This Week’s Question: Convert More Consultations
I have been in practice for 20 years. I have a nice office, great staff and we like our patients. The problem is it’s getting more difficult to get a YES from a patient consultation. After I spend up to an hour with a patient and then my coordinator spends time with them, they still don’t book.
More and more, I will have a full day of consults, back-to-back, and NOT book surgeries or other big-ticket procedures. What a waste of time and energy.
My consult conversion rate used to be in the high 70’s for years and now it’s fallen to 25-40%.
Is it me? Is it my coordinator? Is it the patient? What’s going on?
What can we do to convert more consultations?
Dear Dr. W,
Thanks for a great question. Low consultation conversion rates are affecting more and more practices.
Isn’t it frustrating to put so much effort into the consultation and get nothing back in return? For example, if you have 8 consults per day and they are worth, on average, $6,000 per surgery, that’s a possible $48,000 in revenues per day. Not bad.
But what if only 2 out of the 8 say yes? That dramatically cuts your revenues down from $48,000 to only $12,000 or 25%. And, if you see consults twice a week that adds up to possible revenues of $499,000 but you only close 25% so you lose $374,000 from non-converted consultations. Yikes!
The reality is your efforts don’t count until the patient says YES and PAYS for your services, right?
So, how can your coordinator get more of them to say YES rather than, “I gotta think about it” or “I need to talk to my husband”? HINT: 95% of the time, they really just told you that they are NOT convinced you are the BEST CHOICE for them. Ugh!
Your coordinator can be a game-changer for your practice revenues…in a good or bad way. This position should never be taken lightly or your revenues will suffer.
Here’s what you do to get your conversion rates up:
1) Get the right Patient Coordinator in the position of “Consultation Closer”
Your coordinator must believe in YOU, your skills and be open to aesthetic rejuvenation. If your patient coordinator would never succumb to this world of vanity, how in the heck are they supposed to praise and promote you and your services?
However, that does not mean you are looking for an aggressive, loud-mouthed sales person who can’t relate to your patients (or maybe it does if your patients DO relate to that type of personality.) Different parts of the country have different “styles” of communicating so just be sure your coordinator fits well with your type of patient demographics.
You are looking for certain personality traits MORE than you are looking for experience. The aesthetic industry can be learned easily. Powerful people skills cannot. Be sure you have the right coordinator representing you who looks, acts and feels the part.
2) Give your Patient Coordinator the tools needed to bond with the patient
Consider what a difficult conversation this is to have with a complete stranger. The cosmetic patient is uncomfortable with their appearance so they are feeling vulnerable and anxious.
The coordinator’s job is to put them at ease and reassure them they are in the right place and will be happy with their result when they decide to move forward.
Your coordinator must have a process set up and powerful questions to ask, as well as tools, to help the patient articulate what they want, why they want it and what it will take for them to say YES.
One helpful tool is the initial Cosmetic Questionnaire that helps get the conversation started. It’s a check-off list of “concerns” the patient has rather than a list of procedures you offer.
TIP: Patients are much more driven to a solution to their problem vs. the solution you have to fix their problem. Think: Problem First – Then Solution.
3) Script your Patient Coordinator so they know how to ask for a decision
So many practices have patient coordinators who are nice and look the part but have no idea how to ASK FOR A DECISION. This one skill makes the difference between 25% conversions and 75% conversions.
But like anything else in life, it’s a learned skill. It takes proven strategies and practice. For example, a trained and skilled patient coordinator is never pushy or aggressive. They have the words and scripts and processes they follow to “lead” the patient to a decision that is comfortable for the patient.
For example, a simple closing strategy is the “Choice Close”. That means rather than the patient deciding a YES/NO question, they choose EITHER/OR and YES is assumed…
“Sara, Dr. Smith’s surgery days are Wednesdays and Fridays. Which works better for you?”
Now Sara has most likely moved from IF she is going to book to WHEN she is going to book. It’s a small nuance with a big effect. Try it.
Have you seen your own consultation conversion rates change throughout the years?
What do you do to improve your conversions?
Catherine Maley, MBA is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on cash practice building and trains staff to be converting rock stars. | View Author Profile | Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying