The Overlooked Importance of Front Desk Staff in Dental Practices

Ready to learn the secrets to a successful dental practice? Tune in to The No BS Dental Marketing Podcast, where host Chris Pistorius uncovers the crucial role of the front desk staff. Discover the training and representation techniques that can take your practice to the next level, all while boosting your reputation. Don’t miss out on these actionable insights that can transform the way your clinic operates!

Chris Pistorius emphasizes the importance of training and developing front desk staff for dental practices. He notes that front desk staff plays a critical role in the first impression that patients have of the practice and are essential to patient care. Therefore, proper training and development of these staff can help ensure the success of marketing campaigns and increase the overall success of the practice.

To achieve this goal, Chris recommends developing scripts that provide ideas and handle objections. By providing these scripts and role-playing with staff, the practice can help increase their understanding of how to overcome customer objections and create a positive experience for patients.

Moreover, he suggests that front desk staff should ask patients where they heard about the business early in the conversation while the details are still fresh in their minds. This information can be used to track calls and conversion rates, which are essential for proper analytics. Even without marketing help, simply asking “How did you hear about us?” can be an effective way to gather this information.

Finally, Chris recommends using assumptive scheduling to encourage patients to book appointments. After answering questions, front desk staff should suggest an appointment time and be prepared to overcome any objections. By following these tips, dental practices can create a more positive patient experience and increase the success of their marketing efforts.

Other subjects we covered on the show:

  • The importance of tracking patient leads and conversion rates, and how it contributes to the success of a practice.
  • How essential is tracking team members’ performance?
  • How does monitoring call quality help ensure pleasant customer interactions?
  • The importance of making personal connections with patients, and establishing a playbook with detailed procedures.

AND MORE TOPICS COVERED IN THE FULL INTERVIEW!!! You can check that out and subscribe at

If you want to know more about Chris Pistorius, you may reach out to him at:



[00:00:00] Welcome to the Dental Marketing Podcast, a podcast that helps dentists win in the online world of modern day marketing. Each week, we cover the most cutting edge marketing tactics and strategies that are working right now across our client base to drive leads, phone calls, and more new patients for dentists.


Now here’s your host and founder of Kickstart Dental Marketing, Chris Pistorius.


Hello and welcome to the No BS Dental Marketing podcast. I am your host, Chris Pistorius, and on this show, as you know, we talk about straight to the point. No BS. Tricks and strategies to help you grow your practice by marketing. Now, there’s no fluff here. Just great information that you can take action on starting today to increase your bottom line.


So if you’re a dental practice owner, a manager, a front desk professional, or really whatever be sure to click the subscribe button below. So [00:01:00] that you can keep up with all of our latest tips and tricks. 


So today we’re gonna talk about something that a lot of dental practices overlook, quite frankly, and that’s the importance of your front desk staff, and not just the staff themselves, but also how they’re trained and how they’re trained to not only do their job, but really represent your practice.


And I’ve said this before to clients, and I’ve said it I think in other podcasts, but I truly believe that the front desk staff could be. The second most important position within your practice. And I know that seems a little bold to say, but hear me out a little bit about this because there’s a lot of things that you may not be thinking of or that you may be overlooking in terms of how important this front desk staff thing is.


And there’s a lot of times we are asked by, you know, potential clients or clients, you know, The business isn’t as, or the practice isn’t as successful as it has been, or we’re not getting, we’re not seeing as many new [00:02:00] patients as we used to. And once we start diving in and really looking at the entire situation, we find that a lot of times it’s lack of really good training processes and procedures at the front desk.


And so what we did internally for our clients is we developed an online training to help with some of this. Now, you know, whether you’re a client of ours or not this could be a gap in your business, and this could be one of the reasons why you’re not quite as successful as you want to be. Now don’t make too much fun of me today.


I’ve got my full kickstart dental marketing gear on. I got the hat, I got the shirt, I got everything at the backdrop with a little bit of our logo in it. So don’t make fun of me. But it’s what I had to wear this morning, so anyway, let’s talk about why the front desk is so critical in my opinion.


