If you’re like most general dentists, you’re seeing a lot of patients for cleanings and exams, drill-and-fills, and teeth whitening. Those are good and necessary patients to have, but will they help you grow your practice?
Are they your ideal patients, or are they just what you get? And if they’re what you get, why is that?
The first place to look is at your marketing. What are you advertising? Low-cost exams, discount cleanings, specials? You’re marketing to the price-shoppers and the insurance-driven. What’s worse is that you’re doing exactly what most of the other dentists in your area are doing. You’re giving your prospects no reason to choose you over all the other dentists.
You might also be trying to position yourself in a particular niche. Are you interested in doing implant restorations? Someone who is investing thousands, or tens of thousands, in dental implants won’t be attracted to the area’s low-price leader. It’s a major disconnect in your marketing message.
The takeaway from this that you have to market to the patients you want.
Of course, if you’re good with doing drill-and-fill while reimbursement rates are squeezing you, and while corporate dentistry is beating you on price and availability, that’s fine. You’ll work very hard and probably not see a lot of progress.
But what if you could get new patients who are interested in more of what you have to offer? Patients who aren’t looking for low cost, but for a superior experience and outcome?
Those patients are out there, and you’re not getting them. Someone else is.
Segment Your Prospects
Almost everybody has teeth, but people differ tremendously in their attitude toward them. The ones you should be after to grow your practice are the ones who take pride in their teeth and have the financial resources to get elective work done. That’s a significant subset of the population. Your marketing has to grab their attention and give them reasons to choose you over your competitor down the street or across town.
You might be thinking that you have to have the drill-and-fills and the cleanings and exams to keep the lights on. You’ll get those anyway because the need is ongoing. But ask yourself this: how many of those cases does it take to equal the revenue from a single implant case, full-mouth reconstruction, or even an involved cosmetic dentistry case?
When you being attracting the patients you want, you need far fewer of the “usual” patients. How many you accept is up to you, of course.
Stop Chasing Patients
Non-image advertising is designed to get people to act now, or at least soon. It’s chasing after the sale. That kind of advertising only works if you have an incentive to go with it. That’s likely what you’ve been doing.
Attracting the patients you want takes time and effort. You’ll need to position yourself as the relatable, likable dental expert who is the logical choice to solve patients’ problems. That requires an extensive and carefully considered social media presence, lots of helpful and free information to send to prospects, and patience.
Once you’ve achieved the status of trusted expert in your prospects’ minds, they’ll choose you with ever-increasing frequency. And your bottom line will thank you.
Dr. CJ Landry of Marrero, LA knows the benefits of attracting patients instead of chasing them. “Since we started with SmartBox,” he says, “we’re not really having the slow times. I’m actually working harder and more than I did before, by my choice. It’s also going to allow me to bring an associate in fairly soon because I need some relief from how much work we’re doing.”
So, not only is Dr. Landry’s bottom line up, he’s going to have to build a bigger “boat.” That’s a good challenge to have.