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Belle DuCharme, CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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What is Your Strategy to Attract New Patients in 2016?
By Belle DuCharme, CDPMA

Most dental practices would love to have more patients and are constantly searching for creative and better ways to attract new people. When doctors ask about how to attract new patients, what they are really saying is “how do I attract cash patients or patients who have out-of-network PPO dental insurance benefits?” These patients actually choose you because of customer service more than the PPO patient that chooses you because you are on the list of contracted providers and you are conveniently located.

Principles of attracting new patients haven’t changed in decades – it’s finding the right formula for your particular practice that is the challenge. Certain methods to advertise and market externally may work well for your colleague across town, but fail miserably for your practice. No cookie-cutter approach ever works as well as a demographic and psychographic study of the target market for a dental practice.

Generational differences have an influence on whether a patient will choose your practice. People are living longer and want quality health more than ever before. In one practice you may be treating four generations all from one family. Grandma is 93, her daughter is 67, her grandchildren range in age from 42 to 28 and her great grandchildren are 8 and 13. This encompasses the Traditionalist, Boomer, Generation X and Millennium generations.

Each generation has particular health concerns and desires in how they want to be treated by their dental practice. When searching for health care providers, there will be certain things they are looking for, and consequently you need to provide these things in your practice. Some Boomers, more Generation X and most Millenniums want you to have an online presence with a good website, reviews and ratings and other social media platforms. They want to be able to contact you with texting or email instead of paper or phone.

Most dental software can give you the basic demographics of your practice. For instance, what percentage of your patients are over age 77? If you want to attract this group, you may want to visit assisted care facilities, retirement homes and nursing homes and meet the administrators and staff and drop off brochures and business cards with your contact information. You will be doing maintenance and repairs of existing restorations, gum line decay, dry mouth situations, implants, fixed and removable prosthetics, crowns with build-ups and extractions, preventive care and periodontal services.

If your practice numbers point to a larger percentage of children and teenagers but you really want to treat the over-forty group, what will you need to do to attract this group? This group often needs more periodontal services, crowns, fixed bridgework and implants, TMD and sleep apnea services. Become involved in the community where your practice is located.  Being a member of the Chamber of Commerce plus local business groups like Kiwanis or Rotary gives you visibility and information affecting the people in your demographic.

Have a smile for everyone and always have your “nice face” on, no matter what is going on. Building a strong brand of customer service can attract new patients, and is even more powerful in keeping patients coming back. One of the best internal marketing suggestions I can make is to call patients at night after a treatment appointment that requires anesthetic. This is extra care that sends a big message.

The most important dental marketing strategy of all is team training. As a dentist, you are probably committed to continuing education – but are you educating your team on the consumer benefits of choosing your practice? Does your team believe you need more new patients, or do they view that as more work? Does your team understand the value of each prospective new patient call and do they believe in your services? Are they able to clearly and knowledgably explain how great your practice is to a new caller? Remember, the person who answers the phone at your practice is the practice. Their enthusiasm about you, your office and the services you offer will make or break your practice growth.

Want to learn about strategically building your practice numbers? Call McKenzie Management today and sign up for a Business Training Program.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’sTraining Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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