It is with great joy last week that we launched the new SchedulingInstitute.com. In addition to much of the same information you could find on here before, we have added some great new features that will inspire you to take the next step in bettering your practice and your future.
This blog will be updated on a weekly basis with great marketing and practice management tips. It will also include photos and videos of a lot of what goes on at the Scheduling Institute. But before we get to all that, let me highlight a few new additions to SchedulingInstitute.com
Did you know that just in the month of June, Scheduling Institute Certified Trainers will be in over 136 offices all around the continent - including Alaska! Now with the Scheduling Institute Training Map you can see first hand everywhere we are at. We dare you to find a town that isn't like yours - or maybe perhaps is in fact your town. Be sure to check back on a regular basis to see where we are going next!
Testimonial Search Feature
Sure we have thousands of clients and hundreds of video testimonials. But what good does that do if you don't think they apply to you? Well now with the Scheduling Institute Testimonial Search feature, you won't have to guess whether or not we are effective at helping practices just like yours because the proof is in the search. We will be adding a lot more great testimonials very soon, but even now I would challenge you not to find someone you can relate to.
One great benefit that Scheduling Institute members receive each month is The Practice - our monthly magazine. Each month at SchedulingInstitute.com you will be able to check out the cover story and get a brief idea of just how impactful the Scheduling Institute is in the lives of dentist, orthodontists, chiropractors, and doctors all around the world.
Be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed with one of the links on the left hand side. This way you will automatically be kept updated on new articles posted to SchedulingInstitute.com
If this is your first time to SchedulingInstitute.com, welcome. To learn more about what our company does, I would encourage you to take the 5-Star Challenge. It is free of cost, with no obligation, and is very eye opening to any doctor - especially those who think their Front Desk staff is great! What can you lose?
Either way, we hope to see you back here very often.
If you’re like most dental practices, you follow-up to confirm appointments with new patients. Everyone knows the patient is more likely to show up, so everyone does it. ¨It’s one of the many standard “rules” doctors and their staff follow without question.
The 5 Star Challenge is about 5 “rules” few people know about, and even less follow. Learn these rules and I gurantee you'll get more new patients, without spending extra money on advertising & marketing.
Here’s how it came about…
When I was medical marketing director for a large medical practice we generated 350-650 new patient calls per month. With this call volume, I noticed something all the general “rules” had overlooked. The flood of new calls was boosting business of course, but it was also making some of our flaws stick out like a soar thumb and come to find out, stunting our potential growth.
Specifically, out of all the calls from new patients, only about 40% or so would book a new appointment. The other 60% would just drift off, never to be heard from again.
We thought we were doing ‘all the right things,’ but where the rubber hit the road - new paying patients scheduling appointments and walking through the door -- there was a big disconnect.
I began to make some adjustments in how the calls were handled and narrowed it down to 5 key parts of a new patient phone inquiry that were most vital and the turning point in scheduling appointments. Getting these right raised our conversion rate to new appointments from 40% to 97%.
Without large volume of calls, these 5 parts of the new patient call would have been overlooked and we would have conducted business as usual, never knowing we had a major handicap in our ability to generate new patients. I started testing this idea out with other practices and it worked every time.
Changing how the 5 areas of a new patient call was handled had a dramatic impact in the amount of paying patients walking in through the door. One interesting discovery I made…practice size didn’t matter and location had no influence. In every case the practice saw an increase in new patients scheduling appointments…even with practices only getting a small handful of calls each day.
So that’s how the 5 Star Challenge was born. I developed an impartial way to judge how well your staff is handling 5 key parts of every prospective new patient phone call. Hit only 2-3 stars and we know from past experience that you’re missing out on 10% to 60% of new patients calling your office that could be scheduling appointments. They’re heading right down the street to your competition, and luckily this can be fixed.
So take the 5 Star Challenge today. Click on the link below then enter in your name, email and phone number. One of our expert staff will mystery call your office and rate them on our 5 Star scale. We’ll take the evaluation, FedEx it directly to you and give you a free evaluation where we’ll discuss the results and how to fix them to generate more new patients.
Are things looking better than last year?
Are you gaining momentum towards your new goals?
