Last updated on December 4th, 2019 at 01:15 pm

Greg Winteregg, DDS Vice President at MGE Management Experts

Let’s start off fast: I want to give you what I’ve found to be the top five things that you can implement internally right away to get more new dental patients.

I could actually write an article about each one. But I’ll tell you what I’m most interested in: go over these points in your next staff meeting and, with your team figure out how to expand on, implement and even improve these points in your office.

Now, as you read, you’ll see that each of these things is most effective when done together.

Here goes:

1. Answer the phone correctly

The main idea here is just to GET NEW PATIENTS INTO THE APPOINTMENT BOOK ASAP. Don’t ask them if they have insurance, old x-rays, etc. They will have questions but whatever they are, tell them that the best way to answer these questions is for them to come in and meet the doctor and staff. Getting all their insurance data implies that their insurance plan is more important than they are.  All of your questions should be about them, such as:

“Are you in pain?”

“How did you hear about us?”

“Do you need directions?”

The point is you should try to make them feel as if they are the most important patient in your practice and get them into the book ASAP.

(Related: 3 Techniques to Improve Employee Phone Skills)

2. Don’t argue with them

I’ve had seminar speakers and consultants tell me that I should have a rigid new patient protocol, e.g. “all new patients see the doctor first for an evaluation” or “all new patients see the hygienist first,” etc.  These types of policies set up a possible disagreement, or even potential argument, with the patient on that first call.

For example, they want their “teeth cleaned,” but the office policy is that all new patients see the doctor first. Yet they want their teeth cleaned. Your response to their request should be “Great!  Let’s get you with the hygienist/doctor to take care of that.”

If you try to convince them to comply with your policy rather than service their request, don’t be surprised if they schedule and then don’t show up. They just went ahead and made an appointment with another office that didn’t give them a hard time.

(Related: 3 Ways to Improve New Patient Conversion)

3. Get the new patient in within 24-48 hours

Let’s look at a basic fact: most people don’t like going to the dentist. They will find just about any excuse to get out of it. So, when that new patient calls – get them in within two days at the latest. They’ve called on a “brave” day, so don’t let them think about it for a week or two. Their courage can be fragile, and time can enter in and steal it away from them.

The answer: reserve time in the hygiene and doctor’s schedule to accommodate new patients.  I reserved one slot in the morning and one slot in the afternoon for each hygienist just for new patients. When they called in to “have my teeth cleaned,” they were immediately scheduled to come in as soon as we could get them in.

(Related: New Patient Scheduling Confirmation ideas: Let’s Make Sure They Show Up!)

4. See emergencies the same day

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This one is tricky. An emergency patient can easily turn into a very productive treatment plan. But if you don’t handle an emergency patient correctly, he or she can throw the schedule way off which in turn upsets other patients and staff. The office must be organized to process emergency patients quickly and efficiently.

What did I do? My policy was simple: THE DOCTOR IS NOT ALLOWED TO SPEND MORE THAN FIVE MINUTES WITH AN EMERGENCY PATIENT. Something can usually be done to relieve their pain without starting a root canal or crown prep and getting an hour behind. Instead, write a prescription or smooth off a rough corner of a broken tooth, and then PRESENT, GET ACCEPTANCE ON AND SCHEDULE THEM FOR THE TREATMENT NEEDED TO FIX THE PROBLEM. I had them pay at least a third in advance to “reserve their time in the schedule.” This helps to ensure that they return if the pain goes away.  We don’t want them ignoring the problem that caused the pain in the first place!

So, there is a delicate balance between getting the patient out of pain and not running behind.

(Related: How to Turn an Emergency New Patient into a Great Long-Term Patient)

5. Have a new patient special

Some may view this one as controversial. I had a “New Patient Special” at a reduced rate that we promoted and offered to anyone who called in. It was a discounted rate on a cleaning, x-rays and exam.

Some doctors may protest doing something like this while participating in PPO plans and reducing their crown fees by $400-$500!  Let’s take a “business” look at this subject.

Why does the grocery store run a special on milk for $.99 a gallon? It’s to sell two packs of Oreo cookies and a bunch of other goods when the customer comes in to buy the milk.

Let’s face it…everyone likes a good deal. Just because you like a deal doesn’t make you’re a horrible person! Make it easy for new patients to come in. Deliver great service. They’ll become good patients and accept the treatment they need! I did this and it worked like a charm.

The MGE New Patient Workshop will show you how to weave all of these points together (and many more) so you can turn your practice into a NEW PATIENT MACHINE. Call today and find out how simple it is to get the new patients your practice needs to both survive and grow!   Call us at 800-640-1140.

MGE New Patient Workshop