Consultant content

Maintain Your Momentum

Date Posted: 10.09.20 Speaker: Michelle Shimmin

Everything you need to head into the fall of 2020. Don’t get lenient or complacent. Know where to capitalize on every point of contact, maintaining team clarity and the necessary level of accountability without the need to micro manage! Join Michelle Shimmin of Shimmin Consulting for a webinar that will help you master the skill of working smarter, not harder!

Video length = 0:53:09

Michelle Shimmin
Michelle Shimmin is an international lecturer

Blu Nordgren (BN): Alright, welcome everyone. I see that the time is 2:00 p.m. so, I’ll go ahead and get started with the introduction here. So, welcome to “Maintain Your Momentum.” My name is Blu Nordgren, and I’m the Marketing Communications Manager at Cloud 9 Software.

During today’s webinar, I’ll be working behind the scenes to make sure that our tech is working correctly, and to be the first responder to all of your questions. This webinar is being recorded and the recording will be made publicly available within two business days.

For today’s presentation, all the participant lines have been muted. You can submit any questions that you may have through the Q& A button that you see at the bottom of your screen there. Questions will be addressed at the end of the webinar as time permits.

It’s my pleasure today to introduce you to Michelle Shimmin. Michelle is an international lecturer, trainer, and consultant who has been in the field of orthodontics since 1990, working as a registered dental assistant, teaching orthodontic assisting, marketing, financials, treatment coordinating, and practice management. She’s an effective TC who led her office to elite status while only seeing patients two and a half days a week. And this office is currently top 1%. Michelle travels the country and helps transform orthodontic offices on their systems to promote training, growth and success through a comprehensive practice approach. She’s now considered one of the most sought after trainers with 60 lecture events a year, both domestic and international, including the 2014, 2016, and 2018 Align Ortho Summit, AAO, PCSO, HSO, SCAO, TIO, and many others. She’s also recorded Ask the Expert webinars for Align, and authored articles for publications such as Bentson Copple reSource and Colle + McVoy’s Global Teen Edge Newsletter.

So now without further ado, please take it away Michelle.

Michelle Shimmin (MS): Thank you, Blu.

Hi, it’s so nice to be here with everybody. Thank you so much for having me. What a nice introduction, I appreciate it. Happy Friday. So grateful to be here. Thank you for everybody’s patience for some of the technical difficulties we had last week, but I’m thrilled to be here with you at the end of this week. Hope everybody’s had a wonderful week.

To talk a little bit more about what Blu so graciously shared with you, I am the owner of Shimmin Consulting and I have been in the field of orthodontics for the past 30 years. I have the privilege of training and coaching practices and teams all over the world. And my background is in psychology and I have held every position within the practice. So whether I’m training in psychological sales and influential communication in the exam process or training leadership and management skills with interoffice communication, the foundation of my training is based on the psychology of changing and influencing behavior and decisions.

As a business analyst, I know what it takes from top to bottom, within a practice to get the greatest long lasting results. And today I’ll be sharing a lot of those pearls with you to take into your practice come Monday.

So we’re going to talk about how to really assess your business right now with eyes wide open, identifying the areas where we can have a tendency to get lenient or complacent, and then be able to take full advantage of every opportunity that we have within the practice to grow through our patient’s point of contact that we have. We’ll be talking about best reporting, we’ll provide clarity to you and your team that delivers a high level of accountability, removing that need for micromanagement. And then most importantly, we’re going to talk about how to prepare you to wrap up this crazy 2020 and head into 2021, stronger than ever. We’ve come through a very difficult and unprecedented time that our industry has never seen before. As we look to continue to recover your business and not only survive the remaining part of 2020, we want you to thrive as you head into 2021.

It’s imperative that you don’t get complacent or lenient in your drive and your direction. The massive hard work you’ve just put into reopening, especially given the added measures necessary, can really make it so that you want to now sit back and actually take a breath. And now more than ever is when you really need to look at every area of the practice to ensure there are no cracks or leaks in the dam that is your business.

We really want to understand what opportunities are being missed, we want to find out if there is any revenue leaking through, any breaks or cracks in the dam, that is your business. And we want to take care of repairing those and plugging those leaks up with a very purposeful awareness. And so that’s what I’m really excited to share with you and give you some tools right now for you to do that and have a very strong fourth quarter in 2020 here. It’s not simply about surviving and getting through your day. This is about really driving the process and being well aware of the goals and the direction needed to accomplish your level of success. In addition, you might not have really large problems in your practice, but maybe a number of a lot of little problems, which can really add up. So my desire is to motivate and inspire you with simple steps you can take today as we move into the fourth quarter of 2020.

