Did you know that dental practice ownership in America has declined from 84.7% in 2005 to 73% in 2021?
It’s not just America that’s suffering from this decline, but this can be seen throughout all the English-speaking countries, Europe, Canada, Australia, and more. Why are more and more dentists choosing not to go into private dental practice?
Well, it could be because the competition between dental practices is becoming so fierce as many dentists are fighting for market share. That’s why dentists must start focusing their efforts on some tried and true dental practice marketing tactics to get ahead of the crowd.
If you are interested to know more about these techniques, continue reading the article below.
1. Start Blogging
Boost your website’s SEO rankings with Google to ensure your dental practice growth is undeterred. Start a blog on your website and update it regularly to support your SEO efforts. Google will see you have fresh and unique content on your website and increase your SEO scores.
What should you write about? Consider the questions that your patients ask commonly and then write a blog post on that. It could be easy as that for you to accumulate a year-long list of blog posts to write.
There’s no magic number here but aim to post at least two new blog posts a month. Weekly is even better, but if you don’t have the time for it, aim for biweekly.
2. Ask Your Patients for Referrals
If you are doing a good job of satisfying your patient's needs, then it will be easy for you to get referrals from them. The best way to do this is to either give your patients an easy way to refer friends and family to your practice. What is unique about your office that would make it easy for patients to refer others to you? Are you open on the weekends? Do you have multiple doctors and offer unique services like sleep apena or TMD treatment? What tools do your patients have that they could share with others about these unique differentiators in your office?
Be sure to thank referrals promptly. You can give a small unexpected gift (like an electric toothbrush) or even just a prompt thank you note with a nominal gift card to a local coffee shop for referrals. Be sure to follow your state guidelines on gifts to patients.
Check out my popular book, The Truth About Referrals, for more tips and to learn the five reasons why patients don't refer? Share with your team and put the strategies to work for your office.
3. Hold a Social Media Contest
Run social media contests on your platforms to encourate more people to follow your channels, and also to get new patients.
Strategically plan contests throughout the year, avoiding offering too many as they can lose their value over time. Also, hold contests for both current followers and anyone new who follows to keep things even and fair.
4. Get Video Testimonials From Satisfied Patients
A lot of new patients will find you through your website. They might have searched for a particular keyword like ‘why do my teeth hurt when I drink cold beverages’ and found a blog post you wrote. Or they searched for a dentist near them and you showed up (more on local SEO below).
Whatever it might be, including video testimonials and reviews on our website communicates to new visitors that your dental practice is well-known, appreciated, and satisfactory to patients.
5. Use Appointment Reminders
Are you wasting a lot of time sitting around waiting for patients who don’t show up, or twiddling your thumbs because you have an empty slot as a patient canceled last minute? Do not allow this to continue any longer.
Get new patients scheduled for their desired appointment date and time within 14-21 days, ideally 7-10 days. If you make new patients wait for more than three weaks, the no-show rate will skyrocket. Establish appointment reminders through text, email, or both, so your patients are reminded in good time about their appointment and don’t miss them due to forgetfulness.
6. Focus On Positive Patient Experience
From start to finish, it's vital that the patient experience is impeccable. A helpful, cheerful team who goes the extra mile for patients mitigates the potential for anything irksome, irritating, or annoying about the patient experience. Training your staff to provide a positive experience increased your patient's loyalty to you. And this will also result in your business receiving positive customer reviews online.
Consumers want products delivered on time, without any defects. They want it delivered by friendly people and they prefer it is customized. It doesn't sound that compliacted doest it? Many powerful principles in life are actually quite simple. If you can give patients these four things (on-time, no defects, friendly, customized) you'll be light years ahead of the competition.
7. Local SEO Is a Must
The ease of access to a smartphone allows potential patients to search for services before they visit an office. For example, an individual might be having wisdom teeth issues, and they decide to google the dentist that’s nearest to them first. Once they find the nearest dentist, they visit them over all others because of the convenience factor.
Invest some of your own time or hire an SEO agency to optimize your local SEO rankings and capitalize on valuable walk-ins. Start by optimizing your Google Business profile and focusing on building your online reviews.
8. Offer Promotions and Discounts
Offer promotions or discounts throughout the year. For example, the Christmas season is a good time to plan a promotion or even the beginning of a new year when everyone resolves to take better care of their teeth and has new dental insurance benefits.
Or establish a birthday discount, where patients get 25% off (or another amount) on dental cleaning on their birthdays or during their birthday week. Boost your dental practice growth by thinking creatively about the promotions and discounts you offer and when.
