Dentistry is a challenging field. We wear many hats and are responsible for the livelihoods of multiple people.
As a professional, you want to spend most of your time serving the needs of your patients. But as a business owner, you also need to take steps to ensure a steady flow of patients walk through your doors.
Change is constant and if you are not prepared your business will be affected.
Consider these questions:
If your numbers aren’t adding up to steady revenue and filled chairs, then the time to take action is now.
Ideally, your practice sets a standard for customer services that results in a high rate of patient retention from year to year. But having good patient retention rates doesn’t mean that you don’t want or need new patients.
A dental practice can expect to lose 5% to 20% of patients each year through normal attrition.
Even if you have the most successful practice in your community, you can’t afford to rest on your past success.
What attrition rates should you expect for your dental practice?
Higher attrition rates can occur when:
Also, remember to consider the opportunity cost of your practices’ empty chair times when deciding if you need to invest in obtaining more patients. Your practice hasn’t reached full profitability if it isn’t operating at full capacity. What is your hourly production value per chair?
With over ten years of experience operating a thriving dental practice, I’ve learned the value of investing in in the development of my dental office. Time spent marketing and seeking referrals has paid off for me. I’d like to see you achieve the same results for your practice.
So, to help you keep your chairs full and the flow of new patients coming in, I’ve put together my best practice enhancement tips for attracting new patients.
I regularly encounter people who ask, “Are you taking new patients?”
While I am surprised by this, I have concluded that these individuals must have encountered other dental offices who aren’t accepting new patients. This leads them to assume that I might not be taking patients either!
Don’t leave anything to chance. If you are accepting new patients let people know!
New patients sometimes make appointments but fail to show up.
The main reasons include:
Reduce the no-show rate by offering incentives and making sure your staff builds great rapport.
Once someone has visited your office and you have provided outstanding patient care, they are more likely to call on you for any subsequent treatments rather than search for someone new.
The level of incentive you choose to offer will depend on what you can afford and how quickly you want your practice to grow.
Online advertising is a smart strategy to quickly get your practice’s name in front of consumers in your geographic area.
Google and Facebook each have powerful analytics and audience selection methods that allow you to narrowly target your ads to reach the best potential customers.
Check out this case study of how Rice Creek Family Dentistry wins 30 new patients per month for an ROI of 2,900%.
If you aren’t sure how to get started, here’s a great guide. Or you can work with a digital marketing agency that specializes in helping dental practices.
Different than placing paid ads, organic marketing is attention that springs up naturally from the marketing “seeds” you plant.
In this scenario, your seeds are actually information or content that you share freely on your website. To raise organic interest, you publish informative and helpful information on your website in the form of blogs, FAQs, videos or other methods.
Then, you add the necessary language and coding that brings that content to the attention of search engines such as Google and Bing through a process called search engine optimization (SEO).
If the content is optimized properly and the value you’re providing is truly great, then your content will show up when someone is searching for your type of content.
To gain even more attention, you can amplify or publicize your content on social media. Again, you may want to call in the experts to help you get the most out of your SEO efforts.
Believe it or not, print remains a viable marketing channel. Individuals still enjoy the tactile experience of holding a real newspaper in their hands.
Additionally, a printed ad is purchased once but can provide multiple returns as a single paper may be shared among many people.
This is particularly true for papers that serve small businesses and local offices. Your ad in the local newspaper or magazine will keep you top of mind and tip of tongue when employees of local businesses need to see a dentist.
We have had a patient hold onto a direct mailer for 5 years before coming in. She claimed she had many personal and business matters that needed to be taken care of first before finding the time to come in.
Engaging in community service and other charitable work can earn you PR that is better than anything you can buy. Years ago I did humanitarian work in foreign countries and I was published in the local newspaper. Man oh man I was getting so many quality patients that you would not believe. I estimated that over the course of 6 months we got 50 patients as a result of this article. People want to go to businesses that give back to the world.
A surefire way to win new patients is by giving them service options that no one else does. More and more people need to work 8-5 Monday to Friday. It’s hard for them to take time off.
I know a dentist who takes Sundays and Wednesdays off and works on Saturdays. He is in San Francisco where there are ten dentists on every block.
His Saturday patients all work for big companies like Google and Apple and they don’t get the weekday off. When they come on Saturdays, they pay full fees without complaint.
If you don’t want to work every Saturday consider opening one Saturday per month.
UPS has excellent dental insurance for their employees, most have no max. Yet their drivers work 12 hour days during the weekday.
How about extended hours during the day? Be open until 7 PM. Again, maybe not every day, but the occasional extended day could be well worth it.
Maintaining a constant pipeline of new patients is essential to the long-term success of your dental practice. Take my advice and incorporate patient acquisition into your business plan now so that you don’t have to worry about your numbers later. Then, you can spend your time doing what you do best — serving your patients.