Dental Practice Solutions

Optimize your dental hygiene department by taking an integrated, team approach

  • Do you feel like you are working hard and your production is not increasing?
  • Do you feel like your hygiene department is under performing?
  • Is your hygiene department producing 25-30% of your total production?
  • Are hygienists in your office treating bloody prophys?
  • Does your hygiene department help enroll implant cases and high-end treatment?
  • Do you have one or more holes in your schedule daily?

I am so happy that you are here because we have answers and solutions to your challenges.

Dental Practice Solutions - Debbie Bittke

Objections to Scheduling Dental Treatment: How Do You Overcome Objections and Get Those Patients Back in Your Chair Today!

By: Cindy Rogers

September 20, 2018

Oh, the excuses we hear from patients on why they do not want to schedule treatment. If you were to take two weeks and write down every excuse you were to hear about why someone did not want to schedule their treatment, I bet that you would find a pattern of the same excuses over and over again.

Excuses are objections and objections are often just requests for help or more information.  The following are common excuses we hear and how you can help your patients overcome them and get them back in your chair.

Objections to scheduling dental treatment will occur. The question is, “How do you overcome objections and get those patients back in your chair; today?”

“I am not in pain, so I don’t think it is really necessary” 

Let the patient know that you understand how they feel. Most people are surprised to learn that pain is the last symptom they will experience with gum disease. This is why over 50% of adults over the age of fifty lose their teeth to gum disease, not decay.  Also, when the patient is in the chair, show them the x-ray and point out where the decay is now and how close to the nerve it is. Show them how it may travel toward the nerve and cause extreme pain that may lead to a root canal and crown instead of the small filling you are recommending now. Creating urgency is important in this situation. You do not want your patient to ever be in pain, and you do not want to get a call on Saturday afternoon.

Let the patient know that that you are so sorry to hear that they have been ill. Send the patient a get-well card if the patient lets on that the illness is much more than a man cold. Put the patient on your call back in two weeks’ list. Give the patient time to heal, but do not forget to get back in contact with them. Chances are, you are not the only appointment they had to cancel due to being ill. Having a fuzzy head, they most likely won’t remember to call you back. Consider this exceptional customer service, to help keep track of their health needs.

“My tooth still hurts from the last time I was there”

Let the patient know that you are sorry to hear that and ask them to please share with you how they were hurt. Explain that It may be that she simply needs an adjustment on that small filling your doctor just placed. Explain the techniques that your office can provide to ensure this does not happen again.  Then, be sure to put a note in the patient’s chart so that the clinicians will take extra care at her next appointment. Let her know that the doctor would like to see her right away to determine what is causing her discomfort.

“I can’t get out of work”

Remind the patient that most of your other patients have jobs as well. That is why you offer early morning and/or later appointment times. Let them know that you can schedule in advance so that they can request the time off of work.  The patient must first understand the value of the appointment. Then they can verbalize to their employer that taking a couple hours off for a preventative appointment may save them missed days in the future. 

“I cannot afford to pay for treatment”

Remind the patient that they can’t afford to not have the treatment done. Educate them on the risks they are taking by not having the treatment done. Then explain to them how you have been able to help other patients with this same concern. Review your payment options with them and be sure to give them a couple of options that they are comfortable with. 

“My insurance does not cover it”

Explain to them how insurance is not meant to dictate treatment and even though their insurance does not cover it, the treatment is necessary in order to save their tooth or get rid of an infection. Show them the value of having the treatment done. Also explain to them that their insurance benefit not used for this procedure can be used for other treatment that is covered so they will not lose it. Do your best to explain insurance benefits to your patients. It is confusing for us professionals, imagine how confusing it is to your patients.

Remember, an excuse is most likely a request for more information, a way of asking for help. Next time you hear one of these excuses, remember this and see what you can do to help.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Coach Cindy Rogers, RDH, BS, OMT

For many years Cindy has been an integral part of successfully building dental practices from the group up. Cindy is known for creating a harmonious work environment where the whole team looks forward to coming to work every day. The result of this has been massive growth for the practice.

Her passion is to share her success and knowledge with other practices so that they can experience a great team working environment while watching their profitably explode. What you will experience with coaching by Cindy, is somebody that can bring your team together to create your ultimate dental practice, and the ultimate patient experience.

