Chris Pistorius talks with Sean Field, the Senior Consultant at Patrick Consulting Group, about the challenges dentists face on improving their case acceptance rates.
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Chris Pistorius (00:04):
Hey, everybody. It’s Chris Pistorius with you today again, with The Dental and Orthodontic Marketing Podcast. Unfortunately, I’m having some technical issues, so you won’t get to see my pretty face live, but we’ve got an awesome guest today. Mr. Sean Field is with us live. You can see him. Sean is with the Patrick Consulting Group, and he is one of their senior dental consultants, and he works a different angle than some of our past podcasts, in the sense that he helps people, or he helps dentists with their acceptance rates. So when somebody comes in, how you can actually schedule more of the procedures that you’re you’re offering. But Sean, thanks so much for being on. Please tell us a little bit about what you do and more of those details.
Sean Field (00:52):
Sure, yeah. Thanks, Chris, for having me on, I appreciate it. Again, like you mentioned, I’m with Patrick Consulting Group, we are essentially treatment coordination trainers, and what our specialty is, is we help increase the case acceptance rates in a practice, in a dental practice. We work with any sales organization, but our specialty is in dental, and really just kind of getting the entire team on the same page, and realizing what role they play in the case acceptance. Again, our specialty is case acceptance rates, so what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to acquire more of the comprehensive dentistry from the patient, and really what our goal is, is if we’re working with a practice and they were looking at case acceptance rates and they’re lower, we want to try and increase those. So simply put, if you’ve got three patients that are coming in all with the same treatment, occlusal cavity and number three, and only one out of those three are accepting treatment, our goal is really to get you closer to that three out of three, but then more of an entire comprehensive treatment plan as well.
Chris Pistorius (02:01):
Awesome. So tell me a little bit about what you see. What are some of the biggest reasons why those acceptance rates might be one out of three, instead of three out of three?
Sean Field (02:12):
Yeah. I mean, really, a lot of times the breakdowns happen with… Typically, there’s two different closes. So what we refer to as a clinical close, and then a financial close. So that’s a big step too as well. Sometimes the team is just using very clinical terms, and we’ve just got to really put things in language that the patient will understand, because if they don’t understand the need for the treatment, when we start talking about costs, they’re never going to understand why there’s a cost involved, especially why there’s a high cost with dentistry as well.
Sean Field (02:46):
So, the other thing too, is that we’ve got to make sure that everybody’s on the same page. So is the hygienist doing a fantastic job, making sure that they’re controlling the nucleus of the retention of the patient? Is the dental assistant, when asked the question, “Do I really need this root canal?” They’re really prepared for that, and reinforcing the need for the treatment rather than going, “I don’t know.” And especially with the front desk too, when we pass off the patient, whether you want to call that a power pass or a power play, whatever you want to call that, that’s really important that we’re not just kind of letting them walk up there.
Sean Field (03:20):
The patient and one person, I always say that everybody in the practice, it’s kind of like they’re people on stage, they’re in a play, everybody plays their role. So if one person drops the ball, that’s going to hurt the perception of what the patient thinks about us in the practice, and they’re less likely to choose the treatment. And really, the thing is that whatever’s good for the patient, is good for the production, so why feel bad about the collection?
Sean Field (03:47):
And to answer your question specifically, a lot of times, people are either watching things too much, or they’re underdiagnosing, and they’re kind of assuming the objection before it’s even said in their head, and they’re breaking things down, and where that really hurts things is that every time the patient’s coming in, they’re having to spend money, rather than what we do as a company, is we try to acquire that entire treatment upfront, get the patient to pay up front for it, and then just work off the credit as they go, so then it kind of flips the switch on everything. The cliche, “Well, okay, I’ll have you pay for half of your crown now, half of the crown when you come back in,” but they’re always wondering, “Well, how do I get the patient to come back in, so I can seat that crown and get the other half, and then bill the insurance?”
Sean Field (04:30):
With us, what we’re trying to do is get everything paid up front so that the patient’s knocking at your door going, “Hey, where’s my crown? I need to get in here. I paid for that.” And again, it’s just really switching the mentality of, “Well, the patient’s not going to want to pay for this,” or “The patient’s not going to want to do all this.” Really, the cold, hard fact is that the patient has this treatment, and if we don’t do anything about it, we’re really not doing them any favors, and it’s just going to get worse. So we want to do as best as we can to explain things in general enough terms that the patient can understand, so they’re therefore more likely to understand why there’s a cost involved with it, and every person in the office, the dentist, the hygienist, the front desk, the dental assistant, anybody that tends to your problem, all plays a part in that.