Number one, it’s your first impression. Right? It’s the number one, you know, it’s the first person that somebody’s gonna talk to on the phone, and then when they come into the practice, that’s the first interaction that they have a lot of times with your [00:03:00] practice, if they’re a new patient, right? So a lot of times patients will automatically develop their opinion of you and your office and whether they’re gonna come back to you or not.


Based on that very first impression. So don’t overlook this. You know, it’s absolutely critical. If they’re a new patient, they come in and they don’t have a great experience that first time in, or the front desk person is heaven forbid, rude or, you know, busy and just can’t give them the type of interaction that they expect, there’s a good chance they’re not gonna come back for whatever treatment that you advise to them.


Okay? The second is that they do have a role in patient care. Right? I’ve heard docs talk about this before. Well, you know, our hygienist or dentister, you know, whatever, they’re the ones really, you know, dealing with patients and making sure they’re taken care of. That’s absolutely not the truth.


Because there’s a lot of people that will come into your office and they’ll be a little apprehensive about going into a dentist at all. There’ll be people [00:04:00] coming in that haven’t been into a practice for years and they’ve ignored their healthcare with their oral healthcare, and so they’re on edge.


Either that or they’re just scared of the dentist and they’re scared of the thought of the pain and the. You know, what is this gonna be? And then there’s people that are just in general, have high anxiety in any health office situation. So the role that your front desk plays in healthcare and patient care specifically is that they have the opportunity to start putting them in relaxed mode immediately.


Right? That means. Overnight over just, you know, sympathetic, empathetic, very good tone to their voice, not panicked in a rush, paying attention to every word that they say. Those little things will add up to a lot with your front desk staff. And then by the time the patient comes back to you or the hygienist or whoever. They’ve automatically started going into that kind of relaxed mode thinking, you know what?


This probably isn’t gonna be as bad as I thought it [00:05:00] was gonna be, right? But your front desk absolutely has a factor in the patient care and a pretty big one as well. Another thing that you really need to think about here is marketing. Now I’m the marketing guy, right? For dental practices, and I tell clients this all the time, and potential clients, I’m like, your front desk is really gonna determine the success or the failure of any marketing campaign that you do.


That’s regardless of if you used a company like mine or if you go out and buy a billboard or billboards, put your name and face on, you know, Bencher on bus stop benches, things like that. If you do direct mail, if you do whatever, okay? And the reason why that’s the case is because when these people reach out to you, okay, if they pick up the phone and call you, who are they gonna reach?


Typically, the front desk professionals, right? If they, you know, happen to just walk in off the street because they got something in the mail. Front desk professionals, right? So if your front [00:06:00] desk is not trained. In how to talk to potential new patients and get them scheduled. It doesn’t matter if you spend $10,000 a month or a thousand dollars a month or a few hundred dollars a month in marketing, it’s not gonna be successful.


Okay. And you know, a lot of people probably say, oh, well I’ve had my front desk person for 10, 15, 20 years. I know that they do a good job. Well, do you? I mean, have you really looked into it? So, during this podcast, I’m gonna really dive into this part of it pretty heavily and really make sure that you understand that, you know, maybe your front desk person isn’t quite as trained as they need to be.


And do they, are they really good at, you know, talking to potential new patients that find you online. Because think about it, if somebody finds you on Google, right? they don’t know anything about you. They just see a listening on a Google page, and they might go to your website. They look at your reviews.


They, you know, look at driving directions to see where you’re located. They have no loyalty to you. They don’t understand what your unique [00:07:00] selling proposition is of why they should choose you versus your competition. Guess who’s supposed to do that? It’s not gonna be you as the doctor or you as a front office manager all the time.


It’s gonna be the front desk person. They have to be trained to be able to talk to potential new patients who don’t know who you are, and be able to talk to them about why you’re great and why they need to schedule an appointment with you. Now, I’m not talking about use car salesman or you know, timeshare presentation people.


