FORD Up Your Consult Conversations

May 14, 2019

One of our consultants recently mystery shopped three of a client’s competitors. During the fee conversations with each, she purposely offered all kinds of information about herself. But not one patient care coordinator used the information to engage the undercover consultant in conversation. Not one!
Our consultant mentioned her interest in fitness, some family details, and her recent travel adventures. No one took the bait. They just plowed into the details about costs and policies, and asked when she wanted to schedule. We call this “leading with the quote,” and it is not an effective way to engage patients.
It came as no surprise to us that after several months, not one of the mystery shopped practices had called or followed up with our associate. Because let’s face it, when you know nothing about a patient other than she is a “breast aug” or a “tummy tuck,” follow up can feel unproductive and even unpleasant.
We think there is a better way to build relationships with patients, in a way that makes them feel special and valued. Try this framework, which we teach in our aesthetic workshops – it’s called the FORD method.
“FORD” is an acronym for:

Family

Occupation

Recreation

Dreams

The concept is simple: the more you know about the patient in these four areas, the better you can integrate personal details into patient conversations, which results in stronger relationships, faster scheduling decisions, and increased loyalty.
Savvy staff and surgeons listen, ask for, and use FORD data. They use it to engage patients in conversation by phone and in the office, and also as a conversation starter when they follow up with patients who have not booked. It makes getting to yes and follow up calls so much easier.
Here are some examples of how patients might present their FORD data, with possible staff responses:
Patient Statement
FORD Category
Possible Response
“I had twins three years ago and I’ve struggled to get my tummy back to a place where I feel confident in my clothing again.”
Family
Twins! Boys? Girls? Do you have a photo I could see…?
“I give talks around the country and I want to look as vibrant as I feel.”
Occupation
That’s sounds fascinating. What do you do? What kinds of speeches do you give?
“Three months ago, I finished my first 100 mile trail race. This is my reward!”
Recreation
I can barely run a mile! How in the world did you run 100? How do you prepare for something like that?
“My wife and I are finally taking our Airstream across the country for a year. I want to do this before we start that adventure.”
Dreams
How fun! How long have you been planning for this? What interests you about doing the trip in an Airstream?
Want to try FORD in your practice? Use these five tips as you implement the method.

1. Do your homework.

The registration form is filled with FORD data. Take a look at it before you meet with the patient. Occupation is one of the best conversation starters. “You manage a vet clinic. What’s it like to work with animals all day long?” or “I see you work in real estate. How is our local market moving these days?” Many registration forms also have a line for interests and hobbies. If a patient takes the time to provide information, be sure to ask about it.

2. Sharpen your listening skills.

When you hear a FORD data point being served by the patient on the phone or during the fee quote discussion, lob it back and launch a conversation.

3. Pay attention.

Interesting jewelry, a great handbag, or the latest mobile device can morph into an interesting conversation. But you have to take the initiative and ask. For example, if a patient whips out her smartphone to check for surgery dates, you might say, “Bridgette you are just like me! I would not know where I’m supposed to be without my Google calendar. What other apps do you use to stay organized?

4. Preview the patient schedule as a team.

A great way to integrate the FORD method into your daily routine is to start each clinic with a morning huddle. In practices skilled at building patient relationships, the surgeon, patient coordinator, and clinical staff meet daily to review the appointment schedule and discuss who’s on the schedule, a little bit about them, and how the team plans to nurture the patient relationship. This plan-ahead strategy makes consultation process handoffs more effective and personalizes each patient’s experience.

5. Train everyone in the practice how to collect and use FORD data.

As a team, assess the best ways to quickly and easily ask questions, pick up FORD clues, and enter them into computer system “Notes.” Once everyone gets the hang of using FORD during the consultation process, it becomes a habit that is second nature.

 

 

 

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