Think about your practice as the business that it is. Do you have a game plan? A strong, calculated strategy and direction. Do you know what metrics to assess and evaluate to determine if adjustments need to be made or what to celebrate? For instance, when you’re looking to increase your conversion rate and case acceptance, it’s really important that you understand the percentage of your new patient exams and where they’re going. Such as what percentage of your new patient exams is going into observation and growth and development? And what percentage of your new patient exams are going into pending? Is your observation program strong with scripts that build value to your patients, growth and development? Where your patients are vested in the process and you have that seamless transition into treatment when you recommend treatment.

This is an area that’s often missed and not fully understood about its impact in increasing practices, case acceptance. This is not necessarily just simply a need to bring more patients into your office. We want you to be working smarter and not harder. And this is where it’s important that we’re looking internally, where there might be any cracks or breaks in the dam that’s your business. So we’ll go into this a lot further today in regards to your observation program.

But what about your reporting and your processes internally? Areas within the practice that you can make adjustments and have significantly improved results are what we want to look at today. Take this time to evaluate your ordering and your inventory processes and your scheduling protocols and appointment efficiencies.

My desire is that you’ll take a look and you’ll step back to really recalibrate your business right now. This may be to celebrate fabulous areas that you’re– have done really well or to identify areas that are not being done as thoroughly and as effectively as they should be which equals the small leaks in the dam of your business. Let’s look at the basic processes within your practice. Before you look outside into the additional areas with room for improvement, we want to ensure that each of your internal processes are running effectively.

Take a few hours with your team and sit back in your reception area and look around and discuss and walk through your patient’s current flow in the practice and what your patients are experiencing. Be purposeful in each of the team’s role and interaction with your patients. Looking really beyond simply being an assistant to the appointment. Where does each team member have an opportunity to generate a new patient exam out of a parent, or a sibling, or a friend? Is your team acting as educators and influencers to your patients? Is your team passionate about the services and the experiences you provide your patients? I often say it’s not high pressure sales if passion is involved.

An example is your new patient phone script. Is this preparing the patient for a same day start? This is an area that practices oftentimes overlook and really get complacent with. There is a strong purpose meant and designed for that new patient phone script. And when it’s delivered to our patients, that messaging is delivered to them, sets the patients up, sets your treatment coordinator up to be very successful in getting the patients vested in your practice today with your recommended treatment modalities.

Use this time to rejuvenate your front desk team with empowering them in their role of increasing case acceptance. We want each of our team members to understand their impact. Again, move beyond simply being an assistant to the appointment. Start your day out strong with a powerful, impactful huddle that’s meaningful and connects your back office to your front office with purposeful information. Where do you have backlogs in your schedule template? Where should you put emergency appointments? What patients do you have the ability to start on your new patient in your new patient column? What new patients don’t have dental clearance that we know we’re not going to be able to start that day? All of this information is clear communication that creates that synergy between your front office and your back office and empowers each of your team members to really have a remarkable day serving your patients. We want to make sure that all of our team members understand the purpose and have the passion in knowing what our practices mission is in the care and the service that we have for each of our patients.

What does sources of patient flow mean? It’s every interaction, every point of contact within your practice to influence a choice or a decision. Is your new patient call driving education? Purpose, laying the foundation for the patient to be prepared. We want them to not hear about your treatment modalities that you specialize in, the first time, when they come in for the exam. We want to create and generate that excitement and enthusiasm. I’m going to give you examples of these in a few slides.

When I say laying the foundation for a same-day start, I’m not talking about the script that says, “and if you want to get started that day, we can take your records.” This can introduce barriers to the patient feeling like we’re simply trying to sell them. Our goal should be to build value to the doctor’s treatment recommendations and demonstrate that we value the patient’s time and we value their schedule by saying, “and if doctor recommends treatment at this time, we’ll combine as many appointments as possible to save you additional trips in.” There is nothing about that statement that puts barriers up with the patient feeling they need to protect themselves about their perception of us trying to upsell them or sell them something they may not be ready for. The meaning of opportunity is a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. To ensure that we are utilizing every opportunity available to impact the patient success and the success of the practice.

Here are a few quick reminders you should incorporate into your new patient phone call as soon as possible. Revisit if you’ve had scripts before for the new patient phone call and look to see if your team members at the front desk are utilizing that. Set up mystery calls. Really be able to evaluate and assess how effective the information is that they’re delivering. Prepare the patient what to expect and how long. This is controlling perception, which we’re going to talk about again in a few minutes.

Build value to the doctor’s treatment recommendation, demonstrate that we understand and value the family’s time, generate excitement and enthusiasm before they even walk into their appointment and drive activity back to our website. For example, you might say, “Laura, our treatment coordinator, will be able to go over all of your treatment options we specialize in including Invisalign treatment for all ages. You can learn more about this on our website at We really look forward to meeting you on Friday.”

