Many dentists are living a “be careful what you wish for” scenario.
The Great Recession of 2008 hit dentists’ new patient funnels and bottom lines hard. After years of comparative financial drought, prospects are now flooding dental practices with appointment requests. As a result, many doctors now say they feel like they’re on roller skates, running between operatories trying to keep up with their packed schedules.
Too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing. Having hordes of low-case-value dental patients isn’t a good thing. Quite the opposite, in fact. A steady stream of low-value patients keeps you and your staff working too hard for too long for too little. You’re doing routine exams, a ton of drill-and-fills, and maybe the odd crown here and there. You rarely get to handle the cases that you love to do.
If you got into dentistry to be a conveyor-belt dentist, you’re in your element. You’re making money and staying busy. Really busy. If you have a different idea of how dentistry should be, this scenario is stressful and fatiguing. The longer it goes on, the more likely it is that it will become demoralizing and you’ll dread going into the office.
But you’ll be too busy to take any significant amount of time away from your practice.
Dentistry is too good a profession to be this unrewarding. One of the likely reasons you got into dentistry was your desire to make a significant difference in your patients’ well-being. Drill-and-fills use only the smallest fraction of your potential to do good.
There’s a Better Way to Profit
High-volume practices almost always advertise low price, specials, and insurance acceptance. That’s the traditional model of dental marketing, and many dentists embrace it simply because that’s what they see their competitors doing.
That model yields the patients that fuel conveyor-belt dentistry: price shoppers, insurance-driven patients, and one-and-dones with no loyalty to the practice. They fill the new patient pipeline for a moment and then they’re gone, leaving dentists to spend more money trying to replace them.
There’s a different, proven model of dental marketing that yields what every non-corporate dental practice wants: better patients.
Better dental patients comprise up to 30% of the prospects in a given market. They’re people with the ability and willingness to pay more for the right dentist, someone they consider likeable, relatable, trustworthy, and expert.
That’s not something you can effectively convey by advertising low price or dental insurance. You can’t plausibly be the discount dental expert. Today’s prospects are far more savvy than that.
Beyond that, better dental patients aren’t motivated by low price or insurance. They’re looking for reasons to choose you over any other dentist in your market.
An Integrated Approach to Attracting Better Patients
Quick-hit ad campaigns alone won’t convey to prospects why you’re the dentist of choice for them. To accomplish that, you’ll need to have a robust and integrated online presence. Your website, your social media, your blog, your pay-per-click ads, your prospect emails, and your offline marketing all have to work together to position you as the trusted, relatable expert to solve better prospects’ dental problems.
That almost certainly isn’t your marketing approach right now. Advertising is urgency-based, designed to get patients to pick up the phone right now, or at least soon. In contrast, an integrated marketing system attracts better patients over time, leading to a steady flow of the patients you want and need to quit running from operatory to operatory.
A complete revision of all aspects of marketing is a whole lot of work for dental practices that are already slammed with low-value patients. Many practices won’t have the capability to do the rewriting necessary to position the business to attract patients rather than chasing them through low-price advertising.
But when you become the dentist of choice for the patients you want to attract, you can hang up your roller skates for good. You’ll be in position to work less and earn more. In fact, dentists are finding that they can cut back to working just three days a week while still thriving. And doing only the cases they love to handle.
You can really have time away from your dental practice. The proven power of attracting the patients you want, rather than chasing them through advertising, is the key to making that come true.
Mr. Receveur, a nationally recognized dental marketing expert and speaker, is the author of several bestselling books on internet marketing, including The Four Horsemen of Dentistry: Survival Strategies for the Private Dental Practice Under Siege. His company, SmartBox, helps more than 550 dentists on three continents get more patients, more profits, and more freedom. Reach him at email@example.com.
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