Have you even set new goals?
If the first part of 2010 is beginning to look remarkably similar to the end of 2009, I’ve got bad news for you.
You’re on the wrong track.
Let’s get real...If you’re already lacking new patients for the year, it’s highly unlikely anything will be different for the rest of March and beyond…
Sorry to be frank and break the bad news, but after working with almost 10,000 dental practices, you learn to call it like it is. Those that hear the message and take action always end up beating revenue goals, paying bonuses and establish themselves as the go-to dentist in their area.
The good news is, it’s not too late. The foundation to any good, successful dental practice management program is goal setting and planning.
Let me guide you through a simple four step process.
The critical first step is to put it on paper, in writing. It seems overly simple, yet those that don’t do it, drastically underestimate its power.
At a basic level, you should have:
1. Goals – specific, measurable and defined.
2. Actions – define the steps you must take to get to the goal.
3. Deadlines – realistic, but they must push you to get things done.
4. A regular review to monitor results – this is very important, don’t leave it off.
Since 1995 I’ve led over 10,000 doctors through a program that has changed practices and lives. Most of our clients had a banner year in 2009 and see 2010 full of opportunity.
If you’re ready to become the next success story, click on the link below for expert advice tailored specifically to your dental practice.
Evaluate my dental front office staff
Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked with over 10,000 dental practices.
Small towns, big cities, new practices and long established practices going back several generations – we’ve helped them all.
There is one commonality all the wildly successful dentists share that is absent in dentists that are struggling financially. It’s a very specific mindset.
Mindset often conjures up images of self-help books, or motivational cds, but that’s not what this is about.
With the correct mindset, the economy, healthcare changes and increased competition become irrelevant to your success. Some get the mindset right and succeed, while others get it wrong and struggle.
Listen closely to the story of two dentists, we'll call them John and Steve. They were best friends in dental school. Both were above average students.
After college each set-up a practice. It was in the same city, but not close enough to compete with one another directly.
Fast forward 5 years…
John’s practice is thriving, bringing in about $2 million in revenue and on track to do $2.5 million this year. His net income hit the $850,000 mark last year. John just got back from another 2 week vacation, and his schedule is jam packed, but he only works three days a week
Steve isn’t doing as well. He struggles to cover overhead and is watching his margins shrink every month. His revenue is a little more than $750,000, yet he’s only taking home $249,000 of that. Needless to say there’s little left, if any, to invest in equipment, marketing and a small remodel Steve wants to do.
Recently Steve began taking appointments in the evenings and on weekends. The long hours are beginning to wear on him…
I’ll share something with you that might be hard to swallow. If Steve and John traded places for a year, they’d end up right where they’re at now. John would be thriving, Steve would be struggling.
Why would two eager, bright doctors lives turn out so differently? The secret is their mindset.
John & Steve’s story is not unique. I talk to doctors every day and the wildly successful dentists just think and do things differently than the struggling dentists.
It may be hard for an outsider to pick up on the nuances in a regular conversation. But if you looked at the nitty-gritty details, and met doctors all day long, like I do, the struggling ones would begin to stick out like sore thumbs.
Let me give you a peak into the different mindsets:
-Steve: When I hit $1,000,000 in revenue I’ll have enough money to put towards a marketing budget.
-John: I spend the amount on dental marketing that it takes to reach the revenue number I set as this years goal.
Value of a patient:
-Steve: I’m lucky if I make $250 after all is said and done when a new patient comes in.
-John: Each patient stays with me for an average of 15 years and refers 3 other new patients, who then refer 3 more new patients. I know this because I track everything. I know a new patient is worth around $10,000-$25,000 to my practice. If I need to break even to get them in the door, I’m not worried. If getting them in is profitable right off the bat, then even better!
Sadly, the change in mindset requires an uncomfortable leap of faith…and as much as Steve would like someone to push him over the ledge, noone’sgoing to do it for him.
No one is going to offer up a practice like John’s to someone like Steve.
Although the decision to leap is yours alone, I can give you one thing that all $2 million+ practices started with…before they cranked up their marketing budgets and set to be a top dentist in their market.
Without this piece in place, all marketing, referral systems, websites and any other growth investment will underperform.
