Why Your Practice Needs New Patients (And How to Get Them)
Improving case presentation is a great way to get more patients to say yes to treatment, which will improve production numbers and your bottom line. But increasing case acceptance within your current patient base is only part of the equation. If you want a truly successful and profitable practice, you have to focus on attracting new patients to your office as well.
Even if you have a strong patient base, eventually you’ll run out of treatment to diagnosis. Sure, these patients will come in for their regular cleanings and periodontal maintenance appointments, providing you with dependable passive income as long as your recall system retains 95% of your hygiene patients. But they’ll no longer need more comprehensive work done if you’ve already treated it all. That’s why new patients are so important for achieving practice success and profitability.
Fifty percent of your production comes from the hygiene department during exams, and the rest comes from treatment needed by new patients and emergency patients (who will hopefully become new patients after you’ve helped them through their emergency). If the number of new patients walking through your door is less than 20-25 per month per doctor on average, practice production will decline and your bottom line will suffer.
Many doctors feel they don’t need to attract new patients because they have a “mature” practice with loyal patients. The problem is, without a healthy number of new patients, the hygiene department is the only thing keeping the practice alive. When it’s time for you to retire and sell your practice, the numbers won’t show significant growth. In fact, they might even tell the story of a declining practice, which won’t be favorable when establishing a selling price.
While word-of-mouth is one way to attract new patients to your practice, I recommend you consider investing in a marketing campaign. And I’m not just talking about a one-time marketing event or special to get new patients in the door. This might help boost new patient numbers for a little while, but what happens when that special whitening deal you’re promoting is over? The phone will stop ringing and your new patient numbers will start declining.
Marketing is not a one-shot deal. To bring you the positive results you’re after, it must be repetitive and meet as many needs of the potential patients as possible. So how much of your budget should go toward marketing your practice? If you have an established practice, I suggest setting aside 3-4% of projected production for marketing maintenance, and 6-10% if you’re looking to aggressively grow your practice.
I understand most dentists don’t like the thought of marketing, but when you see the results you’ll be glad you did. This is an important practice system, and should be a priority. Marketing is an investment in the success of your practice. Continually market and monitor your efforts to determine what works and what doesn’t, and you’ll have a steady stream of new patients coming through the door.
Remember, for your marketing efforts to be successful, everyone in the practice needs to be on board. Involve your team and make sure they understand that marketing takes place in every patient interaction, from the first time patients call the practice until they’re ready to leave the office after their appointment. If you provide exceptional customer service and a great patient experience, these new patients you’ve spent time and money to attract will become loyal patients who accept treatment and boost your production numbers. They’ll also be more likely to refer you to family and friends, increasing new patient totals and production even more.
Another tip? Not only do your marketing efforts need to be ongoing, they also need to be consistent. For example, I don’t recommend using multiple companies to design your ads, website and brochures. Go with one dental-specific company to make sure your materials and messaging are cohesive. Develop a brand that is recognizable, and understand the demographics of your market so you can target your materials accordingly. Don’t just put together a bunch of ads and hope for the best. Instead focus on developing a brand, understanding your market and delivering a consistent message.
Attracting new patients to your practice is key to enjoying true success. Focus on marketing to new patients and you’ll soon have more new faces in the chair and more treatment to diagnose – and that means increased production and a more robust bottom line.Forward this article to a friend
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