Take Advantage of Your Existing Patient Base

 

Melinda SpitekHow to Add Profitability — Without Adding Patients!
Special Marketing Feature
By Melinda Spitek, Hycomb Marketing

We all love to get new patients, but a lot of the dentists I consult with aren’t aware of the gold mine they’re sitting on: high value current patients!

My office is located in California’s Wine Country, where the marketing of wine is a Great Big Deal. Did you know that less than 10% of the population purchases more than 80% of all wine sold? That’s a critical core consumer group. You find it mirrored again and again in other industries and enterprises.

And dentistry is no exception! There are five basic components of a successful internal dental marketing strategy:

 

  • Information value (keeping your patients up-to-date on what you offer),
  • Educational value (teaching your patients about important health issues),
  • Repetition value (reminding your patients that you are their dentist and that they might be past due for recare),
  • Consistency, and
  • Consistency.

 

 

We are so inundated with information these days that people forget faster than ever. That’s why it’s never been more important to have an ongoing internal marketing program— and a realistic idea of what it can accomplish.

As an example, consider sending a regular newsletter to your entire patient base. Such a strategy provides:

 

  • Information and educational value,
  • Repeated name recognition,
  • A tangible link to your practice,
  • Flexibility of involvement (your office can be closely tied to development of the materials, or not involved at all), and
  • Cost-effective promotion to high-value current patients.

 

 

I’m often asked, “Do patients read newsletters?” I’ll be honest. Chances are a quarter of them will toss it without reading a word. But, even so, they will recall your name and know it came from you. Maybe half will read some of the newsletter with your name reminding them that you are their dentist. Maybe a quarter will read it cover to cover and be stimulated!

I’d compare this strategy to a political campaign. How could signs reading ROSS FOR GOVERNOR — absent any information about ROSS — motivate a vote? It’s the accumulative effect of these reminders on an individual’s memory that stimulates action.

That is the effect a sustained internal marketing effort can have on growing the productivity of your existing patient base.

Melinda Spitek is CEO of Hycomb Marketing Inc. Hycomb was founded in 1980 for the purpose of helping dentists market their practices. Melinda has had plenty of hands-on experience as well, having worked 23 years in dental offices. For help with marketing, just call Hycomb at (800) 523-6961 or visit www.hycomb.com.

Dental Marketing Tops Dentists’ List of New Year’s Resolutions

Three out of Four Dentists Resolving to Attract More New PatientsNew Years Resolutions for Dentists and Dental Practices

The Wealthy Dentist asked dentists about their resolutions for the New Year. Three out of four dentists said their goal was to attract more new patients. Dentists also cited marketing efforts, knowing that a profitable dental practice needs to market itself to stay competitive. Other goals include retirement, working less, and acquiring new equipment or team members. On a personal level, the number one goal of dentists is to maintain or improve their personal health.

In addition to new patient marketing, dentists had a number of other goals for their dental practices. Here are dentists’ top New Year’s resolutions for their dental practices.

  1. Attract more new patients
  2. Cut costs
  3. Purchase new equipment
  4. Increase Internet dental marketing efforts
  5. Prepare for retirement
  6. Expand treatment options

When asked about their resolutions on a personal level, two out of three dentists cited maintaining or improving their personal health, a befitting goal for health care professionals. Here are their top resolutions for their personal lives.

  1. Maintain or improve personal health
  2. Travel
  3. Lose weight
  4. Spend more time with family
  5. Work less
  6. Learn a new skill

Read the complete New Year’s resolutions dental survey results

Dental Practice Marketing is Part of a Dentist’s Job

Melinda Spitek The “New Patient” Mystique: Build It and They Will Come?
Special Marketing Feature
By Melinda Spitek, CEO, Hycomb Marketing

In the classic movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s movie character has a vision of building a stadium and attracting long-dead baseball stars to come back and play ball. We the audience get caught up in the dream and, like the hero, start to believe the players will truly show up. But the truth is, it’s only a fantasy.

It’s not surprising that even in today’s competitive market for the new dental patient, some of the powers-that-be advocate the classic approach to dental practice building: word of mouth referral from satisfied patients. Effectively, dentists are encouraged to “Build it and hope they will come.”

So, should you be actively involved in soliciting new patients, or merely waiting for your current patients to “tell a friend?”

