New Practice Location = Less New Patients
Office Manager Training Case #OM596
Dr. Surely and Dr. Shyley (names have been changed) decided they needed a larger space and better lease than what they had. So, they leased a practice located five miles away from their existing location, closed the old office and moved into the new address.
Their Office Manager, Betty, attended McKenzie Management’s two-day professional Office Manager Training because she wanted to build the new practice to be better than the last. Betty stated that because the new practice location was only five miles away from the old, it wasn’t a concern that patients would not follow. She said most patients had been informed verbally of the intended move, but she wasn’t sure if all were notified. PPO patients were the largest of the patient demographic and they had not been told unless they called in for an appointment.
When scheduling for the new practice, emphasis was placed on trying to get existing patients to follow to the new location. There was no marketing plan in place to tell the new community area that they were there to serve them. The new lease location had a restriction for signage, so they didn’t have any. There wasn’t an announcement in the local paper or any other marketing such as direct mail, radio or email blast.
The result was holes in the schedule, cancellations and low new patient numbers. Some older patients felt it was too far to travel, and others just didn’t like the change and weren’t prepared yet to accept it. Patients with children thought it was too far to come after school.
The steps Betty should have taken prior to the move:
• Two months out from your expected move date, start telling patients you are moving. Be joyful about the move, even if there are challenges. Don’t do or say anything negative.
• Prepare and display a flyer stating that you are moving and give the new location along with a map. State the month of the move if you don’t yet have the actual moving date.
• When patients check in for their appointments, office staff should tell them about the move. The dentist and hygienist should also be informing patients about the move and talking about the new location.
• Order appointment cards and stationery with the new address. Use the cards and point out the new address when passing them out.
• On the appointment scheduler, each patient who has an appointment that will occur after the move should be mailed a letter or postcard or contacted electronically.
• To reactivate patients, use this opportunity to both alert them to the move and ask them to call to schedule an appointment. You can also inactivate those who will not be returning to the practice.
• Two weeks prior to the move, send out a mass mailing to your active patients announcing your relocation and giving the date you will open.
• Business staff who confirm appointments should remind patients of the new location, whether by text, email or phone.
• Publish a notice in the newspaper about your move. It’s an opportunity to welcome potential new patients to the practice. Design a marketing piece with information about you and the services the practice offers.
After the move, it isn’t too late to take some important steps:
• Go over the above list and do what still applies. Go back over your appointment book identifying all missed appointments. Call each person to reschedule, reminding them of your new location.
• Some may have already scheduled with another dentist. Don’t be dismayed – say that you would still like to work with them, especially if it’s a patient with whom you’ve had a good or long-time relationship.
• Take every opportunity to thank your patients for their confidence in choosing you as their dentist.
Want to learn more about growing your own practice and identifying areas that lead to decline? Call McKenzie Management today to schedule a class in Dental Practice Management.Forward this article to a friend
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