Chris Pistorius (05:13):
Awesome. That’s a really cool concept of it kind of does flip the switch on how a majority of dental practices work now. I love the idea of let’s get the money upfront, let’s get the treatment done upfront, and then it makes things easier on the back end. I have to ask, and I’m sure other people listening to this are going to wonder, what do patients think of that? Are they typically okay with it, or is it kind of in the method of how you deliver that information to them?
Sean Field (05:45):
I mean, it’s absolutely in the method of how we deliver it to the patient, and a lot of times, it’s funny because when I start working with a provider, they’ll have preconditions in their mind of what the patient’s going to think, and they’re going to kind of judge that. And really, what they start to notice is that the more that we’re kind of telling them exactly what’s going on in their mouth, rather than trying to think, “Ooh, they don’t want to pay for that,” that they’re really actually very motivated to get treatment done, and they’re going up to the front desk going, “Okay, I know I need this treatment done,” that they’ve done a very good clinical close and understanding why they need the treatment, so then it makes it a lot easier to do the financial close in the practice.
Sean Field (06:28):
And really, patients kind of appreciate it. It comes down to the belief of the practice, and really, what we’ve noticed is that the patients actually appreciate it. And at a minimum, the goal isn’t to push them into anything that they don’t want to do. They have to get this treatment done, otherwise, it’s going to get worse. It’s just really just letting them know, essentially planting the seeds, so even if they do tell you no, and if they say no to this crown now, and then they come back six months later in pain because they need a root canal, it’s going to be a much easier discussion, simply because you’ve planted that seed.
Sean Field (06:59):
And the trick is always to put the ball back into the patient’s court, and let them decide. We’re not pushing them into anything that they don’t want to do, we’re not diagnosing treatment that isn’t there. We’re simply just educating them on what’s going on in their mouth, why they need to get that done, what’s going to happen if they don’t get that done, and then at the end, really just making it through a lot of times, through third-party financial companies, not only financially affordable, but mentally affordable for them as well.
Chris Pistorius (07:28):
I see. So it’s kind of like the old adage in the sales process of, “Sell the value of what you do, and then talk about the price,” right? So show the patient, “Look, this is the situation you’re in. This is just going to get worse, or this, or this, or this is going to happen,” and then everything just falls naturally into, “Okay, well, what does it cost?” Would you agree with that?
Sean Field (07:52):
Yeah, 100%. 100%.
Chris Pistorius (07:56):
Okay. Awesome. So tell me how your process works when you work with a dental practice. How long does this process take? Is this something that they’re with you for weeks, months, years? I mean, how do you incorporate this type of training into a practice?
Sean Field (08:14):
Sure. So we do work nationwide throughout the country. Typically, nowadays, because of all the technology, it’s easier to either do it, depending on the preference of the practice, but we can work over a Zoom call, we can do over phone call. Really, traditionally, what we’ve noticed is that we charge on a per call basis. So if we’re going to do an hour call, we try and make it relatively affordable, so we can kind of deliver this to the mass general provider public. Usually it’s about $99 a call, or a Zoom call that lasts about an hour, and then the provider decides how long or how often they want to do these calls. So there’s no contract. They can do one call, they can do 30 calls. It’s totally up to them.
Sean Field (09:02):
And to answer your question specifically, how long does it take? It really just kind of depends on the team and the provider, and where they have essentially breakdowns in the communication. It just depends on the provider. So usually what we do is that we kind of get a general understanding of what they’re looking for, what they want to do. Again, we specialize in treatment case acceptance, so we know that that’s probably why they’re calling us.
Sean Field (09:25):
And then a lot of it, it really has to do with a lot of role-playing, kind of scripting, letting them know what they should be saying to the patient, letting them look at as a whole, what cycle that the patient goes through in the office. Like we were talking a little bit before we started the video, we have a thing called the Dental Communication Model, so it’s basically the 26 step process from when the patient, even before the patient picks up the phone and gives you a ring, all the way through their entire visit, all the way back down to getting them through the visit, and then back again for their recall or the treatment that they need.
Sean Field (10:00):
So again, it really just kind of depends. Sometimes it’s easier I can get… We usually start with a training that we call The Five Steps of Treatment Coordination: The Psychology Behind Why the Patients Say Yes or No to Treatment. And if we do that, we usually start with that, that is 499, if we do that with the entire team, it doesn’t matter how many people are there. And then that is a general basis of setting the foundation of those five steps to treatment coordination, and really, the psychology behind when a patient says yes or no. Really, the first couple of things is we want to see where the base is at, where the foundation is at, what is their case acceptance rate, where are they having issues with?
