Etc. vs. ETC

PenicheLeeAnn2by LeeAnn Peniche

I’m often asked what makes an exceptional treatment coordinator. My answer? The etc.

In my mind, and in my experience, the real and vital difference between an excellent TC and an exceptional TC is the etcetera – the above and beyond, the more, the icing on the client-service cake.

By definition, etcetera is:

  1.     A number of other things
  2.     The extras
  3.     The details
To illustrate what etcetera means to the successful orthodontic practice, let me share my top 5 ETC to-dos: 
  1. Be hungry for the story! The exceptional TC understands the simplicity of wanting a beautiful smile. She goes beyond the obvious and digs for the etcetera to turn the patient’s desire into a reality. Prior to greeting her patient, she has reviewed all of the information that has been gathered. She knows the referral source; she understands the main concern and what is important to the patient or parent. She is aware of the general dentist, the date of their last visit and any outstanding dental work to which she needs to refer. She is familiar with the insurance coverage, financing flexibility, and options. And finally, she knows the occupations, previous conversations, and connections; she gets involved in their interests. Bottom line: An ETC knows the etcetera. She understands that details aren’t just details. They make the design.
  1. Take the tour. Look at the practice from a patient’s point of view. Check it out not only from an aesthetic standpoint, but from a relational one. Never forget that the patient sees things from a people-to-people perspective. Remember, we are taking care of a person, not a patient. Make your office tour personal. Don’t focus on the stuff. Instead, highlight the people your practice is made of, your community involvement and professional accomplishments.   
  1. The briefing. The ETC leaves all treatment diagnosing to the doctor, but intentionally communicates a strong area to focus, identifies obstacles, and coaches on communication that works for the patient as an individual. The ETC’s goal is to set the doctor up for success during his or her time with the patient.
  1. Closure before finances. The ETC understands she must take the patient through the orthodontic treatment journey before entering into a financial conversation. The treatment presentation differentiates your practice and illustrates that you are not about money but about taking care of the person. Once the ETC gains treatment closure, she will then present the fees.
  1. Be sensitive about fees. Money is one of the most sensitive discussions you will have with a patient/parent. Therefore, the ETC has a financial conversation rather than a one-sided fee presentation. Here is where the etcetera really comes in to play for an ETC. She understands the power of the details when talking about money. Her words are soft, approachable, and flexible. There are no short cuts when presenting finances. She uses phrases like "we", “work with your budget”, “play with numbers”, and "we don't let finances stand in the way”. It’s being on the patient’s side and making treatment a team effort that is the true etcetera.

Never undervalue the importance of the etcetera in your practice. It’s the details, the small extras, which count. These are of the utmost value. That’s the key to Exceptional Treatment Coordinating.

LeeAnn Peniche – President, Peniche & Associates

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