John’s secret to success along with his mindset is...his PHONE.
John realized...after being very skeptical ,that first New Patient appointments were made or lost on the phone.
If the phone wasn’t turning calls into appointments, a torrent of calls would make little impact on his bottom line.
John took the 5 Star Challenge about 3 years ago. He discovered that his staff was leaving out 2 critical steps when handling new patient phone calls.
His staff was nice, friendly and accommodating -- good front office staff by most measures.
But…..they were missing a few small pieces. New patients were hanging up the phone without a commitment to come into the office.
To start where John and thousands of other dentists & successful medical practices began, click here to take the 5 Star Challenge today. The cost is normally $197 for this evaluation, but right now I’m offering it free of charge. Check it out before you do any dental marketing or practice building.
Medical Marketing Plan Part 2
In part one we laid the foundation for a medical marketing / dental marketing plan.
Without a plan, any medical marketing tip, advice or consultant is doomed to fail.
Now that you have a simple plan from part 1, here are the four things that will put the plan into action and guarantee a steady flow of new patients.
In part one we made separate goals for each medical marketing source. Now we’ll use those goals to make separate to-do lists for each referral source.
Take your finished to-do lists and set due dates for each activity. Set a date for every step. Then put all dates on a large calendar to be displayed for you and your staff. Every activity, no matter how big or small should go on the calendar. Having something out in the open will ensure you and your front office staff remain in sync and guarantee action is taken to implement your medical marketing ideas. Without a visible calendar that you see every day, typically only about 20% of intended medical marketing strategies ever make it past the planning stage.
Assign someone to be responsible for each project and create accountability steps to be sure the projects moves along. You, the Doctor, are busy and shouldn't be managing every step.
This task is THE MOST IMPORTANT step, yet most medical marketing consultants don't do it. This is where your employees’ understanding of referral sources comes into play, and where they have the opportunity to shine. Whennew patients begin to call, it’s your staff’s job to find out which referral source they came from. This information is power. It allows you to determine which strategies are working and which need work. You can't take this for granted. Going back to Step #2 in Part 1, you must educate your staff on your referral sources.
The final step is probably the one that you will be tempted to skip. However, it’s the step that will save you the most time in the future and will eventually allow you to set a large part of your medical marketing on autopilot.
At the end of the month, once you’ve had a chance to track your strategies in action, create a write-up for each strategy. The format of this may be different based on your preferences or the tools you have in the office. My office uses an Excel spreadsheet. Every activity is listed on the spreadsheet along with date of launch, cost, # of calls received, # of sales (sales for me would be scheduled new patients for you).
Include a description of the marketing piece (always keep a catalog of marketing pieces you’ve used – either hard copies in a binder or digitally on your computer) and your thoughts on possible improvements for next time. That way, you will build up a stash of medical marketing strategies to be recycled and refined for years to come based on their success. And obviously you’ll learn what doesn’t work so you don’t make the mistake of repeating it again.
So many doctors start from scratch every time they begin a marketing campaign, or race off to hire a new medical or dental marketing consultant to create new things. They’re doing themselves a great disservice, not to mention wasting time by not reusing what works first.
Medical Marketing Plan Expectations
Keep in mind when creating and executing a medical marketing to-do list, to maintain reasonable expectations. One mailing is unlikely to double your number of new patients—it’s unreasonable to expect such outcomes. In fact, sometimes it’s okay to just break even on marketing dollars as long as its generating new patients at a reasonable new patient value. The reason is this: new patients are investments in and of themselves. They return for future visits and refer their friends and family.
If one new patient refers a friend, then you’ve essentially doubled your ROI
Don’t be quick to cut. Think twice before scrapping a strategy that you think isn’t working well enough. Try fine-tuning it first. Not every campaign is going to be a home run, but stringing together single base hits scores runs too.
Review your to-do lists weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. After a few months, medical marketing will no longer be a chore, and you’ll begin to see the bigger picture. You may even have more home runs than you realize.
Medical Marketing Made Easy
Medical practice marketing is a real source of stress for some doctors. Providing great care and service seem like they should be enough to make a medical practice thrive. However, without a marketing plan, the great care you intend to provide may go unnoticed as prospective patients go down the street to your competitors.
