Inside Dentistry
April 2017
Volume 13, Issue 4

The Dangers of Having Tunnel Vision

Jay Geier

If I were to ask you what a highly successful dentist looks like, what image would come to mind? You see a patient care machine, right? You see someone who has spent years perfecting his trade and countless hours honing his clinical skills, someone to whom patients flock because they know she is just that good, and of course, someone who is enjoying the work–life benefits of success.

If that wasn’t exactly what you envisioned, I’m willing to guess it’s close. I’ve worked with tens of thousands of dentists during the past 20 years, and one trend I’ve noticed is their insatiable desire to be “The Best Clinician Ever.” Many equate clinical mastery with success, believing it to be the ultimate end game. You want to utilize the newest procedures, have the latest equipment, and break your back until your production catches up with your dreams. That’s admirable, of course. There’s just one problem.

Clinical mastery alone does not equal success. In your quest for clinical perfection, it’s likely you’ve developed serious tunnel vision. You may have become so focused on dominating the patient care zone that you’ve neglected what really defines success for your practice. Tunnel vision can create a blind spot, sending your practice speeding down the highway like a small car, unaware of potential danger in the nearby lanes.

Lessons Learned

Having compiled 20 years of data from hundreds of thousands of practices like yours, our company has had a lot of experience with this type of tunnel vision. For example, we have found that a great majority of practices are completely blind as to how their front desk is managing new patient phone inquiries.

Let’s face it: in your practice, the telephones are most likely on autopilot. After all, your team has probably done things the same way for years. And if it isn’t broken, you shouldn’t try to fix it, right? Unfortunately, that’s where you’re wrong. Ironically, you might not discover that something is broken until you attempt to fix it.

Blind Spot Detection

When someone is driving in your blind spot, you don’t notice the car is there until you try to change lanes. That’s when it’s revealed to you, and you’re forced to slam on the brakes and swerve the wheel. Once you’re in the clear—if you’re lucky—you wonder how you didn’t see it in the first place.

Our data indicate that the average front desk team is seriously unprepared to handle new patient phone calls, causing practices to lose an average of 5 to 15 new patients per week. Whether it’s due to long hold times, rambling off topic, or putting up barriers when asked insurance questions, your front desk team could be allowing that potential new patient to hang up the phone without getting her (and her family members) on the books. However, it’s not the team’s fault if they haven’t received training on how to properly transition a potential new patient call into a scheduled appointment.

Invest in Your Success

Consider this your warning—like the sound of a horn drawing your attention to your blind spot. It’s time for a course correction. Fortunately, it’s a relatively simple fix, but it will take commitment on your part.

First, you need to recognize the importance of new patients. They are the lifeblood of your practice. If you can’t get your new patient numbers up and increasing on a consistent basis, then, despite your clinical know-how, you will never achieve your image of success.

Next, you need to give your front desk team your attention and provide them with resources. Setting them up for success requires an investment of your time, money, and energy. Getting them the training they need to turn those new patient phone calls into appointments and rewarding them for increasing your numbers are the keys to ensuring the successful future of your practice. Now that your blind spot has been revealed, it’s up to you to avoid potential danger in your practice. Don’t let tunnel vision get the best of you!

About The Author

Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute and the creator of the world-renowned five-star new patient generation training program that has revolutionized the way dentists attract new patients to their practices. See what’s really going on at your front desk by taking the 5 star challenge at www.5starchallenge.com.

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