Welcome back! This is the third and final issue of my series on the exact steps you need to take to get comprehensive treatment plans accepted. In case you missed the first two issues, click here to read part one and here to read part two.
And with that we’ll dive right into Step 5:
5. Quote the Fee
If you’re like 99.999% of the population, you want to know how much something costs before you buy it. The general consensus in the dental profession is that “Doctors aren’t supposed to talk about money.” As a matter of fact, when I was in practice, I asked an owner of a well-known consulting company, “What do I say when the patient asks me how much this will cost?” He said, “Look them in the eye and say—I don’t know. Sandy handles all of that for me and she will go over it with you.”
Yeah…that didn’t work. I tried it once and felt foolish. If a business owner says they don’t know how much their product costs you’d most likely think they are a) lying or b) not all that smart! So – my advice – don’t do that! Tell them how much things cost. Don’t run back to the lab and let your Financial Secretary give them the “bad news.”
Some doctors give some kind of prepayment or bookkeeping discount – i.e. 5% or something like this for payment in full. And it’s not uncommon for any business to give some kind of discount to defer the costs of billing and follow-up, etc.
In any event, on this subject of fees and payment, the rule when presenting a treatment plan is:
THE DOCTOR SHOULD AT MINIMUM QUOTE THE FEE.
You can do more. You could take things a step further and discuss HOW the patient will pay and work this out – at least in general terms – prior to leaving it with your Financial Secretary or Treatment Coordinator. For example, if the fee for your treatment plan is $5,000 – you’d discuss how the patient would pay for it (check, credit card, patient financing and so on). There are a number of reasons why you’d do this, not least of which are:
- Like it or not, the doctor’s “word” carries more weight than anyone in the office. Patients tend to be more receptive and compliant when it comes straight from the doctor’s mouth.
- When you bring the financial issue up – you get an even better picture of the patient’s mindset with regards to treatment. You’ll see at once how serious (or not) the patient is about having the treatment done. From there you can address the situation accordingly.
- One of the more common objections you’ll hear is, “I can’t afford that,” or something along these lines. Well, as we covered in last week’s issue – this might be covering for the fact that the patient is afraid of drills and needles, etc. Better to have this come up with the patient in the chair in front of you.
- Lastly, whether you like it or not you are the “salesperson” in the office. A salesperson’s job ends when payment has been received and services have begun. How can you possibly be effective at this job if finances are never discussed?
A cold-hard fact of business is that if it isn’t paid for, then it wasn’t sold. In dentistry we have become way too casual in gaining treatment acceptance and getting paid. We routinely do thousands of dollars of dentistry, bill the insurance and then bill the patient. It’s not uncommon to not get paid for sixty days or more. That is unacceptable from a business standpoint and I’m sure I’m not the only one that has noticed that the case that isn’t paid for often times leads to a patient who complains more.
Therefore, I suggest that for any major service the patient makes some kind of deposit i.e. at least a third down to ‘reserve’ time in the doctor’s schedule. This lets you know that they have effectively addressed any barriers or objections and you have a good chance that they will arrive and get the treatment. So come to an agreement with the patient of how they will pay and then go get Sandy to finalize the financial arrangements!
6. Tell them the optimum treatment plan three times before you give up.
Sometimes things have to be repeated before they “get through.” Advertisers know this concept well. And it’s actually a simple communication technique.
Let’s assume the patient doesn’t want needles and drills inside their mouth. You have asked questions and found out that their objection is faulty. Now what? Explain the treatment plan again—at least an abbreviated version of it. Then tell them again how much it will cost. And don’t be surprised if they give you a different faulty objection. Simply repeat step 4 and 5 – not robotically of course, you might vary some of your points or focus. But do repeat the data.
The rule is:
GIVE THEM THE OPTIMUM TREATMENT PLAN AND FEE AT LEAST THREE TIMES BEFORE COMPROMISING.
7. Sell Something.
Unfortunately we live on planet Earth and not in Disney World. You aren’t going to sell them all and the ones you do sell may not close on the first consultation. This is just how some folks make their decisions. This leads to the next rule:
So you’ve told them three times and it’s going nowhere. Well then, without compromising clinically, sell them something that will help them. Here’s where “phased” care comes into the discussion. Sell two crowns instead of six – again, only if you can do this without compromising clinically. While they are getting numb for those two you tell them three more times why they need the other four. And when they come back for their prophy tell them three more times. Don’t forget to keep asking them if they want to keep their teeth in between repeating the treatment plan. Simply by persisting they will eventually do the entire case. And again, this should be done with open and heartfelt communication – don’t just repeat their treatment like a “robot.”
You may worry that this will offend them and they will get upset and leave. By my own personal experience it will only be 1%-2%. And if you really have their best interest in mind and they leave the practice then I’m not sure they were being honest and sincere with you when they said they wanted to keep their teeth. Move on and don’t let it stop you from helping the other 98%. Welcome to Earth.
What I have tried to do is lay out a very simple and mechanical methodology of how to do a case presentation and include a few rules. I suggest you read this at least three times (sound familiar?) And if you really want to become a professional at case presentations, come to the MGE Communication and Sales Seminars.
Hope this helps!