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Episode 108: Does it make sense to offer free consultations?

November 05, 2020
Is offering free consultations a good way to attract more patients’ into your dental practice? In this episode, Gary will discuss the purpose of free consultations and how they help dentists’ achieve their goals.

Free consultations are one of the things Gary has offered in his practice, LifeSmiles. On today’s episode, Gary discusses whether offering free consultations are truly helpful to dental practices increasing profitability. Gary shares his own experience with LifeSmiles and explains why more practices should consider offering free consultations.

If you are thinking of offering free consultations, listen to this episode to find out how it will help grow your dental practice.

  • About upcoming MBA program > 01:32
  • Intro to today’s topic > 01:47
  • Better way to market > 05:44
  • A strategy that can help reduce insurance > 06:53
  • Would it make sense to offer free consultations? > 13:16 

Resources

Naren: This is the Less Insurance Dependence podcast show with my good friend Gary Takacs and myself Naren Arulrajah.

Gary: We appreciate your listenership your time and most of all we appreciate your intention to reduce insurance dependence in your practice our goal is to provide information that will help you successfully reduce insurance dependence and convert your practice into a thriving and profitable dental practice that provides you with personal professional and financial satisfaction

Naren: Hello everyone, welcome to another amazing episode of the less insurance dependence podcast show. This is Naren, your co-host. We just finished our thriving dentist MBA. The last one happened on 23rd and 24th of October. It was a mega success. First, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who joined us and couple of the comments we got from the audience was, they’re all thinking ahead and trying to make 2021 their best year. So, the 10 elements that Gary went through and the 24 systems they loved it. So literally, Gary went through step by step with the help of 11 exercises, how to apply these 10 elements and 24 systems. By the way, the next one is coming up on December 5th, which is a full day MBA, and it’s eight hours of CE, on a Saturday. Check it out go, to thrivingdentist.com forward slash MBA and with that announcement I want to jump into today’s topic and today’s topic is, does it make sense to offer free consultations?

Gary: Naren, I’m excited about that topic, because it’s a question I get quite frequently and in fact as, it’s a question we received recently during one of our study club meetings that we did, online, and of course many study clubs are happening online these days we had an opportunity to do a study club meeting online and that was one of the questions we received and both of us thought this would make a great topic for one of our less insurance dependents podcast episodes. And I want to kind of frame this a little bit, because while that the question does it make sense to offer free consultations, I can actually answer that in a word but I’d like to actually kind of explain a little bit of the thinking behind this, and the way I’d like to explain this is that, we’ve experimented with some of this at life smiles, in my practice. Remember Naren, the reason I wanted to own a practice is, I wanted to have a test kitchen, where we could try some concepts out and then I could share with our clients and with my audiences, when I’m speaking with our listening audience and the podcast, we could share what worked and doesn’t work and I don’t mind trying some things at life smiles to see if it might work and before we started working with EKWA, many years ago, we experimented with the idea that of offering a new patient special, a special price, low price a low-cost new patient special and I have to tell you, when I first heard this, it was suggested by our marketing company at the time and it wasn’t EKWA, I want to make it real clear about that it was not EKWA. I literally wanted to throw up in a bucket because they were suggesting a 49 new patient special 49 new patients and the idea was, that well it’ll get them in, they’ll get them in, that will get them in and then. I know you guys do a great job with your patients and they’ll want to stay and so we experimented with that because it said well I’m not excited about it was kind of one of the things that I remember seeing in the past with clients thinking well if I ever owned a practice I’m never going to do anything like that and we tried it and guess what Naren, what would you guess was the response to that?

Naren: Tell me I’m curious. I don’t want to guess

Gary: well we did see nice new patient numbers, okay, there was absolutely a lost leader, a loss leader we did see new patient numbers from it but we all also saw way less patients that would stay with us than if we market it other ways. If you bring them in because of price you can lose them because of price. Does that make sense?

