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Improving Case Acceptance With A Mini-Yes


Dear Sharyn,

Now that we’ve been using your tool to track case acceptance, I’m feeling depressed about how low my percentage of acceptance is.  It looks like patients are saying one thing to me and another thing when they get to the front desk. How do I tighten up this system so that patients commit to the treatment?


Dear L.M.

There are many reasons why patients delay or deny treatment, and there are also many paths to remedy this situation. My article in October’s Dental Economics describes why dentists should talk fees in the operatory so that patients are truly “closed” before they reach the front desk. (I know many of you are shuddering with horror at this thought but read the article and then let’s talk.) There are some easy changes your front desk can make right now when a patient says, “I’ll think about that.” 

If a patient is not ready to make a big commitment, then put the patient on a path of mini-yesses. These smaller commitments will enable you to circle back to the larger agreement.

The first easy agreement is to schedule a check-in call. The front desk would say:

“I totally understand that you need some time to think about this. It can be overwhelming to make a decision today. (Express empathy) I do want to make sure you feel supported. So, would it be okay with you if we talked in 2 weeks, just to make sure you’re okay? (Ask permission to get the 1st mini-yes.)  Great, so that we don’t play telephone tag and I reach you at a convenient time, what number should I use to call you? What time of day would be best?” (Present this as a benefit to the patient while also getting your 2nd commitment to the call). The front desk employee then makes a calendar note to call the patient.

During the check-in call, the front desk employee asks open-ended questions to determine the patient’s readiness for treatment.

How are you feeling about the treatment you and Dr. Weiss talked about?”  If the patient is still not ready to appoint, then ask the patient to come back for a low-stress, no-charge “status exam.”  A status exam enables you to see the patient before their next hygiene appointment and to focus solely on the patient’s questions about treatment. “I know you’re not ready to move forward right now and we don’t want to pressure you. So that you can have some peace of mind that your condition hasn’t gotten worse, let’s have you come back for a 10-minute status exam with Dr. Weiss in a couple of months. We won’t charge you for this exam and you’ll get to talk with her about any questions or concerns you have. Can I schedule that appointment with you now?

Note: You can download the case acceptance tracker on my website or here:

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Inspired Us to Dream Bigger, and it Works

“As an Office Manager, I’ve seen a great difference in my practice since starting with Sharyn. Three years ago our staff was in turmoil with a lot of infighting and gossip and some jealousy directed towards me.

I had given up because everything I did was judged. Now I have learned to have more one-to-one communication and by being more vulnerable with individuals I found my leadership voice. As a team, we’re all focused on the same goals.

Last year, in August we produced $88,000. This year we’re on track to produce $111,000 this month. I know it’s because we learned how to follow through with patients and communicate our expectations while building our systems.

Sharyn has gotten us out of our comfort zone and inspired us to dream bigger and it works.”

–Sharon St Pierre, Sperbeck Dental Care

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