It is through her years of experience in the dental field and the methodologies of Dental Practice Solutions that Cindy creates the next level of success for each dental practice she touches. When not focusing of dentistry, Cindy spend her time with her family exploring the outdoors in beautiful Pacific Northwest. Schedule a profit boosting session today and find out how you can optimize your dental schedule. Contact Cindy: admin@dentalpracticesolutions.com

Dental Consultant in Oregon | Converting Leads into Patients

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

March 22, 2018

Marketing is an essential part of attracting new business. Strong print and internet marketing materials can help introduce your practice to potential new patients. Glowing reviews and testimonials tell people that you have a trustworthy team and offer quality care. However, even the best marketing efforts won’t contribute anything to your business if you fail to convert leads into patients. There are a variety of reasons outside of your control that might stop someone from scheduling an appointment at your practice, but it’s important to make sure you do all you can to help motivate people to seek treatment with you. Below are some tips to help your team more effectively sell the value of your service to potential new patients.

Be responsive and available. As a dental professional, you know what it’s like to be busy. Often, your patients have busy lives of their own. Make sure your team is available to take calls as they come and try to offer flexible appointment times to help people work within their limited free time.

 

Don’t be too pushy. While it’s helpful to be clear about all the treatments offered at your practice, patients are often turned off by overly “salesy” approaches. Take the time to get to know a patient and their needs, goals, and budget before trying to sell them on dental solutions. This will make them feel valued and understood, increasing the likelihood of treatment plan acceptance.

 

Offer a friendly and welcoming environment. There are a number of people who absolutely dread going to the dentist. Because of that, some potential patients may already have a negative feeling towards you and your team despite no fault of your own. Work to overcome this discomfort quickly by offering a personable and kind environment. Make sure your team greets patients by name and gets to know a bit about them. A little can go a long way.

 

Don’t lose track of people. Repetition is one of the easiest techniques for cementing something into memory. If a potential new patient contacts your office, be sure to follow up if you don’t hear from them again. You never know the reason they didn’t call back, so taking that step for them can offer a second chance to make a connection and help your practice stand out more in their mind.

 

Many dentists find it difficult to think about their practice as a business. It is likely that you chose dentistry due to a passion for service and healing, not bookkeeping or sales. Yet nearly any successful retailer will say that the only way to gain business is to give customers what they want, when they want it. Contact us for more strategies on boosting new patient numbers and patient retention!

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

 

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is a dental consultant, coach, speaker and author. She is also CEO of Dental Practice Solutions. Debbie is a world-class leader in creating profitable hygiene departments. She is well-known as a former clinical assistant professor at USC in Los Angeles and a former hygiene department program director. Dentistry Today recognizes Debbie as a Leader in Dental Consulting. She can be reached at (888) 816-1511. Send an e-mail to info@dentalpracticesolutions.com or go to her website: https://www.dentalpracticesolutions.com

Check out the Free 3-Part Hygiene Department Training: http://www.dentalhygiene.solutions

Oregon Dental Consultant | What is your BIG Audacious Goal for 2018?

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

March 20, 2018

It’s that time of year…again! The gym was packed tonight. I could barely find a parking spot! Even my chiropractor was running 20 minutes behind schedule. He told me this month of January is very busy with people wanting to take care of their health.

I started seeing a chiropractor in August 2017 (After someone ran into my car and then ran off! Another story, another time) and no one else was even scheduled at the same time as my appointment.

If you think this blog is a bit trite, let me explain…. The Dow Jones was at an all high record!

What does this mean for you?

It means that people are spending money.

So, what will you do differently in 2018?

What is your BIG audacious goal?

Are you thinking you are ready to retire?

Are you thinking 2017 was good enough?

If you said “yes” to the two questions above and if you say the Dow Jones on January 4, 2017, I want to suggest you step outside your comfort zone.

Want to retire in the next five years?

Yes?

I suggest you make a commitment. Call it a resolution to improve your treatment planning and case acceptance skills.

Check out some of the classes at the numerous dental conferences with your team and especially your hygienist. Your hygienist should be the one team member who gets your patients “set-up” to accept treatment before you doctor, even walk in that hygiene room to begin your exam.

Are you satisfied with your production and collections in 2017?

Yes?

My suggestion is that you run some reports such as unscheduled hygiene appointments and unscheduled treatment. These are two great areas to look at.

This is important to do now because you want to tap into this time of abundance in our world. IT is happening NOW.

Whether you want to retire this year, in five years or in twenty-five years today is the day to write down your BIG audacious goals.

AUDACIOUS GOAL

Why an audacious goal?

I saw an audacious goal because if you don’t step outside of your comfort zone, things will remain the same for you.

Comfort Zone. Definition: a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease and without stress.

Or put another way: To Remain the Same.

How will you accomplish your audacious goal?