It’s a very simple statement that accomplishes all five of those reminders on how to prepare the patient for what to expect for their new patient exam. We have a lot of opportunities to capture a parent within our treatment area. Our chairside technicians should be well-versed and practiced on what their role is, chairside with a parent. A very comfortable and easy dialogue during the child’s appointment might be, “Mom, do you still wear your retainers?” Remember we’re firm believers in lifetime retainer wear. Why wouldn’t we be enthusiastic about promoting and educating our parents on this? This is a perfect segue to be able to educate and inform a parent about what we specialize in and what opportunities we have available for them, generating additional new patient exams out of a parent or a family member.

On a side note, I’ve had braces three times and I did not wear my retainers so you better believe that I’m extremely passionate about educating others on the importance of retainer wear. It’s authentic. That’s what’s important is authenticity.

Based on what the mom might say, you might say, “Have your teeth shifted, or is there anything about your smile that you would like to change?” Then the assistant or chairside technician would be able to say, “Mom, we have a great family care program. We could move your teeth quickly and conveniently. We can do it with clear aligners. Here’s some information about our family care program. Here’s some information about our clear aligners. You let us know if there’s anything that we can do for you.” There’s nothing high pressure sales about that because I’m really passionate about what I know we can provide our families. And I’m simply acting as an educator. That’s what our roles should be.

I’m here to inspire you to really look beyond simply being an assistant to the appointment or an assistant to the exam process. I want us to feel empowered as educators and influencers and understand the impact that we have on the patient’s experience in our practice and the success of our practice. It’s imperative that we recognize how our parents feel. People make decisions based on how they feel. You have an impact over that. I want to share with you a true example.

I was training at TC and doing an exam on a teenage boy. Mom stated how important it was for her to make the sacrifice and to give him a beautiful smile, because she’d always been very embarrassed about her smile and she never wanted her son to feel the same way. So mom then proceeded to say that she was going to have a turn that it was going to be her turn when her son’s treatment was finished. I’ve heard this conversation in the past before, it’s not atypical. Most TCs would stop the discussion there, missing the opportunity that was just presented to us. So we were in this process of scanning her son for Invisalign treatment and I looked at mom and I said, mom, come with me for a second. And I proceeded to take seven minutes with mom out in the treatment area to scan her and show her a smile simulator. And I said, when you’re ready, this is what we’ll be able to do for you. And mom looked at it, absolutely ecstatic and she said, do it now.

Our intention was not to upsell mom, but rather we were so excited about what we knew we could provide and deliver to her when she was ready, that we simply wanted to show her that because we knew she would be excited about it. So this is an example where you can identify an opportunity and really capitalize on what we have available to us. Don’t miss those opportunities to recognize through verbiage and through the interaction that we have with our parents, that you can really have a big impact over.

Let’s take a second and let’s talk about patient’s perception. When we discuss how we control, how a patient thinks and feels about their experience with us, the words that we use play a key role and is very powerful in controlling this perception. For instance, I want to do a little exercise and think about how you might answer it. But if I say what would be a different word for waiting room? You might say reception room or living room. When we say waiting room, we’ve just told the patient what they can expect as they sit down and wait for their appointment with us. So think about the words that you’re using, could then controls the perception of the patient’s experience in our practice. This is why you’ll hear me, most of the time reference chairside assistants as technicians, because I really want to empower our technicians to our patients and internally as the strong educators, that they are. To be able to take a proactive and a preemptive approach to the patient’s appointment. Something that also is so commonly misused is the word recall. I am going to go extensively in the next couple of slides about what this should look like and how you should use that word, but when you use the word recall, and you’re not in dental or ortho industries, it means that something is broken or something went bad and needs to be replaced or fixed or returned. So think of the word recall as a verb or an action.

Again, when we need to address this patient, it should be really used strongly in building value as growth and development process, our observation, our growth and development process. I like growth and development much better than I even like observation because observation is more of a passive word where growth and development we are, we truly have purpose behind what we’re accomplishing in this observation growth and development program. This is actually really important in all of our communication that we provide clarity regarding any role, topic or action to our team members, to all of the interaction that we have with our patients as well. For instance, if somebody calls your office and asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to, you might say, let me find out and I’ll get back to you soon. Soon to your patient means something different than it means to you. If your patient feels that soon is within the hour and you feel that soon means by the end of the day, we’ve introduced an opportunity to disappoint and provide less than ideal experience to our patients. What would you would want to say to your patients is to be able to provide the clarity around when you’re going to reply back. Let me find out and I’ll get back to you within the hour, or let me find out, I’ll get back to you by the end of the day.

