They Call, Ask Some Questions, and Then Disappear…
I first met Dr. Anderson (not her real name) several years ago when she was first starting to explore the idea of selling her practice to fund her lifelong dream of practicing dentistry in Africa. The first day we met she had to excuse herself to look at an emergency patient that had been rushed in – a young soccer player had fallen and lost several teeth in an accident.
While I waited, I listened to the calls fielded by the front desk. Most were the usual hygiene bookings, rescheduling calls, or calls for possible cavities etc. The calls I was most interested in were the inquiry calls by new prospective patients.
Being involved in many practice sales I learned that buyers – particularly sophisticated investment buyers – look much deeper into a potential acquisition than a dentist buyer.
Specifically, they look for – and will pay a good premium for – a solid process that takes inquiries and processes them through a conversion funnel or pipeline. In particular, investment buyers LOVE to see a history of R.O.I. (Return On Investment) for the marketing activities. Thus my curiosity regarding how incoming “sales calls” were handled.
I listened to the responses from the front desk while guessing at the questions.
“Yes ma’am. We have a lot of families for patients. Dr. Anderson is fabulous with kids – especially those that are nervous or scared of the dentist.” – an obvious answer to “Does your dental office have children as patients?” or something similar. That line of inquiry proceeded for several minutes and ended with directions from a local neighbourhood to the practice, a “You’re very welcome. We hope to welcome you to our practice someday!”
Immediately, the opportunity for Dr. Anderson to increase the value of her practice was apparent.
First, the front desk should have offered to book an appointment. By not asking for the appointment, the front desk effectively said “We’re not interested in your family enough to have you come in” OR “We’re so busy that we don’t have time for you.” Neither of these statements was true and by not asking, the prospective patient is left to their own thoughts to figure out why. This is definitely not the outcome we want.
Secondly, and besides the failure to offer an appointment, the front desk made no effort to:
- Get the caller's name
- Determine the ages and number of children
- Offer to send information specific to the caller's needs
- Tell them about any kind of “new patient special”
- Get an email address
- Write down the phone number on the call display
- Ask how the caller heard about the practice
Shortly after, Dr. Anderson returned from her emergency and we resumed our chat. I asked and she replied that yes, they were paying for advertising both online and offline and she had been less than happy with the results.
I assured her I could understand why and related what I had learned while watching the front desk.
The following week we gave the front desk a draft script they were to work from when they received a call inquiry. The script was accompanied by a pad of printed “Lead Capture” pages that collected the caller's name, address, phone number and email.
We added a “Free Gift” for calling that encourages the call to book their first appointment. There was also a part on the page that allowed the front desk to add notes like how many children and their ages, whether the caller had insurance coverage or not, and when their last dental visit was.
Lastly, we let them know that Dr. Anderson was having a “New Patient Special” and if the caller could book right now, they would receive the special AND the front desk person that booked the appointment would get a crisp $10 bill for every new patient that came in for their first appointment.
At first, Dr. Anderson would only agree to do all of this manually to test the concept. But, as the staff bought in, created an influx of new patients, and asked for automation to do more follow-up, the decision was made to buy Keap, an easy-to-use scalable CRM, to handle the marketing.
The CRM not only paid for itself in the first month, but the automated lead capture and follow-up also generated an offer for the practice that was several hundred thousand dollars more than when Dr. Anderson first started exploring the idea of selling.
A true win-win!
If your situation is similar to Dr. Anderson’s and you’d like to investigate ways to maximize your practice’s value for sale or transition, reach out to Stan Kinder at 703.298.1690
Will you be thinking about selling or stepping away from your practice in the near or long-term future? To discover all your options, call 703.298.1690 or click HERE to schedule a Discovery Call NOW with Stan Kinder for the best options whether selling or retiring.