4. Incorporate visual aids. Consider these statistics: People only retain 8% to 12% of what they hear when they listen to other people.1 On the other hand, 74% to 80% of people are visual learners.1 Therefore, the best way to educate clients is by combining dialogue with visual aids. In fact, the more visuals you use,
the less time you'll spend giving explanations. Why? Because, as the cliché goes, a picture paints a thousand words.
Figure 3. Clients will value dental care even more if you include before-and-after pictures on a post-cleaning handout.
I've already mentioned some helpful visual aids in steps 2 and 3 (i.e., brochures, bulletin boards, and handouts). During examinations, you could also instruct your technician to:
- take digital photos of pets' teeth and then present printed copies to clients (if not included in a handout),
- shine a Wood's lamp on the pets' teeth to show calculus and bleeding gums, or
- use a disclosing solution to show stage 1 calculus.
In addition, doctors can reinforce the technician's initial discussion by using photos, models, or handouts to show the differences
between healthy and diseased teeth and the progression of periodontal disease.
What's great about this combination approach? For starters, all team members play a role, and adding in the dental angle doesn't
take much time. But more important, clients learn vital information. They learn what their pets' mouth and breath should look
and smell like, what could happen if they dismiss oral healthcare, and what they need to do to prevent further damage and
5. Keep the ball rolling. Part of selling dental services successfully depends on what you do after clients leave. If you skip this step, you're missing
key opportunities to strengthen your bond with clients.
Clients appreciate it if a team member calls to check on pets the evening or the day after dental cleanings. And sending friendly
reminders to clients who wish to return later for the procedure makes it easy for them to follow through.
Figure 4. A sample reminder letter. (Courtesy of VMC Inc.)
For those patients that receive prophylactic dental care, ask the client and pet to return two weeks later. (The recheck fee
could be included in the original fee.) The doctor or technician should review the condition of the patient's teeth, the level
of success with home care, and expectations for the future.
Next, enroll patients in a Healthy Smile Club that calls for six-month checkups by a technician. Club benefits could include
anything you choose. For example, you could send each member a card that includes the pet's photo, clinic information, and
future dental care due dates. You could also give free product samples from manufacturers and post clients' and pets' photos
on your Web site or feature them on the reception area bulletin board.
Dental success can be yours—if you send your message clearly and consistently. All it takes is a simple plan that leverages
your healthcare team, conveys the message repeatedly, educates with visuals, and reinforces a client's choice to prevent dental
disease in their pets. Remember: Healthy pets with healthy teeth are only a recommendation away.
1. Bolton, R.: People Skills. Simon & Schuster, New York, N.Y., 1979