Many dentists shy away from marketing their practice or don’t see a good reason to market it, feeling it “cheapens” their practice or relying solely on referrals to get new business in the door. There are three things a dentist can do that will better market your practice and increase a patient load.
First, your online presence needs to be strong. Many potential patients who are new to the area will simply conduct a Google search to see what dentists are close by their work or home. Your website should have the basics covered:
- Easy contact information – make it easy for visitors to find out where you’re located and how to contact you. There should be a prominent “contact us” button that takes a visitor right to your telephone number, email address and street address. Have a map with parking information if your practice is tricky to access.
- Basic practice info – what are your hours and participating insurance plans? Share some basic info about the dentist and staff. Be sure to cover what services you provide and conditions you treat.
- High quality photos or video – consider hiring a professional photographer or videographer and aim for images that highlight the personality of your staff members and reflect the culture and feel of your office.
- Mobile-friendly – look at your website on your cell phone. Like what you see? More and more people are searching the web with smartphones and tablets, making a mobile-friendly site mandatory.
Secondly, your staff, and most importantly, your receptionist needs to be friendly and knowledgeable. The first call a new patient makes is pivotal. It doesn’t matter to the patient that the receptionist is able to multitask, manage paperwork or be adept at your practice software. Here are a few things a receptionist can do to help grow your practice:
- Friendly and competent – it is very important that the receptionist is warm, friendly, and patient to each person who calls or comes into the office. They must also be able to provide basic information about treatments so potential patients can quickly make a decision to book an appointment.
- Reassuring – patients want to know that they and their family members will be well cared for and their comfort will be a priority. However, make sure the receptionist isn’t giving guarantees on outcomes or recovery times.
- Always be ready to book an appointment – a receptionist should always be thinking about the next appointment. If the patient isn’t ready to book an appointment, the receptionist should get their contact information so you can follow-up and see if they still have a need. You can also offer to sign up the prospective patient for your monthly or quarterly newsletter.
Lastly, find the right marketing mix for your practice. A question that is often posed is what marketing initiatives work and what ones should be avoided. The answer isn’t cut and dry, it depends on what works for your individual practice. Here are some common marketing ideas to consider:
- Referral rewards – if a current patient refers someone to your practice, at a minimum, you should thank them with something as simple as a handwritten note. Or, consider offering a discount on a service or product as a way to say thank you.
- Direct mail – the key here is to draw in people who become loyal patients, not just one-time coupon clippers. This can be done by offering a deep introductory discount for new patients or a one-time discount on a particular service. The key is to track whether or not these promotions lead to patients who stay with the practice. If they don’t, then reconsider your approach. You may find an online strategy using social media outlets garners better results in your market.
- Cross-selling to current clients – once you have a relationship established with a patient, you can offer additional services like cosmetic procedures as a way to benefit your patient and increase your bottom line.
Marketing a dental practice is not what it used to be. Gone are the days of putting an ad in the phone book and counting on the patients to come and find you. In today’s environment, you need to find a marketing plan that works for you and suits your individual practice in order to grow your patient base. It is an investment in time and resources that will pay you dividends over the long run.