In the final webinar of our three-part series, Completing Your Practice Comeback Plan, our theme is Rebuilding Revenue (And on to Victory!). We gained valuable insight from Debra Englehardt-Nash, a consultant for dental practices since 1985. Debra also manages a busy dental office, and told us how she strategically guided her team and patients back to the office after being closed for two months at the beginning of the pandemic.
Read Webinar Part 1 summary here: Patient Perception: Grading Your COVID Performance
While Debra’s office didn’t see patients – not even for emergencies – while they were closed, she and her team never stopped communicating with them. Today, they’re enjoying a 30 percent higher revenue than pre-COVID. Here’s what Debra and her team learned from this whole experience.
First, the practice shutdown helped the team investigate existing protocols and discover how and what they needed to improve upon reopening.
Through staff surveys and collaboration, they learned that:
- Listening skills are critical for recall, new patients, and for engaging team members
- Surveys (staff and patient) allowed them to get a pulse of the practice as a whole
- Every team member was a vital part of communicating COVID protocols with patients even before they returned to the office
- Rehearsing before they saw patients so they were comfortable with PPE and new sanitizing protocols was essential
- Rehearsing responding to patient FAQs was key to making the staff feel comfortable communicating
Once they were ready, and felt confident with their messaging to patients, the team leveraged technology to communicate with patients, including social media, emails, and texting.
“The most important thing we do is communicate with each other and with patients about how to interact and respond,” says Debra. “And, adequate training for the team is KEY, so they improve this skill.”
Debra and her team called every single active patient on their roster to let them know they were thinking about them during the shutdown, and to answer any questions they had about returning. Debra emphasizes that coaching her team on the best ways to communicate with patients was essential to conveying a consistent message and building trust among the staff and patients alike.
Read Webinar Part 2 summary here: Adapting to New Patient Expectations
Next, they implemented a successful recall approach to getting patients back into the practice for exams, treatments, and additional services.
“People were and are READY to come back for treatment,” Debra says. She trains her hygienists to discuss recall with patients at the very beginning of their appointments, rather than waiting until the end.
They ask open-ended questions like, “What obstacles are preventing you from finishing treatment?” and “How can we help you overcome that? Is there something we can do to help you complete that; overcome your fears, concerns, financial, etc.?” Then, they listen.
Building a relationship with patients is essential for a great recall program, and Debra and her team strive to find that perfect combination of social and clinical recommendations for each and every patient’s best oral health and well-being.
Finally, Debra’s team has an outstanding system for collecting payments.
When it comes time to collect payments, every team member is comfortable discussing financial information with patients. Again, Debra attributes that to staff training and practicing feeling comfortable discussing money anytime the subject comes up.
Before treatment begins, the team presents patients with the office’s “preferred payment option” by saying something like, “Most of our patients prefer to pay for their treatment prior to care.”
Then, they process any copays and invite patients to pay through their text-to-pay software. If a patient objects, the team can then discuss payment plans and other options. Debra says when they send patients the text-to-pay link, they inevitably see collection rates increase!
Gain even more insights from Debra and her many years of experience managing dental practices. Watch the full webinar today, and you could very well be the next dental office that is enjoying an increase in revenue beyond what you ever thought possible after a global pandemic!
In this webinar, you will learn:
- Valuable communication skills
- What to say when patients object to treatment or payment
- How to “build a billable experience”