Clear communication, controlling the patient’s perception of their service and care. Practices don’t seek out poor reviews, practices receive poor reviews due to the patient’s perception of the service and care they’ve received in your practice. This is really important to understand, and to practice and rehearse and role play with your team members so that they’re comfortable with it and it’s natural. Observation means growth and development, not recall. Don’t use the word with your patients recall. Recall as a verb or an action of when we need to address this patient. So it should never be a status or an appointment. The status would be observation and the appointment would be a growth and development check. In a few slides, I’ll provide you a chairside script that’s effective along with the letter templates and OBS, for your OBS patients that are not scheduled for their next appointment but our goal with our OBS program is to empower your team as educators of influencers, build value to the growth and development process and lay that foundation for that seamless transition into treatment when doctor recommends.

Take a minute and think about the statuses that you use in your practice for your growth and development program. This does not have to be over complicated. You don’t need four or five, six different observation statuses. My philosophy is to be very clear and minimalistic with our statuses, but purposeful with what those statuses provide us. Do your statuses, tell your team, the movement of the patient through their journey in your practice? Is this understood in a way that reports and processes are run thoroughly and accurately every time? Because our goal is to find where patients might be falling through the cracks because that translates to lost opportunity and lost growth and revenue for the practice. This area is actually typically a large hole in the dam in most practices, losing the massive amounts of that revenue opportunity. Observation one, are patients that have never had treatment in your office. You can be monitoring their growth and development either for phase one or for comprehensive treatment. Observation two or patients that have had phase one in your office, they’re in between their phases and you’re monitoring their growth and development for phase two. And observation ready are patients whether they’ve come out of OBS one or OBS two that are ready to get started for treatment. And observation ready patients are patients that are managed very closely by your treatment coordinator, just like a pending patient, because that’s exactly what they are.

So these are the tools that should be a part of your OBS program. These all help to educate and control the patient’s perception and understanding of the value of monitoring their child’s growth and development and to use every point of contact as an opportunity to educate the family. When we’re not achieving 100% conversion rate out of our observation program, we’re missing opportunities to educate and influence. We want to have a diagnosis letter from the exam that goes to the dentist and goes to the parent, which just, again, solidifies the education from the new patient exam on what doctor’s expecting for the near future, for this patient’s treatment and to monitor their growth and development. It’s also important that you utilize a missed appointment letter for your observation patients that are not on the schedule. So these are the reports that you would run, and I’ve got specific scripting that I’ll provide to you as well. But with that scripting, it’s important that you practice and you role-play.

And then it’s notated on the treatment card and the patient’s note section so that we can really narrow down what’s happening right now in this patient’s growth and development and get the family and the patient vested in the process. I don’t want them simply along for the ride. I don’t want us to use verbiage that says, everything looks really great, we still have seven primary teeth. We’re waiting for all your permanent teeth to come in and then we’ll be ready because that statement devalues what those appointments are going to be when you ask the patient to come back in six months and they’re going to very quickly go to the bottom of the priority list, was a very busy family or parent, and your team is going to be working really hard to get those parents, those patients on the schedule. When their families are vested in the growth and development process, they understand what we’re waiting for and what we’re watching for, they are proactively participating in this and it saves a lot of time, energy and resources with your team having to follow up and monitor. Here’s an example for you that scripting that builds value as educators.

The question that I always want our team to ask the doctor and to notate is doctor, what are we waiting for? What are we watching for? And the goal is to look between the patient’s dental age, their x-rays, and be able to identify what’s going to happen from this appointment to the next appointment, narrow this down. Don’t leave it arbitrarily big because we want to get them vested right now in what’s happening in their mouth. So point out the next teeth that are going to be coming out. Talk about how important their next appointment is. I’m going to pause and go back a minute to the verbiage that we use, because this is another example. Oftentimes we hear your observation or your check appointment, your recall appointment is going to be six months, it’ll be a quick little 15 minute appointment.

And we may update an x-ray. There is no value built to that appointment. With the word that we use when we say these are the next teeth that are going to be coming out. Doctor wants to take a look and see if the permanent teeth are erupting as expected. So your next appointment is a really important appointment that will take approximately 15 minutes. And doctor would like to see you to check on the erupting teeth in six months. Let’s get that appointment scheduled for you. The verbiage that we just used is it builds a lot of quality and a lot of value behind what our goal and our direction is with our growth and development process. We want to set up and create that patient and the parent proactively involved in their growth and development process because they understand the why, and they are bought in through the educational process. So when you narrow down the exact changes that will happen from now until their next appointment, you’ll find that families are calling you when this happens, even if it’s sooner than what their next appointment is. And you’re saving all of that extra time, energy, and resources, in trying to get these patients onto your schedule. All of this information should be very documented and clearly stated on the patient’s treatment card for the next appointment, which your team can then reference and talk about with the patient when they do come in for that next appointment. The observation ready is an opportunity that we have to celebrate the growth that the patient has accomplished, to continue to build on the education that we’ve used every growth development appointment for.

