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Build Better Relationships

business communication community growth new patients practice systems relationships verbal skills Jan 21, 2023

You want a business that’s relational, not transactional, and the key to forming relationships with your patients is connecting with them. Patients want to know you care, are listening, and will remember them, but when you’re relying on your people to remember all the details, you can bet something will fall through the cracks. You need a system to keep track of the important aspects of your patients, and I love Dr. Mike Kratz’s F.O.R.D. Concept, because it helps you connect with your patients by simply taking notes about their:

  • Family
  • Occupation
  • Recreation
  • Dreams

If it sounds easy, it’s because it is. Making small notes about each of these items and saving them in your dental software will let you reference them before your patient comes in so you can remember the things that are important to them. You have too many patients to remember everything about all of them, so it’s crucial to have a way to keep track of that. 

Using your dental software eliminates the risk of human error by giving you a system that’s consistent, reliable, and simple. I’ve seen too many practices that were too dependent on their people, expecting them to remember the important details about the patients. That’s no way to stay organized because I can guarantee that something will be forgotten. You’re also not going to have the same team members throughout your career. People will come and go, so you need a way to bring them all together and make sure they all learn the same information. 

Be Relational

If you want to sell discretionary dentistry, you need to form relationships with your patients. For the patient to reach into their pocket and use their money on a decision that goes above and beyond insurance, they first must trust their dentist. Trust isn’t something you can fake or trick your way into—it has to be real. You want to become an integral part of their lives in a way that transcends dentistry because people like to do business with the people they like and trust. Like Kirk says, “I buy things because of how I feel,” so help your patients feel that they can trust you. 

Think about a time you’ve gone to the doctor and told the nurse everything about your life, only to have the doctor come in and ask you the same questions. It’s frustrating, and more importantly, it makes you feel like they don’t actually know or care who you are. When you deal with a healthcare professional who truly does know you, however, it’s a completely different experience.

Take a Shortcut

When you form a relationship with someone out in the world, it’s not a quick process. It takes weeks, months, or even years to form and strengthen a connection, but you don’t have that luxury in your office. You don’t have weeks, months, and years—your time with your patients is limited. You need to get to know them quickly and establish that connection and trust, and using the F.O.R.D Concept lets that happen. It’s like taking a shortcut straight to having a relationship. 

Ask the Right Questions

Your first interaction with a patient is typically a cursory introductory meeting where you get their basic information. That doesn’t help you connect with them, however. You need to ask them questions to get more than the standard “yes” or “no” response because you want a personal connection and not general facts. The key is to ask open-ended questions because that’s how you engage your patients. 

I particularly love asking questions about their dreams, because those are the things that light people up. When we talk about our dreams, it releases serotonin and dopamine, making us happier and more engaged, and our brains more malleable. From a scientific standpoint, we’re more likely to engage in treatment and act upon things when we’re talking about the things we love. Set the stage for this conversation, and you’ll also increase treatment acceptance in your practice.


The key to increasing the profitability of your practice is predictability, but that’s hard to achieve when you depend too much on people. When you implement a system like the F.O.R.D. Concept, you know that you’ll be forming relationships with your patients quickly and effectively. It won’t matter if your entire team changes—the information in your system will stay the same and remain in the same location. 

Making any change can be intimidating, so I recommend you start slowly and over time implement it with all your patients. Schedule a call with the ACT team today, and we’ll provide you with expert advice to make the task easy and actionable. The goal is to think differently about how you build relationships and how you can generate great connections in a short period of time because when you do, it puts you one step closer to that Better Practice and Better Life!

Jenni Poulos is a Lead Practice Coach at ACT Dental

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220 E. Buffalo Street Suite #320
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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