Never Suffer Another Slow Month

Colin Receveur


A bad month hits your dental practice. Do you make an excuse, or do you pinpoint the root cause of your low numbers of new patients?

Denial and excuse-making are major reasons dental practices face a lack of success or even fold. Small towns, big cities—it doesn’t matter. Many private practice dentists are drowning and have no idea how to swim out of the riptide. Month after month, season after season, and sometimes year after year, these dentists are telling themselves everything is okay when they are at risk of going under.

Or worse, they are making excuses.

Dentists everywhere find a way to justify slow months instead of searching for why they happen. Yet dentists must really think about why they aren’t getting calls and aren’t attracting more, and better, patients. To do that, we need to look the seasonal excuse calendar.

The Seasonal Excuse Calendar

January: It’s the beginning of the year. People are busy with their families and just winding down from the holidays. People aren’t spending their time scheduling dental appointments. Some are hesitant to deplete their insurance reimbursements at the beginning of the year. 

February: It’s still early in the year. Nothing to worry about.

March: This has never been a great month for my practice. We never get a ton of calls and we average few patients. 

April: It’s tax season, but not everyone is getting a refund. People commoditize their health anyway and would rather spend their refund money elsewhere.

May: School is almost out, and parents are busy planning their kids’ activities for the summer.

June: It’s officially summer. Families are on vacation and not thinking about medical appointments.

July: People are in full-on summer mode. Too many vacations, kids’ camps, and activities to plan around.  

August: School is back. People have their hands full getting kids back to school and balancing their work and home life.

September: It’s the end of the third quarter. People are starting to realize they need to tighten their budgets to make it to the end of the year.

October: People can see the end of the year and upcoming holidays now, and they aren’t spending time worrying about their oral health.

November: The holidays are in full swing. Time is a hot commodity.

December: It’s the end of the year. The holidays are still taking up most of everyone’s free time. Additionally, patients probably don’t have insurance money left.

Anytime: You know, our town really never recovered fully from the Great Recession.  

You get the point here. You can have an excuse for every month. But excuses won’t bring more calls or patients to your office the next month. They won’t pay your staff. And they won’t get you closer to retirement. 

Find the Right Patients

The top 5% of dentists don’t market to price-shoppers or promote treatments that don’t interest them. I understand the desire to take a wide marketing approach instead of focusing on a few services you really love. But this approach will not bring you more, and better, patients.

If you want to promote dental implants or large, elective dentistry, make sure your website and digital presence reflect that. Pitch yourself as the “implant dentist,” instead of the general dentist who does “a little bit of everything.”

One of America’s most famous businessmen, Andrew Carnegie, perhaps summed this up best when refuting the old saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”  

“‘Don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ is all wrong. I tell you ‘put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.’ Look around you and take notice; men who do that do not often fail. It is easy to watch and carry the one basket. It is trying to carry too many baskets that breaks most eggs in this country.”  

Dentistry is hardly comparable to the steel industry, but the advice is relevant. 

From Denial to (New Patient) Acceptance

A great patient attraction system can make bad months a thing of the past and end the dental rat race once and for all. In the digital age, this means having a great online presence. Successful dentists today are using tools like search engine optimization, pay per click, blogs, social media, email marketing, and state-of-the-art videos to attract the patients they want to treat instead of chasing patients by advertising low prices month after month. 

Here’s how all of this comes together:

  • Attraction: Get the prospect to your website with engaging content and a marketing campaign. 
  • Conversion: Use the website to turn prospects into patients. Only use content that shows how you can resolve the prospects’ dental issues.   
  • Tracking: See what type of patients you are attracting and what patients are helping your practice thrive. 
  • Follow-up: Stay in touch with your patients to get them back in the office.  

Your website serves as the platform for all your marketing efforts and should nurture and convert your potential patients. A good rule of thumb is to have each page on your website focus on resolving your patients’ dental issues. Dentists like to talk about themselves on their websites, but potential patients don’t care so much about you as they do about finding solutions for their problems.

In the 16 years I’ve been working with dentists, I’ve found that those who develop a long-term patient attraction plan thrive, and those who don’t fall behind or close up shop.

Mr. Receveur, a nationally recognized dental marketing expert and speaker, is the author of several bestselling books on internet marketing, including the recently released 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 and better patients. Reach him at

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