Are you Afraid of the Dentist?
Are you Afraid of the Dentist?
Are you afraid of going to the dentist? Maybe you should be. Not because of oral discomfort or poor dental care. It’s probably safe to say that those are non-existent in the US today. Dental care is truly sophisticated and painless. Unfortunately I can’t say the same about the sales skills of many group practices. In the past few years I have heard enough horror stories to lead me to believe that there’s a serious need for some kind of reform.
I understand that dentistry, like any other profession, needs to make a profit. The dentist or oral surgeon has years of schooling and training to become the skilled professionals that they are. Hygienists have also spent years learning and practicing. They continue to fine tune their skills. They deserve to make a decent living. No argument there.
I have a major problem with how many dental practices go about filling their appointments. I believe a big part of the problem is ignorance. They hire people who are unqualified to run their offices or as administrators. Then they put pressure on those incompetents to fill up every available slot.
For example, I heard of one practice who hired a former police officer to manage a couple of offices. Apparently this person’s qualifications were limited to putting pressure on the rest of the staff to bring in more patients and to “upsell” existing patients to agree to more treatment. Managing by fear and intimidation was the mantra. There was zero training on how to actually do it.
Another practice hired, fired or demoted front desk employees who were not aggressive enough in bringing in more business. They used a style of management that would make the guy with the whip on the slave galleys embarrassed. The big problem there was lack of leadership. They hired people for administrative positions that, on the surface at least, had nothing to do with sales or collections. Then when business slowed down a bit, they put pressure on their employees to bring in more customers.
There was no training in sales or collection skills. It was just, “get more appointments” or call more patients”. All the while threatening people with the loss of their jobs. I heard some stories that made my blood boil. Could this be happening in America in 2016? Where did they find these tyrants? How can they treat their fellow human beings like that?
I have no problem with driving sales and making a profit. That’s what I do and have done for the past 30 years.
I have no problem with modern dentistry. In fact I appreciate the level of care. I’m old enough and grew up in a country where dentistry was primitive at best. I understand the value of good dentists and oral care professionals.
I do have a problem with incompetents and untrained office managers trying to drive sales by fear and intimidation. I find it offensive. I have no idea how much money the average dental practice spends on professionals, office space and equipment. I’m sure it’s considerable. Why not spend a little of those investment dollars on support personnel? How about treating support employees with the respect they deserve? How about treating patients as human beings as opposed to cash cows?
I’ve known some tough sales managers in my time. Even the toughest sales drivers respected their salespeople. They set expectations for activities and results. They held their people accountable. They also provided training and coaching. They fired people when they needed to, but they managed to do it like civilized human beings … not like some of the yahoos I described above.
Oliver Connolly coaches and mentors sales managers and vice presidents of sales. For more information please click on http://www.clevelstrategic.com