Many people assume the hardest part of becoming a successful dentist is the necessary education, but the real challenges often appear once you start running your practice. How can you continue to reliably grow your patient base while attending to all your other responsibilities?
What’s more, you’ll likely find yourself with a lot of extra information to track once your practice starts growing. How do you balance business growth with sustainability and keep your services consistent? Don’t worry; we have a few ideas.
10 Tips You Can Start Using to Grow Your Practice Now
Here’s a list of strategies you can implement right away to start growing your practice. Best of all, you can use these ideas to complement each other and maintain your growth while preserving the quality of your services.
Offer More Services
Casting a wide net is essential if you want to land more patients, so one of the easiest things you can do is increase the scope of work your practice offers. If most of your patients are only coming to you for basic things like regular cleanings, it might be time to invest in equipment that allows you to perform more sophisticated tasks.
It’s not always about being qualified to perform the services in question (we assume you’re already pretty capable since you run your own dental practice). Sometimes, though, you have to let prospective new patients know that you have what it takes to satisfy their needs. Advertising your lesser-known services and occasionally replacing the equipment needed to perform them shows that you’re serious about offering them and increases patient confidence.
Make Payment Easier
Offering more flexibility for financial transactions makes you accessible to a broader socio-economic spectrum of patients. One obvious way to do this would be to provide direct billing with a larger range of insurance providers. Supporting as many payment methods as you can (debit, credit, cash, etc.) will also help your patients feel supported, which is critical to retaining them.
Invest in Your First Point of Contact
When a patient calls their potential new dental practice for the first time, they should hear a friendly, professional voice on the other end of the line. However, you’d be surprised at how often struggling practices neglect to invest in communication and customer service training for their front-line staff.
For example, only 52% of practices have scripts to help guide their customer service employees through common situations, even though over 90% agree that scripting is important. Spending the time and money to make customer service at your practice consistent might seem like a big investment, but it’s an extremely important one.
Get Creative about Encouraging Referrals
Once you’ve taken the time to ensure your customer service is reliable, you’ll want to make sure word gets out to people who haven’t tried your practice yet. The best way to do that is to ask your existing patients for referrals. However, the key is to frame the request in such a way that it feels incentivized rather than tedious.
Some practices implement patient referral programs, where existing patients can earn rewards for bringing in their friends and relatives. You might think setting up a referral program sounds like a lot of work, but don’t underestimate the influence these programs can have. For example, over 90% of cosmetic dentistry patients consider referrals a determining factor in choosing their practice.
Stay Visible with Cross-Channel Marketing
Yes, social media ads and promotional emails can be annoying, but do you know why you keep getting them? That’s right: because they work. Data from Oberlo suggests that every $1 spent on email marketing creates an average return of $42, and more than 70% of customers who have positive experiences with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to others.
Use “Click to Call” Ads
Ads that fail are usually ads that don’t guide the viewer to a specific action. Ask yourself: what do you want a prospective patient to do after seeing one of your ads? If your practice is like most others, the answer is obvious: you want them to book an appointment.
Facebook and Google Ads both offer a “click to call” feature where users can hit a button to instantly book their next appointment with you. These features can increase your ROI substantially (up to 143%, according to Forrester Research).
Personalize Your Outreach Efforts
It should go without saying that generic ads won’t have the impact you want. Customizing your content can create more favourable impressions on 82% of your audience, so simply engaging your audience isn’t enough. You also have to reach them in a way that shows off what makes your practice unique.
Instead of simply spamming your mailing list, create a customized newsletter highlighting new developments at your practice. That way, you can develop the specific voice of your practice while sharing information about your services and programs.
Match Your Services with the Right Audience
Platforms like Facebook and Google Ads let you choose specific audience criteria for each ad you create. You probably know that already, but what you might not know is how to make the most of these features when seeking new patients for your dental practice.
It’s all about showing your ads to people who will actually want the highlighted services. For example, low-to-middle-income adults probably won’t be interested in expensive cosmetic dentistry, but they will still need to get their teeth cleaned regularly. If you’re making an ad about dental veneers, you’ll want to narrow down the audience so that it only includes people above a certain income threshold — but if your ad is about dental cleanings, then keep it more open.
Make Your Office Culture Consistent with Your Messaging
Clever emails and social media campaigns are great for enticing new patients to your practice. However, you’ll have to make sure their experience during the actual visit matches the expectations you’ve given them if you want them to keep coming back.
The key takeaway here is to make sure your marketing reflects your office culture. That could be as simple as color-coordinating your office decor with your marketing emails. On the other hand, it could require you to sit down with your staff and have a group discussion about what makes your practice unique, so that your outreach efforts are highlighting the right things.
Use Software to Improve Your Recall Efforts
We know from experience that recalling patients can take an astonishing amount of time and effort. What’s more, it’s far too easy to let patients slip through the cracks if you don’t have an automated way to track who’s due for their next appointment.
The right recall software can help you grow your practice organically by reducing the confusion that so often causes missed or cancelled appointments. Since 82% of patient revenue comes from your practice’s recall system, it’s well worth investing in the best recall software you can find.
Take the Hardest Work Out of Growing Your Practice
With all the proven tools and techniques available today, it’s easier than ever before to grow your practice consistently. Using the strategies above will leave you more time to focus on providing excellent care for your existing patients, while improving retention and attracting new ones over time.