Ramp-Up Your Team for Competition
Do you think of your dental team in terms of competitiveness in the marketplace? Dental team-building is usually viewed as internal and not external to the dental marketplace as a marker for excellence. With the attitude of abundance comes the belief that there are plenty of patients for everyone. In theory that is correct, but if you have done the market research you will see that a thriving practice must have its share of the demographic to succeed.
There is a rise in competition due to a denser concentration of dentists in prime population areas. With this comes the arrival of the “big box” dental corporate magnates that come in with big marketing budgets and volume dental supply discounts that can hurt local dentists.
Corporate entities can hire professional marketing firms to develop a long-term consistent plan for communication to attract new patients. The marketing firms place a priority on branding the practice to make it a competitive stand-out in the neighborhood. In other words, they have done the homework and know what patients want, and they make sure it is in the corporate structure to consistently provide.
Many solo and small group practices surveyed do not have a consistent marketing plan and follow the ala carte notion of “been there, done that - it didn’t work.” I recently spoke with a dentist who spends $1,000 a month on a Yellow Page ad. I asked: “How many patients come from the ad, and what is the adjusted (real time) production generated?” The answer: “I don’t know.”
Marketing includes internal marketing and external marketing. “Word of mouth” is cited as the number one source of new patients by many practices, but after analyzing the numbers it often ends up being something else, such as insurance PPO lists, the practice website, or online social media reviews.
Internal marketing includes everything that you do when the patient is in the practice: Phone communication, communication upon arrival, wait time to be seen, new patient interview, introductions to staff, treatment education, insurance verification and explanation of benefits, solid financial communication and explanations about how appointments work in your practice.
External marketing is everything that you extend to the public to attract new patients: welcome letters, direct mail, website, SEO, recall cards, lectures, memberships in service clubs and the Chamber of Commerce, public office, newspaper ads, etc. Marketing information for your practice should include your demographic population, the competition, and your goals. If you're interested in marketing cosmetic or elective services, you'll need an excellent demographic and psychographic report that’s written for dentistry such as the one provided by Scott McDonald.
You'll need measurement tools to determine your return on investment so you know what is working and what is not. If you're in a highly competitive area, you also need to look reasonably at the effectiveness of your marketing dollars and expect to spend more to compete with your colleagues. If your long-term goal is to purchase a larger practice, bring on an associate or build your practice value for retirement, then you will have a more focused need to market.
To build a patient base, you need to spend about 4% or more of your collections annually. PPO participation is one way to start. As the practice grows and you want a gradual shift away from PPO dependency, you need to market and learn to schedule to meet the needs of all of your demographic base, being careful not to limit access in favor of one over the other.
Dentists want affordable, high quality marketing solutions. In order to work it has to be easy, staff-driven, and set you apart from the competition. Evaluate your practice from top to bottom and ask yourself the following questions:
1. What is the new patient experience like in your practice?
McKenzie Management can help with your strategic marketing plans. Call today for more information.Forward this article to a friend
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