That’s not the type of sales we’re talking about. We’re talking about very consultative professional. Hey, did you know? Did you know this? Did you know that? Right? Type of professional that can help schedule a lot of these appointments for you. So those are just a few of the reasons of why this front desk position is so critical and why maybe you could be missing out a little bit with this.


So I wanna talk. A little bit of what, how we talk to our clients about how to develop front desk staff and how to develop procedures and processes to really help get them trained and fully up to [00:08:00] speed. There’s a study, and I’ll try to post it in this video later, but of like, I believe it’s 77% of front desk professionals are, don’t have any professional train.


Right. They just kind of showed up to work and over the years they developed their way and that’s it. Right? And then there’s another stat that shows up to 67% wish they thought they had professional training and they feel as though they would be better. They would be more satisfied with their jobs if they were professionally trained because they understand front desk.


People know that it’s part of their job to get these new patients scheduled. And as much training and development as you can give them to be good at their job, they’re gonna feel better about their job. Then that’s gonna slow down your churn rate. You’re not gonna get as many people quitting and you know, having to hire new people and things like that.


So a couple of the ways that I talk to, and I consult with clients on how to get through this is number one, develop scripts. And then I get the eye roll typically, oh my gosh, scripts. I don’t want my people, you know, reading off his scripts when they answer the phone. That’s not the point, and that’s not what [00:09:00] I’m talking about.


I don’t want you to develop scripts so that you know, somebody’s just reading verbatim. My name is Chris Pistorius. Welcome to our practice. No, that’s not. That’s not it. What I do wanna do though, is I want to put processes and procedures in place and give them scripts as ideas, right? Like, okay, this is what we really want to convey in the first two minutes of a conversation with a potential new patient.


This, this, and this. And here’s some ideas on how to talk to them and how to answer their questions while still staying on track and getting the outcome that you want, which is the potential new patient or the patient actually signing up and coming into the office, right? So develop scripts that give them an idea of what to say as well as objections, right?


So if somebody says, if you’re fee for service and somebody says, oh, well I’ve got Aetna, or I’ve got Cigna, or whatever, you guess what? Those are still potential leads for you. Right? Do you have an in-house plan, for instance, you know, how much is this, you know, this care really costing, or, you know, the [00:10:00] famous one is, all right, I need dental implants.


How much are they? Right? Well, it’s more complicated than that. I mean, we’d realize that, but people on the phone don’t. So you’ve gotta have scripts and help your staff understand how to overcome objections. And it’s not for them just to read off of a piece of paper, it’s to get it into their mind of what needs to be accomplished and then let them put it into their own words.


And you can’t just build the script and say, here you go. You’ve gotta work with them a little bit on ’em. So whether it’s a consultant like us, if it’s a front desk manager maybe, or if it’s you, yourself, if you wanna do that, you’ve gotta not only give them the tools to learn it, but you’ve gotta kind of role play with them a little bit and put it in practice.


That’s what really, you know, starts the muscle memory of the brain to get them to do this every time that somebody calls. Okay. Second thing is what I’d like to see front desk people do, and this is kind of the marketing background of me, but how have you heard about it? How did you hear about us? Right? 


Now you’ll hear me, in podcasts say, how [00:11:00] you heard about us is incredibly inaccurate. And it is because, it’s too complex, right? Because you know, they could say, oh, I saw you on Google. 


Well, guess what? There’s a lot of different places on Google if they could have seen you and as a marketing person, I want to know, was it a paid ad on Google that they saw you?


Was it within the organic section of Google where like SEO type work would happen? Was it a local service ad? Which is different than a regular ad. People don’t know this, right? They’re just gonna say, I saw you on Google. But anyway, we put stuff in place so we know where they came from. But ask this, have your front desk asked this question early on in  conversation while it’s still fresh in their brain and they’re not searching around for, you know, credit card information or insurance information.


