One of the main concepts in All-Star Dental Academy’s Dental Phone Training is to take a bit of time to try to understand the entire scope of a potential patient’s healthcare issue, and not to make assumptions about their needs.

To illustrate how this can affect potential patients and your practice, here is a story.

Today I called around looking for a contractor to install a pocket door for our master bathroom. We have a contractor we have used in the past, but we wanted to get other options to compare costs.

unfriendly on the phone

I scoured Google for another company near us that had 5-star reviews. Unfortunately, there were not many. The company that we used before is very good but take much longer finish up projects. We wanted to complete this latest project quickly, hence the search for options. Eventually, I found another contractor with almost 5-star reviews in the local area.

I called the number and it rang a few times. Then someone picked up and it was very loud in the background. I heard a cough and then a loud voice said, “Hello.” There was no company name, no salutation, nothing – perhaps I called the wrong number?

In an unsure voice, I asked, “Hi, is the ABC Construction Company?” (I changed the name for their privacy). “Yes, it is,” he replied, “How can I help you?” I told him I wanted a contracting company to provide an estimate for installing a pocket door in our house. He paused for a moment, didn’t bother to ask any other questions or get any other info, and said, “That’s too small of a job for us.” I was taken aback. I ended the call with. “Well, I actually needed…(pause), umm, never mind.”

I didn’t feel like I could continue the conversation. From the start, It just wasn’t a good fit.

The problem

The problem was that there was no proper phone greeting (very unprofessional behavior from who was probably the owner of the company), no attempt at building rapport or even asking questions to determine the exact needs of the caller, and no further engagement – just a simple dismissal – “That’s too small of a job for us.”

But here is the trouble (for the contractor) – my husband and I just bought our home last year and have done quite a bit of renovations and plan to do a good amount more. We may renovate our kitchen, redo the master bathroom, and perhaps work on our guest bathrooms. Bottom line, that contractor missed out on all of that future business because he deemed this job “too small.”

No questions?

Also, how can he possibly understand the scope of my project without asking questions? Yes, I did tell him it’s a pocket door but he doesn’t know how large of a door it is, or even what kind of door. Some pocket doors are a few hundred dollars but an expensive one can go upwards of $3500. Plus, since he wasn’t friendly and didn’t try to connect with me, I certainly won’t ever consider them should I get to where I want more extensive work done.

[Read about how a great first impression on the phone is critical for your success.] 

A better way

Dental Phone Training results in a friendly voice taking calls

Even if this really was outside of the scope of what they do, there is a much better way to approach this. If I had answered his phone and was his receptionist, here is how I would have handled the call:


[Ring, ring]

Thank you for calling, ABC Construction. This is Heather, how can I help you?

Hi Heather, I want to get a pocket door installed in my home. Do you do this?

I am so happy to help you with that! Do you mind if I ask you a few questions so I can better assist you?

Yes, what do you need to know?

Well, first, who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?

My name is Patty.

Hi Patty, thanks so much for reaching out to us today! What is your phone number in case we get disconnected?


Thanks, Patty! And Patty, when was the last time you used our services?

I have never used your services before.

Great! Well, let me be the first to welcome you and thank you for calling! Who can we thank for referring you?

I just googled contractors in the area and yours came up with good ratings.

Excellent, Patty! I love to hear that! We have awesome clients! Now, Patty, when you originally called you asked about having a pocket door installed, correct?


Ok, great. Tell me more about what you need and if you have a date in mind of when to get this done.

Well, I am looking to have a pocket door done between the master bathroom and the master bedroom since there is currently nothing there. I want it for privacy purposes since we have a 3-year old that just barges in. And I’d like it sooner rather than later.

Hah! I totally get that! I would want that too!

Yeah, we have no existing door so we want to have a nicer pocket door installed with some details in the woodwork.

Thank you for helping me understand the project. Now is that the only work you need to have done at this time?

Well, I also eventually want to have our kitchen remodeled, our master bathroom redone, and a few guest baths renovated too.

Ok, great! If we come to do the estimate for the pocket door, would you like us to look at the other projects while we are there?

Yeah, actually that would be wonderful.

Yes, perhaps we can work out a better rate to do multiple things at the same time.


Ok, let’s get you on the schedule!


Can you see how the outcome of this approach is so much better for the contractor and the client?

Dental Phone Training: What does this mean for you?

Perhaps your dental practice doesn’t do a particular type of procedure, for instance an extraction. In the dental office I worked in most recently, we didn’t do extractions but we did refer out for them. Many times the patient would call us to get a quote for an extraction, and we could have said, “Sorry, no, we don’t do those here,” and simply give them another phone number to call (or not even go that far).

One thing we focused on with dental phone training in that office was that instead, what we would say is, “I would be happy to help you with that! So I can best assist you, who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?” We would then find out who they were and how they found us. We would connect with them on a personal level by asking them questions such as, “How long has the tooth been bothering you (or is it bothering you)? Have you seen another dentist to know you need to have the tooth extracted? Did you know that an extraction might not be your only option? If you can save this tooth would you like to?”

Looking to the future

You see, there are many ways to approach this aside from telling them we wouldn’t help them. And let’s just say that after our entire conversation they end up still needing the extraction. Well, this patient still sounds like they need a dentist to prevent situations like this from happening again. You could ask if they currently have a dentist that they visit for check-ups and cleanings. If you can’t help them at the moment, be kind enough to refer them to an office that you know and trust. And then be sure to capture that potential new patient’s information to follow up for their future regular dental care.

Your callers will be so impressed with your level of care and professionalism, they may even tell a few friends too! 😀


Get more details on how All-Star Dental Academy’s Phone Success training program can supercharge your phones. Please register for our free educational webinar Dental Practice Excellence: 3 Steps to an All-Star Practice, or call our office at (844) 631.7575

Heather Nottingham

Heather is a former retail sales specialist and department trainer for Bloomingdale’s, where she had a million dollar clientele. She also took that luxury retail mentality and brought it into the dental world, where she leveraged her training and was able to make an extra million dollars for her dental office in less than 18 months. With over 16 years of retail sales & management experience, 7+ years as a phone skills coach & trainer, and thousands of hours in perfecting the art of rapport with dental patients, Heather helps improve dental practices’ profitability through phone skills success, promoting patient experience, and implementation of systems.

Heather is also an accomplished writer in the world of dentistry, having her articles, press releases, and blogs featured in various publications including Dental Practice Management, Dentistry Today, The Progressive Dentist Magazine, Dentistry IQ, and more.