I’ve witnessed it often where parents are so unprepared for when the doctor says it’s finally time to get started, that there’s no longer a celebration, but rather barriers are put into place and practices are unsuccessful in converting the patient at that time, at that appointment. Again, we want to use every opportunity to celebrate and to educate, helping to control the patient’s perception and feeling about our processes and our services. We should be utilizing our observation ready appointment as a transition and a start appointment. There’s absolutely zero reason that your patients should go from that observation ready appointment, where we are updating their x-rays and their photos in their scan, doctors doing an extensive clinical evaluation and confirming the treatment recommendations and talking about what steps are next. That appointment should also be utilized to start the patient that day. Get them vested in getting started with the recommended treatment and treatment modality today. If that is not happening, we are missing a lot of opportunities to educate and influence in every single one of those growth and development check appointments that the patient’s been coming in for. This is a letter template that maintains the desired education and communication if we are unable to get ahold of the family or schedule their next appointment. So that second paragraph where it says “It’s imperative for Dr. Orthodontist to continue to monitor Tyler’s growth and development, ensuring orthodontic treatment is initiated at the right time while working with Tyler’s growth, achieving the greatest results in the shortest amount of time.”

That’s a very quality valuable paragraph that helps the families understand exactly what we’re looking to accomplish so that it becomes important part of their priorities to make it to their next appointment. We are simply serving the family and truly care about their growth and development. It’s our responsibility to gain their best in interest in this observation program that we provide them. We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the opportunities within our OBS program and among a parent or family member, but let’s dive in now to how to effectively work a pending protocol for when you have not started your patient the same day as their exam and they are doing more research or going home to think about it, or talk to a spouse.

First off, ask yourself what information did you not provide the patient for them to effectively make their decision today? Have you given them the information they need, the way they need it delivered? My husband was an accountant and went back to school for technical architectural engineering. He’s a very analytical. His personality and my personality are very different. And if he were to bring our sons into your office for an orthodontic exam, the information that he would need is very different than the information experience that I would need to be able to make a decision. And it’s imperative that we understand and we’re able to adapt our case presentations and our patient interactions to be able to deliver the information the patient needs, the way they need it delivered. We really want to understand that the patients have chosen you to come in for an exam for a reason. They have an orthodontic problem, and we should provide them the greatest solution to that orthodontic problem in the most educational and efficient manner. Treatment coordinators. The second most important role you have is managing your pending patients. There’s no other person or specialty out there coordinating your patients.

So whether you’re coordinating a multidisciplinary treatment plan or simply facilitating pending dental treatment, you have the opportunity to partner with other specialists on behalf of this neutral patient. Use this as a time to demonstrate your thorough, clear communication and coordination with thorough treatment to your professional partners, and use it as an opportunity to refer treatment back to them because pending dental treatment is your pending patient. You can’t get that patient started until they no longer have that pending dental treatment.

So this is where we, in our relationship building industry can use as an opportunity to build those relationships with our professional partners as well and help them to recognize and understand that we are excited to be on this journey with them, on the treatment team on behalf of our mutual patients, and that we are going to partner with them in referring treatment back to them as well. It’s a fantastic way, an opportunity to support additional referrals from those dental providers and their teams. So part of our key factor we want in our pending program is that we’re actually setting customized alerts. And most importantly, we’re using effective verbiage. For increased case acceptance, the treatment coordinator needs to make sure to have an excellent and thorough follow up process for pending patients. Do not take shortcuts on this process and make sure to utilize the provided scripting, which I will give to you. It’s purposeful and it’s effective.

When this process is followed, you get greater results. Keep in mind if a patient doesn’t schedule their start appointment during the new patient exam, you need to follow up with them 20 to 48 hours after their exam. Then proceed with the recommended processes on the next slide, you will also want to customize the follow up based on the patient’s reasoning and schedule. For example, if a patient is going on vacation this week, make sure that you customize the alert and you’re going to follow up with them as soon as they come back from their vacation. It’s a perfect opportunity to check in, to see how their vacation was and again, to ask, what additional information would you like that we didn’t provide you when you were in the office for an exam?

