Secret of The Top Dental Offices: The Patient Journey

Your job as a practice owner is to provide your patients with a very pleasant experience. This alone will ensure that you can 2X your revenue in a short period of time.
 
This process usually starts with people visiting your website, calling your front desk or leaving a message to be contacted.
 
However, as discussed before, only a small portion of them will actually come into your office for treatment and spend money with you.
 
This transition from “just looking around” or “Yes, I am a little interested – send me more info” to “I am coming in for this treatment” is loosely called the Patient Journey.
 
Here’s how it works – please write this down:
 
Prospects > Appointments > Consults > Close
 
This process is the key to giving your patients an extremely enjoyable (and pain-free experience).
 
Here’s how the Patient Journey looks like in action:
 
In other words, a certain % of prospects will turn into appointments, a certain % of appointments will turn into consults and a certain % of consults will turn into closes.
 
Your job is to ensure that you get as many people from “Prospects” to the “Close” section as you can.
 
Here’s an example:
Let’s say that you have 100 prospects (people calling your front desk, leaving a message on your website to be contacted, messaging you through the live chat widget on your website).
 
Around 50 of them should become appointments assuming your front desk calls them back within 5 minutes of them showing interest.
 
Of those 50, 20 will actually come in.
 
Of those 20, 3-10 will go ahead with the treatment and contribute to your revenue.
 
In order words, out of 100 people who show interest, only 3-10 will become your patients.
 
Although these numbers might seem low, they are actually good.
 
The idea once again is to increase the LTV of those patients who have decided to get your treatment.
 
Now, don’t get me wrong – you should try to get more prospects to schedule appointments, get more appointments to consults and get more consults to close.
 
However, once you and your staff get really good at increasing the LTV of your patients, you will see a considerable increase in revenue.
 
Orthodontist example
 
Let’s say you are an orthodontist and one of your main treatments is Invisalign so you offer a free 45 minute consultation ($297 value).
 
In a certain month, you get 100 leads (people showing interest in your services) from Facebook, Google and Bing and you are thrilled because you can see the potential here.
 
However, when your staff calls them back only 50 out of 100 actually schedule appointments.
 
Of those 50, 30 don’t show up.
 
This could be for a wide variety of reasons:
 

  1. They looked around and found a better deal

 

  1. They talked to their friends and decided not to go ahead with the treatment

 

  1. They read some negative reviews on Google about your practice and decided not to show up

 
People have many reasons for not showing up but the biggest reason is that they simply didn’t find a lot of value in what you were offering.
 
That being said, many people won’t tell you that – they will leave you hanging i.e. be a no-show.
 
No-shows are a dreaded but normal part of business but they will decrease considerably when you gather influence and appear to be more sought after.
 
Let’s continue.
 
Of the 20 who do show up for the consult, they might have some objections:
 

  1. They don’t have the money (or insurance) to pay for the treatment

 

  1. They think the treatment will be uncomfortable or outright painful

 

  1. They just might have reassessed and decided not to go ahead with the treatment.

 
So out of the 20 people who show up for the consults, 3-10 of them actually go ahead with the treatment.
 
For most dental offices, it will be 3 out of every 100 people showing interest.
 
Remember, if you are currently getting 10 out of every 100 people who show interest signed up for the treatment, you are doing something right.
 
(Please note that this doesn’t apply to referrals – referrals come from trustworthy sources and you should be treating at least 7 out of 10 people coming in that way).
 
This also ties in a little to the 3% Rule – most people are just looking around – only 3% will buy right now.
 
Here’s how the numbers work:
 
Since we are using orthodontists as an example here, let’s assume that each treatment generates $5,000 in revenue for you.
 
Here’s what your marketing efforts show you in a certain month:
 
Ad budget spent: $1,500
 
Cost per lead = $20
 
Leads generated (the number of people who saw your ads and signed up to learn more): 75
 
Appointments generated (the number of people who confirmed that they are coming in): 37
 
Consults generated (The number of people who actually came in): 18
 
Closed patients (the number of patients who paid you for treatment): 5
 
Cost to acquire 1 new patient: $300  ($1500/5)
 
Revenue generated per patient: $5,000
 
Total revenue generated: $25,000  ($5,000*5)
 
These numbers don’t include the many referrals you will get if your patients regain their beautiful smile and witness a dramatic improvement in self-image.
 
If you recall, each happy patient should refer an average of 2.2 people to you every year.
 