Naren: yes, it’s kind of like, we never did this in my practice but I had clients that experimented with group on, group on specials to bring in patients and the group on offered a special savings to come in and have something done at the dental office and typically the group on patient would come in for that special you’d never see them again. Again, we never did that in my practice but I had enough experience with clients to see that it didn’t work. So I’m not excited about a low price special to bring people into the practice because I believe you’re going to be attracting people that have that discounted mindset to come into the practice and what I’ve learned since then is that there’s a much better way to market which is to market based on how we influence them. There are many reasons to choose life smile and we don’t have to have them choose us for discounted fees, they can choose us because reading our reviews, they see that we’re obviously a relationship driven practice and they want to be taken care of by a doctor and team who they know like and trust, that’s one of the reasons. Another reason is we’re absolutely state-of-the-art technology we’ve got and many patients will think wow I’d like to go to an office that is really on top of the latest advances in dentistry. So, I’d rather attract people because of the influence we have on them, than a low price or a discount. Does that make sense to you Naren?

Naren: Yes, yes!

Gary: Now let me give you an exception to that though that has worked very well for us. Naren you know  that one of the things that I like about life smiles and we teach our clients is to pick some high value services that that you want to do more of in your practice and if you’re a new listener to less insurance dependence, that is one of the strategies that can help you reduce insurance dependence, by doing some high value services, they could be services like placing or storing implants it could be cosmetic dentistry could be oral conscious sedation could be complex restorative dentistry it could be treating Sleep Apnea with appliance therapy or any number of services you kind of have to pick those yourself based on things that you’re interested in and one of the things we found and we found this not only at life smiles but in our client base it can be useful to offer a complimentary consultation, complimentary consultation. For example, for a smile design for someone that is interested in cosmetic dentistry to improve their smile it could be useful to offer a complimentary consultation. Hey come in and meet us we’ll see what your needs are and together we can determine if you’re a good candidate for a smile design, we call smile design Naren, as eight units or more, typically upper anterior although it could be lower but typically your upper arch and it’s eight units or more. So if you run that and typically it depending on what the patient’s needs are clinically it can often be a 10 unit case the nice thing about doing a 10 unit case is it allows you to go a little bit wider in the buccal corridor and really end up with this beautiful smile that’s full and really an attractive smile and so if we can do 10 units that’s often where we try to go with those because of the best aesthetic result as well and so think about what your fee might be for a veneer, times 10, that’s a significant case. Is it worth having a patient come in and sit down and meet with you to determine if that’s something that they’re a candidate for and our experience with things like that not only in my own client base but also in or not only my own practice but in a client base has been very effective, very because they’re already screening themselves they probably spent time online to know how much of a veneer cost. That’s pretty easy to find out, right, we can google that, right,

Naren: Right

Gary: And if they know they’re interested in a smile they can even google how much is a new smile with veneers defeat

Naren: I like the idea of offering free consultations for like you said for cosmetic cases full my full mouth or even like Invisalign because we know those are going to be big cases and it’s like let’s say somebody’s coming in to do a repair on your at your house a fifty thousand ten thousand dollar in a project, they’re not going to have they won’t be happy if you ask them give me five hundred dollars to tell you how much this is going to cost and what I’m going to do, so you need to kind of offer that free consultation in those situations. I totally love that strategy Gary.

