patients understand why dental implant treatment an excellent idea is and can help them overcome barriers like resistance to fees, time, or discomfort.
- Update your current systems.
The truth is that most general practice treatment is single tooth, and the data shows that this has not changed in the last 10 years. We recommend you review the case presentation system in your practice carefully, as it must be periodically updated. This is especially true as you expand into a service such as dental implants, because the systems that work for patients regarding single-tooth dentistry do not work the same way for larger cases. Learning to include the patient in the case presentation, not doing more than 50% of the talking, asking questions to engage the patient, and showing empathy and positive energy about your expectations for the case are all crucial factors of an effective case presentation system. When you get this right, case acceptance for dental implants will increase almost automatically.
Using the above recommendations will help you relate to patients better, build powerful relationships, and increase implant case acceptance. If you want to increase the number of implant cases annually, which is an excellent goal to pursue, you will need to continue to upgrade your case presentation system, which is both a science and an art. The science is following the steps, and the art is understanding and relating to people. If you have a strong desire to continue to improve in these areas, your implant practice will continue to expand.
ROGER P. LEVIN, DDS Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group. This leading practice management consulting firm 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 worldwide. 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 email@example.com