Ashley Latter offers eight secrets to creating more opportunities to deliver more short term orthodontic treatments and increase your turnover and profits

A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with a client who had just taken my two day ethical sales and communication programme. He was sharing some of his success stories, in particular, relating a conversation he had with a new patient that day.

The patient, in his early forties, was enquiring about having his teeth straightened. He had just been promoted to sales director in his company and found himself having to give more presentations. He therefore thought that having straighter, whiter teeth would improve his appearance and help his confidence. My client asked the patient why he wasn’t getting this treatment done with his existing dentist. The patient replied that he didn’t think he delivered this treatment.

Here is a patient that has had to go to a different practice, because he thinks that his existing dentist does not administer this treatment. What a shame and of course, a missed opportunity for that practice.

I am not sure why some practices don’t offer this type of treatment, because there are so many opportunities to providing it. For a start, it is extremely popular, patients are now seeking out this type of treatment, and it seems everyone wants to have straighter, whiter teeth. If you don’t provide it, then like the story above, your existing patients will go to another practice and they might even leave you for good.

Steps to success

So how do we increase sales of this extremely popular treatment? Here are eight simple steps to follow that will increase your opportunities to deliver this extremely popular treatment, thus allowing you to deliver the dentistry that you love to do.

1. The first step is preparation. So what do I mean by preparation?  Well this is everything that you need to do before the patient visits the practice. For example, you can ask the receptionist if she gained any background information when she was speaking to the patient on the telephone. On our reception programme, we give a sheet for the receptionist to complete, which then has to be passed over to the dentist, so they have a lot of background information to hand. You can perhaps do a quick Google/Facebook search and see if you can learn a bit more about your patient before they visit you. You can ensure that you have your before and after photos and any other forms of evidence ready to show the patient when they visit you. Last thing, have a positive mind set and look forward to meeting your new client. You are looking forward to a life changing conversation.

2. The second part of the consultation is the building of rapport. Of all the steps that I will share with you, this is the most important. Why, because without rapport there is little trust and if there is little trust, then forget it, your patient will not take up treatment with you. So here you want to learn more about your patient on a personal level and become genuinely interested in learning all about them as a human being. Most people’s favourite subject is themselves, so the more the patient talks about themselves, then the greater rapport you will have. Ask questions such as how did they hear about you? What do they do for a living? Ask about their family etc.

3. Once rapport has been established, the third part of the consultation is now asking questions so that you can discover more about their problems and why they are here to see you in the first place. After spending over 26,000 hours training dentists on their communication skills, I can safely say that the biggest communication mistake made by dentists is that they don’t ask enough questions, they make assumptions and also don’t truly listen effectively to the patient’s wants and needs. So if you really want to stand out from the crowd, then ask lots of questions and listen attentively to the patients. I could write a book on this topic alone, however, here is just a few must ask questions in the consultation:

  • Mrs Patient – tell me how we can help you?
  • If I had magic wand, what would you like me to do for you?
  • How long have you been thinking about having this treatment?
  • Why have you decided that now is the time? Do you have an event or a social situation where this is important to you?
  • What would it mean to you if we could achieve this for you?
  • If you want your patients to listen to you, you first need to listen to them.

4. So far we have built excellent rapport, we have asked lots of open questions, we can now move onto the fourth section, providing solutions. Again I could write a book here just on this topic alone. A quick rule of thumb here is to keep it simple. Explain to the patients how you can help them and focus on the benefits your treatment provides, rather than bombarding them with features and technical jargon. Because most dentists are technically minded, they tend to focus their presentation on the technical side, however, most patients want to know what’s in it for me, in other words, how will I benefit.

5. Once you have provided solutions, don’t forget to show some evidence. This is crucial, as patients require proof and also confidence that you can do a good job for them. So the fifth section and absolutely essential if you want to hear a yes more often, is evidence. Examples of sound evidence could be before and after pictures, video or written testimonials or simple demonstrations of the products you are going to use. Don’t forget a picture tells a thousand words.

6. Once you have provided evidence and hopefully you have the patient excited about moving ahead, they will want to know what the fees are going to be. This is one area most dentists find challenging and uncomfortable. So here are a couple of quick suggestions to make this process easier. Say the word investment rather than cost. Investment sounds like you are getting something back. Once you have quoted the fees, let the patient know what it includes. In other words break down what they will receive for their investment. Please don’t leave anything out and explain the benefits of each application. For example, don’t just mention the word retention. Let the patient know what it is, why the long term benefits are important.

7. If the patient is happy with everything at this stage and you can easily find this out by using the statement ‘how does this sound?’.  Hopefully, you have a very excited patient, then you can move onto informed consent, where you can go into the pros and cons of the treatment.

8. You have now gone through every logical step of the consultation. The last step and equally most important is asking for commitment. The second biggest mistake I often see dentists make is telling the patient to go home and think about it, they find this section extremely uncomfortable. However, if the patient has been giving you plenty of buying signals and encouragement, and you have had a really positive response to the question ‘how does this sound?’  then ask the patient if they would like to make an appointment to move to the next stage, now you have commitment to the treatment plan.

There you have it, eight logical easy steps to follow that should help you create more opportunities to deliver short term ortho treatment. There are so many opportunities out there in your existing database; you just need to have some good conversations with your patients.