Get this early in the conversation. It’ll help you with internal marketing and it’ll just help you kind to keep the conversation on path. Hold times. This is a passionate one for me. My team listens to every call that comes in for our clients and we determine if they’re good calls [00:12:00] or bad calls, if they’re good patient leads or if they’re not good patient leads, right?


And what we hear a lot in our holds. And the very worst hold is where they pick up the phone and says, thanks for calling ABC Dental. Can I put you on hold? Click. No go. I mean, that’s common sense, right? But you’d be shocked about how many times it’s happening. Hold times are no good. In this industry there’s gonna be times when it absolutely has to happen, but there are better ways to do it and more professional ways to do it, right?


Don’t ever just put somebody on hold and hit the button. Wait for them to respond, acknowledge their response, and then politely put them on hold. They cannot be on hold more than 15 seconds. Let me, let me buffer that. 15 to 25 seconds. Okay? The reason why is that you have about 15% of the people are gonna hang up at 40 seconds.


That’s the stacks, okay? 15% and you’ll probably never hear from ’em again. Okay? The average hold time for a dental practice is 56 seconds. [00:13:00] Now you’re probably thinking, oh, we don’t do that. Are you sure? How do you know for sure? Right? We have systems that we put in. I’ll show you an example of one of these in a second where we can calculate and show exactly how many calls you missed, how long on hold they were,  where they came from, of course.


But if you don’t know and you’re just kind of assuming you’re probably wrong, okay? And one fifth of the call, for a dental practice, go to voicemail. Okay. So you have to be responsible to know when your calls are coming in and what’s happening to those calls, and not just asking and you know, what do you think?


Are we missing a lot of calls? Nobody’s trying to be trying to be deceitful here, but. They don’t know for sure either. They’re busy and they’re taking calls and they’re putting people on hold and you know, all this stuff. So they’re, you know, they just get a sense of it, but they don’t really know for sure.


So I wanna show you an example just really quickly on my screen here. That’s gonna show you one thing that we do for our clients, and maybe you could. You know, incorporate some kind of a [00:14:00] system like this as well.   So what you’re looking at is one of our reporting screens. We’re at the end of the month, we talk to our clients about what happened the previous month.


And so this is some stuff that we put into play some of our technology or we track our calls so it shows, okay, for this month you missed 37 calls. That’s a lot of calls. That doesn’t mean they’re all, you know, new patient calls that are just dying to come in and get dental implants or whatever it may be.


But I bet you a good percentage of those are, you know, potential new patients. And, we do differ them. So these 37 calls would be people have never called in to you before. Okay. We had 28 go to voicemail. Okay. That’s a really high number. So we’re missing, you know, eight, almost eight and a half percent of all the calls that come in.


That’s a problem. We need to figure out what’s going on there. And there could be a couple of different things here. There could be a technical problem with your phone system. We’ve seen that before where you know, you guys didn’t even know about it. And, you know, something like this popped up and you’re like, oh my goodness, we, you know, at three o’clock for some reason, our phone system’s automatically going to [00:15:00] voicemail, right?


It could be something like that. But we’ve really gotta dive into the numbers. So we look at like, missed calls by the time of day. Like for instance, missed example, little bit high number at about 11 o’clock in the morning. So is that a lunch period for people or is it just a lot of calls. And then we look at call volumes you know, throughout the month and over the last 12 months.


And this is just one shot. I’ve got more details too, of exactly like, you know, what happened on the call. You know times of the day of missed calls. And then of course we have all the call recordings and we can look into a lot deeper, but we really wanna make sure that, you know, our clients realize that, look, you know, if we’re gonna spend money in marketing, you know, let’s make sure we answer the phone right?


And, you know, a lot of times it’s a technical problem or it’s just a. Personnel problem that they didn’t know that they had. And there’s some pretty easy solutions to this, right? Maybe we need to hire some more front desk professionals. Maybe we need to hire a service that can pick up an abundance of calls, right?


