Perfect time to hit the pause button
We have closed off the first 6 months of the year. Are you trending towards achievement of the production goal you set for this fiscal? Are you ahead, or are things lagging?
It’s not a bad time to hit pause for a moment, take a beat, and look to reset. To spend time considering what your practice has done well so far (so you can do more of that) and what you could be doing differently for the rest of the year in order to yield better results.
There are 4 key areas to increase production:
- Add more new patients
- Increase patient spend
- Reduce patient attrition
- Revisit pricing.
- DENTAL OFFICES ALWAYS NEED TO ADD MORE NEW PATIENTS
The average dental office that uses Patient NEWS generates $1.6 million in production, have an active patient base of 2,000, and they add around 50 new patients per month. Those new patients contribute an average of $1,800 to production annually.
A steady flow of new patients is essential in every business model.
New patients bring solid new production to a dental office. They have a value that’s almost 2X of an active patient because they need dental treatment and they’re engaged when they are new to you. And, when you consider that the average dental office hasn’t seen roughly 25% of active patients in over 9 months, and will have 15-20% patient attrition each month, adding new patients really becomes absolutely essential for revenue security, and more important if you’re looking for production growth.
- Do you have a new-patient program in place that’s working well? (Our neighborhood newsletters are the number-one driver of new dental patients.)
- Can you expand your current marketing investment in order to add more high-value new patients?
- Do you have capacity, or can you make room, to add more new patients?
- Do you know how much more valuable a new patient is to your practice versus an active? On average, an active patient contributes $1000, and a new patient contributes $1800, AND in addition, a new patient is likely to refer more new patients to you!
- Have you exhausted patient referrals? Do your existing patients know you want more new patients? Spread the word!
- CASE ACCEPTANCE TO INCREASE PATIENT SPEND
More visits don’t always equal more production or higher spend. To increase the average value a patient spends with your practice, consider your upselling and cross selling opportunities.
- Look at your customer servicing. There is nothing that will kill patient spending more that poor service, or even just a perceived indifference of their value to you. If you’re not enthusiastic when greeting, by phone or in person, when your team won’t bend or get creative to solve scheduling problems, when the dentist doesn’t look the patient in the eye, a myriad of little misses can lead to patients feeling underappreciated, so they stop coming and don’t buy into the treatment presented.
- That said, with a great team and everyone happy, helpful, and welcoming … patients spend more with dentists and teams who appear to have their best interest at heart. Patients like to know all of their treatment options so they can improve their looks and health. One of our VIP clients, Dr. Hazel Glasper, who may have the highest new-patient value I’ve ever seen, will tell you that when you diagnose more and present more, you’ll schedule more. Patients want to spend money on themselves, which leads to a more profitable practice for you. If you haven’t seen Dr. Glasper present, search her out. She is a powerhouse.
- Offer incentives. Add a low-cost high-value item to a high-cost procedure, and hold that in your back pocket when presenting … after you’ve identified the problem, shared the solution, identified any objections, you’ve pushed the pain-point no-change button, and still feel a hold back…
- Circle back to your patients with unaccepted treatment list. Sometimes people just need a moment to think about things before they make a decision – that’s why you follow up! According to a study, 80% of sales require an average of five – or more – follow-up messages. And, when you follow up at least a bit, you show patients you care. Look at the top cases in the unaccepted list – those are probably worth the dentist’s time to make a few personal phone calls. For the rest, make sure you’re communicating via all channels with educational information about your services.
- REDUCING ATTRITION & WHY ITS IMPORTANT TOO
First of all, patient newsletters are what we were founded on – and our clients currently are 10% ahead of 2021 production and 25% ahead of pre-COVID production. Talk about “proven.” Don’t get me wrong, we manage digital campaigns, websites, landing pages, SEO, PPC/paid media, automated communications, social marketing, the full gamut today … AND direct mail. Every dental practice should invest in a quarterly patient newsletter. Seriously. It’s not that hard. It’s doesn’t have to be time-consuming. It’s not expensive in the grand scheme of things. And I’ll bet the majority of dental offices aren’t sending something so simple, yet so impactful. If you’re not doing it, you need to. Doesn’t this ring of a golden opportunity for your practice to stand out amongst all the automated messages, emails, texts, and artificial communications? Hey, those are great, don’t get me wrong. But when was the last time you received something from one of your own healthcare providers that rang of a value-added effort?
