When a dentist completes their dental implant training, they are excited to utilize their new skills. Many offices utilize a marketing company like Driven Dental Implant Marketing to help them attract new patients actively searching for an implant dentist.
In the marketing world, we call patients actively searching dental care warm leads. They are nearly ready to say yes to treatment. But, there are likely hundreds of cold leads in your practice that shouldn’t be overlooked. Anyone who is missing at least one tooth, or needs teeth extracted, is a cold lead. Many of them are sitting in a hygiene operatory right now. Are you asking them if they’ve ever thought about the benefits of implants?
Barriers to Electing Implant Treatment
Two of the biggest barriers for a patient seeking implant treatment are oral systemic health, and trust. You will get a map of someone’s health status during the medical history intake and can tailor your treatment plan based on the complexity of their needs, or refer them out.
But what about those who say they “can’t afford it?” Many callers will tell you their main barrier is cost, but know this; a patient who has the finances to move forward with treatment is going to be hesitant to admit that to your patient coordinator until a trust relationship has been established. The core problem is often not finances at all, it’s faith that:
- You are telling them the truth (trust)
- Your prices are fair (value)
- If they spend that much money, they will have lasting success (longevity)
They are feeling you out, and will often go for a second opinion. One of the ways they saved cash in their cookie jar is the fact that they don’t spend rashly. They consider every angle prior to making a purchase. It’s a HUGE life-changing decision that takes time. It is the equivalent of buying a Lamborghini to them! Would you purchase a Lambo after a 30 minute discussion? No. You would spend months doing research. If a patient feels pushed or rushed, they will look elsewhere.
Addressing Self-Limiting Beliefs
Self-limiting beliefs must be addressed and Motivational Interviewing should be at the heart of your consult. If a patient in your chair was told negative things about dentists growing up, those thoughts may emerge again, preventing case acceptance. A patient with arthritis may worry it will affect her ability to effectively clean around new implants. Find out what people believe so that you can help them address their own limiting thoughts.
Establishing trust takes time. If you don’t get a yes at the implant consult, pivot them over to hygiene. Never assume someone who says they have low or even bad credit cannot afford care. Treat everyone the same. Continue to offer them multiple treatment options, while nurturing the relationship, and when their situation changes they will come to you for their care.
Why Your Current Patients Make Ideal Implant Candidates
The longer a patient has been with you, the more likely they are to:
- Have achieved oral (and therefore systemic) health
- Trust you and your team
Current patients are often an overlooked lead in dental offices. Because you’ve known them for so long, it can be easy to “guess” what they will say, and not even offer. You never know who will be interested if you don’t ask. Every patient in your practice should know that you place implants. Your team can mention it casually to build value for the practice:
“Did you know doctor went through rigorous, elective training to specialize in dental implants last year? He/She is always growing and learning to best serve our patients. I really admire that.”
Make sure every patient in your office knows that you place dental implants and what the benefits are. Shift the focus to the benefits if they mention cost. Establish them as a high-value treatment option.
STOP GENERATING LEADS, GET PATIENTS INSTEAD
Stop chasing unqualified leads and wasting your valuable chairtime. Learn how to fill your operatories with patients who are pre-qualified and serious about moving forward with your high-value treatment.
How to Market Internally
The Morning Huddle
At the morning huddle, have your office manager or hygiene lead hand you a printed schedule with all the patients who could benefit from an implant highlighted. Discuss them out loud so every team member is aware.
Include patients with:
- an implant in their treatment plan
- one or more missing teeth
- at least one extraction in their treatment plan
- a tooth on watch
Practice ways to mention implants naturally in conversation with existing patients in hygiene. Point out doctor’s implant certification on the wall. Hand them a brag book of before and after photos and mention which are implant cases. Put an implant model in each operatory where the patient’s eyes land while in the chair. Don’t push treatment, let them ask for more information, then offer benefits that are specific to their situation.
“Mrs. Jones, I know your daughter’s wedding is coming up and that you are nervous about your partial that you don’t wear, but need for pictures. Have you ever thought about getting implants?”
If you haven’t already, get your hygienists certified as Implant Care Practitioners. The more your RDHs know about caring for implants, the more comfortable they will be discussing and recommending them. Plus, your retention rate will increase. Patients don’t just want an implant, they want a long term solution. Having at least one RDH who is an ICP will help you stand out as an expert in successful placement and retention.
Each time you discuss implants, notate it in the patient’s chart, along with why the patient was interested or not interested so that barriers can emerge. Team members should say it out loud in front of the patient when the doctor comes in. It should be a discussion, not an education session, or a printed treatment plan. Keep it casual and motivational.
“You would love being able to speak with confidence again Sarah. You deserve this!”
Invite a Spouse or Child into the Treatment Room
Sometimes the barrier to treatment is fear. Fear of not living long enough to get the full benefit out of high-value treatment. Fear of making the wrong choice. Or, even fear of spending money on something “optional.” In those cases, the trust relationship is vital, and allowing a patient to bring back a loved one is key. They may feel hesitant to say, “Yes, I want this and I am worth it” but their daughter will. Attempt to have all decision-makers in the room when possible.
Hold a Dental Implant Day
September is Dental Implant Month! What better way to celebrate than with a Dental Implant Day! Just like popular clear aligner days you’ve seen advertised, you can hold a special event for your team to present treatment to as many people as possible. Invite all your current patients that fit the ‘morning huddle’ criteria above, and let them know they can bring a friend or family member! Advertise on social media and make an offer. “Zoom whitening included” or “$500 off accepted treatment.” Have coffee, donuts, balloons, music. Make it a party!
What Not to Do
Don’t allow your own self-limiting beliefs to make decisions for your patients. Present all the treatment options, at every recall appointment, regardless of your expected response. Detach from the outcome. A ‘no’ now can become a ‘yes’ later. You never know someone’s situation or desires may change, plus you never know who they may refer to you. Patient-Centered Care is about goal setting and shared decision making. Find out what motivates your patients and make notes in your practice software. Use their language. Align with their core values. Some of your best implant leads may be on your hygiene schedule this week. Are you prepared?