Communicating your dental plan

Communication is the key to increasing your number of patients

Communication is the key to implementing or indeed increasing the number of patients on your dental plan. Without a communication strategy, your dental plan is unlikely to "take off".

There are a number of ways to communicate your dental plan:

  • by word of mouth
  • on your website
  • through social media
  • with your practice brochure
  • in literature in your patient lounge
  • on posters in your practice lounge.

While these can all play a part, your first means of communication should always be you and the dental team, after all in Ireland we do like to talk…

Face to face communication
With any communication your starting point should be body language. More than 70 per cent of any face-to-face communication will be a combination of body language and tone of voice.

Are you and your team totally committed to the dental plan? Are you and your team totally certain that this the best thing for your patients?

If so, then this will come across through the body language and through the tone of voice you and your staff use.

Practice makes perfect
The same as any new dental treatment techniques, practice makes perfect.

Once you are all completely certain that everyone in the practice is behind the dental plan, in your next dental team meeting you need to write down:

  • the top five reasons patients will join
  • any objections you think you may come up against
  • questions your patients may ask
  • the top five benefits of your dental plan.

You will often find you come up with some great ideas and unusual questions and, indeed, objections. The above four areas should iron out initial communication teething problems.

The way you say it makes the difference. Many times I have been in practice and heard the team ask: "Would you like to join our plan?" Or: "Is that something that would interest you ?"

In most cases the answer will be NO. You need to make it easier to say YES by asking open questions or using assumptive communication techniques such as:

  • "How do you feel about the plan ?" and/or
  • "If you are happy enough we can get you signed up as a member of the practice?"
  • "Your next hygiene appointment would be included".

Whatever you do say, please do not ever say: "Sure, have a think about it ".

What you are actually saying is DO NOT sign up today. You are assuming the patient doesn't want to sign today. This is the most commonly used phrase in practice, especially when the patient is giving no visible signs of communication in return to your communication.

Your printed media
Your dental plan leaflet/ brochure must be well laid out, simple, easy to follow with not too much jargon. Remember, just because you understand the dental terminology, it does not mean your patients do!

Why not have a friend who is not related to dentistry or your practice proof read your brochure or leaflet to check they understand the message you are trying to get across.

Launch or re-launch day
So far, we have focused on your body language, the words, focused on the features and benefits of your dental plan, and any objections you may come up against. Your dental plan marketing should now be fabulous, and you and the team are ready to get started.

In the next article I will tell you more about the steps to successfully integrating dental plans in your practice.

Gary Nelson is the founder and owner of Quality Plan NI. For more information, visit http://www.qualityplan.co.uk