Using Data Gets Results When Marketing Your Dental Practice

Ten things your practice can do to grow

By Joanne Bishop  |  November 1, 2017

Woman pointing to the word growth

The 2017 Dental Economics – Levin Group Annual Practice Survey indicated that dentists have once again experienced another year of slow growth and practice revenues remain flat. Levin said, “dentistry has entered a period of stagnation” and “the profession as a whole is at a standstill.”

Statements like this remind me of choosing your attitude. You cannot choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you react to it. You can choose to make today a great day. It is your business. You can decide to change your outcome. This blog has solid tips on how you can make a difference at your dental practice.

Yes, you may have older dentists in your area working longer, you may have a new group DSO practice or two popping up, and you may have had flat revenues yourself for the past year or so. For many reasons, today’s market is much more competitive. As a solo practitioner – or DSO location – you need to work hard to get the attention of those consumers who are visiting the dentist less frequently.

Just because the industry is more competitive, it doesn’t mean your practice needs to stand still or must accept lower revenues. As Tony Robbins has said, “If we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”

As you know, Patient News has completed thousands of dental marketing campaigns – something like 67,000 to be exact – and we’ve tracked, tested, researched, analyzed, tested again, tracked more, and identified how to get your practice the best results possible when marketing your dental practice. (And FYI we’re not stopping all that analysis, testing, and improvement of systems for your benefit.) It’s not all about a direct mail campaign. Our process involves the most advanced market analysis and demographic targeting in the dental industry to zero-in on your hottest areas. It involves the development of campaign strategy that will truly resonate with your patient consumers, making a lasting impact. It involves real-time visibility of actions and results to help you achieve your growth goals.

At a standstill was where Dr. Menghini in Pheonix, AZ was when he called Patient News for dental marketing services in 2016. He had been operating in his location for seven years. It had a pretty good demographic: middle-age insurance-based educated families with nice incomes. However, he had experienced two flat years. He set a modest goal to double his monthly new-patient flow.

Change takes consistency.

Like Tony Robbins, this practice “got it.” Change takes consistency. It takes dedication. Dr. M and his team were ready to benchmark, track, and analyze their metrics and make adjustments to hit their goals. After one year with Patient News, his monthly new patient flow was hitting his goal, he realized a 15% increase in active patients, and after those two flat years … experienced a 25% bump in revenue.

His advice? “No matter how busy you are, never turn a new patient away. Always accommodate their schedule. Chances are if you make them wait for an appointment or book too far out, they will go somewhere else.”

I recently heard Dr. Howard Farran talking to this exact comment. If your revenues have flat-lined and you’re not happy with your current production, listen to this. We know that industry-wide, 50% of patient calls are lost at the front desk, a big majority of which hit voicemail. Farran says you need to know when your calls are coming in, and whether your practice is open or not, answer those phones! Institute a double shift for calls from 6am to 6:30pm AND, he says, always have one operatory reserved for “emergencies.” Offices that make the most money have an operatory that is never scheduled. This way the front desk team can always “go for the close.” At his practice, no matter what a new patient says – my tooth hurts … I'm not sure about insurance … how much is a root canal – his team can say, “there are many different answers … come down right now, I want the doctor to see you, and then we’ll tell you …” No matter what, the team can go for the close. Consistently using this tactic has helped his practice make up lost production from last-minute cancellations or no-shows.

Ten things you can do to make sure your practice isn’t one that stagnates or comes to a standstill:

  1. Make sure your practice has a VISIBLE presence in the most important households surrounding your location

  2. Offer services that meet your market need – be convenient and easy to access

  3. Consistently benchmark , track, AND score marketing performance – online and off

  4. Make sure your telephone is ANSWERED LIVE during ALL expected business hours

  5. Make sure everyone who answers your phone has call handling training and understands your new-patient goals

  6. Make sure your staff is incentivized to exceed conversion expectations – industry-wide, 50% of new patients are lost at the front desk – patients you miss will call your competitors 

  7. Make sure your staff is engaged in the success of your practice, daily add-ons, requesting referrals 

  8. Make sure every active patient has a recall appointment booked (book the next appointment when the patient is at the practice)

  9. Ask every new patient if there is anyone else in their household who needs an appointment

  10. Know your metrics – not anecdotally and not emotionally. Make decisions based on business intelligence.

No matter what happened with your revenues in 2017, you can change your trajectory now. All it will take is a little determination, the decision to go for it, clear visibility of your metrics, and a team that will join in your mission to succeed. Here’s to your success!

As always, your Patient News Account Manager is standing by to review your goals, your current situation, and to help you uncover the best strategies to start marketing your dental practice to help your practice STAND OUT & Grow. No question is a bad question. Call today.