Are You Driving New Dental Patient Demand?
From The Dr. John Meis Show
In Episode 4 on the Dr. Meis show we will be discussing how to drive new dental patient demand. We will explore how to increase new patient natural demand so that we have less cost on the bought demand side. Let’s take a listen on what Dr. John Meis says about this…
(For those who prefer to read over watching the videos)
Dr. John Meis: Welcome to the Dr. John Meis Show. Today, we’re not gonna be talking about Driving Miss Daisy. We are gonna be talking about one of my favorite topics, driving new patient demand. Hey, everybody. I’m headed to Florida tomorrow, gonna be speaking Monday and Tuesday to a group of almost 300 dentists. One of the things I really love about some dental organizations is they really take improving their team’s capability seriously. So, the organization I’m gonna speak to is closing all their offices Monday and Tuesday and making sure everybody in their organization is sharpening the saw. It’s such a competitive advantage.
Dr. John Meis: So, I also want to let everybody know about the free gift I have for you. It’s a book. It’s my Amazon number one best selling book, The Ultimate Guide On How To Double Or Triple Your Practice Production. You can get that book for free. Just go to the website that’s on the bottom of the screen, and we’ll be happy to send you one of those.
Dr. John Meis: I want to tell you a story about a practice that I consulted with. When we started working with this practice, it really had some exceptional things. First of all, the doctor was very, very attractive. I mean, not attractive … well, attractive in a physical sense, but also attractive in kind of a charismatic personality. Right? He was good. He connected with people really well. His office was gorgeous. I mean, it was really well done, very nicely decorated, and his equipment was super. He had all of the high technology pieces that you could want. We had a great doctor. We had a great office.
Dr. John Mies: They had all the pieces, but here was the problem that they were running into. They simply didn’t have enough patient flow to be profitable. So, he had a great skillset, great personality, great practice setup. All the pieces were there, but it just wasn’t working. One of the reasons it wasn’t working was they weren’t attracting enough new patients, and so the only patients they were attracting was from advertising spending. It was so expensive that they were not able to be profitable. Once we helped him understand how to drive natural demand, so that he earned patient demand, his practice turned around and turned around really quickly. That’s the important part, because the market responds when they get what they want. We’re gonna talk about that natural demand today.
Dr. John Meis: So, we’re gonna be talking about new patient demand here. I’m gonna take new patient demand and I’m gonna split it into two. I’m only gonna talk about one of them today. There is bought demand, and that’s demand that you buy by sending out postcards, or having radio, or having billboards, television, whatever it is that you’re doing that you’re spending money on to market. That is really bought demand. I’m gonna be talking about the other one, and that is the natural demand, the demand that comes from just doing things in a better way. I’m gonna talk about how we increase natural demand, so that we have less cost on the bought demand side when we talk about that. Make sense? All right. We’re gonna jump into it.
Sr. John Meis: I recently got my eyes examined. I moved to Phoenix about a year ago. It was time to get my eyes examined. I had just gone through this process of choosing a professional, so I’m gonna intermix my story or choosing an eye professional into this story, because I think it’ll make sense to illustrate some of the points. All right? I totally believe that you can’t give people too much of what they want. So, when we’re talking about natural demand, we’re gonna be talking about how do we give people more of what they want? Now, this is kind of an interesting topic. I do it in front of audiences all the time, where I will ask the audience to fill in the blank. What do patients want? They go through a list of some, and they go through the list generally the items that dentists want to give them, not necessarily the one where there isn’t a good match. All right?
Dr. John Meis: I’m gonna go through some of these and talk a little bit about what they mean. Convenient location. To me a convenient location is someplace that’s close to a lot of rooftops. When I’m considering purchasing a practice, one of the things I’ll do, very first things I’ll do, is I’ll go to Google Earth. I look up that address, and I look around it and see, are there a lot of rooftops? If there are, that’s good, because I know I’m gonna be convenient to those people that are the rooftops near there. So, being convenient also means having good parking. One of the practice capacity blockages that’s so difficult to fix is if you don’t have enough parking.
Dr. John Meis: A convenient location means it’s on path where people already go. Right? If it’s off … a single building location is fantastic. Right? A freestanding building is a fantastic thing for dental practices, as long as it’s somewhere where people are already going. One of the reasons why strip mall practices have been fairly predictably good is because you can pick a place that’s close to where people want to go. So, convenient location, making sure that it’s on an already traveled path. That means there’s a lot of traffic going by. There’s not a lot of traffic going by, it’s not on people’s natural path. That’s what makes locations convenient.