Gary: yeah, it’s worked very well implants dental implants are another a great way and if you’re going to do implants let me share with you. I’m going to extend this a little bit. So implants in your practice could be a single tooth implant, it could be replacing a floppy lower denture, where we know clinically that patients that that have dentures the lower denture will often cause ongoing problems and over time it keeps shifting around and the patient’s very frustrated with that and you can provide an all on four or if they have enough bone and all on six case where you place six implants and then you can use like a screw retained hybrid denture that technically is fixed as far as the patient’s concerned but could be removed for repair if we ever had to do it but we’d have to remove it professionally to do that because it’s screw retained. So, a case like that is going to be 24, 25, 26, thousand Dollars per arch. So is it worth spending some time with a patient ahead of time to share with them how we can help them using advances in dental implants and i would argue that when you’re seeing that size of a case type very could be very useful to do a free consultation and if you’re going to do it like with many of our clients the idea was to sit down have a meet and greet and just to talk about that floppy lord entry and talk about how dental implants might be a solution for them but the problem with that is that you don’t know at this point whether they’re truly a candidate for implants, you don’t know, because you haven’t seen records of their bone and know if they have enough bone for implants. So if you have a CBCT which we do. One of the things that I would encourage you to do is to say if Naren, if you were the patient and let’s say we’re talking and you’re excited about the possibility of implants well there and the next step would be for us to get some records so we can evaluate how much bone you have to determine whether in fact you’re a candidate or not for dental implants and we have that technology, it’s called 3d cone beam. We have that technology and I’d like to offer you a courtesy scan normally there’s a 350 Dollar charge for that but I’d like to offer that at no cost since you’re here today, we can get that for you today and our goal is just to provide you the information that you need so that you have all the information you need to make a good decision about your oral health and so now think of the value that we’ve done Naren, we offered the complimentary consultation and they got a 350 set of records that they would have had to pay for and our experience has been not only in the client base but in my own practice that the number of patients that have converted to treatment is very high because of the amount of time we’re spending with them the trust and confidence we’re developing with them and determining whether in fact they are a candidate for this but that’s been a useful sort of adaptation rather than a low-cost loss leader to bring them into your practice which I’m saying no to that, that doesn’t make sense to offer low-cost  new patient specials I say no on that one but would it make sense to offer free consultations. I’m going to say selectively yes for your high value services for your high value services and that is going to help our audience here for this podcast become less insurance dependence are dependent because they’re still going to ask for that smile. Does my insurance cover it? Will my insurance cover these veneers? And what’s the answer to that

Naren: No

Gary: But there’s a way to say that is accurate but also makes the patient think Naren, unfortunately veneers are a more advanced service, your dental insurance was only made to cover the most basic service. So unfortunately, nothing is going to be covered in that. Now the patient doesn’t necessarily like that answer but they usually understand and they usually say well, it didn’t hurt to ask, which right it, doesn’t hurt.

Naren: Yeah

Gary: And then secondly you’re getting them to pay for things outside of their insurance which is reality what many people need to do to get the best possible care, they need to pay for things outside of their insurance and I love the saying people will pay for what they want before they’ll pay for what they need, have you found that to be accurate Naren?

Naren: Absolutely and I was just thinking about what he said how to frame this, do you take my, will in dental insurance cover this. I know we can play with this there’s lots of different ways to frame it. One of the ways to say is unfortunately dental insurance is not interested in helping you or taking care of your needs. So, they won’t pay for this even though this is really important to you I don’t know. There are all kinds of ways you can play with this.

Gary: Yeah, I like to say when someone says that’s my insurance cover this and this is bold and this is a little bit brash but I like to say Naren, unfortunately your dental insurance doesn’t care one bit about your health

Naren: Right

Gary: In fact this sounds kind of crazy and Naren, but they hope you never go to the dentist because if you never go to the dentist they’ll never have to pay any claims so while they don’t care about your health we do and now that statement works if the patient in their if they’re nodding their head if you’re saying unfortunately they don’t care about your health but we do if the patient’s nodding their head saying, yes i understand then that statement has a lot of value to them. They really are in a position where they have trust and confidence with you.

Gary: I love that because you’re shifting the mindset and you’re literally becoming the friend or the ally of the patient