There’s a lot of bad [00:16:00] companies that do that. Get me wrong. There’s a lot of good companies that are qualified to do that too, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, but there’s solutions to this. But the first thing here is really to understand the problem. And once you understand the problem, that’s when you get really to the solution part of it.


So I’ll stop sharing my screen here and  get back to kind of what I’m talking about. So I mean, hold times. Hangups voicemails. You know, those are all easy, easy things to overcome. 


 Are you looking to grow your practice but are a little unclear on what the best way is? Let us help you out. We have over 13 years of experience in helping practices just like yours, increase new patient growth. Just go to kickstart and sign up for a free strategy session where we will give you some great insights on how to take your practice to the next level.


The next thing would be, you know, we see a lot of front desk professionals at no fault of their own, but you [00:17:00] know, they don’t do any sort of like assumptive closing or assumptive scheduling of the appointment, right?


So an example of that we hear a lot is that the potential patient will ask them a question. How do you do your dental implants? You know, what materials do you use for fillings? Do you offer same day crowns? Things like that. Well, every time they ask a question like that, that’s a buying signal. They want to get help.


Trust me. They’re just hoping that you, they can find somebody that’s gonna fit with them culturally and make them feel at ease and that they’re professional. So we always try to teach front desk professionals that after you answer three questions or sometimes two questions, or if it’s just a very pointed conversation. Maybe it’s just one question, but after you’re into the conversation for a little while and they ask a question about pricing or something like that, after you answer the question, don’t just not say anything. Right? Because that gives them an opportunity to like, oh, okay, well, whatever.


Thank you. Bye. Right? after you answer a [00:18:00] question, say an Oh, we’ve got an appointment for that on Tuesday at two o’clock or on Wednesday at 11:00 AM which one would work best for you? You’ve now just put it in their mind that, yeah, I have a problem. I want to get it taken care of. And yes, these people can get me in, on these dates.


And then they’ll either say, all right, yeah, let’s do the two o’clock at 11 o’clock, or whatever. I said, Tuesday at at 11 o’clock, right? Or they’re gonna give you another objection, and that’s fine, because at least then you know where you are in the conversation, right? So they’re not quite sold on your guys yet.


And so if they ask another question or they give an object, Answer that, get through it, and then do it again. How about Thur? Would that Thursday at two work? Or you know, the, the Tuesday at 11, which one’s which one’s best for you? Right? And keep doing that, right? And you’ll keep getting objections of why perhaps they’re not willing to schedule that appointment.


You’ll get the opportunity to overcome that and then try to get the scheduling [00:19:00]  again.That’s just one example. So bottom line, when they ask a question, it’s a signal that they want. So your services just don’t have your front desk. People go silent at that point. Let’s find out where we are with this person and let’s find out what it’s gonna take to get them scheduled.


Okay. Not tracking calls and conversion rates I have here in my notes, so I showed you a little bit of how we do some of our tracking, but we track every call, every form lead that comes in for our clients. And again, we know if they’re good leads or bad leads, where they came from. Exactly. So we know if they came from a Google ad organically on Google, Facebook, wherever.


It’s not easy for an individual. Practice to do this. And if you’re not getting marketing help by a professional, then it may be your best bet here is just how did you hear about us? Right? But if you need some help with that, let me know because we can actually just give you our tracking system and you don’t have to do marketing or anything.


We’ll just track your leads for you. That’s, a one way clients work with us as well. But you [00:20:00] know, really try to track as much as you can and calculate conversion rates too. So, you know, if you had, you know, a hundred calls come in, how a hundred brand new patient calls come in for the month.


How many of those actually showed up at the office? Right? Or how many scheduled. And then how many showed up, right? So you get kind of a initial close rate and then you get the actual, alright, the person walked into my office. Right? Two different things. And you can do that by team members. So if you’re in a little bit bigger of office where you have multiple front desk people taking calls, I mean, we can track, you know, how successful each team member is.