Now, these numbers might sound too good to be true and in most cases they are.
 
Why is that so?
 
Because you need to have a system to “nurture” the leads which come in. If you don’t have such a system, you will likely break even or lose money.
 
If you do have such a system and you are showcasing studies and testimonials where other patients endorse you (and are delighted by the results they have seen), these numbers are very much realistic.
 
The trick is to streamline the entire process so you:
 

  • Know what will happen when a lead comes in

 

  • Know exactly what your front desk will say to them

 

  • Know exactly how often and when your front desk contacts them

 

  • Know how you will talk to the prospects when they actually come in for the consult.

 

  • Know exactly how you will keep them engaged on some level even after they have received their treatment so they can refer others to you.

 
How your system should work:
 
When creating the ad, figure out what your target market’s problems are and focus on those.
 
For an Invisalign ad, you might say something like:
 
“I have crooked teeth which undermines my confidence, I cannot eat properly and sometimes I have problem chewing…”
 
Find out if you are a candidate for our Invisalign solution with a 30 minute FREE consult ($297 value).
 
I can almost guarantee that this ad will get many people interested in what you are offering.
 
Next, when someone shows interest in your ad and signs up to your mailing list to learn more, give them raw value and a reason to actually come in.
 
You do so by saying “Here’s how your issues are affecting you physically (you can’t chew properly) and emotionally (lower confidence and self-image), this is where it will lead to if it isn’t taken care of (worsening condition over time) and this is how we can help you out (get invisible braces to align your teeth, regain your beautiful smile and your confidence).
 
“But there’s no need to commit just yet – we are offering a limited number of free consults (45 min) where you can come in and see if you will be a good fit for the Invisalign treatment”.
 
Remember to follow up with them often.
 
This means that whenever someone signs up, your system should send out an automated email to them right there and then. Another email should be sent out 2 days after, just to remind them.
 
Also, your front desk should call them within 5 minutes of the prospect showing interest.
 
Leads which are contacted within the first 5 minutes are 22 times more likely to give you their business.
 
Now, when your front desk talks to them, they shouldn’t say “Would you like to come in for an appointment?”.
 
No, they should ask what was it about the ad that attracted their attention, what their issues are and how urgently they would like to remedy this issue.
 
This is a lot more effective because you are now making the prospect a part of the process.
 
It is only when your front desk has gauged their interest level should they ask if they’d be interested in coming in.
 
Many prospects at this stage will say yes so you should get them booked in.
 
However remember, it is normal for 50% of these people to actually not show up in for a variety of reasons we discussed before.
 
Over time, when your processes improve, the no-show rate will go down considerably.
 
For the people who have scheduled appointments, your front desk should call them again 24 hours before the appointment to remind them.
 
If they don’t answer, leave a voicemail and a text message.
 
Calling them a day before also gives you an idea of whether this person will show up or not. This allows you to mentally prepare for contingencies.
 
Remember, some people don’t like attending calls – they think it is an invasion of their personal space when you call them. For those people just leave a voicemail and a text message. I cannot emphasize this enough.
 
When people come in for a consult, do not tell them how your treatment will help them initially.
 
In fact, resist the urge to do so because it makes you look like a salesperson – it will only ruin your chances of getting them onboard.
 
Instead, just ask them the reason for them being here, the problems they are facing (both physical and emotional) and how urgently they would like to remedy it.
 
You should think about this in lines of “So what exactly is it that you need help with and what kind of problems has this created for you? I see.. How do you feel when this happens? And how painful is it? How long have you had it? Now imagine if this condition was remedied… do you think you’d feel a whole lot better?”
 
And not this… “Thanks for coming in. Our Invisalign treatment can do this and that for you and this is how much time it will take. And yes, you can expect to pay this much for it…”.
 
There is a day and night difference between these two messages and how your prospect “hears” them.
 
Remember to maintain a conversational tone which is centered around learning more about the prospect and their story and their struggles.
 
If this is done properly, your conversion rates (how many patients actually pay you for treatment) will actually go up from 3-5% to 10% over time. In a select few cases, they can even go up to 18%.
 
This is where the bulk of your future revenue lies.
Action: Talk to your staff about the patient journey so they don’t get discouraged. Explain to them that initially only 3% of people showing interest will actually become patients. Discuss the entire patient journey with them: What they have to do when a lead comes in, how often to contact the lead and when to do it and what to say when they come in for a consult.

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