Making the decision to go on your own, whether starting from scratch or purchasing an existing practice, is a bold move that requires courage, determination, and a knack for business, among other things.
Early on you realize that probably the most challenging thing about running your own dental practice is patient acquisition, particularly if you have limited experience in marketing related activities.
Marketing concepts such as USP, ORM, SEO, and SEM may sound like Klingon to you. Unless you happen to be a trekkie versed in Klingon, Vulcan and the like.
Though that’s not going to stop you from achieving your goals and so you do your homework, consult with colleagues, and look for advice. You come up with a marketing strategy that you implement judiciously and experience success just as you expected.
Not quite, because there are bumps in the road. There always are.
However, you manage to come out ahead, with some bruises, but stronger and wiser, nonetheless. Better prepared to go at it again the next day, the next month, the next year.
Adam Smith is the co-owner of Oxford Dental Care, and a dental consultant who shares practice management stories at DentixtryIQ. He interviews dentists who are running their practice and picks their brains to find out what has worked well for them to attract new patients.
We decided to share with you four of his stories and focus on what they have done to attract new patients and the results they’ve got.
This is going to be fascinating, since it will help you see the business decisions that your colleagues are constantly making in order to have a thriving dental practice.
Dr. Timothy Elloway graduated from dental school in 1989 and purchased his practice right after. It was a rather small practice with a mature patient base in Paradise, CA. When he got started, he only practiced there 3 days a week.
He knew he needed to bring in more patients and he set out to increase his patient base by becoming actively involved in the community, introducing his practice to other businesses in town and contacting the retail clerk’s union.
Dr. Elloway also devised a referral program, offering his existing patients a personalized thank you gift, while also giving a welcome gift to his new referred patients. That really got him started, but he didn’t stop there.
Over the years, he tried many other marketing tactics to attract new patients to his practice, such as newspaper and phone book ads, both of which worked well in the past, but not anymore.
Another tactic that has worked well for Dr. Elloway is networking in local business groups, something that regularly generates between 5 to 10 new patients per month.
Born in New Orleans, Dr. Anissa Holmes went to dental school in Alabama and graduated in 1999. She got married and moved to Jamaica where she started her practice.
Dr. Holmes was an early adopter of Facebook as a marketing medium. She created a Facebook page for her practice in 2010 and has been posting on facebook regularly ever since to share her story with her community.
The topics she covers include, but are not limited to: what’s happening in her practice, behind the scenes, what they’re doing for their patients and what they do in their community. She makes the most of Facebook, posting content with video and pictures.
The results she’s had using Facebook to promote her practice have been amazing, averaging around 40-50 new patients per month.
Another source of new patients is her referral program, which is responsible for about 80 new patients per month.
It’s important to note that in the article, Dr. Holmes didn’t mention anything about Facebook ads, but upon inspecting her Facebook page, I noticed that she is used to running Facebook ads.
Dr. Boyd Newsome is the owner of Riverpoint Family, Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry, a dental practice he purchased in Albuquerque, NM in early 2015. It didn’t take long for him to expand his practice, adding another dentist, something which prompted him to work harder to increase the number of new patients.
Dr. Newsome mentions how he’s tried dozens of marketing tactics, from postcards to radio ads, hoping to find those that work and keep them.
What’s worked best for Dr. Newsome so far is his patient referral program. They have perfected it over time, but what Dr. Newsome did was he printed cards to hand out to current patients, offering movie tickets to both the referrer and the referral. This program is currently bringing about 35 new patients per month.
Another thing that’s worked for him is SEO & Google Ads, though he didn’t mention how many patients is each of these tactics bringing in per month. In total, they both bring about 50 new patients per month and about 5 more new patients that find them via their insurance.
In early 2017, Dr. Todd Miles purchased Delaney Park Dental, a dental practice with a rather small, albeit loyal, patient base in Anchorage, Alaska.
Though he knew how competitive the market was in Anchorage, he set himself challenging goals, including: to continue providing quality routine care, to introduce advanced procedures and to substantially grow his patient base.
Ever since he acquired the practice, Dr. Miles has basically implemented marketing strategies that he’s heard other dentists have had success with.
The first strategy he implemented was sending out mailers, though that turned out to be a big bust for him. He invested $10,000 and only saw 3 consults, none of which turned into actual patients.
Encouraged by a friend of his, Dr. Miles then decided to give Facebook ads a try. It's proved to be a huge hit for his dental practice. At the time Dr. Miles was interviewed, he had invested $12,000 (including agency’s fees) and had seen over $50,000 in revenue generated as a result of this strategy.
The last strategy Dr. Miles has tried is SEO, and though he’s quick to admit that he’s still in the early stages, his dental practice has already seen some patients coming in resulting from this strategy.
So there it is. Even though it’s just a sample of four dental practices, it’s enough for anyone to reach one important conclusion with regards to their marketing plan: a referral program is a must. If you have one already, perfect. I’d suggest you go over it, find what can be improved about it and keep perfecting it. If you still don’t have one, don’t wait any longer and set up yours today.
A referral program won’t be enough, though. Attracting new patients requires you to have a robust marketing program in place. It doesn’t mean that you have to implement every single marketing tactic available out there. It means you better be strategic about which tactics you decide to incorporate into your marketing arsenal.
When designing your marketing plan, it is important to understand how each tactic will help you step closer to achieving your goals. Make sure you at least include a solid referral program, some Facebook advertising to get quick results, SEO to boost your online presence, and an Online Reputation Management program to strengthen and protect your dental practice's reputation.
What do you think your marketing strategy should look like? If you need help crafting your ideal marketing plan, we can lend a hand. How about you start with a two-week 100% risk-free trial marketing campaign? Click the button below and let us show you amazing results!