We are in a relationship building industry and this type of customized follow-up goes a long way. Here’s an example of what you should be doing for every pending patient. Remember to always notate on the patient’s notes or comments, what actions have been taken and what the response was. It’s also very important as I stated on the previous slide to customize this. Don’t simply rely on automated text message services, or processes that you have in your practice to follow up with a pending patient. This is a very close relationship that you want to cultivate and manage and serve the patient. Really understanding the patient’s story, which we’ll talk about in a minute. Switch it up and be creative. Call text, email, send a letter. This is an opportunity that we have to be able to really, again, demonstrate our high level of service to the patient, recognizing that they sought us out, they came to us for a reason and I’m simply here to provide them a greatest solution to their orthodontic problem. Our desire is that they find the best fit to meet their needs and to communicate clearly with us on that. So if there’s additional information that a spouse may need, that’s why I’m going to call and I’m going to follow up on it and I’m going to ask what additional questions did your wife have that we didn’t answer when you were in that exam? And if they say, “Nothing, everything’s good,” I’m going to proceed into scheduling that next appointment.

I don’t want to ask the patient. I’m simply going to say, that’s fantastic to hear, our next step is to do this and I can schedule it for you on this day or this day, which one works best for you. So it’s, I am adopting those patients as my patients, the minute they walk into the door and I’m simply desiring to provide them the best information, the most information that they need to really find the best fit for their family. So we are doing a very close high point of contact in the first month after their exam. There are sales statistics and studies that I have available, I can email them to you if you’d like that really support the need for getting your patient vested in starting your recommended treatment in your office at the time of the exam.

There’s been multiple studies that demonstrate if patients leave from that exam and don’t schedule that appointment, they’re less than 49% likely to actually start in your office. That does not align with our 75 to 80% conversion rate that we desire. So it is important that we have that high level of touch and very effective scripting processes. I do have a lot of information here. You can feel free to take a picture of it if you’d like, but I wanted to get it typed out for you so that you had it. This actually is some really good information that helps round out our pending program.

But based on the patient’s response, we want to adjust that follow-up. If a patient says that they’re waiting for new insurance, or they might possibly be moving, or their spouse might be changing jobs, you’re going to customize your follow-ups in your alerts to fit the needs of this patient.

We’re not going to do a cookie cutter, one size fits all, because this is really a process of us serving and facilitating for our patients needs. Don’t give up too easy. Don’t bring your own perceptions to the table thinking that patient can’t afford it or that patient wasn’t ever going to start anyways. We want to provide very thorough and comprehensive dental health for our patients and their orthodontic treatment contributes to this care.

So I recommend following up with patients every other month with the process I just shared with you and continue for up to 12 months and then adjust the following to do two to three additional times the following year until we’ve heard a no from the patients. But the scripting that you’ll find on the next page is actually so effective that you don’t have to get to this many points of contact because the patient’s actually letting you know exactly why they’re waiting, or if they have chosen a different provider, or if they’ve chose not to pursue treatment at this time. And that’s all we’re looking for is this story and the truth behind them not starting the recommended treatment at this time. So when we provide the effective scripting that I’ve just recommended, we eliminate the need for unnecessary follow up with the patient if they’ve decided against treatment in our office.

I do want to also let the patient know that I’m here to serve them and to facilitate their recommended treatment. Remember they had an orthodontic problem and sought you out and sure you provided them all the information they need to make the best decision for their family. I really liked that first italic paragraph up here, because I don’t want to trick our patients.

I’m not the type of coach or trainer that says block your number and call at dinner time, because that’s the best time you’re going to be able to reach the patient. How would I feel if somebody is going to pull that on me? And when I can turn that around and serve the patients the way I would like to be served, it’s a very authentic and genuine relationship building. So I also have an example of a script if a patient tells us that they decided against treatment in our office. So, “Thank you Mrs. Green, for letting me know. It’s very important to us that we provide the best service and care to our patients. Would you mind letting us know the reason behind your decision? Your feedback is extremely valuable and important to us as we strive for a very patient centered practice.”

And I find about 30% of the time you get responses back most of the time it’s over email, it’s easy for people to hide behind a screen, but I never want to make decisions or changes or adjustments to the practice or our processes based on a feeling or a perception. And when I’m working closely with treatment coordinators and conversion rates, oftentimes there’s a lot of feeling and perception around finances that are brought to the table. For instance, I’ll get a lot of reasons that the patient couldn’t afford it or the down payment was too much and it’s a lot of the TCs perception. And what I want to do is really understand what was it? Was it the overall treatment fee? Did they find a better treatment fee and service and care somewhere else? Was it the recommended treatment? Was it the doctor’s chairside manner? Did they just not like the experience in our office?

So it is important that we try to get that information as often as possible so that we can really make adjustments to our processes in our practice accordingly. Always notate what information you find out from the patient as well. I always want to be able to open something up for any person in your practice, open that patient up and understand all the actions, efforts, and the story behind what’s been going on with that patient. That’s where you get the very clear practice synergy and clear communication in your office. So in addition to understanding the patient’s why, value point and information needed for them to make their best decision, you need to have a true understanding of their financial barriers to starting treatment and their financial investment presentation should always be interactive.

