By Sally McKenzie, contributing writer

August 8, 2017 -- It seems as if no matter what you and your team members do, many of your patients just don't value dentistry, and they certainly don't appreciate what you can do for their smile. This shows in your lackluster case acceptance rates and the fact you deal with last-minute cancellations and no-shows on a daily basis. And then there are those abysmal patient retention rates. Patients just aren't loyal, and it's killing team morale and your bottom line.

Yes, this can be pretty frustrating. It really doesn't matter how skilled you are at your craft if you don't have patients to treat. Building a strong base of loyal patients is key to your success, yet it's something many dentists struggle with throughout their career.

3 possible reasons

So why don't patients appreciate you and all you can do for their oral health? Here are the top three reasons patients don't place much value on their time in the dental chair, and what you can do to earn their trust and their loyalty.

1. They don't feel any connection to you or your practice

Sally McKenzie
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

If you don't take the time to get to know your patients and build a rapport, they simply won't feel connected to your practice -- making it difficult for them to appreciate you or your team members. Without a connection, there's no trust and really no reason to come back to your practice at all.

I know this can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Make an effort to get to know your patients during every appointment. Ask them about their families and their jobs. Find out what their oral health goals are, and talk with them about how the services you offer can help them get there. Let them know you truly care about their well-being and want to earn their trust.

Once patients truly feel a connection, not only will they be more likely to keep their appointments and stay loyal to your practice, they'll also be more likely to accept the treatment you recommend. They might even start to refer you to family and friends.

2. There isn't a focus on patient education

“You can't expect patients to appreciate you and what your practice offers just because you're a skilled clinician.”

When patients don't value dentistry, they're not going to accept treatment or worry about keeping their appointments. That's why it's so critical to focus on education. Spend time talking with patients about the importance of maintaining their oral health and the possible consequences of not going forward with treatment. Use images and intraoral cameras to show them what's going on in their mouths and explain why treatment is necessary.

I also suggest showing patients before and after photos of successful cases. This will help them see what you can do for them. Encourage patients to ask questions and address any concerns they bring up. Look at every patient interaction as an opportunity to educate, and they'll start to understand the value of what you do.

3. You don't spend enough time presenting treatment

You might think taking five or 10 minutes to go over treatment with patients is enough, but it isn't. If you rush through the presentation and don't spend time answering questions, patients aren't going to see the value in the treatment or appreciate what's involved in the procedure. And even though they might tell you they plan to go forward with that treatment, chances are they leave the practice without scheduling.

That's why I suggest you consider hiring a treatment coordinator trained in sales to perform case presentations for all producers in your practice. The coordinator should go over treatment details in a quiet, relaxed atmosphere. Patients will feel more comfortable asking questions and will appreciate the time spent educating them about the procedure. This also helps build those all-important connections I mentioned earlier, which fosters patient loyalty and leads to higher case acceptance.

You can't expect patients to appreciate you and what your practice offers just because you're a skilled clinician. You really have to earn it. That starts by building connections and focusing on education. When you spend time getting to know your patients and talking with them about the importance of maintaining their oral health, they'll really start to value their appointment times. When that happens, you'll see fewer broken appointments, increased case acceptance, and higher patient retention rates.

Sally McKenzie is the CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service, nationwide dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2017

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