Sean Field (10:40):
And then after we figure that out, then what we’re doing is we’re making sure that we’re doing a lot of role-playing. So, “Okay, well, present this crown to me. Present this perio to me. Present this cavity to me,” and really, the goal is to get them so flawless with their presentation, that they’re very prepared when they sit down with a patient. Because again, I’m not a clinical provider, I’m a salesperson, but I’m really just getting them to understand why we need to do certain things to be able to get the patient to say yes, and what kind of things that we could be doing that could be hurting our chances of getting that yes. And if we’re getting more nos, there’s something going on. There’s a breakdown in the communication, whether it’s at the front desk, or whether it’s the hygienist, or whether it’s the doctor themselves. And really, what we’ve noticed is that essentially, the more we really just kind of role-play, the more prepared they are when they’re actually in the chair, and the more likely that they’ll get the yes out of a patient.
Chris Pistorius (11:36):
That’s awesome. That’s a very unique way to look at this. And I know that in our business with our clients, I know that we have some folks, some clients that could get better at this, and I think you could make a huge impact the bottom line. So let’s talk about results a little bit. After you work with somebody, what kind of results do they typically see, once they start incorporating your training?
Sean Field (12:05):
Case acceptance, I mean, when it comes down to it, so not every single person in the entire world is going to say yes to you on that day. If you’re 65, 70% case acceptance rates, you’re doing fantastic. But usually, to answer your question specifically, if they’re in like the 40% case acceptance rates, we’re getting them closer to that 65 to 70% closing rate. And again, so you may not want every single person in your office, you may not want them, it may not be a fantastic fit.
Sean Field (12:34):
So to answer your question specifically, it’s case acceptance, and that’s really how the company got started, was that I have a long background in dental, and what I really noticed was that the providers were fantastic clinical doctors, and they would do fantastic treatment, but they just couldn’t get the cases sold, because it’s a much different situation if I say, “Okay, well, you’ve got [inaudible 00:13:00], a carie on number two, that’ll be $300,” compared to, “Okay, well, Sean, you’ve got a cavity on this tooth, and essentially, it’s like rust to a car, and the longer that we let that sit, the more unnecessary damage is going to happen to that tooth. And really, why we don’t want to do that, is because we don’t have to cause that damage. We can take care of it right now, and really on top of it, it’s going to cost you a lot more money if we just let this sit. Now, it’s totally up to you, Sean, what you want to do, but if you were my brother, that’s what I’d suggest. That’s what I do if I was you.”
Sean Field (13:36):
And again, just kind of putting the ball back in their court and stop talking, let the patient make their decision. Lng-winded answer to your question is we notice that the case acceptance naturally rises because they are focusing, they’re understanding what the patient in front of them is going through on their end, and the more they understand why they need that treatment and what’s going to happen if they don’t do that treatment, the easier that financial close is. And again, going from what do we usually see? The breakdown.
Sean Field (14:05):
So if the doctor’s doing a fantastic clinical close, and then the patient’s coming up to the front, and Nancy at the front desk is saying, “Okay, well, that’s $200. This is $300, this is $500,” the patient is just literally checking out like, “Oh, thanks.” That treatment plan’s going to go in the back seat when they get in the car and out of sight, out of mind. So really, the case acceptance is just naturally going up because we’re getting everybody on the same page, and everybody is, for lack of better words, closing that treatment, which again, is the best thing for the patient, because it’s just going to get worse if they don’t do it.
Chris Pistorius (14:38):
Yeah. That’s great. And I mean, if you could just increase the acceptance rate by 10 or 15%, just think of the impact financially that could have at a dental practice. Do you ever run across this? And sometimes we do on the marketing side of things when we’re trying to incorporate the team and to helping with marketing, is sometimes there’s always, and it’s not just dental, it’s any business, somebody’s been there maybe 10, 15, even 20 years, and you’re trying to really get them to do something a little different or new, like in your training too, and sometimes they’ll give some resistance, right? Because they’re kind of set in their ways and they don’t want to really have to change anything. First of all, have you seen that with your training, and what are some ways that you can overcome that?
Sean Field (15:26):
Sure. Yeah. I mean, we absolutely see that, and like you said, I mean, usually it’s somebody that has been there a really long time. So maybe an office manager that’s been there 15, 20 years and is in the paradigm of, “Well, this is always how I’ve done it, what’s wrong with that?” And I think to kind of overcome that, there’s two different ways to approach it in a consulting genre. I can either push them and fear them into it and say, “Okay, well, this is what’s going on, and you either have to do it or you don’t,” or I can really kind of first, Stephen Covey’s first seek to understand, and then be understood. If I’m listening to Nancy and what her concerns are, and why is that holding you back? And then finding essentially, just like we’re doing with the patient, finding out what her motivation is, and why she feels that’s a good fit, then I can adjust and pivot, and show her why I feel that this would be a good fit for them.
