3 Ways To Get More New Patients
Many dentists and dental marketing managers are finding that the COVID surge of patients has stopped, new-patient flow has slowed, and they’re looking to add more patients and grow production. That means competition for dental patients is about to ramp up…
Here are three ways to attract more new patients and get better results.
- Increase direct mail frequency
Regardless of how effective your practice is at converting new patient inquiries into appointments, when you generate more inquiries, you will add more new patients. If your team generally converts 50% into appointments, you’ll get five from 10 or 10 from 20.
Mail frequency matters. To build awareness of your practice and develop a RECOGNIZABLE brand, your practice communications should be hitting area mailboxes every month. It’s not just that we say to mail monthly – it’s a proven tactic with visible, tracked results. Twice a month would be overkill, but if you space mailings out too long and aren’t making your monthly house call, residents may forget about you when they have a dental need or are ready to make a buying decision.
Why listen to what I’m writing? Here are the stats:
- Patient NEWS® client production has recovered from the pandemic at a pace that is 25% higher than industry average.
- Patient NEWS’ average client practice production is more than TWICE that of an average dental office.
The dental offices that are working with us are achieving better than industry-average results – in both COVID recovery and overall production!
At Patient NEWS, clients get transparent results via Practice ZEBRA® marketing software, which also allows us to see results and how they vary for the dental offices that stick to their monthly new-patient plan versus those that space out mailings or are hit-and-miss. We literally watch new-patient flow fluctuate when the plan isn’t executed per our proven process, and that’s as frustrating for us as it is for the client.
When implementing any marketing program, for sure you want to track your results and watch that ROI. Make sure you have a system in place to track calls, web activity, and results from the targeted addresses you’re going after.
With proper tracking, you will see that monthly targeted mail programs are the proven winner. It’s a system that must be followed, and frequency is literally one of the items on the direct mail checklist for success. Just last week, a dental hygienist said to me, “I love checklists – that’s how we operate in practice!” So, if that’s how every dental procedure works, with detailed processes and checkpoints, why wouldn’t you apply the same principles to your direct mail marketing program?
Of course, you want your mailer to be high-quality, and you want it to demonstrate your unique value proposition. Neighborhood newsletters do exactly that while attracting more quality patients than postcards. But it’s vital to send it to precisely targeted homes every month to facilitate a consistent and healthy new-patient flow.
- Increase your direct mail quantity
The budget debate! Reach or frequency? Frequency rules, but a critical consideration is quantity or “reach.” If you’re already being consistent with a monthly target of 5,000 households and want more new-patient activity, consider expanding to 7,500 or 10,000 households.
For most dental offices, we find that, generally, anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 households monthly delivers a very good result, with around a 6:1 ROI in the first 6 to 12 months. However, if you’re looking for increased growth, you’re supporting more than one dentist, and/or the market is competitive, a further investment in quantity (combined with frequency) may need to be considered.
Don’t expand with a hit-and-miss plan to “test” – ensure that you are precisely targeting households primed to respond and then be consistent. Go after like audiences in areas that the practice currently draws patients from. Don’t reach outside of the draw area because another neighborhood might be higher-end – that’s always a waste of time and money – and don’t randomly expand into different areas from one month to the next. The key to expansion is the frequency factor – you must get in front of residents monthly and stay consistent. Consistency moves your practice from recognition to brand recall, and the right messaging and format keeps your business top of mind and generates a feeling of preference for your practice over others.
If your brick-and-mortar office is staying in its current location, then consider that households in your practice neighborhood are yours. That’s your backyard, and you want to own it. There are pockets of the neighborhoods that you WANT to know your office; those are the households you want to choose your practice. And remember: homeowners change. Dental needs change. Consumer priorities change. Your patients are lapsing, changing providers, moving away, etc. Mailing to those targeted households every month puts your practice there, in front of your prospects, with quality information and a gentle reminder that you are there for them. Direct mail is the only method of marketing that provides you with 100% reach of your audience, and it keeps your practice visible on a consistent basis. You can be more visible and make a more positive impression by providing value in your mailings with educational articles and healthy recipes, along with information on why potential patients should choose your dental services. These strategies will build and strengthen your practice reputation and set you apart as an authority in your field.
By taking a strategic approach to building relationships with your market area and nurturing them over time, you will ramp up the number of new patients that choose your practice.
Frequency comes first.
- Answer more calls live
As Karen Galley, President of Patient NEWS, recently commented, “There is a customer service crisis, and it’s AI that’s doing us a disservice.”
Think about it yourself. When was the last time you had a great customer service experience?
When you pick up the phone and provide a level of service, you offer patients a better experience, the trusted relationship begins, and the entire patient journey is positively impacted. Every touchpoint matters.
As I stated at the beginning of this blog, regardless of your call conversion rate, if you answer more calls, you’ll schedule more patients. Clients that get better results and higher marketing ROI answer more calls live. In today’s AI-driven chat and messaging world, just picking up the phone adds value.
Consumers appreciate their business being appreciated.
The average dental practice answers 72% of calls live, and they convert 56% to appointments. What’s the reverse math on that?
For every 10 calls, three are missed.
Of the seven answered, less than four book an appointment.
Those three missed new patients? They contribute an average of $1800 in production.
That’s $5,000 missed dollars.
So, answering the phone can be a valuable differentiator for your practice. Others aren’t doing it. But let’s look at this incrementally. Say you answer the phone a bit more and end up adding another two or three new patients per week … it starts to snowball. On a monthly basis, you could contribute an extra $20,000 to the topline … do that every month, and now we’re getting close to a quarter of a million in added production annually. And don’t forget to respond fast to online form fills with requests for appointments. That one overlooked form represents $1800.
With a slight focus, you can add hundreds of thousands in production, just by taking a small step each day. That’s with the same team, facing the same objections, and converting at a pace of 56%. Conversion is a different story, with top practices achieving 83% conversion, but that is an entirely different bucket of fish based on scripting, insurance participation, market pressures, etc.
So, a) increase direct mail frequency, b) add further reach if needed, and c) answer more calls. All of a sudden, you’re going to find yourself ahead of your goals and relaxing with some new toys!
- Customer Service
At the end of the day, Patient NEWS clients are ahead of industry average production recovery and production itself. For more information on our winning checklist, call now or schedule a free consultation and find out how our proven process works and how it can benefit your practice.
Thanks for reading!