  1. Create a new habit.

The second thing you need to do is write down your goal and the third is to have confidence that you can achieve this goal.

What is the #1 habit I have now accomplished?

I wrote it down and I also have confidence that I can absolutely achieve this goal.

It is one VERY simple goal. What is it????

I have started to make my bed every day.

Ok. SO, it’s day 5 in 2018, and I am telling you that it is so simple that I have achieved it.

Your audacious goal needs to be a simple one. It needs to be something that you absolutely, without a doubt, can accomplish.

You must write this down.

I also want to suggest that you write these goals down as a team.

If you want to have your own goals, that is fine but if you have business goals, to accomplish them, you will need 100% team participation.

YOUR WHY

Now that you have decided to write down at least one goal you will accomplish in 2018 (Love my optimism? lol), I want to ask that you think about WHY you want to increase _______________.

The reason you must get clear on this is because if you make $100,000 more in 2018, your front office employee(s) still make $12.hr (Maybe more. Maybe less) which means nothing is in it for them.

Your “Why” can be to spend more time with your family. In this case maybe you want to work three days and not four each week. If this is an example of your goal in 2018, I suggest that you allow your employees work on this goal, so they can earn the same salary in three days.

When you create your goal, it needs to be shared with your team. Remember, they are there to support your vision for the practice, so you must find a way to involve your entire team if you want to accomplish your dream.

Tips to Prioritize the Action Plan

  1. Identify what needs to be done to accomplish your goal(s).

For example: If you want to improve the number of New Patients who come to your office in 2018, write down your number accomplished in 2017.

  1. Write down the systems, the processes needed to achieve your audacious goal(s).
  2. Write down who needs to do what and when to accomplish your goal(s).
  3. Accountability is key so have one person who will report on your progress.
  4. Finally, is to look at your goal(s) daily and do at least one task that will move you towards accomplishing your goal(s).

Whatever you do, enjoy accomplishing your BIG audacious goal(s). Life is too short to be stressed every day.

Remember to do something small every day to achieve your goal. Create one habit that will get you to your goal(s) in 2018.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is a dental consultant, coach, speaker and author. She is also CEO of Dental Practice Solutions. Debbie is a world-class leader in creating profitable hygiene departments. She is well-known as a former clinical assistant professor at USC in Los Angeles and a former hygiene department program director. Dentistry Today recognizes Debbie as a Leader in Dental Consulting. She can be reached at (888) 816-1511. Send an e-mail to info@dentalpracticesolutions.com or go to her website: https://www.dentalpracticesolutions.com

Check out the Free 3-Part Hygiene Department Training: http://www.dentalhygiene.solutions

Dental Consultant in Clackamas | Give your dental marketing a boost in 2018

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

February 14, 2018

Guest Blog By: Mandy Fischer of LocalMed.

Was one of your New Year resolutions for 2018 to improve your marketing strategy and bring in record numbers of new patients?

If it was, but you’re not entirely sure where to begin – we have some suggestions for you! These 5 action points can help you decide where to focus your time and effort this year in order to take your marketing to the next level.

  1. Take advantage of peer-sharing groups.

If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to expand your marketing toolkit this year that requires nothing but your time and effort, check out and get involved in the groups that already exist for your benefit on social media.

There are dozens of groups and forums out there where dentists, office managers, consultants and marketing professionals are discussing best practices, what works and what doesn’t. Make it your mission to find at least one group that you can contribute and ask questions in this year!

 

2. Audit your digital presence.

Google yourself, and check out the first few pages of results. Make sure that your practice’s name, phone number, address, email address, web address and doctor’s name are all correct on every listing. If it isn’t – make a note of it, and fix it ASAP. If there’s differing information, you’re doing significant harm to your brand and likely losing potential patients.

Your digital presence is there to build trust with potential patients, and if you’re providing conflicting information, they’re just going to choose a different dentist.

 

3. Be strategically social with your patients.

Take a critical look at your social media strategy. Are your posts engaging people, or is nobody looking? Make it your mission to post relevant, fun, personable information that will make people WANT to come to your office! One of your most valuable assets is your branding – and that includes your social voice!

Post authentic photos of you and your staff having fun in the office, or happy patients (make sure to comply with HIPAA law) – and stay away from posting anything clinical that will scare away patients (i.e. a before and after of teeth whitening is fine, but a patient being prepped for implants is not!).

 

  1. Diagnose your overall brand health.

Your brand includes your visual assets, your brand voice and your customer experience. Evaluate your office’s current efforts, and come up with a specific plan for improvement.