Don’t simply print a fee quote or a contract out and put it on the table and start discussing it with the patient. It needs to be an interactive process where you’re demonstrating what flexibility and what room for movement you have with the down payment or the monthly payments or the amount of monthly payments. So the patient can truly commit and inform you on what best fits the needs of their family. Our desire should be to creatively address the barriers to starting treatment. Is it the down payment that’s the barrier? Is it the monthly payments? Is it the recommended treatment or the treatment timing as well? It’s important that we help our families make the best decision for their family and choose us as we serve them in a very patient centered experience.

So we’ve talked at length about how to use your verbiage in controlling the patient’s perception authentically. Remember, this is a conversation in understanding the patient’s story. When I’m working with TCs on their conversions, I always work towards understanding each patient’s story because that’s when we can creatively address our pending follow up protocol. It’s also important not to bring our own assumptions to the table about what the barriers might be. We really want to understand the patient’s story by asking them to tell us more about it. Oftentimes, a patient might come into our office with misinformation or their perception is not aligned with the reality in our practice.

So a perfect sentence to be able to talk more about it is to ask the patient, tell me more about that. If they say I don’t want Invisalign treatment or my kid’s not going to be compliant with aligners. I’m going to say, tell me more about that. Tell me more about the information that you have. Because it might simply be that their hygienist or their dentist told them they weren’t a candidate or their neighbor’s child wasn’t compliant. And it’s our responsibility to educate the family that there’s a high level of patient compliance needed with any treatment modality.

So that’s my commitment, whether it’s brackets and wires or aligners, our families need to understand there’s that high level of patient compliance needed. So it’s a really easy statement to ask tell me more about it if they’ve stated something in one direction or another and not to simply just accept it and move on. That’s truly understanding the patient’s story and their perception and their perspective. That’s where you’re taking the relationship to a deeper level, to where you have a greater sense of influence over the patient’s choices.

Your OBS program will increase your case acceptance and conversion rate. This is oftentimes a missed opportunity as we’ve just discussed at length. Run a report of how many patients you have with an observation status. And then run a report how many patients don’t have, how many OBS patients don’t have an appointment on their schedule? When I go in and I audit practices, sometimes I will have percentages upwards of 60 and 70% of observation patients don’t have an appointment scheduled. That is a giant crack in the dam and the business.

Missing a lot of opportunities to increase our conversion rates. This process does not start and stop with the treatment coordinators. The chairside technicians and your scheduling team play a role in this increase conversion rate and the success of your OBS program. Never let a patient leave their growth and development appointment without scheduling their next appointment. If you don’t have six months on your schedule, you need to reevaluate and reassess if that’s something that you’re able to do, because there’s value to that.

Overall, that will be more efficient internally with your team members, time, efficiency, and it will save a lot of time, energy and resources in working to get your growth and development patients on the schedule. If we are not achieving 100% conversion rate from our observation program, we’re missing a lot of opportunities to educate and influence. When we use our solid and effective pending follow up process, that increases our case acceptance as well. It’s really important that we really understand the information the patient needs and what additional information we may not have given them or additional questions they may have. So we want to then summarize the doctor’s treatment recommendations again, lay out what the next steps are. This is really important. We do this all day every day. This is second nature to us, but our patients don’t. They need to know what the next steps are and when you will be able to accomplish that.

The other opportunities that oftentimes present as cracks in the dam of your business is the reporting process. So I’ve summarize some key reports that you should audit and evaluate in your business. Your scheduling. This is what we do is you look to have a very strong fourth quarter of 2020 and set up solid processes to be as effective and profitable and successful in 2021 as possible. These are reports that I don’t want to simply rely on memorized reports. Oftentimes when we go in, I run reports that I’m grabbing all of the parameters that I want specifically for this information. So a recall report, I want to separate out the difference between observation recalls and retention recalls. Because we’re going to triage, what are revenue generating appointments and where am I going to triage my energies and my time? Your active patients. What percentage of your active patients don’t have appointments on your schedule?

An area that is often overlooked is the opportunity, if you run a report of new patients added. Look to make sure that those patients all have new patient exams on the schedule, because if they’ve canceled those exams, we want to make sure that we’re calling them and getting the back on our schedule. And then of course, patients scheduled to start treatment, we want to make sure that they have in fact started the treatment and they didn’t cancel that appointment and fall through the cracks. These are examples of some treatment and financial and scheduling reports. With the financials, look at not only how many accounts you have that are past due, but look at what the dollar value of those accounts are as well. Don’t simply run the day sheet for your patients coming in that owe money. That of course is a gatekeeper. Absolutely, we want to do that, but we don’t want to rely on that on our financial processes. In addition, ensure that contracts are entered correctly and that your delinquencies are reading accurately.

