How Knowing One Telephone Metric Can Set Your Dental Practice for Blast Off

How Knowing One Telephone Metric Can Set Your Dental Practice for Blast Off

I received an email from a great consulting company called All Star Dental Academy. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you should. (Click here)

Here’s an excerpt:

An interesting thing happened when I was brought in to help a struggling practice turn things around. I did an audit of the business (marketing efforts, conversion rates, treatment systems, etc), implemented some changes (boosted marketing spend on PPC, SEO, commissioned a giveaway educational guide…), and the inbound traffic to the practice’s site went up significantly. And the phones started going crazy.

But… the financials weren’t improving at the rate they should have with the new efforts we were putting forth.

What was the problem?

I stepped back and looked carefully, again, at the process of acquiring, treating, and retaining patients. And there it was. The evidence was right in front of me.

  • Presence in the marketplace improving? Check.
  • Website visitor count improvement? Check.
  • Website conversion (from visit to call) improving? Check.
  • Booking an appointment from the increased inbound call traffic? Hmmmm… not so much.

So all the changes and increased marketing spend weren’t helping the practice be more profitable.

The author, Alex Nottingham (owner of the consulting company, who’s strength looks like marketing) makes a fantastic point about a lot of dental practices right now. They don’t have a system set in place to be able to accurately track where the cog in the wheel breaks.

I have faith that Alex caught this issue pretty quickly, but what would have happened if it was a different consultant that did the analysis? What would have happened if he didn’t catch that one step?

The practice that hired him would have wasted a helluva lot of time and money, that’s what.

What part of the dental practice business is this issue related to?

This is a part of the patient acquisition process.

What dental KPI could have caught this issue?

Just take the total number of incoming calls versus number of appointments scheduled by phone calls.  Then you will have a percentage of appointments scheduled vs. total incoming phone calls.

What numbers should I be aiming for?

I’m not familiar with this metric, so I reached out to Heather Minsky Nottingham with All Star Dental and this was her response:

According to national averages, about 60-70% normally get converted, but it also depends on the individual state and areas. A strong conversion (70% or higher) is dependent on the area, the type of office, and the training they have. I also want to point out that not only having a strong tracking and conversion is important (although those are the starting points). A high conversion rate means nothing if the quality of the calls and appointments aren’t where they need to be. Many phone training programs teach all about just closing the patients and getting them on the schedule. This makes their conversions looks higher but they will also have a higher cancellations and no-shows rate. This makes their top line look good but ultimately effect their bottom line negatively. We teach that building rapport is much more important than conversion…it’s better to book more QUALITY patients the right way, then booking a massive quantity of patients without building rapport and providing service.

This seems like a reasonable number.

OK, sounds easy enough, but how do you track this metric?

There are softwares and consulting companies that can help you physically track this specific (and important) metric.  Weave software comes to mind.

Alternatively you can have log sheets of phone calls received versus appointments scheduled. Obviously you’d want to account for call ins for cancellations (where their next appointment should have been scheduled) and other similar calls. It isn’t difficult to set up a piece of paper with a few columns. Let your staff know it is required to keep up with the information for a few weeks. If you want to make sure it is being tracked accurately, make one team member responsible for auditing another team member occasionally. This doesn’t mean they need to spy on them all day, it’s just that they need to be accountable for performing the task.

If you want to learn more on how to improve after you’ve figured out that this is a problem in your practice, head on over to All-Star Dental Academy’s site. They have a free mini-course on loving the phone that you should check out.

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