Is Your Dental Practice Gatekeeper Killing Your Business?

I had an interesting experience this week attempting to make contact with someone who I know and have met in the past and who I was trying to reconnect with on a business level.

When I rang his office, I was told that he wasn’t in and that I could send an email with my proposal to his Personal Assistant.

Interestingly, in dentistry, it is very difficult to call and speak directly with the dentist.

And that’s because the dentist is usually gloved and gowned and engaged with a real live dental patient.

And because that patient that the dentist is with is a paying customer, in theory and reality, the dentist really should not be drawn away from that patient.

So, can you speak with a dentist on the phone during business hours?

The answer is, probably not.

But, I think it is a very powerful lever for the dentist to have, if the phone caller is told that the dentist will be given the message and that the caller’s phone call will be returned either at lunch time or at the end of the day.

How powerful would that be?

Nobody likes being given a flick pass.

We all know that nobody likes being given a flick pass.

And who knows?

A caller to your dental office may not “appear” to be a potential patient.

But they may be the referrer of some significant business.

And the dental phone answerer needs to be aware of the possible degrees of separation here that could be broken by a flippant comment or by brushing off the caller, or by simply allowing their own bad day to impact on how they are answering and receiving the incoming phone calls.

Recently a friend of mine who works in dental finance and investment had a dental receptionist hang up and slam a phone down in his ear [a landline obviously, not a cell-phone…. You can’t get the same effect by pushing the “OFF” button hard with your finger.]

Anyway, my friend was horrified and was unsure as to what to tell the dentist [his client] about the actions of the dental employee.

My thoughts were that this employee’s behaviour was not a first time event and was probably something that this dental employee had performed in the past.

And because the dentist is most likely out of earshot, she gets away with it and gets away with it.

Dental receptionists are not Security Officers.

Dentistry is grudge buy.

We need to remember this.

Nobody likes going to the dentist.

And there are plenty of dentists out there for the public to choose from if ever they are dissatisfied with the service, or the lack of service, that one dental office might be giving them.

A caller to any business needs to end that phone call feeling as though there is a CLEAR NEXT STEP going to happen.

And the caller needs to be looking forward with anticipation to that next step occurring.

Being rude and indifferent to callers to your business does not foster feelings of ongoing anticipation and excitement in those callers.

Look at how my friend the finance guy reacted.

And, in my opening story, do you think that I have high or low feelings of anticipation that my business phone call will be returned after being told to send an email?

You never know who knows who….

One of my patients was the owner of a real estate business.

In fact he sold a home I lived in well before he became my patient. 

While he was my patient he probably contacted my office more about non-dental issues than dentistry, as he managed an investment property for me.

In 2002, this patient suggested to one of his tenants on his rent roll [who was retiring and closing down his business], that he [the tenant] might like to have a chat with me.

That tenant was an elderly dentist closing his practice.

And that elderly dentist did contact me, and ended up gifting me his filing cabinet [that’s a rectangular prism structure filled with cards and paper for those who don’t know] and directed his practice phone to ring into my office.

That gift resulted in over $880,000.00 of dentistry at my practice over the following four years.

Could you imagine what might have happened to my relationship with the realtor if one of my team members had felt that his non-dental phone calls to me were annoying and were not important.

Do you know what’s being said on your dental office phone?

Apart from not converting as many phone enquiries [as possible] into valued and kept appointments, and also reducing cancellations, the dental phone is clearly a window to the outside world that reflects the CULTURE of your business.

If on a daily basis, you are not monitoring who says what to whom and when on your dental phones, and you’re not directing the culture in your dental practice, then you may as well take a big wad of hundred dollar bills every day and toss them into an open fire.

The dental office telephone is THE most important piece of dental equipment in your dental practice.

You need to make sure that it is an extension of your business into the big wide world, and not some unmonitored appendage that rings annoyingly at unwelcome times throughout the day.


Need your phones monitored?

Are you concerned about the number of calls that are not being answered as best they can be?

You need Call Tracking Excellence.

For the cost of a less than one cleaning per week, you could have your phones being answered much much better….

Convert more calls into appointments…Click the link:

Call Jayne on 1300 378 044 or email  for more details.


Have you read my book , How To Build The Dental Practice of Your Dreams [Without Killing Yourself!] In Less Than Sixty Days.

You can order your copy here: Click Link To Order


The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at