How do you go about introducing a major change to your practice? We’re not talking about a lick of paint or rearranging the waiting room furniture, what about drastic things like whether to move away from the NHS, for example? Now, that’s real change.
Decisions like these require an awful lot of thought and planning in order to ensure you are making the right move for the business and for your team. Of course, you don’t want to procrastinate for so long that you never get around to implementing any change at all, so it’s good to know some effective tips that can help.
Janice Charlton uses a great analogy called ‘dogs, cats and rats’, which is a non-derogatory and fun way to analyse your patient base by splitting them into three categories, which can give you a good indication of what you’re working with. So, if you are considering implementing change, consider doing this at your next team meeting.
Dogs, cats and rats
Patients who we class as ‘dogs’ are the ones who are incredibly loyal to one dentist. Most often, these are long-term patients who recommend you and have usually brought friends and family to you too, because they think you are simply the best. Your dog patients are the ones who will wait, maybe in pain, for their dentist to have an available appointment as they just wont see anyone else.
Your ‘cat’ patients are similar to dogs as they show high levels of loyalty, but the difference is that this is to the practice rather than a particular dentist. You will find these patients have visited the same practice for a very long time, this may be a generational thing or it could be due to convenience of the location. Cats will stay with your practice even if the dentist or hygienist changes, because that’s where they’ve always gone. It would take something big to upset these patients and make then run away; but just like real cats, they often come back because they will miss being in their comfortable territory.
Your one-hit-wonder patients are your ‘rats’. You’ll find that these patients are not regular attenders, but instead will visit when they have a problem. To these patients, the dentist is a casual service that they don’t show loyalty to and they will often shop around based on lower prices or because they are looking for a treatment that you don’t offer; they show no loyalty to either the practice or the dentist. The rat patients will be the first to run away at the idea of change.
How are things looking?
Splitting your patient base into these three categories is not a proven science but it is an easy way to get a flavour of what you’re working with. In any practice, there will always be a split but if you find yourself with a low number of dogs you need to look at why you’re not attracting patient loyalty. Take look at your customer service levels and ensure the patient journey is excellent. To attract more dogs you need to become very patient centred and go the extra mile to make each patient feel special, as though they’re the only one.
Janice often carries this concept out with practices who are considering introducing a patient payment plan, because in order to make this a successful venture you need a good number of dogs and cats as these patients will show loyalty. At Patient Plan Direct, our plans are practice branded, which is particularly great for attracting the patients who put their faith in your services, rather than asking them to sign up to a brand they don’t know or trust. With the lowest fees on the market at just £1.20 per patient per month, which includes worldwide dental A&E insurance, administering your plan through us will please you, too.
- On 31st July 2017