Part One: Increasing Dentists’ Confidence
Early in my dental career I would rather take a fork in the eye than discuss money with patients. I had a subtle way of slipping out of the operatory just before the patient was about to ask me about fees. I’d say, “Mrs. Bamber, why don’t I get my office manager in here and she can go over financial arrangements with you,” and I’d high-tail it back into another operatory to drill a tooth.
I’d bet many dentists, especially young dentists feel the same way I did.
Over time, however, I learned that financial discussions don’t have to be tough. Money is one of the most emotional topics in dentistry. However, talking about it intelligently without creating stress or feeling awkward demonstrates a high level of empathy and common sense that patients respect, builds strong enduring relationships, and increases case acceptance.
I’ve surveyed hundreds of general dentists for over ten years about their confidence when quoting fees. Over 70% report they are not confident offering patients complete care out of fear of overwhelming patients or losing them from sticker shock. Instead, they offer recommendations for partial treatment, which they believe patients can afford and accept. Not offering complete care to patients who’ve had complete examinations is below the standard of care and contributes to low revenue per visit. Dentistry not offered is never accepted.
An excellent way to minimize the anxiety and lack of confidence when offering complete care and quoting fees is to understand the concept of the Crossover Zone™ and apply its principles.
The Crossover Zone™ is the fee level at which your dentists or your team members get anxious when quoting the fee. This zone is in the range of a few hundred dollars; for others, it may be over $30,000.
Here’s how it looks.
This example illustrates a typical relationship between the dollar amount of the patient’s fee relative to the comfort/discomfort of the person quoting the fee; the higher the fee, the greater the discomfort on the part of the person quoting the fee. In this example, the person quoting the fee begins to experience distress approaching $5,000. As the fee increases beyond that, so does the discomfort and lack of confidence.
I’ve coached thousands of dentists for over two decades using the principle of the Crossover Zone™. Here is what I typically see:
Too many dentists treatment plan and recommend care within their financial comfort zones. This behavior establishes the limit on the recommended dentistry offered to patients. Unfortunately, this limit almost always does not meet the total care needs of the patient.
Of course, offering patients less than complete treatment plans relieves fee anxiety in dentists and team members, but this behavior brings on;
- Low collections per appointment
- Short appointments with increased overhead in operatory turnover
- Excessive patients are seen per day with associated scheduling challenges
- Dentist and team burn-out
- Increased reliance on marketing/advertising to generate new patients
- Patient objections to multiple short appointments
- Diminished recall compliance
- Standard of care issues/complaints
To minimize the complexity, increase profitably, lower stress, and diminish all of the above issues is to increase the Crossover Zone™ in your dentists and team members. Start this process by first assessing their current Crossover Zones™.
Here’s a proven process to assess dentists’ and team members’ Crossover Zone™.
Step #1 – Start the assessment of dentists’ and team members’ Crossover Zone™ by describing the it. Then, have dentists and team members independently record their Crossover Zone™. It’s important they not collaborate. Then, collect the Crossover Zone™ reports from each dentist and team member.
Step #2 – Divide dentists’ and teams’ reports. Then, average the dentists’ reports separate from the team reports.
Step #3 – Compare the dentists’ average Crossover Zone™ to the twenty most recent treatment plans offered. The chances are strong that most treatment plans offered are below the dentists’ average Crossover Zone™. See figure # 2.
Step #4 – Demonstrate to dentists the relationship between their Crossover Zone™ and their most recent treatment plans offered.
Step #5 – For team members, average all of their Crossover Zone™ levels. This will yield the financial comfort zone culture of their practice. Chances are excellent the team average will be at or below the most recent treatment plans offered. Pay particular attention to the Crossover Zone™ of team members who discuss fees and financial arrangements with patients. Team members who have financial conversations with patients should have the highest Crossover Zone™.
There are several processes to increase the Crossover Zone™ of dentists and teams. These processes are discussed in our next video, so be sure to look for it. But, first things first. Complete the Crossover Zone™ assessment of your dentists and team members. This discussion of the Crossover Zone™ is a short summary from the online program, Making It Easy for Patients to Say “YES!” To learn more about the in-office online program for the entire team visit www.paulhomoly.com/mie-online/