6 simple steps to make October and the months ahead…rock!
If you made it through “Sucktember”, traditionally the worst month of the year in dentistry, and turned it into “Suptember” (Super September) by doing things differently as we recommended some weeks ago, you know the value of bucking a trend and going against the grain.
Now it’s time to reverse course and go with the flow by jumping into the equivalent of a powerful river current that can rapidly take the practice through the end of the year productively and profitably. All you need is the right boat and the proper charted course.
What follows are well-known, but not always followed, navigation instructions that will help direct any practice to a successful conclusion of an otherwise tumultuous year.
- KNOW THE FLOW
After the traditional September slow down, comes the last three months of the calendar year and the opportunity of “benefits remaining.” It is estimated that:
- 60% of American households have some type of dental benefits.
- 80% of those who have benefits do not fully utilize them by the end of the year.
Most unused benefits expire as the year turns and are lost. That’s no secret. Navigated correctly, a practice can help patients use more of their benefits before the end of the year. And like most things in dentistry, what’s good for the patient, is good for the practice.
- THE LOG JAM
This year presents an additional opportunity never seen in dentistry before. With the “Pandemic Pause” experienced by most practices earlier this year when patient visits were slowed to a trickle or completely dammed by state and local mandates, patients were unable to access regular care for weeks or months in many cases. The result? More dental benefits will potentially go unused in 2020 than ever before. That’s a potential windfall for insurers. Patients, however, end up paying the price in the form of missed treatment and reduced health and wellness.
Having a well-executed plan to navigate your patients’ benefits remaining this year is more important than any year in the past. It may mean the difference between ending the year with a decline in production over last year and roaring past last year’s performance despite the challenges we have faced in 2020.
- CHARTING THE COURSE
Just as in any voyage, it is critical to chart your course early before setting sail. Do your homework. Find out just how much opportunity there is. Run the numbers. Dig into your practice management software to determine who has benefits remaining and how much there really is. Research by ToPS practices so far reflects a greater amount in benefits remaining this year compared to previous years. Get an accurate picture of the opportunity and what it will take in terms of effort and scheduling to help patients take advantage of the benefits they have paid for and deserve to use before year’s end.
- SOUNDING THE ALARM
Next, you must alert patients to their personal situation and the looming deadline. It doesn’t matter if their plan is one with which your practice is contracted or not. Benefits are benefits and people want to take advantage of that money whether it is in-network or out.
With the challenges of reaching patients today, the initial message can go out via mail, email, text message, or all three! You can’t overcommunicate the benefit. You can be as creative or bottom-line as you want depending on the channel of communication you are using. In short, the message says something like this:
Dear Mr. Anderson –
If you are like most of our patients, you are aware that any dental benefits that haven’t been used during the year, lapse at the end of the year. Either you use it, or you lose it. Based on our best estimate, you have $XXX good toward qualifying dental care available if used before December 31. The next few months tend to be the busiest of the year in our practice so, please give us a call today and we’ll be happy to walk you through how to maximize your benefits while there is still time.
Craft your customized message that is consistent with your practice culture and branding. In any case, keep it simple and the call to action clear.
Instead of waiting for the tide of calls to come into your office from the messaging that you have sent out, start rowing…hard! The results of any campaign can be multiplied by up to 6 times with a proactive, outbound effort to follow-up with patients.
Effective follow-up happens by phone call and text messaging. If you are leaving a voice message, it might sound like this:
“Mr. Anderson, this is ______ from Beautiful Smiles Dental. Dr. Pro-active asked me to give you call. Please give me a call back at 777-777-7777 today. We look forward to hearing from you.”
When leaving or sending a follow-up message, it is best to keep it simple. A return call is your objective so simply ask for it, at the doctor’s request.
- ACCOUNTABILITY COUNTS
The best results come from consistent activity that is tracked. It is easy to think progress is being made if accountability comes in the form of infrequent questions like, “How is the benefits remaining campaign coming?” Contrast that with the high accountability team culture where each morning in the Morning Opportunity Meeting, the one team member who is accountable for the campaign reports to the team on the following:
- The exact number of outbound calls made and messages sent the day before.
- The number of actual patient conversations and contacts that took place.
- The number of appointments that were scheduled.
Accountability needs to be daily and detailed. Anything short of that and the results will be less than ideal. *
Get started today by charting your course and mapping out your specific plan and who will be accountable for what. Then set sail. As you meet with your team each day over the next three months, keep the accountability clear and consistent and you will arrive into port at the end of 2020 having navigated a successful course for a productive and profitable year with happy patients who are grateful for the service you provide.
Make it happen!
*For additional tools to make your benefits remaining efforts even more successful, give the ToPS team a call at 1-877-399-8677.