Dr. John Meis: The next one I wanna talk about, well, let’s talk about the eye exam. There’s only three or four places in my little suburb of Phoenix that do eye care. There’s one that is right across the parking lot from this studio, so it had a convenience factor that beat everybody else. So, as I was looking through the different things on who I was gonna choose, that was a plus for that particular practice.
Dr. John Meis: Next one is convenient hours. This is the one that’s tough, because this is one where what the dentist and their team want and what patients want, there’s often a conflict. Patients consider hours to be convenient when they can go to the dentist and they don’t have to miss, you fill in the blank, when they don’t have to miss work. So, that means evening hours, Saturday appointments. Sundays in some markets are popular as well. So, if you’re there when people want to come, can you see what the powerful effect that can have on natural demand? Those of you who have expanded hours and have evening hours, one of the things that you’ll know is that they book out. They book out way out. Right? Generally, it’s very difficult for most practices to have enough evening hours to capture the demand, because they book out so far.
Dr. John Meis: Next one is patients want a good value. Often people in audiences will make a joke, “They want it to be free.” Well, I don’t believe that that’s true. There may be a few people out there that are, you know, crackpots, shall we say, that think free is possible, but what most people want is a good value. They want to be well taken care of, and they want the fees to be affordable. We’ll talk about how to make them more affordable in a little bit.
Dr. John Meis: Patients like to have their care done in one office. They don’t like referrals. So, to the degree that an office can do all the types of dentistry that a patient may need, patients prefer that. I got many referrals from patients when one of their friends said, “Oh. My dentist doesn’t do this. My dentist doesn’t do that.” “Well, our dentist does them all, so you should go see them.” I got a lot of referrals from that.
Dr. John Meis: Next thing, friendly, compassionate staff and the staff that listens well. It’s so important. I’ve been in 300 practices in the United States and Canada, and one of the things that I have observed a great range of, from good, to bad, to ugly, is the ability to listen to what patients want and really capture what they want in dentistry and how they’re feeling in dentistry. Teams that can do that are very attractive and very sticky to patients.
Dr. John Meis: Next thing that patients really want is for their chief complaint to be dealt with. The fact of the matter is almost 70% of people that are seeking dental care have a known problem to them. They’re going for a reason. One of a major frustration that we hear from patients is when they have a problem, they have a known problem, but the care for that problem gets delayed for the next visit, or the next visit, or the next visit, or the next phase. That is very, very frustrating to patients. The ability to deal with their chief complaint and deal with it quickly, same day if possible, is very attractive to patients and, again, very sticky for patients.
Dr. John Meis: Patients want their care to be painless, of course. Dentists want that too, but I have seen times when dental team’s sensitivity to patients’ comfort has been not as good as it could have been. My partner, Wendy Briggs, often talks about that dental cleanings should not hurt. Right? They just shouldn’t hurt. I’ve often seen in the cleaning phase I’ve seen patients be uncomfortable, and the hygienist, or assistant, or whosever working with the patient at that point in the appointment aren’t really sensitive to it. I’ve also seen that in the restorative side as well, where the patient was clearly moving, as if they were having some discomfort, and the dental team doesn’t focus in on it. They don’t stop. They don’t make sure they’re doing everything they can to keep the patient comfortable. It’s an area that most practices can get even better on.
Dr. John Meis: So, one of the things about making care affordable is patients really like payment plans. Is there a convenient way that they can pay for it over time, so that they can have the care they need in the timeframe that they want and still be able to afford it. So, having a good system for payment plans is important. The next one is patients like it if you take their insurance. Now, whether insurance is part of your strategy or not will be the topic of one of these shows at some time in the future, but know that if you’re not taking patients’ insurance, you are decreasing the natural demand that you have. Right? So, patients really want you to take their insurance.
Dr. John Meis: Patients want quality care, and dentists do too. It’s one of those things that we really align on well, but how well you listen to their wants is a place where dentists and patients really have a divide. Patients think of what they want in the order that they want and in the timeframe that they want, and dentists have a tendency to fall back on what the patient needs or what they feel the patient needs. So, there often is a needs/wants mismatch. If there is a needs/wants mismatch and the patients don’t get what they want, that’s a problem. Right? Because that is gonna reduce natural demand, because patients who don’t get what they want don’t refer.
