It doesn't matter whether you've been in your dentistry practice for one year or thirty years, the way you approach a patient on that first visit can do volumes for your business. When you talk to your patients, you need to think of their needs right off the bat. Many are concerned about insurance, while others may only want to get aesthetic work done.

Whatever the needs of your patients, it is important that you know them in order to better serve and up-sell them. Here are three questions you should always ask at that first appointment.

1. What would you like to get accomplished today?

By immediately asking the goals of the patient, you'll know what they are most concerned with and be able to narrow down exactly what needs to be done. This will give the patient a better experience and in a shorter amount of time. Plus, by asking an open ended question, you'll be able to engage in further conversation that can give you insight into what makes them a happy patient.

2. What dental accomplishments would you like to see ten years from now?

Find out what goals your patient has for the long-term. This will open up the door for you to comfortably talk about preventative measures they can start applying this year. People don't like to be sold, but when they are talking about their goals, then you are giving them expert advice rather than coming across as pushing something on them. You'll also allow them to open up more about concerns they have. When you spend too much time being polite to one another, it's going to take longer to get to the root of the problem, and come up with a good scenario for both of you.

3. When can we take the next step?

After your visit is complete and it's time to schedule that next appointment, you should ask new patients personally when a good time is to take the next step. If your customer service employee is in charge of scheduling the next appointment, they may be easier to say no to because the patient hasn't had that dialogue with them yet. This may cause them not to reschedule, and you don't want to hinder growth because you didn't ask.

Make the experience a positive one

It can be easy to ask simple questions like, "have you had a good day so far?" Unfortunately, questions like this will often be met with a simple "yes, thanks," and that will be the end of your conversation. Or you'll end up spending too much time trying to get the answers that will be the most productive for you and your patient.

Personal questions are great for getting to know your patient and building a relationship with them, but on the first visit, it's important to lay the groundwork for a successful and productive working relationship.

Keep in mind that your patient is also a customer at your practice, and that you want them to leave with a positive experience and their next appointment. This will make your job easier because you asked the right questions, and know your patient's needs and goals today, and in the future.