Marketing Tips For Dental Practice Growth

By Joanne Bishop | July 20, 2018

Customer Focus colorful graph

 

According to the CDC, 36% of adults have gone over a year without seeing a dentist. That’s almost 40% without a single dental claim in the last year. 
The middle class continues to decline. In many markets, dentists are facing increased competition. Fake news and the increasing flow of information make building patient trust, particularly new patient trust, even harder. 

As we hit the 2nd half of 2018 and look at 2019 ahead, it’s apparent that successful dentists will need to create a strategy around patient education and work on their reputations online AND in homes. 

  1. What would happen if 40% of your patient base decided to skip their next appointments with you? 
  2. Do you know how many of your active patients are connected to you with a next scheduled appointment?
  3. If you want more new patients, are you ready to commit, to “just do it,” to ramp up practice growth
  4. Have you noticed an increase in no shows – are you losing patients to competing dentists?
  5. Is your team engaged and ready to help?

As a dental marketing company, we’ve been tackling these challenges for years. 25 years. It’s simple – all you have to do is generate more new patients than you lose and lose as few existing patients as possible. Growth is impossible if you’re losing as many patients as you’re adding. 

Things continually change, and you and your team need new and improved tools and techniques to stay ahead of the curve. There are five key areas for focus that will ensure your dental office thrives.

 

Focus on your practice – Don’t make marketing an afterthought.

  • Many dentists have relied on a small marketing budget to sustain – and even grow – practice revenues. That isn’t working in many competitive markets any longer. Patients are a lot savvier, a lot less trusting, and a lot more demanding. 
  • Define your marketing strategies for patient acquisition and retention – online and in home – with a combination of direct mail, digital marketing, and email. 

Focus on your great people – Staff who connect with patients can make or break a practice.

  • Don’t underestimate how important your front desk team is! Great client-facing staff can significantly increase practice production. Provide your team with training, tools, and bonus/recognition plans to keep them motivated to convert more new patients into your practice. Build this into your budgets – or choose a dental marketing company – a partner – that can help. 
  • Pay close attention to your new patients’ first visit and follow-up experience. Take advantage of the “first date glow” – don’t let new patients leave your practice without a next visit scheduled and ask them to post a positive Google review. 

Focus on great customer servicing – for team AND doctor. 

  • What is your practice philosophy for service? Are you fun and upbeat, committed to immediately putting every patient at ease, and warm and welcoming? Make sure everyone on your team knows what your vision is so that it comes to life for every patient – whether online, on the phone, or in your door. 
  • Nothing is harder on patient attrition than a doctor that doesn’t have a good communication style or a team that’s simply going through the motions. Words are meaningless unless you make people “feel” appreciated and that you’re interested in them. Enthusiasm, tone, and inflection will impact patient satisfaction – from the first phone call to the last in-office visit. Make eye contact. Smile. You’re in the smile business. Build patient and team trust by walking the walk.

Focus on your patients-of-record – internal marketing – retention & referrals

  • The number-one reason patients leave is perceived indifference. The number-one reason we all stop working with any supplier, service, or company is when we don’t feel appreciated. Don’t be indifferent to those patients you’ve worked hard to attract. Dental consumers have so much choice – including simply lapsing – so make your patients feel valued. Right now, it’s anticipated that one in five baby boomers is likely to switch providers in the next few years. And baby, let me tell you baby boomers are worth working hard to keep! They spend the most dollars per patient at most dental practices. Strengthen your patient relationships while you have them – in and out of the office. Send educational content after each appointment and mail a dedicated patient newsletter to homes every other month.

Focus on new-patient acquisition – Growth funds improvement, expansion, and better services.

  • It’s quick and easy to run a growth trajectory model that shows what your practice revenues – and profits – will look like 3 years from today if you do same-old-same-old or if you invest in practice marketing. There are two key points to remember when considering marketing investment:

A: If you have capacity to accept more new patients without adding space or staff, then every new patient dollar spent basically goes to the bottom line (except for the minor amount used for consumables).

B: Dentistry is a recurring revenue model. Never focus on the $79 new patient special or free teeth whitening for life that the patient took. Focus on the fact that if they LOVE your practice and the awesome caring customer service you provide, that patient represents AT LEAST $5,000 over their lifetime with you, BEFORE they refer friends and family. For the majority of our clients with awesome new-patient offers, we find that the average NEW-PATIENT production value significantly exceeds existing patient value. Attract them with education. Get them to call. Wow them. Then put them into your retention strategy to keep them. 

For growth – focus. Invest in yourself and your team to secure your practice and your future. 

Don’t lose patients to competitors, don’t lose market share, and don’t miss out on opportunity. 

You can have more. Own your neighborhood. Own your future. Get fully committed to your goals. Committed to strategy and growth. This may require hard decisions, but the reward is significant. 

Talk to your Account Manager about your current marketing strategy and what your growth model looks like. They can show you statistically where you can expect your practice revenues – and profits – to be within five years based on your metrics. 

As always, you have unlimited FREE support from your Account Manager, so reach out to them today. Here’s to the dental practice that wants to STAND OUT and grow!