Listen… 25% of active patients have not visited their dental office in somewhere between 9-12 months. That’s the average, and our clients are above average, so you’re somewhere in there. The average practice has just over 2,000 active patients – which means 500 patients aren’t currently connected.
One of our colleagues, Kelly Schwartz of Schwartz Consulting, says that it can actually be a good thing to “love some patients out the door” to make room for high-value new patients. So it’s not all about retaining every twice a year cleaning patient, or those GenZs and getting them into your schedule. It is, however, about ensuring that the patients that do spend (most often that’s GenX and up), are feeling very connected to you, and appreciated by you. Active patients provide that secure and steady monthly income so that you can invest in new-patient activities to increase practice production and improve valuation.
How do you improve retention?
- Mail a printed patient newsletter. Adults of ALL ages welcome mail from their providers, they want to receive mail, and it helps them making buying decisions. And you’ll stand out. Look what’s in your mailbox. It’s a very low-cost high-value way to show patients you care.
- Are your patients happy and excited when they come to see you? I realize that’s not going to happen all the time, there are “those” clients, but do you feel happiness from most of your patients when they see you? Your service should trigger a positive emotional response.
- Make sure everyone on your team is living up to your vision so that you’re delivering what you’ve promised your patients. It’s really important when onboarding new team members that they get your culture, understand what patients expect, and what you expect them to provide in terms of patient experience. Training courses are everywhere to help brush up skills; take advantage of them. Our free Phone Power system is a great resource for call handling.
- Be genuine. Trust is the number-one thing you need from patients, and nothing will kill that more than a gut feeling that the person you’re dealing with isn’t being genuine. Only give a compliment when you really mean it. People can tell phony.
- Great service is a significant driver of internal practice growth. Patients want superior experience, and they’re getting pickier by the moment. They want to be treated like they’re special and not a one-size-fits-all get-‘em-in-get-‘em-out – unless that’s your value prop – people want you to understand their needs and expectations. It’s about prioritizing the patient experience. Look at the modern patient journey… What are the touchpoints and what are the conveniences you can offer. How can you make the patient experience better than any other option around you?
- PRICING. THE TRICKY BALANCE OF VALUE DELIVERED.
With average patient volumes still below pre-COVID levels for the average dental office, 25% have raised fees, and more are following. Raising fees can be tricky but inflation is happening, and everyone knows it. Depending on the insurances you accept, the co-pay impact may be so minor that the majority of your patients won’t notice or really care, particularly if you can demonstrate the value you’re providing. That’s the key. If your product is adding value to your patients’ lives, and the experience they get is a great one, people are willing to pay more.
- Know your costs and run the numbers, including what is happening in your market area. For example, if you’re struggling with price shoppers, maybe your fees are too low and you’re attracting the wrong patient. You must know how your practice fees compare to competitors, particularly in this dynamic time.
- Consider implementing a flat X% increase across all procedures, or target new patients first (while allocating for that low-cost bonus item).
- Script your team to be able to answer questions, explain the why, the value, and how the increase will benefit patients. Don’t apologize. Help everyone be prepared to overcome any objections.
- If you can, assure patients that there won’t be another increase for X timeframe.
- According to a DiQ article, increasing fees reasonably can keep patients loyal because they feel the practice is improving – your service must reflect that!
There is time to reset and continue your growth trajectory. Look at those goals, check your patient and new-patient key metrics, make sure you’re adding a good flow of new patients and increase that if you can, hone your retention and pricing strategies, and use effective marketing channels.
That’s where we come into play. We can help you benchmark exactly where you’re at and provide you with any combination of proven, effective, digital and direct-mail strategies that will help you build and strengthen your practice.
Call our team today and schedule a free consultation. We offer an amazing array of free reports during our consultation phase, so take advantage of these and see if we can’t help you take off to greater heights!