28 Mar 2024  •  Blog, Marketing  •  3min read By  • Les Jones

Would you like fries with that?

Practice Plan Creative Director, Les Jones, muses on the power of asking direct questions to unlock potential extra business.

How many times have you heard the phrase ‘would you like fries with that?’ in a fast-food restaurant? And how many times have you said ‘yes’, having not previously ordered fries?

It’s probably something we’ve all done at some time. Just by asking that simple question it plants the seed in your mind and prompts you to add to your order.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could apply a similar principle to dental work?

Well, that very thing happened to me in my dental practice a couple of years ago.

I was in the chair for a dental health-check, and it transpired that I needed a simple filling – something that I would have to make another appointment to have done.

My dentist explained my options for the filling and, when I chose to have a white filling he asked, ‘have you ever thought about tooth whitening?’. He explained that it might be an opportune moment to make that decision as the new filling could then be matched to the whiter shade of my teeth.

Firstly, it was the first time in over 55 years of visiting the dentist that I had ever been asked that question.

Secondly, my answer was ‘Yes’ – I had thought about it, more than once. However, I had never acted upon those thoughts because I didn’t want to be seen as vain. But now by asking me that question and raising the subject my dentist had, in effect, given me permission to talk about it. I now felt I had a legitimate reason to think more seriously about getting my teeth whitened without the fear of being considered vain.

I explained that I didn’t want ‘Hollywood’ whiteness, but I would like my teeth to be a little brighter. Again, the dentist outlined my options and I made the decision there and then to go ahead at a cost of around £450.

So, what happened there?

To paraphrase those fast-food restaurants, in relation to my filling, I’d just been asked,

‘Would you like tooth whitening with that?’

Until that moment, tooth whitening wasn’t on my agenda for that appointment and yet just five minutes later, I’d committed to the treatment and the outlay. By asking that question, just like with the fries, the dentist had planted the seed that I could consider another treatment, and I had ‘added to my order’.

For me, this is a perfect example of how much work potentially walks out of your surgery every day for the sake of a simple conversation. Although, technically it’s upselling, it’s not a hard sell. You aren’t pushing treatments on patients. You’re opening their eyes to new possibilities. All it takes is a minute or two to ask a few questions and get a better understanding of what’s important to your patient. Once you have that information you can then go on to explain, without any pressure what options are available to them.

The answer might not always be ‘yes’, but it will be ‘yes’ far more often than if the conversation didn’t take place at all. Remember the saying: “If you don’t ask, then you won’t get!”

As patients, we’re often consciously or sub-consciously, looking for permission to talk about our dental desires. If you’d like to unlock those desires, all you have to do is ask the question and you may well provide that permission.

Get me started with Medenta Patient Finance