Just about every dentist is haunted by the ones who got away - the patients who listened carefully to your treatment plan presentation and said yes, only to later change their minds on following through, probably because they have found another use for that discretionary spending. Oftentimes, in a busy practice, you may not even notice it's happening, except for perhaps those moments when it occurs to you out of nowhere: "Hey, whatever happened to ...?"
It's a very real and common phenomenon, and it often happens because of the way people are wired when it comes to making decisions. We want to make the right decisions, but we need to feel it is the right decision. And that feeling can often be influenced by outside forces.
For instance, imagine you are looking around online at vacation options and you finally settle on a place you've never been. You put down your deposit, but then you start to second-guess yourself (“well, there was that other option) and soon you find yourself back online, looking again and comparing reviews. Maybe it is worth it to pay a cancellation fee and go with that other one ...
Now imagine that you make that first choice and you tell a friend about it. The friend says, "I was there! It's great, you're going to love it. While you're there, make sure you see ... Suddenly, those doubts disappear and you become committed to your choice. It just took that validation from someone you know to make it feel right. It's a good feeling to have our decisions endorsed. It makes us feel more confident about them, more "locked in"; emotionally.
This is the reasoning behind having a small celebration when a patient says yes to major treatment. Don't just say, "That's great," and have them make an appointment on the way out—get excited, and show them why they should be excited too. Explain how much they’re going to enjoy their new smile and how they can expect to feel when it's done. Tell them how much you're looking forward to doing this for them. Bring in any available team members and explain, in front of the patient, what is going to be happening. And get started with something right away - even if it's just taking "before" pictures - to send the message that the process has begun.
By doing this you create the right energy that says, "This is a great choice you have made." It's a way to provide the psychological reinforcement a person needs when they have made a major decision. It's a way to cut off any buyer's remorse before any doubts have a chance to settle in. Most of all, it's a way to make patients feel good about having said yes.