In Mark Fisher’s book, The Instant Millionaire, the millionaire asks someone wanting advice, “Why aren’t you rich already?” If you aren’t already rich, answering is the first step in figuring out how to get there. Not sure how to answer that question? Try this.
Get the paper you wrote down your goals for the year on and under each goal write down the word “Obstacles.” Now write everything you can think of that is preventing you from achieving what you want. Go ahead, don’t be shy, write it all down. Fill up an entire page with everything you can think of. Let’s say one of your goals is to add 40 new patients per month. You might write as obstacles, “There are too many dentists in my area competing for the same patient base, there are not enough patients to go around. The economy is so bad people do not want to come to a dentist unless it’s an emergency. With everyone concerned about money, most people are shopping around for the best price or hopping from dentist to dentist using coupons. I don’t have a big enough marketing budget to do anything about attracting new patients”
Now that you have all of the obstacles identified sit down and read them all out loud to yourself, or read them aloud to a loved one. What you have created is “your story.” You’ve heard the expression, “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!” It’s true; many of us tell ourselves a story based on our perception of ourselves and the world around us. Pretty soon we start to buy into it. Then we may begin to identify with it. Sometimes we actually become so comfortable with our stories we define ourselves by them. What parts of your story have you bought into, or simply accepted as truth? What parts are self-limiting? These stories often contain fears, rationalizations, justifications, doubts, excuses and thinking errors. It’s a little more revealing to see it written down on paper, isn’t it?
The way you think changes the way you behave. The way you behave causes results. When you believe your patients cannot afford treatment because of the economy, you present the case differently than if you were thinking in more positive terms. You are applying a thinking error called the “externalization of blame.” If the problem is due to external causes, it follows that it is out of your control, which follows that it is not your fault. The logical conclusion is that you can’t do anything to change the situation. And this means you are not responsible for your results. People who think this way frequently feel their lives are out of control thus making them victims of their situations.
Consider the way you present options for treatment to your patient. If a patient claims to not be able to afford treatment, it may be that he or she believes the expenditure is not as important as something else. Your job is to make sure you present treatment in a way that creates a desire or “want,” as well as clearly communicates potential health risks of refusing the procedure. If you approach a patient and say, “We need to take a pano x-ray today; its $100 and your insurance may not cover it,” the patient will most likely say no. Change your presentation to “We will be completing your oral cancer screening today. Since one person dies every hour in the USA from oral cancer, we would like to take an x-ray that allows us to see if you have any abnormalities that might be of concern.” The patient, who is now informed of the actual facts, will most often desire to have the treatment even if insurance doesn’t cover it. If you feel the need to add the financial information please say, “The fee is $100 and some insurances cover it.”
Be aware of the use of “limiting terms” in your life and practice. “It’s just a cleaning,” minimizes the importance of the treatment. Create importance by saying, “It’s your cleaning and oral cancer exam.” Some dentists try to minimize fear by saying things like, “You have a tiny cavity.” But think about what the patient may wonder when presented with the bill. If this was a tiny filling then why doesn’t it have a tiny price tag? Think about the words you and your team use and what they can imply to your patients. Perhaps you could say, “You have an area of active decay.” What do you think of when you hear the word “active?” Think of the difference between a volcano and an active volcano. One certainly gets my attention more than the other.
Replace your negative thinking cycle with one of abundance. Say to yourself, “There are more than enough patients to go around.” “Everyone wants a healthy beautiful smile.” And it’s true. Everyone does want a healthy beautiful smile. There are enough patients to go around. You are your own competition, stop worrying about the dentist next door. If you create a positive, healthy, environment of abundance for your patients to enjoy they will stay with you and refer to you. Exceed your patient’s expectations instead of just meeting them.
We all want to be around positive, happy people who build us up and give us a reason to smile! Recognizing that your results are affected by the stories you buy into, how you think, and how you present yourself gives you the power to choose, the power to control your own outcome. Think in abundance!
Lenora Milligan is a coach consultant with Salt Dental Practice Management.
Original Article published by
Tri-County Dental Society