I receive around a dozen calls (inquiries) per week from dentists who want more patients. Like any business, attracting and retaining new customers (patients) is critical to the survival of your business. Unfortunately, here in the United States, dentists are throwing (turning) away and losing new patients by the truckload.
You may be wondering why the title of this article (blog post) has American in it. First off, I wanted to get your attention.
Secondly, I was talking to a dentist in Brisbane, Australia last week, and I asked him for his office hours. Guess what he said. Monday through Friday 9-6. And…he takes dental emergencies outside of those hours if the case warrants it.
I can understand that marketing use to be taboo for dentists just a few decades ago, but with the Internet you have the opportunity to get all those people searching for a dentist in your city to call your practice and not your competitors. That’s a huge opportunity to massively grow your dental practice.
I find it very hard to comprehend when a dentist tells me he/she wants new patients and yet their practice is only open 3 days a week.
Or, even if it’s a whopping 4 days a week, they are not patient-friendly hours that enable a normal working person to come and get their dental work done.
I can’t tell you how many times I listen to a call and the person calling says, “are you open on Fridays?” and the front desk person says “unfortunately no“; then the person asks “are you open after 5?” and the person says “unfortunately not“. What do you think happens next? They got off the phone and find another dentist who has hours that fit into their schedule, not the dentists.
Haven’t you heard the customer (patient) comes first?
I know you want a life, but don’t expect more new patients if your practice hours don’t fit into your patients schedule. You want to make it easy for a new person to choose your practice, and yet many of the dental practices I consult with do the opposite. They sit there and tell the poor soul how they are closed on Monday, their hours on Tuesday are 8-3, Wednesday is the same, Thursday is 10-3 and of course on Friday all dentist offices are closed.
When a person calls your practice inquiring about becoming a new patient, “get them in your door” no matter what! Do whatever it takes to get them in, in the next couple of days. If you do this, you will stand heads and tails above your competitors.
I was listening to a recorded call the other day to one of my dental clients practice, and the person answering the phone literally sent that person away because of their lack of basic phone etiquette and empathy. It just blew me away!
Dentists take note: The MOST important person in your dental practice is your front desk person who greets people and answers the phone. They can make or break your practice…period!
In marketing we call this a “touchpoint”. When a patient walks into your practice the first person who they talk to is the first “touchpoint”. If they are greeted with a happy face and interested and empathetic tone, you’re on your way to a fantastic patient experience.
How many times have you been treated poorly by the first person in a business you went into? How did you feel about that business? I know for me, I have no interest in going back there whatsoever!
Hire the most friendly, empathetic person you can to interact with your very valuable patients.This will explode your practice in both revenues and positive reviews online.
Here’s something I tell all my dental clients. When a person is inquiring about your practice, the goal of the person answering your phone is to “book the appointment”.
In my opinion, even if the schedule looks full, get that first appointment booked within a couple of days. I can tell you that many of my dentists will say they are booked out 6 weeks for a cleaning. To a new person…they are GONE! Never to come back. They will go to the dentist who cares about them, and gets them in promptly.
What message are you conveying to a new caller when you say you can “get them in”, in 4-6 weeks? To me you are saying to the person, “you are not important enough for us to get you in, so take it or leave it!”
As dentists you know each patient is a unique individual that deserves proper treatment and care, but as a business owner, it’s your responsibility to know “your numbers” when it comes to your revenues.
I want you to think of each new patient this way. I recently spoke with Fred Joyal, of 1-800-dentist. I highly recommend his book Everything Is Marketing. Here’s what he said to me…
“My standard lifetime value for a new patient is $10,000. It assumes an average of $500 per year over 20 years. I consider it radically conservative, as it doesn’t factor in the value of each word of mouth patient that the new patient will bring (average of 5, unless your practice sucks) or doing ortho or a single implant. When you factor in implants, I believe the average increases by $5,000. This of course is the average. I know many dentists whose ten year value of a new patient is double that, and double the number of WOM referrals. Those aren’t even the outliers.” Fred Joyal
Many dentists don’t look at it like that. They look at the initial treatment of a new patient, and that is not an accurate number. If you treat the new patient right, you will have them for life. That means in the very near future fillings, crowns, implants, and maybe even Invisalign.
Now add up the value of that new patient. It’s not the $129 cleaning anymore. It’s the thousands of dollars in procedures. I hope you’re getting the bigger picture now.
Many times I see “leaks in the bucket” internally once a dentist has hired me to do their marketing. This can bleed you of new patients indefinitely. If there is a disconnect with the person answering the phone and the caller, I can assure you it’s happened more than once. Considering the lifetime value of a new patient mentioned above by Fred, how much revenue have you lost all these years? For some, it’s in the hundreds of thousands.
I hope this has been an eye-opener for you and your dental practice. By implementing the right marketing strategies, you can not only be the leader in your locale, but you can have happy, satisfied patients who refer many more to you for years to come.