The truth is that every practice does need a marketing plan. Fortunately, it’s much less complicated and painful than it sounds. It’s essentially a “to-do list” for growing your practice.
In part one of this two part installment, we’ll give you the three step process to developing a medical practice marketing plan. In part two to we’ll give you the four steps to putting your plan in place and make it a routine everyone on your staff looks forward to coordinating.
Every Patient Is a Referral
Every new patient that sits in your chair has been referred to your practice somehow. Whether by another patient (family, friend, co-worker, etc.), a Yellow Pages ad, a newsletter, website, or even a postcard or mail piece just to name a few. The first step to obtaining more new patients is to identify those referral sources.
Step #1: Identify Your Sources
A marketing source is a means by which you continually get new patients. If you run a rather large practice, your sources may number in the double digits, while smaller practices may have only three or four. Existing patient referrals may be your most lucrative source of new patients, as this is true for a lot of practices. Other sources could include staff referrals, print advertisements, mailings, and even the sign in front of your building.
Think of marketing sources as streams feeding a larger body of water, like a lake or ocean. Your practice is the lake. There are things you can do to either expand or restrict the flow of those streams. Ultimately, you want the streams to grow with new patients and fill up your practice as a result.
Step #2: Include Your Staff
Obviously, it’s important for a doctor to know and pay close attention to his or her marketing sources, but it’s just as important for your staff to be able to do the same. In fact, it might be more vital for your employees to be able to quickly pinpoint a marketing source because they are the first point of contact for these new patients and should be responsible for tracking the referral source of every new patient.
If you’re spending any money at all on marketing and advertising strategies, then categorizing the marketing sources of new patients and tracking results for each source is the only way to determine which strategies are working and which aren’t.
Step #3: Set Goals
Once you and your staff are familiar with your marketing sources, you need to sit down and set new patient goals for each source. This should be done on a monthly basis. It’s important to consider each source separately.
Don’t set a small goal for your mailings simply because you’ve set a larger goal for your media ads. The expected result of one shouldn’t impact the expected result of another. It's important to never underestimate your practice’s marketing potential.
A while back I hired a decorator for my personal office to make it more inviting and less like an uninhabited void. While meeting at the decorator’s studio, she showed me her recommendations, which I promptly ignored. I was sure that my office was too small for the pieces she had chosen.
Well, I was wrong...Even though I looked at it every day, I had no idea just how big the room really was. When I finally decided to follow her advice I realized she was spot on. I had underestimated what my office could accommodate. In the same way, the familiarity you have with your practice can actually skew your perception of it and cause you to think small. Don’t fall into this trap.
The next step is to dedicate a few hours where you’ll have no interruptions and work through this three step planning stage. The old adage, “a small hinge opens a big door” is extremely appropriate here because it really just takes a little bit of attention, training, and positive thinking on the part of a doctor and his or her staff to make huge improvements in the number of new patients coming through their doors.
Check back soon for part two, where I give you the four-steps to put your medical practice marketing plan into action. Follow these simple steps and your marketing will become a routine part of your practice that generates a reliable, consistent flow of new patients.
Practice management system will boost your new patient counts in the first 30 days.
Odds are your practice is suffering because of a “blind spot” that I guarantee you’re not aware of. A blind spot that is costing you $5,000-$54,000 a month (maybe even more). A blind spot that, if removed, could boost your new patients by 20-50%, maybe even as much as 100%. Ninety percent of my current clients were skeptical about whether or not I could help them achieve these results; until I proved to them it was happening in their very own practice, right under their noses. Their amazement grew when I proved how focusing on this one specific facet of their operation could have such a dramatic impact and produce such incredible results.
Needless to say, the one and only regret these clients have is that they didn’t meet us sooner. Even the most successful dentists in the country and hard-core medical office managers, with our help, have added new patients at a rate beyond what they ever imagined. It might seem simple; all it takes is getting past the blind spot. But it’s difficult when you don’t know what it is, and impossible when you don’t know how to fix it.
One Idea That Will Improve Your Practice Immediately!
