By Lisa Philp, RDH, President of Transitions Group North America

Surprisingly, many offices present cases but fail to ask for closure. Whether it’s from fear of rejection, fear of confrontation or just fear of offending someone, they just don’t ask! To be effective, you need a great closing question and this is a perfect example where a scripted approach will be most effective.   To close means to get the patient to say “yes” to what you prescribe. We don’t call it closed until four things have happened — the patient has:

  • Committed to the full comprehensive dental treatment plan that the doctor has recommended.
  • Arranged a payment plan to cover all the finances related to his or her optimum dental health.
  • Scheduled an appointment for his or her first treatment.
  • Left the office with a smile, glad to pay you for providing the service.

Ask the magic closing question…

“Mrs. Smith, do you see any reason why we shouldn’t proceed with this?”

Then be silent and wait, even if they are uncomfortable. If they state that there are no reasons not to proceed, then proceed!

“That’s terrific Mrs. Smith, we look forward to taking care of you. Let’s get started with our appointments”.

Other closes you may consider are:

The Assumptive Close simply requires you to speak as if the decision was already made to proceed. This is done to save time and can be effective for routine, everyday procedures. Since this close basically eliminates the decision, it should not be used for anything beyond routine. For example:

 “Mrs. Smith, It’s been over a year since your last X-Rays, I’m going to go ahead and take some bitewing radiographs for you. Are you OK with that?”

Notice how permission can still be asked, even though by being assumptive the stage has been set for an obvious “yes” answer.

The Choice Close involves offering choices to the patient. Many people suffer from “decision-paralysis” – a strong aversion to making any and all decisions. People, perhaps because they don’t want to be caught in a bad decision, will often choose a non-decision, a “wait and see” approach, whereby the situation is left in limbo. When it comes to dental care, a non-decision is not a great option. Only 1 of 4 people can decide to proceed without some consultation to assist them. Why not eliminate the need to make a decision by instead offering choices. People dislike making decisions, but they don’t mind choices. Offering choices sidesteps making the actual decision.

Mrs. Smith, you have two choices, we can take care of the whole thing for you or we do the bottom teeth only this year and take care of the top teeth next year. What would be better for your?”

 Notice that both choices were variations of the “yes” decision.