Along with creating fertile ground, and giving effective case presentations, an essential element of your process must be use of the “4-Minute Rule.” Which means, when you meet a patient for the first time, you should take 4 minutes to learn about them before you ever ask about their “problem.”
Way too many doctors and dentists will start talking about what brought the patient in to see them within about 15 seconds. They dive right in and ask about their pain or discomfort. Once they do that, they can’t back up to learn more about that patient… which can be used to get Yesses later on.
So here’s how this works. Take the first few minutes to actually converse with the new patient. You could ask something as open-ended as “Tell me about yourself,” but a better approach is to use the intake paperwork to make sure you get what you want out of the conversation. And as you’re learning about them, make notes so you can do something productive with that information. If you don’t write it down and do something with it, there’s no point in asking!
For example, “I see you live in XYZ. That’s a great neighborhood. How long have you been there? Wow, 15 years.” You write that down.
Next question: “So tell me a little bit about your family.” You learn he has a wife and three children. Write that down.
Mental note-to-self: patient lives in a million-dollar home, has lived there for 15 years, has a wife and three kids I’ve never met, so four more potential patients. All good to know!
Next question: “Tell me what you like to do.” You learn he likes to golf and go fishing. Write that down.
“What do you do for a living?” He runs ABC company.
“How many employees do you have?” He runs a company with 600 employees. Really good to know.
You might also ask who referred them, and then talk for a moment about the referring party.
Now that you know this particular patient owns a company with 600 employees, you’re gonna want to ask if he wants his crooked teeth fixed! Your confidence about getting Yesses comes from knowing who you’re dealing with.
The 4-Minute Rule also highlights red flags for you. If a new patient says, “I just got into town. I took the bus here because they threw me off the train. I haven’t had a job in a long time, and I’m only here because I have a coupon for the free service.” In just a few minutes you’ve learned you shouldn’t present any treatment to that person, and if you do, you know you’ll need to handle payment up-front.
Or maybe the guy admits you’re his third dentist in six months. That tells you he’s probably not a very compliant patient. The sooner you know that, the better.
The fact is, not all patients are created equal. Just by being interested in the person, they will tell you about themselves. You will learn immensely helpful information… so you can help them by making appropriate treatment recommendations.
To recap, the 4-Minute Rule allows you to assess three important things right away:
- Can this person afford to pay for treatment?
- Does this person warrant extra time and attention because they have a large sphere of influence?
- Or, this person can’t afford treatment and/or will be a difficult patient, and therefore warrants less of your time.
By the way, assessing sphere of influence is the #1 missed opportunity for almost all doctors and dentists. They don’t take the time to get to know a patient’s sphere of influence, so miss the opportunity to tap into it. Think about it this way: this is your patient… and your patient is glad to help you!
Ultimately, choosing to apply the 4-Minute Rule in your Case Presentation comes down to how intentional you are with your time. You only have so many minutes in the day, so many patients you see, and only so much time to chat. If you chose to use that time wisely and with intention, you can provide excellent care and simultaneously uncover opportunities to increase your production and referrals while you’re at it!