Some questions you can ask to diagnose how you’re doing:

  • What are your reviews saying? Do you have any reviews? Are they old or negative?
  • What is your social media interaction like? Is your social brand voice unique and engaging?
  • What’syour marketing materials look like? Do you have a library of mismatched assets that could be attributed to any dental practice? Do you have a brand guide that establishes standard fonts, colors and voice?
  • What are the common complaints or comments patients have made in regards to your calls, procedures or marketing? Ask your staff. What can you do to make their experience even better!

 

  1. Close the loop on your marketing.

In addition to the tasks above, make sure you have a comprehensive marketing strategy in place. Facebook ads, direct mailers, referrals and ground marketing are all great ways of getting the word about your practice out.

But how do you convert leads into patients? If it’s by phone call only, or an “online request”, it’s time to upgrade to a better system.

Real-time online scheduling is the missing piece that closes the loop on your patient acquisition process. Enable patients to schedule an appointment with your office from wherever they find you, like your website, Google, Facebook, HealthGrades, Yelp, etc.

By giving patients the option of booking their appointment on the their own time, you can significantly increase your conversion rate on your current marketing efforts, meaning more patients in your door without needing to add any additional marketing strategies.

 

 AUTHOR: Mandy Fischer
Marketing Coordinator for Local Med

Thank you to our guest blogger this month! We had a wonderful response a few months ago when Mandy wrote for us. We appreciate LocalMed and all they do to get patients scheduled even when you are not there to answer the phone call.

Dental Hygienists Role Creating a Successful Schedule

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

October 4, 2017

Every success schedule in the dental office begins with a strategy. Without a strategic plan, you are not able to meet the financial goals to keep your dental practice surviving.

The best plan is to not survive, but thrive.

What is the dental hygienist’s role in keeping doctor’s schedule full?

1st Step to Doctor’s Success Schedule

The first step for hygienists to help keep doctors schedule full is to have a mindset that they are like an associate to doctor; helping the practice to grow.

2nd Step to Successful Scheduling

The next step is actually two-pronged. The hygienist needs to audit all patient records before their day at the office begins. This audit serves many purposes but for this blog we will stick to the topic of what a hygienist’s role is for successful scheduling and helping doctor’s schedule stay full all day.

When auditing the patient’s records look to see what outstanding treatment is necessary. Why does the patient need to schedule this? What is the urgency the hygienist and all the clinicians will speak to this patient about?

For example: Does the patient have a dark spot on their bite-wing x-ray and when you audit the patients record you feel concerned they may very soon have a toothache.

Why did this patient not want to schedule this appointment? It is important to understand the patient’s objection so that when the hygienist has the patient in their chair they can immediately address the patient’s previous objection.

Example: Without even saying; “I know money is a concern,” what you can say is (Have the patient seated upright in the chair with x-rays, and/or intra-oral photos there in front of the patient), “Mrs. Jones, doctor and I are both concerned about this black spot on your x-ray. Let me show you this area. Do you see this black spot? Here is the nerve of your tooth and as you can see this black spot is very close to the nerve which means that once it reaches the nerve it will cause a toothache and also means we probably need to do a root canal and a tooth with a root canal needs a tooth. This means spending a lot more money to keep this tooth.”

Notice how the hygienist in this example address the patients concern before they could even give their objection which they stated at their last appointment and this is the reason the treatment is unscheduled.

It is also very important that hygienists not only think about the gum health of their patients but provide a visual exam.

After the hygienist completes all of their screenings, it is a great time to sit the patient upright in the chair and show them what you see. Look together with the patient. Make the patient part of this process. This means that you look together and ask the patient if they see what you see.

Use words that the patient understands. Saying words like “periodontal disease,” and “tooth decay” probably don’t mean as much to your patient as if the words: gum infection, inflammation, active disease, cavity, black soft spot, etc.”

When you see holes in doctor’s schedule it’s time to take a look at the hygiene patient exam process. It’s a great time to look at patient records who have not scheduled their appointment and discuss as a team what you can do differently so these patients will schedule and pay.

The best way to get patients scheduled and paying for the care you offer is to communicate (your words and actions) in a way that helps the patient to feel and believe they want what they need.

Many of your patients have left your office without committing to schedule and pay for your care. Many of these patients also took very nice vacations this summer, they already plan to buy that new iPhone X, some have spent a lot of money on a really nice car and many have spent thousands of dollars on a sleeve of body of tattoo’s.

Our job? We have a responsibility to help our patients want what they need. Don’t most people want to live a longer and healthier life? This is our overarching message, “Optimal oral health will help you live a longer and healthier life!”