Dr. John Meis: Next thing is patients want the phone to be answered when they call. I had a fabulous experience at a recent mastermind group, where we had called all of the practices that were there. I believe that there were 14 practices there. We made 10 attempts to call them over 10 days in the normal business hours. We measured how many of them answered the phone, and you’re gonna be amazed at this. The best one answered the phone 90% of the time. Okay. Remember. These are normal business hours. The best one answered at 90% of the time, but they were using a service that if they didn’t catch it at the office, it rang into a dental call center, where the call was answered. That combination, they got it to 90%.
Dr. John Meis: Now, what do you think the lowest percent was, the lowest percentage of calls answered? I couldn’t believe it. The room was stunned. It was one of those … where you could feel everybody take a breath, like that can’t be true. The lowest percentage was zero. 10 call attempts, none of them were answered. No. They weren’t on vacation. No. They simply didn’t have enough phone lines, enough people to answer their phone. They knew it was a problem. They didn’t know it was that bad of a problem, but they knew it was a problem that they hadn’t fixed. So, most practices, if they don’t have a strategy to deal with answering the phone, most practices at best are answering about 65% of the calls.
Dr. John Meis: Now, everybody argues this with me. Everybody says, “No. We’re doing way better than that.” “How do you know?” “Well, because it rolls to voicemail if we don’t answer it.” Well, what happens when you call someplace, and you don’t get an answer, and it rolls to voicemail? How often do you leave a message? If you’re like me, and I bet you are, you don’t leave a message very often. You think, “I’m gonna call back later.” But our statistics that we got from 123 Postcard was that a new patient calling in, if they do not get their call answered, only 13% of them will call back in the next 30 days, only 13%. Remember, new patients are skittish. Right? So, if you don’t catch them in that attempt, you’re gonna lose a large percent of them. Patients want the phone to be answered.
Dr. John Meis: The next thing that patients like is social proof. They want to know that you’re good. As I was looking for an eye care professional, what did I do? I went to Google. Right? I typed in, “Eye care in Fountain Hills, Arizona.” So, they came up, and one of the places had 145 reviews at an average of four and a half stars. Right? Another one didn’t even show up. They didn’t have any reviews. Another one had four reviews at three and a half stars. You tell me which one has the most social proof. Right? It’s obvious. The one with all the reviews. They were using a service. I don’t know which one they were using. One of the ones that we have used is Podium or Review Jump. Both have good products and do a great job. They increase the number of reviews that you have on Google. It gives you social proof, and patients are looking for that. Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd. When you have a lot of reviews, it looks like a crowd.
Dr. John Meis: Next thing is patients don’t want a lot of wait time, and there’s multiple wait times. The first wait time is how long does is it before I can get an appointment in your office? I have seen dentists proudly talk about how they don’t have any appointment availability for two weeks. Well, is that attractive to new patients? Not so much. Patients want to come in when they want to come in. If they want to come in now, they want to come in now, and they’re gonna find a place that will see them now. That’s the first wait time. The second wait time is when they come to your office, how much time do they wait before they’re seen, and how much wait time do they wait before there’s an exam, and how much waiting is there in the entire patient experience? Patients like no waiting. They like efficiency. Time and speed matters with patients.
Dr. John Meis: The next thing that they like is patients like to contact your practice in the way that they’re used to communicating with people. Right? Those practices that just take new patient information or have patient contact just over the phone, you’re missing people that want to communicate in other ways. The practices that really have this nailed, they will have a mechanism for patients to contact them via phone, via email via social media. The practices that really have this nailed will have a chat now box that appears, so that they can actually chat with a live person in your office to schedule an appointment. The best offices, the ones with the most natural demand, have the most contact mechanisms, so that patients can contact you in the way they like.
Dr. John Meis: I’d love for you to go back and kind of score yourself. How well did you do? Do you have a convenient location? Do you have patient friendly hours? Are your fees reasonable? Are you doing most of the care in your office? Go through all the things that we talked about and score it for yourself, so you can determine just how well you are mastering the natural demand. The better you do the natural, the earned demand, the better off your practice is gonna be, the more profitable it’s gonna be and more new patients that you’ll have to serve.
Dr. John Meis: So, if you have any questions or comments on this show, go ahead and type them on whatever place that you’re watching. If you’re watching it from Facebook, if you’re watching it from YouTube, go ahead and type those in. In future episodes we’ll actually be dealing with those questions, those concerns, those challenges. So, bring it on. I enjoy it all. I’ll end with this one quote, and it’s one that I love very much. It’s from one of my mentors, zig Ziglar, and the quote is this. “You can get everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.” Help your patients get what they want. You’ll have tremendous natural demand. You’ll have tremendous new patient flow, and you’ll have a tremendously successful practice. I’ll see you next time on the Dr. John Meis Show.