Being a dentist isn’t about teeth. It’s about people – your patients. When you keep that fact top-of-mind at all times, it will be easier to attract high-quality patients and grow your practice. So focus on building relationships – the costs are small, and the benefits can be incalculable.
Here are 14 proven ideas you can use right now:
- Remember every staff person’s attitude reflects on the practice, especially yours and the first person that greets patients as they arrive.
- Post photos in your waiting area of yourself and staff doing everyday things — playing with pets, on vacation, hobbies, community volunteer activities — so patients can get to know you as people.
- Invest in noise canceling headphones, because hearing you work can greatly increase patient fear. A dentist who cares about that will be highly sought-after.
- Personally follow up calls with patients after surgery.
- Don’t assume a particular patient can’t afford the treatment you would recommend. You’re potentially cheating them out of service they need and cheating yourself out of additional revenue.
- Display informational flyers or brochures about the procedures you provide – whitening, Six Month Smiles, implants and implant restoration, Invisalign, oral cancer screening – to demonstrate the scope of your practice. Patients can’t request cosmetic or other optional services if they don’t know you perform them. Put all this information on your website, too.
- Encourage happy patients to post online reviews to build your reputation and help attract new patients. Particularly with highly personal services such as dental work, prospects rely heavily on reviews to make decisions.
- If you’re a specialist, you need referrals from other dentists. Connecting with them via LinkedIn, introducing yourself to them and their staff one-one-one and attending professional networking events are all ways to acquire the high-quality referrals you want.
- Take the time to create personas that represent each key segment of your target marketing audience. That way, you’ll never waste money promoting your practice to inappropriate prospects. What targeting criteria match your personas? Age, gender, income level, type of dental treatments needed, new residents, etc.
- Make sure your website is appealing, informative and easy-to-use even for people searching with a mobile device. Interactive options such as online appointment scheduling save time for patients and staff and show your practice is “with it” when it comes to technology. This implies you’re tech-savvy in the office as well. Your website should answer all the questions patients normally ask about scope of services, insurance, hours, etc. And it should include a personal bio about dentists in your practice. It should also reflect the tenor and personality of your practice – that’s the personal relationship angle that’s so important.
- Make it easy for potential patients to find you – in person and online — with profiles on Google+ and other local search sites.
- Use direct mail postcards to generate a steady flow of new patients and re-attract lapsed patients. Reach out to prospects and current patients with targeted campaigns designed to promote specific procedures or boost revenue for a particular period. Direct mail is not only affordable, it’s highly effective.
- Use email to stay in touch with existing patients – sending your monthly e-newsletter, appointment reminders, birthday greetings, special offers and thank-you follow up messages after each visit.
- And speaking of existing patients, it’s always much less expensive to build on repeat business than it is to attract new patients. Certainly you need those new people, but increasing the lifetime value of each current patient is the most cost-effective marketing tactic. Focus on promoting your highest-margin procedures. Or give loyal patients a special discount on popular elective treatments as a way of upselling them and saying thanks at the same time.
And last – but also first – always thank them for being your patient.