-published in the Winter 2010 edition of the Georgia Academy of General Dentistry Explorer (www.gagd.org)
1. Get more new clients
2. Get more business from your existing clients
3. Get more new clients through referrals from your existing clients
In marketing, these three principles guide me daily as to “what do I do today?” Based on each category, these are initiatives I would launch in a dental practice today if they do not already exist:
1. Get more new clients. The question of “how can I get more new patients?” can be daunting, because we immediately break into a sweat over the costs of advertising. To make sure you get the most “bang for the buck” from your ads, first do a little work on your own infrastructure:
- Review new patient tracking reports and determine where most new patients currently come from to enhance what is working and create spin-off strategies. If this report does not exist in your practice, this is what today should be all about – creating a consistent method of tracking all incoming new patients.
- Mind the phone. Many folks know this is a big topic for me. Review how phone “conversations” with new patients are being handled. Arrive at a script that is based on a warm, friendly call that has a positive, welcoming energy.
- Consider a complimentary consultation for patients with complex issues that do not “fit the mold” of a complete exam, x-rays, cleaning, etc. These are opportunities that we might miss if we are not flexible in our approach.
2. Get more business from current clients.
Has your schedule slowed down? Here’s the lemonade from lemons approach – each day, take some of this extra time and spend it with your patients and your team:
- Have an extended daily huddle, in which you and your team talk about who is in the schedule today and their specific needs. The goal is to arrive at an approach to help these patients understand and accept necessary treatment.
- Photography. By far, this is the most effective universal tool for case presentation, team communication, and patient understanding. Take some time now to perfect your photos to expand patient dialogue and explore solutions for dental problems.
3. Get more new clients through referrals. Asking for referrals does not just mean you have to venture out of your comfort zone to directly approach a patient, i.e., “we would love to have more patients like you, do you have family or friends that might be in need of our services?” (Although I would encourage you to try to do some of this.)
A few systems can go a long way in creating referrals:
- If you have a healthy referral base, it’s time to start asking for testimonials for your website, send email newsletters with “send to a friend” links and thank you notes or gifts to encourage repeat referrals.
- Along with a great phone experience, improve all points of patient contact.
- Think of yourself in a social setting – this patient is in your “home;” you want them to choose your office as their permanent “dental home” and motivate them to tell others about you.
- A new patient interview, in which you initially meet with a new patient one-on-one outside of the operatory to talk about their smile goals and build personal rapport, is very powerful.
- Be sensitive to privacy issues when discussing finances with patients. (Mishandling this conversation is the fastest way to lose a patient.)
- A personally guided new patient office tour is a very nice touch that any dental team member can handle. In the tour, be sure to highlight conveniences or unique practice features, such as internet access, restrooms, toothbrushes, a pristine sterilization area, high tech equipment, etc.
In any business, sales must be driven – as you plan, ask for volunteers within your team or assign a person to handle the details of a specific activity and be responsible for reporting back on progress and outcomes. Through empowerment, your team will become more involved and will become your “Board of Directors” when it comes to making marketing decisions.Reference Abraham, J. (2000). Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got: 21 Ways You Can Out-Think, Out-Perform, and Out-Earn the Competition. New York: Truman Talley Books – St. Martin’s Griffin