Gary: Yes

Naren: I love that

Gary: and you’re letting them know that hey what we’re all about is being your champion of oral health. We want to be your advocate we want to be your child we want to be on your side helping you achieve the best possible oral health and the truth is, there’s not a dental insurance company on the planet that can honestly say that they’re on your side to have the best oral health. They don’t care about you one little bit. They hope you never go to the dental office because if you never go, they never have to pay any claims and that’s really what they want. So we have very different objectives  and patients kind of understand that so to bring this back full circle, it doesn’t make sense to offer free consultations the answer is my experience yes on selected high value services and especially if we know once they come into your practice that they’re going to have an experience in your office that says I want to come here for my care, I want to come here and if we are confident that that’s the case then those can be a very, very, useful strategy to bring in those kind of cases in your practice because likely the patient will have done some self-screening, we’ll have done some google research on their own, will likely already have an idea of how much something like that costs. So they’re already pre-screening themselves, they’re already kind of pre-screening, we know an author that wrote a very cool book Robert Chaldini wrote that book pre-suasion, in a way this is a persuaded patient because they likely did some of their own research that may have been broad research like how much does something like this cost and they are likely before they’ve made that consultation appointment, they’re likely to have spent some time on your website, qualifying you. So in other words if they’re thinking about a smile they’re going to spend some time on your website to see if this is the place I want to go to get my smile done and so if you have landing pages that relate to that you have before and after photos you have reviews like for example, imagine this well what am I telling you about marketing you know all this stuff you taught me this stuff and Naren, but imagine having a landing page on your website all about cosmetic dentistry and then imagine we have some wonderful custom copy not duplicate content but custom copy on the on that landing page all about how we’ve helped people have the smile their dreams and then imagine that we put some of our reviews on that page so they can read what other patients imagine one of those reviews said something like I’m so happy I had my smile done the only regret that I have is that I didn’t do it sooner imagine the persuasion that’s going on and then they see the opportunity to have a complimentary consultation the likelihood that that patient is going to convert to treatment once they come in would be very high. Would you agree?

Naren: Exactly, you pre-suaded them, you did the right thing and they are feeling grateful especially if the experience is amazing where they feel like they were really taken care of, really listen to and you really because a lot of times that I know you have this whole new patient experience Gary that you design and you teach your clients. So yeah, I mean I like I’ve read some of the reviews on your website where literally people say I’m a new patient I came here the experience is unreal the outcome is amazing. I can’t thank them enough

Gary: But imagine the opposite that Naren, imagine they’re interested in a smile and they go to the doctor’s website and they can’t see anything on the website that relates to smile, aren’t they going to think well that’s not the right place

Naren: Very true

Gary: Which as we’re probably the finish line that that reminds me that’s actually a really good example to use the smile example really good example to use for the idea of a complimentary consultation especially when it’s backed up with your digital content that lets the patient know that you have experience with this you use the you leverage the voice of the patient in the form of reviews on those landing pages and they’ve essentially done the research before they ever get to your office that I want you to do my smile because I can see your credentialed at this your experience that this and I can see through the experience of others that I’m making a good decision. So it reminds me to our listeners that if you don’t have that kind of marketing support in your practice, it’s time to get that marketing support Naen, I can’t recommend EKWA any higher than saying all of our listeners need to be EKWA clients because the support you provide our practice in terms of that marketing support is invaluable and as relates very specifically to the content in this podcast once you start to go out of network with insurance you want to replace any patients you’re going to lose, you want to replace them proactively before you start resigning from those plans because then you’re doing this from a position of strength and you’ve already replaced any you might lose and you couldn’t have a better partner with you in that than EKWA digital marketing and Naren, I know you’ve been kind enough to offer a complimentary marketing strategy session with any of our listeners normally there’s a 900 dollar charge for that. I know you’ve been kind enough to offer that as a complimentary opportunity for them to learn about their practice to learn about some of their metrics from google that they don’t already know about, to evaluate what others are doing successfully and evaluate how they’re doing and then they can have all the information they need to determine whether marketing whether EKWA would be a good marketing partner for them. So, in the show notes Naren, let’s put a link for them to schedule that that free marketing strategy meeting and I think any of our listeners would be very well served to do that and be another step closer to successfully reducing insurance dependence.

Naren: Thank you so much Gary and a want to take a moment to thank every one of our listeners without you we won’t be where we are we had one of our best months last month and we believe this is going to be a record month as well so thank you again we can’t do this without you. We want to thank you for writing reviews for sharing with your friends and of course subscribing to it. So anytime you’re on your smartphone you listen to it I was talking to one of our mutual clients today and he literally shared the parable you shared Gary the last episode about the daughter and the in the car so anyway

Gary: That was episode 104. If you’re new to the less insurance dependence, that that episode’s gone viral. Thanks to that parable but go listen to episode 104, if you haven’t done it already and we’ll invite you and encourage you to share it with, share it with a colleague. I think they’ll appreciate it. Hey guys thank you we appreciate each and every one of you.

Episode Resources:

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