Still have holes in your schedule? Please feel free to reach out to an expert. This is one area that we have created a success strategy around. Our client offices have many patients who now schedule and pay for treatment AND many of their patients pay before their treatment is complete.

Our client offices have a system in place for big cases where patients are currently paying in advance for doctor and hygienist’s services.

Most of the medical cosmetic offices have patients pay in advance and why can’t your patients feel urgency to pay for keeping a healthy mouth?!

It’s all in how you are delivering your message to the patient in your chair.

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is a dental consultant, coach, speaker and author. She is also CEO of Dental Hygiene Solutions, powered by Dental Practice Solutions. Debbie is a world-class leader in creating profitable hygiene departments. She is well-known as a former clinical assistant professor at USC in Los Angeles and a former hygiene department program director. Dentistry Today recognizes Debbie as a Leader in Dental Consulting.

DENTISTRY TODAY considers her a top dental consultant for the past 16 yrs.

The focus of Dental Practice Solutions is to create healthier, longer lives for your patients while supporting the practice to optimize their hygiene department. The team at Dental Practice Solutions, takes an integrative approach with your team to create an increase in your production and collections without working harder. When you continue to use the systems implemented, you will benefit from production that creates dividends year after year, for the life of your dental practice.

Debbie is also a former Hygiene Program Director and clinical assistant professor for the dental hygiene program at USC in Los Angeles.

Debbie is passionate about supporting dental teams to provide a profitable, patient-centered dental practice through improving systems and efficiencies in the dental hygiene department.

Dental Office Schedule: Turbulence or Smooth Landing?

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

September 14, 2017

Dental Schedule

Dental Schedule Chaos or Smooth?

If you are a frequent flyer then you will relate to this but if not and you have been on a rollercoaster, substitute airplane ride for a rollercoaster ride.

It’s not often that you fly on an airplane for a few hours and never experience turbulence. It is just part of flying. With the help of technology and the knowledge of pilots to maneuver the plane any turbulence doesn’t last longer because the pilots can usually find a smooth place in the air.

The air traffic controllers provide great guidance so the planes have safe landings.

As an employee in the dental office you probably experience turbulence throughout the day. Patients call to change appointments, patients call with a toothache or broken tooth and need to be seen asap.

 

Who is your traffic controller in your office to be certain your day lands smoothly?

What procedures are in place so your patients know they can’t call last minute to change their appointment just because something better just happened to be available; i.e. a hair appointment. Seriously?! Yes, it happens. Patients believe they have more important things to do than come to their dental appointment (that is a topic for another blog).

Let’s get back to the turbulence that happens daily in the dental office.

TURBULENCE

What happens when the schedule changes? What do you do when 2 patients called in pain and the patient in operatory (Ex: Room #2) is running late because the local anesthetic is not working; the just won’t get numb!

How is your air traffic controller to oversee the schedule is running smoothly with all these changes? Who is in charge of making sure the day ends with a smooth landing?

Where does this process begin when your office hits turbulence?

BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND

It is imperative that you begin with the end in mind. Everyone on your team needs to know if you are on track to meet your goals. Everyone needs to know what they may not know when they arrive to the office.

This happens by everyone on the team auditing their schedule. Assistants and hygienists will audit their patients. The front office will audit the production, collections, A/R, the schedule, possible bottle-necks and holes in the schedule.

It is possible that this person who audits the schedule and oversees it runs smoothly and at capacity, is also the person who can be the air traffic controller. This is your key-player who will direct the traffic flow during your day at the office.

They are probably the first person to recognize the changes that occur in your office: Calls from patients who are running late, calls from patients who can’t make their appointment, etc.

If a clinician in the back office is running behind they need to communicate to the air traffic controller at the front office so this person can lead the team in the right direction to overcome roadblocks that will create a bottleneck at the front desk or unnecessary holes in the schedule.

The end result of your day is a smooth landing.

BTW: As I wrote this I was on an airplane and our decent into Los Angeles got a little bumpy. The amazing air traffic controllers did a great job and our plane landed safely thus; I am sending this to you.

What roadblocks and bumps do you experience daily in your office? Who is your office air traffic controller?

Dental Practice Management

Dental Practice Solutions

About Debbie

Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, is the CEO of Dental Practice Solutions. In 2000, Debbie founded Dental Practice Solutions and since that time continues to support the optimization of hygiene departments globally.

Through her proven systems to communicate oral disease to dental patients she creates highly profitable dental practices around the world. You can reach Debbie at: admin@dentalpracticesolutions.com or: 888-816-1511. Check out her no-cost hygiene department training: www.dentalhygiene.solutions