By Sally McKenzie, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

October 2, 2017 -- You just finished a comprehensive exam on a brand new patient you're hoping will stay loyal to your practice. You've taken the time to educate this patient on all the immediate work that needs done, as well as provide information on a variety of smile-enhancing cosmetic options. Before this patient leaves, you put together a treatment plan that includes all your recommendations and encourage this first-time patient to schedule as soon as possible.

Sally McKenzie
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

The problem? You never see this patient again.

All too often, dentists overwhelm their patients with expensive -- and time-consuming -- treatment plans. Patients leave the practice with their head spinning and decide not to schedule any treatment at all -- or at least not with your practice.

Instead of overwhelming patients, especially new ones, start with discussing only the most essential treatment first. Let them know you offer other services that can help their smile and improve their overall health, but that you'll go into more detail about those options after the most serious issues are addressed, which might include caries, periodontal disease, or a fractured tooth.

3 reasons

Not convinced this is the best way to get patients on the schedule? Here are three reasons you should only focus on discussing essential treatment first:

1. Patients are more likely to accept smaller treatment plans

Patients are always looking for reasons to say no to treatment, whether it's because it's too expensive or they simply can't afford to take that much time off work.

If you ease patients into dentistry by only focusing on what they really need done now, the treatment and everything involved with it become much more manageable. Instead of racking up a bill that's thousands of dollars, maybe treatment only sets them back a few hundred dollars, for example. That's treatment they'll be much more likely to say yes to.

2. Starting small is a great way to earn their trust

If patients feel as if your top priority is selling them an expensive treatment plan, there's a pretty good chance they won't come back to your practice at all. Even if it isn't your intention, if you present a treatment plan to patients that's thousands of dollars -- especially if this is the first time they've seen you -- they might question how much of that work they actually need, and then go to another dentist for a second opinion. In their minds, you become more of a salesperson than a dentist, which makes it difficult for them to entrust you with their care.

Not only that, but if you're able to successfully perform smaller procedures and get them out of pain or provide another benefit, patients will have more confidence in your skills. They'll start to truly trust you, making them more likely to accept other treatment you recommend.

3. It shows you have their best interest at heart

Patients want to feel a connection to their dental practice and know that you care about their well-being, not just your bottom line. If you focus too much on the cost and overwhelm them with all the work they need done, they'll think money is your main motivation.

Start with the most vital treatment first, and explain why you're recommending a certain procedure and the possible consequences of not going forward with treatment. Don't just tell patients they need treatment, hand them an expensive treatment plan, and send them on their way. Focus on education instead.

Use tools such as intraoral cameras and digital radiography to show patients exactly what you see. Let them know you can address other cosmetic issues later if they'd like, but that you have to get their mouth healthy before they invest in any expensive cosmetic treatment. This shows you care about their well-being and not just what they can do for your pocketbook.

Of course, there are other ways you can show patients you care. Taking the time to really get to know your patients also goes a long way in establishing a rapport and, ultimately, the connection that keeps them loyal to your practice. Ask them about their jobs, their families, and their oral health goals, and address any concerns they bring up.

Getting patients to accept treatment can be difficult -- especially if the price tag is high and you haven't taken the time to earn their trust yet. Instead of overwhelming patients with large treatment plans, start small. Educate them about the value of dentistry and why they need certain treatment. Earn their trust and start building connections. Not only will patients accept treatment, they'll also be much more likely to stay loyal and recommend your practice to family and friends.

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 sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

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


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