Dental practices, like any business, need to grow to survive. A business that does not experience consistent growth will eventually decline and disappear. I was recently asked by a dentist if I could give him 20 strategies for practice growth. Actually, I could have given him 50, or maybe even 100. But only three would have the greatest impact.
Whittling down all of the great strategies out there for helping to increase practice growth may seem impossible, but I’ve found three ways that give practices their best chance to increase production. Use these three strategies for maximum practice growth.
Initiate a Blended Marketing Program
Too many articles, seminars, and companies claim to have “the one best way” to do marketing. If it’s an online company, it will tell you that online is the answer. If it’s a postcard company, it will tell you that postcards are the answer. The real answer is that you need a combination of different marketing strategies to be successful, and the most powerful marketing focuses on your own patients.
A minimum of 10 to 15 strategies should be employed throughout the year to get the attention of patients, build strong relationships, and motivate referrals. Focus strategies with patients on different categories such as dental education, practice updates, medical information, and contests. Combine these categories with strategies that patients appreciate and ask for referrals.
If you’re consistent in engaging patients with new information, regular contact outside of the office, and strong relationships, your patients will be your best referral source. But remember that if you want referrals, you must ask for them. Be very professional, subtle, and classy, but always ask for them
Provide Incredible Customer Service
Most dental practices think they already have incredible customer service, but the truth is probably less than 2% of all businesses provide it. Incredible customer service means shocking patients over and over again. To pull this off, you need to build a team that has high levels of energy and enthusiasm, loves to make other people happy, and will go the extra mile to solve patient problems and create a “wow” effect.
This all starts with the practice leader. Spend time reviewing your key customer service points for your practice. How are patients graded? How are patients checked out? How do you handle their insurance from a customer service perspective? How do you talk to them? Are you “wowing” them, or are you merely taking good care of them? When it comes to customer service, you don’t want to be good. You want to be great.
Schedule All New Patient Callers
Patients all call with different needs. They want to know if you have convenient times, what insurance you take, what services you offer, and so on. You will get these questions over and over, and the way you answer them will determine how many new patients you schedule. Make a list of the most frequently asked questions and script the answers. Practices that learn how to manage patients from the first phone call will attract them to come into the office.
You may not feel as if you need to impress people as long as you’re providing excellent care, but that is simply not how it works. Dentistry is a service business. Patients are more demanding than ever, and they only respond to businesses that make them feel good and make their lives easier.
Growing a practice doesn’t have to be hard. It can be fun and, dare I say, somewhat easy if the right strategies are put in place. The key is to define the strategy, set up all the steps, and consistently execute. Follow these three crucial ways to grow your practice and continue to grow over time.
Dr. Levin is a third-generation general dentist and the founder and CEO of Levin Group Inc, a dental management consulting firm that has worked with more than 26,000 dentists. Dr. Levin, an internationally-known dental practice management speaker, has written 65 books and over 4,300 articles. He is also the executive founder of Dental Business Study Clubs, dentistry’s only all-business study clubs, the next generation of dental business education.