If contracts are entered in properly, you’re not going to have accurate delinquency reports. Oftentimes I hear when I run them, oh, that’s not really delinquent because that insurance pays quarterly. Or that’s not really delinquent because we made some adjustments to the patient’s financials. So make adjustments, enter it properly, so when you’re running a report, it’s showing accurate delinquency.

So you know where to put your time, energy and resources in bringing in that revenue. When you provide a high level of accountability to your team, through the reporting that we just shared, or the expectations around your OBS program or your pending protocol, you can expect a high level of accountability removing the need to micromanage. Most importantly, you need to remove feelings and perceptions on whether someone does their job well or not. I feel like she’s not running her reports often enough, or I feel like she’s a really good treatment coordinator and converts most of our patients.

We have to ensure that you have data to measure and metrics in place to measure against. This will help understand and identify you have the right people in the right position within your practice, delivering you results. I also like to provide you, I also, here on this slide, like to provide you with information on how you can enhance or transform your team culture with these simple steps. Communicate clearly and consistently, inform your team, inspire your team and instruct your team through effective coaching feedback and training as well. 52% of senior level executives say that ineffective communication and workforce misalignment had negative financial implications for their organizations.

And we see this every single day, all day in the orthodontic industry. Get rid of gossip. This is key, and this is so important. Your team will have problems. They need to just be able to know what channels to go through and the right people to address those problems. And a question that I always ask a team member is what is a potential solution?

This is how you’re going to remove those individuals that simply want a platform to gossip and complain. I want them to participate and be a part of a potential solution. So ask them the question when they’re bringing you, or they’re identifying a problem or a challenge, which we always want to refer to as an opportunity. Opportunity to grow, to change, improve. That changes the mentality into more of a proactive approach to the solution. Team members should hand negatives up and positives all around with your practice. Being passive aggressive is not a healthy way to respond to frustrations and fears. When we’re talking about preparing for 2021, I’m doing a lot of listening, I’m doing a lot of reading, we all are. I’ve heard other industries, individuals talk about how you should expect 18 to 25 or even 30% decrease in your business this year due to COVID. And that is just not good enough for me.

If we have our practice firing on all cylinders and plugging and repairing the cracks in the dam, that is your business, truly capitalizing on every point of patient contact and opportunity we have, there is no need for you to experience this significant percentage of loss.

We are seeing in our clients practices all over the country, where we’ve been able to look deep into the business, locate and identify the areas of loss and restart with strength and effectiveness that is actually not only recovering, but growing over last year. So it’s really important that you understand what the decline was. Look at last year’s monthly averages as well. Not simply what the overall annual numbers are, but look at the monthly averages. And then do that for 2020 and remove the months that your practice was closed.

You still have a monthly average that’s going to be effective. And to use these last three months to recover with a 10% increase this year, understanding your monthly average is needed for that year over year increase as well. Today, we talked about a lot of topics. We talked about how to really assess your business right now with eyes wide open, identifying areas where we can have a tendency to get lenient or complacent, or where we may have little cracks in the dam of your business and how to really take full advantage of every opportunity you have within the practice to grow through our patient’s point of contacts. We talked about best reporting, providing clarity, your team, that delivers a high level of accountability that removes the need for micromanagement, and then most importantly, what to look at and how to prepare you to wrap up 2020 and head into 2021 stronger than ever.

I hope I have motivated and inspired you to look deeper and understand the big picture of your team’s roles and that you already have ideas as you head back into the office on Monday that you can implement immediately. So I want to thank Blu, and Matt, and the team at Cloud 9 for having me today.

Thank you for joining us and I’m wishing you a remarkable end to your week and most importantly, start to your Monday.

BN: Thank you so much, Michelle. This has been extremely informative, chockful of takeaways. I’m so happy that you could join us today. We actually did not get any questions during the webinar because I think people were just diligently taking notes. And I know that we’re almost out of time here, so I do just want to take this opportunity to thank you again and thank everyone who’s been in attendance today, and we hope to see you again at a future webinar. Make sure that you follow Cloud 9 Software and Consulting on social media to stay up to date on our offerings. You all take care now and thank you from Cloud 9 and thank you again, Michelle.

MS: Thank you.

BN: Take care, bye bye.

MS: Bye.

Michelle Shimmin
About the Speaker Michelle Shimmin

Michelle is an international lecturer, trainer, and consultant who has been in the field of orthodontics since 1990, working as a Registered Dental Assistant, teaching orthodontic assisting, marketing, financials, treatment coordinating and practice management. She is an effective TC who led her office to Elite status while only seeing patients 2.5 days a week, and this office is currently top 1%! Michelle travels the country and helps transform orthodontic offices on their systems to promote training, growth, and success through a comprehensive practice approach.