Published 02/09/2019

Read time: 6 minutes

When a patient needs treatment – whether it’s filling a cavity or placing an implant – detailed clinical steps and procedures must be followed. This ensures the patient is cared for and treatment is 100% successful. Years of training give dental professionals the expertise, knowledge, tools and experience to enable a high level of care.

So why don’t we afford the same level of attention to our processes for engaging new patients?

Ignore the fads

The dental industry is full of advice and ideas on how to grow your practice. New ‘flavour of the month’ strategies, tools and protocols are introduced constantly – billed as the solution to doubling your profits and filling your appointment book.

Strategies are tested for a month, then moved to one side to make room for another new idea or tool. But changing tack too often means you’ll miss the consistency of commitment necessary to truly engage your team and patients.

Particularly in the dental industry, selling has a bad reputation. Dentists don’t always feel it’s their job to sell their skills and the treatments they offer; front of house may not be comfortable with the concept of selling or even know how to sell.

So, stop selling and start engaging with your patients.

Engaging your team

Keeping your team engaged in the success of your practice might seem like an uphill struggle at times. After all, it’s your practice. It might seem impossible to generate and maintain a high level of commitment from practice staff. In truth, there are two surefire approaches that have been proven to work time and time again.

1. Set your context.

Context is the reason a team is working towards a common goal. It is the drive behind what people want to achieve. Creating the right context around your team’s purpose is paramount.

For example, if the team experiences pressure to only book appointments and make treatment sales, their context is focused on generating income. ‘Dialing for appointments’ can be felt by the lead, damaging the rapport and trust with that lead.

Instead, the context should focus on why the team are booking appointments and selling treatment. Ask staff to consider what impact treatment has on a patient and how the team impacts on the patient by helping them start treatment.

2. Create your value.

If context is the glass that holds the water, then the water is the content that delivers the value.

The content can vary from practice to practice, team to team, from the impact on a lead’s self-confidence, to the idea of preventative healthcare through an oral systemic approach. Content can give value to what the practice, as a whole, is aiming to achieve.

Team members that truly succeed with helping patients move forward with treatment are the team members that create and maintain a relationship with the patient. They find what is personally motivating the patient to have the treatment and create a culture and a context for enhancing lives.

Maintaining this culture and supporting your team to provide solutions and content is essential to ensuring practice success and growth.

Engaging your patients

Like staff engagement, you can employ a few concrete principles to engage patients effectively. And you’ll have a competitive advantage by tending to these timeless principles, as many practices overlook them in the pursuit of passing trends.

1. Find patient motivation.

Once the context for your team is in place, start to look for your patients’ ‘why?’ - what is motivating their interest in a healthy smile? Understanding why a lead is interested in treatment, how long they’ve been considering treatment, and what may have prevented them from starting treatment sooner gives you the context to help them pick the right treatment and complete it successfully.

2. Track their motivation.

The Personal Motivator is one of the most important things teams should be tracking. It can help determine context and content, both in the short term of how to encourage the lead in to an initial treatment, and in the long term of helping them maintain their healthy smile.

3. Achieve their goals.

Your team is now connecting with your patients, asking questions to understand why they want treatment and what treatment options are available to them – working to enhance people’s lives.

The next step is to maintain momentum. Continue to track the progression of that patient through treatment, monitoring how their motivation changes, how their goals change, and how the practice can keep in line with those changes to continue enhancing the patient’s lives.


Connecting with your patients to provide solutions that go beyond just the initial dental treatment is essential to engaging with patients in the long-term and providing them with a service that builds trust and creates a long-term relationship.


To find out more, join Brian Anderson from ELDS and Russ Back from DenGro as they discuss the patient journey and how to engage your team and your leads and increase practice conversion.

‘Having the highest engaged patients & team EVER!’ - Register here to join the webinar 18th September 18:00 BST

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