Sean Field (16:18):
And again, the greatest thing about dentistry is that, like we talked about at the beginning, if one of those three people come in and they have an occlusal cavity or carie, however you want to put it, it’s not going to get worse, and we didn’t put it there. Our job as providers, that’s the whole reason that the dentist went to school is to take the best care of the patient as possible. And really, I don’t think that there’s any office manager Nancy out there that would disagree that if we can get this treatment done and not just… Usually people think, “Okay, well, Sean, you’re all about the money. You’re all about the money.” I’m not. The money just naturally comes, if I can take good care of the patient, and the patient, we’re not doing the patient any favor if they continue this treatment, because it’s just going to get worse, and really, what they’re really concerned about is that it’s going to get more painful and it’s going to cost more money, the two things they don’t want.
Sean Field (17:14):
So we have a saying that says, “Positively influence the positives, and negatively influence the negatives,” and to answer your question, if I can get Nancy, if she’s resistant to me, the office manager, because she’s been doing it for 20 years, if I can get her to understand, “Hey, really, it’s not about the money, it’s just what’s best for the patient. What’s good for the patient, is good for the patient. So why feel bad about the collection?” And everybody’s kind of always heard, if you’re going to go into a grocery store, there’s no grocery store in the world that would let you put a cart full of stuff in your cart, roll past and say, “Hey, I’ll pay you when I can.” You’re not to do that. That’s just not how business works. And I think that sometimes people just feel bad, “Okay. We’ll just bill them. We’ll take care of it later,” and then they end up with a huge AR nightmare, simply just because they’re not believing in the value of their treatment.
Sean Field (18:03):
So forgive me for the long-winded answers to your questions, but if I can understand where Nancy’s coming from, from the foundation, I’m more likely to get her to buy into it, and really, because she’s a star player, or whoever the manager is, they’re a star player in that role, in the dental office, and in the case acceptance rates, then naturally then it’s going to be a more copacetic, synergetic environment where everybody is winning together, and that’s really what the thing is. We’re looking for a triple win situation. We’re looking for number one, the patient, number two, the practice, and number three, as a consulting firm, I realize that you guys are walking billboards for me, so the more that I increase your case acceptance rates in a very copacetic way, changing the paradigm or the mind shifts of the people in the practice, then everybody wins.
Chris Pistorius (18:58):
Yeah, no, that’s cool. It’s obvious that you’ve put a lot of thought into this, and that it’s important to you and you’re passionate about it, and I think that’s important when you consider any sort of a consultant for anything, really. But talk to me about quality assurance. Let’s say you come in, you do training. Is it kind of up to the provider to make sure that his staff is doing kind of what they’ve been taught from you, or is there any way that you can kind of quality assure that?
Sean Field (19:29):
I think working one-on-one is a different mindset. So typically, what happens is the doctor will fly, not with us, but they’ll fly the entire team out to a conference. Everybody gets totally pumped up about, “Oh my God, that’s awesome. I’m going to put this into practice. I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this,” and then Monday morning comes, and things get busy and the phone starts ringing, and everything goes out the door, and they go right back to their traditional way of how they’re doing things. And by working with them consistently, then we’re really reinforcing why we’re doing this, and naturally, through the progression, they’re more likely to continue why we’re doing this.
Sean Field (20:12):
And a lot of times too, one of the easiest ways to get any team member or any staff member, nine out of 10, there’s always going to be one person that doesn’t, but nine out of 10 people are going to be motivated monetarily. So, and that’s one of the things that we talk about too, is one of the easiest ways to keep them on track is that if we offer them some kind of bonus system, where if we work together as a team, and we’re slowly increasing, let’s say 10% per year, and we’re hitting those goals month, after month, after month, naturally, the team’s going to be very motivated for that monetary part of it. Because a lot of times what happens is that the team member will say, especially if there’s not a bonus system in place, they’ll say, “Well, Dr. Sean’s going to make all the money. He’s driving the Mercedes. What’s in it for me if I don’t do that?”
Sean Field (20:57):
So the easiest way to keep them on track is to add a bonus system, attach a monetary reward to it if they do this, so everybody wins again. And then again, consistency. That’s one of the reasons that when we first started, we had an agreement. So we usually had about a year agreement, and we noticed that it wasn’t as copacetic, it didn’t flow as well as if we just had like, “Look, here’s your call. You can stop at anytime you want, so there’s absolutely no pressure to move forward. If you’re done, you think you’re fantastic, that’s fine. And then if you feel like maybe you’re slipping and you want to come back, that’s fine as well.” But if we’re constantly working with the team member, understanding them, what’s in it for them, then the more likely they are to, again, focus back on what’s good for the patient.