And so if one person is, you know, at a 70% closing percentage, if you will, and another one’s at 25%. You’re not just gonna fire the 25%, obviously they need a little bit more help and a little bit more training, and you know, it’s an opportunity for them to get better. So we wanna look at that too. But we also wanna look at call quality, right?


So as a business owner, as a dentist, whatever, you don’t have time to probably sit there and listen to every call. Right? And I’m [00:21:00] not saying that you necessarily need to, but somebody there needs to be listening spot checking calls, okay? And just make sure that the way that we teach our front desk professionals, always be nice.


Always be smiling. Right? Always be over, over the top in terms of being easygoing and just a good manner, professional manner about them, you’ve gotta make sure that that’s happening, right? Because everybody has a bad day, and you know, if we need more training with our front desk on this, it’s well worth it.


And it’s the only way to know. So listen to these calls, record them, spot, check ’em, and do it consistently, because that’s the only way you’ll know for sure. We also teach front desk professionals to always be personal. Right? That seems obvious. That’s an old moment, right Chris? But one way that we do this, and a lot of people don’t do it, and it’s use their first names, get their first name early in the conversation, Judy, Tom, Sally, whatever, right?


And use that first name as you’re speaking [00:22:00] with them later in the conversation. People love this, right? Because you’re making a personal connection with them. So you, Tom Jones is a person that called in. You find that out early, you know how they heard about you. And then, you know, a minute goes by and you’re conversing.


And then you say something like, now Tom, we do have an in-house plan. If you don’t want to use Cigna or Cigna isn’t part of your plan, whatever. Did you know about that? And again, you’ve used his first name. And that connects with him, and he is like, oh wow, these guys really do care. And they, you know, they’re personalizing with me.


It’s kind of a, you know, psychological thing. So use their first names when possible. And lastly, and I’ll close it up after this, is that you, you haven’t put all of this stuff right and there’s a lot more stuff too that I could ramble on about for probably another hour or so, but there’s a lot more stuff in there that needs to be documented and put into what I call a playbook.


Okay. It’s like a SOP, right? Standard operating procedure. So you put all of these things into a playbook. [00:23:00] Right? You document it, and then when you have somebody coming in or somebody doing training or a new employee, you have a playbook to put in front of ’em. Of course, you still have to train them on them, but you’ve got it organized and you know exactly how you want your procedures to happen.


Right? And if something changes, In your procedures, then it’s up to the person using your playbook to make those updates and those changes based on whatever, right? So standardize everything, put it into a playbook. And make it much more easy for your front desk staff to be trained and to use it as they’re during their day.


They should really have this playbook open, you know especially if they’re new to using it open at all times while they’re doing their job. So they can quickly reference it. So anyway, enough on that, I hope it gave you some ideas and I hope it will help you with your front desk def.


Just make them that much better. So cuz it is a such an important and critical role within your practice, it really is. So [00:24:00] anyway, thanks so much for listening in today. If you like today’s episode and you want to hear more of them, please make sure that you subscribe cuz then you’ll get notified of all of our new episodes.


We typically try to do one of these about every week or so. And then if you subscribe, it’ll automatically notify you, Hey, there’s a new recording. Go out and check out the No BS Dental Marketing Podcast. But anyway if you have any questions on this, please feel free to reach out to me directly.


My email is Chris C-H-R-I-S,  at I appreciate your time and we’ll see you on the next episode. Bye-bye. 


 Thanks for joining us this week on the Dental Marketing Podcast. Make sure to visit our website,, where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes, Spotify, or via rss so you’ll never miss a show. While you’re at it, if you found value in the show, we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes or if you’d simply tell a friend about the show.


That would help us out too. If [00:25:00] you are ready to grow your practice, then you might want to schedule a free strategy session with us. Just go to and click the free strategy session button and give us 15 minutes of your time to change your practice forever. Be sure to tune in next week for our next episode.


And thanks for listening to The Dental Marketing Podcast by KickStart Dental Marketing, where dentists go to win online.