Last time, we discussed digital marketing tools to enhance your practice “brand”. But there are plenty of cost-effective ways to attract and retain patients in the offline world. Here are just a few that are often under-utilized:
- Since 95% of new patients call the office before they come in, telephone skills are critical to the success of any practice. Picking up the line quickly and having an inviting tone are the most simple but effective ways to make callers feel valued. A study of 12,000 practices found that only 3% of the team members had formal training in how to answer common questions; and, only 60% of initial callers were able to talk to someone during business hours! Of the ones who didn’t get through, 80% would not leave a message or call back, yet 12% of dentists didn’t think the telephone had an important impact on their practice.
- Have a handful of friends and associates who aren’t patients come from the waiting room and suggest ways to make it more attractive and inviting. Sometimes, simple changes like having a wonderful smell and relaxing music; softening the lighting, or brightening the office colors will enhance that first impression.
- Give every new patient a welcome packet that has a lively bio about you and your staff with warm and smiling photos. This is a great way to include short explanations of your services that are low on jargon and show outside hobbies and interests. A big plus would be a magazine or newspaper article that shows why you are popular with patients (if you don’t have one, pay to have one written in the same objective and conversational style and print it with a headline on glossy paper).
- Talk to community groups, answer questions and leave brochures. Whether it’s an elementary school, the Rotary Club or the women’s club at the church next door, there’s a huge demand to free speakers. You don’t have to be a pro to speak for 20 minutes about how important dentistry is to their health and pocketbooks. Educate, don’t sell, and show that you love helping people and transform their lives for the better.
- Improve your referral system. Word of mouth from friends and associates is how 90% of people begin their search for a desired service provider. Providing exceptional service to every patient, every time, should be your goal. The life value of a new dental patient referred to your practice more than justifies this extra effort on a recurrent basis. You can also show your appreciation by offering $100 treatment coupons for anyone they refer. And remember, every new patient should also become a referral source.
- Leave a brochure (not just a business card) at other local businesses that have the type of customers you want to attract (company HR departments, health spas, other doctor offices, bookstores, restaurants, etc.) and put out a card or brochure for them at your office.