As a dental practitioner, you know how important it is to attract a certain number of new patients to your office every month. After all, new patients lead to more business which leads to more money, right? Besides all of the strategic marketing that can be done to help promote your practice and put it on the map (see “How Dental Marketing Leaders Works”), there are many other aspects that are commonly ignored; and these are things associated with day-to-day office procedure. If you’re not sure what we’re talking about there’s minimal need to worry. Here at Dental Marketing Leaders, we will not only provide you with the best marketing services around, but also with comprehensive business management consulting. This way, you can stay on top of the day-to-day operations of your practice.
A strong dental practice should be seeing an average influx of about twenty-five new patients per doctor per month. This can be a difficult target to hit, especially if there are problems in your basic office customs. As you’re likely aware, about seventy-five to eighty percent of new patients are
acquired through referrals. This is an unbelievably staggering number that makes it crucial for a dental practitioner to evaluate their “ideal patient.” Now you may be asking what exactly your ideal patient is. Just answer these few questions: Does your ideal patient pay their bills? Do they cooperate with your suggested treatment plans? Do they always show up on time for their appointments? Answers of “yes” to these questions provide the description of an ideal patient for all medical practitioners. This description is important to consider when optimizing your referral efforts.
Ever heard the saying “birds of a feather flock together”? Well, this has been proven to be true, especially amongst members of the older generations. People are most likely to spend time around and associate with people who are like-minded with common interests and values. So, if you have that grade-A patient who is dependable, pleasant to be around, and cooperative, it is extremely likely that anybody he or she refers to your practice have the same type of personality. This, in turn, will provide you with more and more reliable patients and help your business grow like crazy. So, the takeaway here is to always consider your ideal patient.
Now let’s discuss office etiquette and customs. Believe it or not, there are certain things some people may deem insignificant than can actually have a huge impact on whether or not you’re able to herd new patients into your practice. One of the biggest, and most difficult, things an office can do is run on time. We know that this can be tricky and that some days are going to be better than others, but it is vital to try your hardest to adhere to your written or computerized schedule every single day. If the doctor(s) is/are running behind, make sure your front desk receptionist is trained and able to keep patients in the waiting room updated on how much longer it will be until they are taken care of. It is important to remember that running behind schedule can send a message that your practice is too busy and has enough of its own patients to even care about new ones. This could, in turn, end up resulting in having patients referred away from your practice. So, stay on schedule and avoid ever hearing “My dentist is usually pretty busy, but I heard a new office just opened down the road.”
The next aspects of office etiquette have to do with your reception room and team. The waiting room is a patient’s first look into your office, and the person or group of people placed at the front desk are arguably the most important; they are the ones picking up the phones, greeting patients, and dealing with patients’ personal paperwork and information, as well as the ones who either leave a patient’s visit off on a high or low note. It is crucial that they are all well-trained, polite, tolerant, and outgoing. Otherwise, patients will develop a negative impression of your practice from the get go.
Starting off with waiting room appearance, it is important to understand that this is where you can get a ton of marketing done. The room needs to be clean, well-lit, and neatly organized with any brochures, pamphlets, magazines, photographs, etc. you wish to display. Make sure all of your services are highlighted somewhere in the room, as well as any before/after pictures that show off all of your best work.
As far as telephone etiquette is concerned, it is a good idea to have an on-hold message. This way, in the event that your receptionist needs to put a caller on hold, a pre-recorded message will start playing. This is a great chance to introduce new services, promote older services, or introduce new technology being used in your office. The more information you can give to the caller, the better.
The next piece of office protocol may sound slightly corny, but it is actually extremely effective. Conducting a well-run morning huddle with your team has been shown to generate more productivity and communication in a practice throughout the day. It is important to make sure you and your team members are all on the same page to keep everything running smoothly and efficiently all day long.
The last couple of aspects are key for generating more referrals. At a patient’s very first visit to your practice, it is important for them to leave with a good impression of your office, for it may encourage them to go share their positive thoughts with other potential patients. So, upon closing an appointment, make a statement to the patient along the lines of “If you have any friends or family members that are as great as you, we would love to have them as patients, as well.” Additionally, it is important to make sure you stay in the patient’s mind even after the visit. So, it could be a good idea to send a follow-up thank-you note to the patient thanking them for choosing your practice and reiterating that you hope they’ll tell their friends and family about you. In this way, you are not necessarily coming out and directly asking for a referral; you are simply putting it on the table. Get your staff involved in this kind of tactic, as well. However, just be sure it is not overused by the staff as a whole to avoid having the patient feeling like they are being pushed into generating a referral.
It’s clear that it takes even more than just your complex marketing strategy to acquire new patients and keep the existing ones interested. If you’re struggling in areas such as these in addition to your practice’s marketing strategy, you can be sure that Dental Marketing Leaders will be there to provide consulting in your day-to-day operations. All business owners should know that it takes far more than a good commercial and a nice billboard to maintain a front-running position. Being able to have a soundly-run office and a structured schedule, along with friendly staff and smart referral-generating tactics is what will really make your practice excel more than you ever imagined. So, contact Dental Marketing Leaders today to begin your business management consultation.