3 common mistakes to avoid to succeed in dental case acceptance and collections

Aug. 28, 2013
The business side is a vital part of any dental practice. Kyle L. Summerford goes through three of the most frequent mistakes that can hinder the ability to “close the deal” and achieve case acceptance with collection.

What can hinder the ability to sell and collect? Why are so many practices unable to “close the deal” and achieve case acceptance with collection?

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Let us examine three of the most frequent mistakes that can hinder the ability to sell dentistry.

Mistake #1
I can’t afford treatment!

A common mistake that occurs in the dental practice is when a dentist discusses treatment fees and tries to sell the case himself. An overly eager dentist wanting to make the sale happen could easily break the patient trust relationship by trying to convince the patient to buy right then and there. Patients don’t like visiting the dentist in the first place. So why would they want to hear “bad news” (necessary treatment) on top of “bad news” (financial costs)? Discussing finances and providing financial options is not the job of the dentist, especially during case presentation, and this education takes up valuable chairtime that can be used for the next patient. As the dentist, you should ask yourself, how much is my chairtime worth? The dentist should not have any part of a sales and dental collections process other than setting the dental fees for the practice. My advice is to have a designated employee, such as your office manager, to take care of the financial discussions with the patient.

Mistake #2
We don’t need any more staff.

Choosing not to hire and dedicate the position of sales to a particular individual is another common mistake. So you’ll save some money on the overhead, but you’ll lose out on selling cases. Hiring an experienced treatment coordinator to present your treatment plans is an essential part of keeping your practice flowing with immediate income. A treatment coordinator should be thoroughly trained and have a proven track record in sales. This person should also be fully trained in the arts of polite persuasion and familiar with third-party financing. He or she should be well versed and persistent yet subtle with his or her sales pitch. Creating a sales script can be something beneficial for everyone in the practice. This helps to maintain stability and structure within the practice. Lastly, make sure to dedicate a financial arrangement room for privacy and confidentiality.

Mistake #3
Payment was due last visit.

Choosing to allow the patient to delay payment until he or she is ready is another common mistake. Can you really trust that the patient will pay the next time, or in a month, or a year? Things can occur in a person’s life that can cause difficulties and financial hardships, and these types of situations tend to happen without warning. How can you avoid conflict and complications when it comes time to collecting payments? Make sure to establish a well-written financial policy that explains in detail how and when payment is expected. The patient should not receive dental services without acknowledging the office policy by providing their signature and written consent. Therefore, when it comes time to collect, it will be an easy transaction.

Kyle L. Summerford received his B.S. from St. Johns University in Queens, N.Y., with a major in biology. Over the last 12 years of working in the dental field, he has learned the business aspects of dentistry from some of the most successful dentists located throughout the tristate area. As an independent dental consultant, he provides his expert knowledge and advice to help new and failing dental practices. He offers education to staff members based on sales pitches and persuasion techniques, which increase overall case acceptance. His innovative management and marketing strategies have been proven effective in minimizing overhead costs and increasing production and collections, leading to a healthy, successful dental practice. You may contact Mr. Summerford by email at [email protected], on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RescueMyDentalPractice, or via his website, www.rescuemydentalpractice.com.