Sean Field (21:45):
And that’s really the only reason that we turn on the generators in the morning, the only reason that we turn on the lights in the morning, the only reason that we’re spending all this money on this PPE with everything that’s going on, is because it’s the patient. Without the patient, we just don’t have anything. So really, that’s the main goal, but we’re all human, when it comes down to it, so we just have to figure out what the motivation is, just like when we’re trying to figure out what’s the treatment. What’s the motivation that you want these 12 veneers? What’s the motivation that you want this ortho? And really understanding that, and being able to bring that back up, so it’s going to be the same thing with the team members. But again, long-winded answer to your question, what we’ve noticed is that the more we work over, and over, and over with them, the more excited they get about the process, the better they get about the process, the more rewarding it is for everybody involved.
Chris Pistorius (22:32):
Yep, that totally makes sense, and I know that after hearing this, I’m definitely going to recommend you to our clients.
Sean Field (22:42):
Well, thank you.
Chris Pistorius (22:43):
As I know that our job is to get new patients in the door for them, right?
Sean Field (22:47):
Chris Pistorius (22:48):
But if they can close more of those patients and get more treatments as a result of that, then that just makes everybody more successful. So certainly win-win-win for everybody. So, Sean, I appreciate you being with us today, but first, before we take off here, could you tell everybody what’s the best way to get a hold of you? How does the process start? Do you do some sort of consultation first, or how does that work?
Sean Field (23:12):
So typically, we offer a free hour of consulting, just to kind of figure out what is your main want, your main needs in the practice, and give you a chance to kind of get to know us, and then give us a chance to get to know you guys, because we may not be a fit for everybody, everybody may not be a good fit for us. So we want to make sure that we initially build that rapport, and break that initial ground. From there, to get a hold of us, you can get ahold of us either through our website, patrickconsultinggroup.com. There’s a link on there where you can schedule your free hour of consulting. Also, you can reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can call us at (331) 225-3635. Again, (331) 225-3635. If we can’t get back to you, we can’t answer the phone right away, you can just leave a message, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Sean Field (24:05):
But yeah, the whole process, again, it’s very easy and it’s very straightforward, and nowadays with technology, we can work with somebody in Texas. We’re in the Chicagoland area, very easily and do the same thing, it’s just being able to have them on the phone. So really, a lot of people want to know, “Okay, well, Sean, what’s Patrick Consulting Group’s agenda, and how do you approach that, and how do you do that?” I don’t have a certain thing to say, “Okay, well, this is exactly the procedures we go through,” because everybody is different. It could be the hygienist that needs work, it could be the front desk that needs work, it could be the assistant that needs work, it could be the doctor that needs work.
Sean Field (24:40):
So during that first hour of consulting, that free one hour of dental consulting, we talk about it, we talk about why we think we’d be a good fit for you guys, you talk about us, let us know what you want, and then from there, then we would schedule those calls. And again, the calls are very easy, we try and make them very affordable. They’re $99 a call, and you can either choose to do Zoom, or you could do an over the phone call. Some doctors prefer to actually just do it over the phone, simply just because it’s listening back and forth and really kind of working on that treatment coordination skills that everybody has.
Sean Field (25:15):
And really, I think that the thing is that most of the clinicians think, “Well, I’m a dentist. I went to school to be a clinical provider,” and the hard, cold truth is that you’re a salesperson, whether you like it or not. And one of my best things that anybody ever told me was that you could be the best dentist in the entire world, you could be using the best composite material, you could be using the best labs, you could be using everything, but if you can’t sell the treatment, you’re not going to do anything. So that’s really where we come in, is that’s our profession is the sales profession, and just getting the team to really kind of understand that.
Chris Pistorius (25:55):
Yep. I love it. Sean, thanks so much. I’d like to maybe check back in with you in a few months, see how things are going, and see if anything’s changed with your business, if that’s okay.
Sean Field (26:05):
Yeah, that’d be great. I appreciate you having me on today.
Chris Pistorius (26:08):
Awesome. Everyone, thanks so much. I know you got a lot of great information out of this, and if you’re looking to increase the bottom line and get some more acceptance rates, then I think Sean’s got a great, great offer here at Patrick Consulting Group. So thanks again for all of your time and watching this episode, and be sure to tune in next week for our next great guest. Thanks again.
Sean Field (26:30):
Thanks, Chris. Thanks.