The answer is both. We’ve all heard dentists say, “Our best patients are referred by our best patients.” Certainly, that’s true. But should you just sit around and hope? I’ll bet dentists who do nothing to stimulate referrals do a lot of waiting – not to mention have plenty of empty chair time.

Alas, new patients just don’t magically appear. Perhaps you’re disinclined to mount an aggressive direct mail effort to solicit new patients. Or maybe you feel newspaper, magazine, or radio would be overly restricted by your state’s guidelines. At a bedrock minimum, then, you should be getting referrals from the best source of all – your current patients – by asking for them!

I know that, for some of you, asking for referrals is tough. You may even think it denigrates your professional image. But I assure you, that’s not true. Your current patients are coming to you because they believe in your abilities. Why shouldn’t they be honored and flattered when asked to refer their own friends or relatives?

You can punctuate the referral process with patient referral cards – Smile Cards.* These are business-size cards in which space is provided for the new patient to write in the name of the person who referred them. A win-win situation: the new patient receives a monetary incentive to make an appointment with you, and the referring patient receives a similar reward.

You may want to supplement your referrals effort by reaching out to potential new patients in other means of advertising. However, there are a few things to keep in mind here. Some states are very restrictive when it comes to professional dental services advertising. Before you begin to spend, make sure you’re knowledgeable about guidelines. An even better idea is to hire a professional dental marketing agency familiar with your needs and your state’s regulations.

*Smile Cards (design and text) are a Copyright product of Hycomb Marketing Inc. (Created by Jim Du Molin)

Melinda Spitek is CEO of Hycomb Marketing Inc. Hycomb is an authority in marketing for dentists. Melinda has had plenty of hands-on experience as well, having worked 23 years in dental offices. For help with marketing, just call Hycomb at (800) 523-6961 or visit www.hycomb.com.

Dentist Appointments: No-Shows Must Pay Anyway

Dentist missed appointment feesMissed dentist appointment fees have recently made headlines, with one Canadian man complaining loudly about a $400 cancellation charge.

Many dentists charge patients missed appointment fees. Typically, these fees tend to be about $25-50 per appointment. But there’s a lot more variation than you might expect!

A recent survey we conducted showed that an average of 1 in 10 patients is a no-show. That’s a 10% reduction in dental practice profitability, and a serious dental management issue.

The $400 missed appointment fee

Roland Ikporo’s son got a toothache last month, but their family dentist was closed. So he took his son instead to Calgary’s Expressions Dental clinic.

The dentist there conducted an exam and took x-rays at a cost of $150. He told Ikporo that his son needed 4 teeth removed right away. So Ikporo made another appointment for two days later.

But within an hour, Ikporo cancelled the appointment, realizing that his general dentist would be cheaper. (While Expressions Dental would charge $1,700 to remove the four teeth, the dental work was only $800 from their regular dentist.)

Though called the dentist office to cancel the appointment less than an hour after he made it, his Visa was billed an additional $400 missed dentist appointment fee.

Ikporo had in fact signed a consent form that explained the clinic’s cancellation policy: give 72 hours notice or be charged $200 per hour of missed appointment time. So by booking an appointment less than 3 days in the future, Ikporo had no ability to cancel.

Angry, Ikporo has registered a complaint with the Alberta Dental Association and College. They are now investigating.

Just an observation: Even if he pays the $400 fee, Ikporo will still have saved money by having his family dentist perform the extractions… The general dentist‘s $800 fee plus the $400 cancellation charge is still significantly less than the $1,700 quoted by the dental clinic.

What’s your policy?

Many dentists find that a $20 cancellation charge just doesn’t get the job done. How does your practice handle no-shows?

Read more: Father angry over $400 dentist cancellation charge

Not All Dentists Comfortable With Broadcast Media (video)

dentists fear broadcast mediaBroadcast media can be an interesting and profitable avenue, but not all dentists are comfortable with radio or TV advertising.

“Even when radio seems to be failing for some, we have continued our success!” boasted one dentist.

“It cheapens the profession,” vented one California dentist. “When was the last time you heard a cardiologist or neurosurgeon advertise?”


097-Broadcast_Media.mp4

Read more: Dental Marketing via TV and Radio Ads

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