9. Allow Online Scheduling or Appointment Booking
Offer the convenience of online booking for your patients who are often busy or do not want to phone their dentist to set up an appointment.
This avenue allows patients to set up their appointments, receive reminders through email, and also cancel or reschedule their appointments all through the online booking system. It will also free up your staff, so they can dedicate their time and energy to more important tasks, like offering a positive customer experience to all patients.
Visit my friends at Greyfinch software and check out their new patient scheduling widget.
10. Always Ask What's Next
If you pull a report each year of the patients who are the happiest with your practice, they are almost always the same ones who have spent the most money with you and referred the most friends and family. Often, they've purchased things from you, like braces for the entire family, that you didn't even offer before they asked for it. Are you in the habit of alwyas offering your best products and services both online and when you are face-to-face with the patient? Don’t be shy and start doing this asap.
Give patients options. If they need or want something from you that you're not offering, ask why and seek to align your products and services with your core values and operational objectives. While we're unlikely to see Southwest Airlines start offering first class service anytime soon, we're also just as unlikely to see Delta and American airlines get rid of their first class cabins or Economy Plus seating options.
Asking, "If they liked X, Y or Z from us, would they also like A, B, or C?" is a smart question to ask. Look around at smart companies like Costco, Disney, Apple, Southwest and Four Seasons. They all have asked and answered these questions wisely.
It’s not only because you are trying to grow your dental practice, but also because your products are great and will improve your patient’s dental health and smile. Remember, they don’t know what they don’t know, and that’s why they rely upon you to inform them of the treatments available to them.
11. Use Facebook Ads And Google PPC
If implemented well, Google PPC advertising and Facebook ads help your business grow. On the contrary, if done incorrectly, they can be a huge waste of money. It’s always a good idea to hire an expert, ideally someone with expertise in dental practice marketing, to take care of this advertising for you.
12. Always Respond to Negative Reviews Quickly
Remember, even one negative review can ruin a new website or social media visitor’s opinions of your practice.
Set up email notifications for comments made on your social media channels or Google reviews. Promptly reach out to the patient and addres the negative review, so you can soothe the person’s anger or frustration and keep their business. Also, your quick response to their review will boost other users' opinions of your business as well.
13. Claim Your Online Profiles and Optimize Them
Google My Business, Yelp, and Vitals give online searchers more opportunities to find your practice. But these profiles aren’t automatically yours, just because you own the business.
You're required to visit the sites and claim your business on all of them. Then, update the profiles with proper keywords, photos, and details about your practice. Accurate and relevant information can drive appointment requests, especially if you also have online booking set up.
14. Keep Your Website Updated With Unique Content
Keep your website and blog posts updated with fresh and unique content. For example, add Google reviews or testimonials to your website so it regularly keeps your website fresh in Google’s eyes.
Remember to update and freshen up important pages on your website once the information has become outdated. Add new information to your home page depending on the season or any new promotions or contests you might have.
Google loves it when you have fresh content on your website because it has something new to pull and gives your SEO rankings a boost, something all dental practices can benefit from.
Hire an SEO agency to help support or create an awesome dental SEO strategy for you, and ensure that your website is improved regularly to drive conversion and dental practice growth.
Also, include your call-to-action (CTAs) prominently on every page of your website, so anyone new who drops onto your website knows exactly what they need to do to move forward. For example, make an appointment with the online booking tool or follow you on social media.
15. Use Patient Satisfaction Surveys Through Email Marketing
Are you assuming that your patients are satisfied with your service, without actually checking in with them? Don’t make this dire mistake.
Do patient satisfaction surveys regularly. There are many ways to do this.
You could set up a tablet in the reception area where patients can survey while they wait for their appointment. Or you could send patients emails where they can fill out the survey in their own time.
You could also use this opportunity to send out promotions, discounts, or other details about the practice so that your email isn’t just about asking them to do something for you, but also giving them something in return.
Be attentive to the feedback you receive from surveys. They are a great tool to improve your dental practice further. Dental practices that experience growth aren't satisfied with staying at the status quo. They are always looking for ways to continually improve their practice and patient experiences.
If the surveys aren’t anonymous, reach out to the patients and ask for further feedback and inform them when the changes or improvements have been made, so they can tell you if their expectations have been met or not.
Private Dental Practice Growth Takes Concerted Effort
Are you looking to grow your orthodontic office or dental practice to outstanding heights in the near future? Well, it all starts by applying the tips shared in the article above.
If you need further private dental practice resources, then visit our website to subscribe to our programs on dental practice management and grow your entrepreneurship skills.