With almost a full quarter of the year behind us, it’s likely some of those new year’s resolutions you made in January have fallen to the wayside. Hopefully, though, the new plans and ideas you had for growing your business in 2020 have not been cast aside.
Let’s face it. No matter how successful your dental practice is, there is always room for improvement. Patient care and skills aside, many times, a practice needs a fresh perspective on the business and marketing strategies that are crucial for growth.
There are more than 200,000 dentists in the United States, which means the competition is fierce. Everyone needs dental care, but that doesn’t mean patients can find you or will select your practice for their needs.
You must find ways to stand out and resonate with potential patients and to maintain your current patient base. It is also important to understand that providing excellent service and care to your patients is a customer expectation, not a value add.
Here are six strategies to help grow your dental practice.
It’s Time to Get Online
Today’s consumer uses the Internet for everything. If you don’t have a credible, current website, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Patients switch dental practices when they have bad experiences, move to a new area, switch insurance providers, and more. Make sure they can find you!
Your website should, at minimum, have information about your dental providers’ credentials and experience, what insurances you accept, office policies, hours of operation, services offered, and contact information.
Also consider creating interesting biographies for your staff to show their unique traits and interests. Let clients schedule appointments online. And, give access to forms and records via a patient portal. Having this information easily accessible by patients tells them you are easy to work with, organized, and relevant.
Encourage Online Reviews
Like having a website for your practice, patients will take to the Internet to look at your practice’s reviews. It is important to understand what your online reputation is and manage it appropriately.
At the end of a visit, encourage patients to leave a positive review on Yelp or Google. Or, encourage reviews from current patients by creating an incentive, such as a $5 Starbucks gift card, for an authentic review. Some reviews will be organic. A positive (or negative) experience can lead a patient to leave a review, but it never hurts to ask!
Patients looking for a new dentist will be checking to see what your online rating is. If the reviews are negative, or if you don’t have any, chances are a prospective patient will keep moving.
Send Text and Email Reminders
Consider implementing a text (SMS-based) reminder system so patients are more engaged in the manner they are likely using the most. Remind them to confirm or reschedule appointments and send timely reminders to schedule regular visits that they might otherwise forget.
Many practices still do this with postcards via regular mail, which is fine, but you really need to connect with clients in a variety of ways to meet their communication preferences. When patients come in for their next visit, make it a point to ask them how they’d prefer to receive reminder information—text, email, or mail—and note it in their file and use that to start refining your patient communication strategies.
Setting up your practice’s digital communication operations not only makes you more efficient, but it also shows patients you are innovative and looking to meet their needs beyond the treatment room.
Speaking of innovation, the dental industry is constantly changing. It’s best to stay up to date on the latest technological trends and practices or appoint someone in your office to maintain this research. You can easily use the Internet, or you may listen to informative webinars or attend conferences.
Consider new technologies like email encryption or electronic claims attachment. Of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t expect to revamp your practice overnight. Try to focus on updating one thing at a time and promote the advances you’re making to your patients. This builds credibility and confidence in in their care and your commitment to advancing your knowledge.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Referrals
This is an oldie but goodie. Word of mouth and people sharing their experiences, both positive and negative, can impact your business. Create an incentive program for current patients to refer their family and friends. Make asking for referrals a part of each visit, and promote what is in it for them by doing so. Maybe it’s a gift card for each referral who schedules an appointment, and the prizes can go up from there. Each new client earned can help bring in big revenue and creates a bigger network of referral possibilities.
Expand Your Services
Think about how your practice could improve the value you provide to patients, what could attract new patients, and how you can beat the competition. There are endless options, so focus on what you can do well without overextending your practice. You could consider focusing on accidental dental services or assisting the uninsured or underinsured—an often untapped but growing market.
With these strategies for growth, your dental practice could see big results this year. Adopting each of these strategies may not be feasible, so identifying a few opportunities that can make the biggest impact is a great place to start. Keep your eye on the prize. Putting the hard work in now can lead to payoffs in the future—more loyal clients and referrals, a stronger presence in the industry and your community, and maximized revenue.
Ms. Alfano is the senior director of marketing at Vyne. FastAttach is a HITRUST CSF Certified electronic claim attachment solution by NEA Powered by Vyne, a recognized leader in the dental industry in delivering operational efficiency, financial performance, and compliance for providers and payers.