It all started about a decade ago. I was VP of Marketing for one of the largest private practices in the country. My sole responsibility was generating new patients and I employed every imaginable tactic for doing so—screenings, health fairs, referral programs, contests, magazine, newspaper and yellow page ads—just to name a few. It was never a question of whether or not my efforts were successful. They generated hundreds of calls every month, but the hard-earned calls just weren’t translating into new patients.
As you can imagine, this was a “beast” that had to be tackled. So I rolled up my sleeves and started sinking my teeth in to figure out how to close the huge gap that was negating every marketing dollar spent and costing the practice thousands of dollars a day. I was able to use our practice as a learning lab. I worked day in and day out to discover the blind spot and figure out how to get rid of it. I knew I had cracked the code when the calls started translating into booked appointments. Armed with a staff trained with my proprietary techniques, the practice set a record, scheduling 601 new patients in ONE week! A few years later I decided to go out on my own and share this secret with medical practitioners worldwide. That’s when I created the Scheduling Institute Practice Management System.
Is Your Staff Helping You Create the Practice Of Your Dreams?
The secret lies in your telephone and your team, specifically your front desk team. Both are investments you have already made, but they are not being leveraged to their peak performance potential.
No doubt your staff is courteous and helpful to everyone who calls your office—and while that’s a good thing, it’s simply NOT good enough. They need to have exceptional closing skills. In fact, their courtesy is probably resulting in lost new patients. And lost new patients mean lost money. I’ll explain. For example, let’s say your average new patient is worth $1,500. Then one lost would cost you $1,500, five lost would cost you $7,500, and fifteen lost would cost you $22,500. And that’s just one month’s worth. Imagine the impact of that over an entire year or how the impact would increase drastically if your patient value was higher! Our front office training program will address new patient call handling and focuses on developing good closing skills.
Being courteous and helpful are not praiseworthy qualities if your staff doesn’t produce a profitable result and, even worse, if it is costing you money. Actually, effective “closing” skills are the attributes your staff should strive to master. But you can’t just expect them to possess this and know how to effectively use it. No one is born with these skills. It came naturally to me, but remember… I had to spend four years crawling through the trenches and climbing the mountains to build an entire team of profit-producing people. Are you ready to take on that challenge alone?
Learn How to Turn Your Largest Expense into Your Greatest Investment.
It takes a lot of skill—and an open mind—to scrutinize your practice like I did. It takes even more talent, knowledge and a gift for teaching to work with your staff on the fine points of the changes needed to take your practice to the next level, and way beyond. You may have top-notch interpersonal skills and be a proven, effective leader, but you’re not the expert.
If your $80,000 Mercedes needed a tune-up, would you try to fix it yourself or even trust it to the lube shop franchise around the corner? Or would you seek out the most experienced, well trained, certified expert in town?
The fact is it’s better for all concerned if you have an independent expert as an intermediary. I know that at least once a week, a client admits to me that he tried to teach his staff my strategies before he became a client, but his efforts were unsuccessful. This admission is no surprise to me, I hear this all the time. But I still cringe every time I hear it because usually this one simple mistake has cost my client thousands of dollars.
If you are among the majority of dentists who work with a practice management or medical marketing consultant, you are absolutely not an exception. In fact, the reason for recognizing this blind spot and taking action to eliminate it is even more compelling because you are investing thousands of dollars, maybe tens of thousands, to get your phone to ring. And if the phone rings and it’s a shopper and the shopper doesn’t translate into a new patient, you might as well take every dollar, one by one, and flush it down the toilet.
There’s obviously a reason why the nation’s leading practice management and marketing consultants have sought me to work with their clients. They feel confident handing the reins to me as my experience and expertise far surpass any solution they have to offer in this area of their practice. When it comes to discovering the hidden profits that lurk behind this blind spot, they know I can achieve phenomenal increases in new patients with no additional expense and little to no extra work. We are sensitive to how employees may react to our strategies and take a unique approach to motivating them to produce new patient results that leave their doctors and dentists thunderstruck. No one else even comes close to my results—GUARANTEED!
To help you and your front office team achieve your competitive best, I keep abreast of the latest and best practices in sales, marketing, and practice management.