This might be my ‘but’ blog! And it’s also got 3 FREEs at the end. Take advantage of them, please!
The pandemic has put all emphasis on communicating with and retaining existing patients. And that’s been and will continue to be a very important focus. Upping patient communication and keeping patients connected is a critical, critical part of practice recovery. But it’s not a bed of roses yet. In general, production is slipping around the 80-90% pre-COVID levels range, and last summer, the average dental office had more than 50% of active patients scheduled. Now, we’re looking at average ranges of just over 35% scheduled.
Is this the same at your practice? How do you feel a variance like this will impact your production levels over the next 30-60-90 days?
It’s critical to continue to communicate with internal patients who’ve been risk-averse and have held back, and almost more importantly now, is to work externally to attract more risk-tolerant new patients.
It’s been a busy few months with re-opening, reacting to daily and weekly challenges and managing stress levels and workloads. But now what?
What do you want out of your practice for the balance of this fiscal? How will you build for a strong 2021? Summer’s over, baby – it’s time to get busy, and it sounds like some dental offices might not be. I never want to be negative; there is always positive to find. But the industry, in general, is talking about a slowdown in patient activity. Differing news reports may be sending some patients in spirals. Dentists and teams aren’t sure how to consistently communicate with patients. Was the past month activity only from risk-tolerant patients? And was pent-up demand only from those patients, and will activity diminish? It’s super challenging to know what’s coming.
But one thing is for sure. Dental offices that continue to put out great marketing into their communities to acquire new patients continually are expected to grow. Data proves that new patients are 2-3 times more important to rapid production than existing patients.
So back to “what do you want from your practice.” What is in store for the next 90 days? What do you want to have achieved by the time we welcome 2021? By creating clarity around your goals, you can stop and implement plans that will help you achieve your vision for where you want to go in the short – and long – term.
So, while you’re focused on active patients, benchmark your metrics and set your goals. Of course, Practice ZEBRA (dental software for practice intelligence), can give you black and white clarity there!
Some people are of the mind that patient retention equals revenue, and reducing churn reduces the need for new patients. And, there has been a lot of busy schedules filled with risk-tolerant patients up until now.
So, absolutely yes, on one level, keeping patients and reducing churn is extremely important – but we can already see that it’s not enough to push production back up. As mentioned, on average, dental offices are hovering around 90% of pre-pandemic production levels. Will that hold? Is that enough for you? Did you start 2020 looking to grow or to stay static? Growth is possible. It will just take a little more dentistry. That’s where new patients can take hold.
In general, in the past, every dental office, regardless of how WOW it is, does experience roughly 15-20% loss of active clients annually due simply to naturally occurring attrition. Today, during the pandemic, the number of lost (or just lapsing) patients may balloon and the pain to your bottom line in the coming months could be challenging as that pent-up patient demand starts to dwindle.
Check your September schedule now.
We’ve blogged about “Sucktember” many times in the past. Your numbers probably reflect that year over year fluctuation, and you’ve been ready for it. BUT (another but) will this year be even worse due to the pandemic? It’s very likely. But it’s never too late to implement initiatives at your practice to improve production results.
- implement a campaign that encourages team members to ask patients you’re seeing NOW for referrals during their visit and offer an incentive
- make it easy for patients – email and mail active patients with your referral incentive and remind them why your practice is the one their friends and family should choose
- post the news that you’re welcoming new patients on your social channels
- launch a paid media (PPC) campaign to catch new patients when they’re searching
- educate patients about elective services – a reported trend is longer visit dentistry with patients desiring to have more done in one visit – patient newsletters, social posts, and email campaigns are great ways to build awareness for specialty treatments
- get direct mail into targeted homes around your practice.
To have a great end to this year, you’ll need to maintain and build momentum with your patient base count. As I mentioned earlier, dentists and their teams who send great marketing to their community will be set for growth. Patient success is more relationship-based than ever as we continue to move through the pandemic. Building and strengthening patient trust is key – and the key to trust is excellent communication.
Use all channels (print, digital, social, text, email) so that you capture each of your patients and prospects wherever they are. Make it easy for patients to know you, appreciate what you do, and take advantage of your services. People need to know how important oral health is and how important professional care is for them. It’s not just about better home care!
Direct mail provides an exceptional opportunity right now while people are at home and looking for things to do. They’re excited about their “packages” arriving daily from online shopping – you can make your name one of the things your neighborhood homes see regularly – and that will build trust.
Email is a pain. But it works! We can help you craft unique emails for your patients using our “email anytime technology,” and we can help you generally improve word of mouth through a monthly patient newsletter.
Paid media is ideal right now. Capture prospective patients when they have a need and are searching online. We can help you with a comprehensive program that covers all the bases. And with dynamic number insertion and results tracking, you’ll know exactly what ads work in your area.
Don’t get caught with busy-work. Or if you are overwhelmed with busy-work – let our team help you implement great marketing to communicate with your patients and help you fill your schedule with new high-value (remember, new patients contribute 2x that of existing) patients.
- Not sure about the prime areas you should target for new patient growth? We’ll complete a detailed market area analysis, including where your patients are coming from, population to dentist ratios, competitive levels and locations, and buying preferences! This is a FREE service!
- Not sure if your website is doing all it can for you? We’ll run a complete online audit of your entire digital presence – you’ll know how you line up against competitors, where your website could be improved, review rankings, and more! This is also a FREE service!
- Wondering where you should turn to figure out what your practice key performance metrics are? We’ll connect you with Practice ZEBRA so you can see all of your patient trends, new patients, scheduling, insurance, demographics (do you know how many baby boomer patients you have – these folks spend well), and patient values (is your new patient value 2X that of an active patient?). Practice ZEBRA will show you with black and white clarity. This is a FREE service!
Our team of dental marketing consultants wants to hear from you. They care about you, they understand what you’re going through, and they can help. Take advantage of a free consultation. We’ll complete the three FREEs I just noted, and we’ll help you create a plan to move your practice forward. There Is ZERO obligation. We’ve helped hundreds of dental teams through the pandemic. We’ve been trusted by dentists just like you for over 27 years – please call our team today. Thanks for reading! We’re here for the dental practice that wants to stand out & grow!