A general dentist friend told me the other day that she had a 100 percent no show rate for all the patients we sent them (we send out dozens of patients to GPs every patient day we have). I found this terribly interesting seeing how these same patients come to our office and pay for braces then, by and large, return for their adjustment appointments. So how is it possible that these same folks literally never show up for their GP appointments? Let’s consider the possible reasons.
- Our patients and their families do not value dental care at all and therefore they make appointments for the dental treatment and/or dental cleanings I recommend with no intention of showing up.
- My friend does a bad job of tracking patients and some do show up.
- My friend’s staff has decided that patients from my office are “low quality patients” and treat them as such with predictable results – people who are treated badly on the new patient phone call don’t show up.
- Patients will pay for what they want but not what they need.
Here’s the rub though… I won’t start treatment until a patient has had their restorative done and/or a cleaning/checkup in cases where I determine that they need either (I’m a dentist and have no problem making this call) AND I have a ton of patients that I send to see a dentist who come back with clean, restored teeth. How is this possible? They are getting their cleanings and restorations done somewhere.
So what does this tell us in the broader sense? A great deal if we are willing to listen…
When we and/or our staff decide that “those people” (people from a certain part of town, from a certain referral source, with a certain kind of insurance or whatever) are “low quality leads”, “less motivated patients”, “less likely to start”, “don’t show up”, we treat them as such and, as one can reasonably expect, they act in the way we expect them to act (and they don’t show up). Who the hell is going to tolerate being treated like crap, talked down and then do business with you? OF COURSE THEY DON’T SHOW UP!!!!!!!
This unwillingness to look at what we do as the primary cause of the results we get is a chronic disease in orthodontics and dentistry at large. Until we address our shortcomings and failings we should not expect different results. And just in case you think you can fake it and act like you care about “those people” or think they will come to your office when you don’t, know now that it won’t work. People can smell our BS and they know when someone genuinely cares vs when we are acting like we do.
What’s that you say? Your staff is awesome and friendly and courteous to patients? You know this how? Because your friends who come to you say so? (Here’s a hint – your staff knows they are your friends and treat them accordingly so they keep their jobs.)
Long story short – if you are unhappy with your sucky results then you might want to consider the possibility that your staff (and even you doctor) kinda suck and need to change your ways. Most of you won’t listen and know better and will be offended by this post. And you’ll keep sucking it up and getting terrible to mediocre results and continue to be baffled as to what could be causing your lack of success. But a few of you will take this to heart and do some hard self examination and you’ll see awesome, positive change. I hope you can guess which group I care about.