Competing with Corporate
This afternoon I received a glossy, four-color mailing from a new multi-state corporate dental office opening in our city of 100,000 people. I had been watching the progress of the physical office setting for about two months. It is in a building on one of the busiest highways through town in a space that had been vacant for about four years. The entire building was gutted and remodeled, the parking lot was repaved and striped, and a huge lighted sign with alternating pictures, images, and “special offers” was erected. There are two sections of the building. One for adults and a separate entrance for “the kids”. It sits between two fast food restaurants. This area of town already has about thirty dentists within a five-mile radius.
The mailing featured smiling, attractive people of all ages. It turns out that the photos and copy from the mailing matches their easy-to-navigate website; same pictures, same colors. Here is the information they included:
Crowns in two hours - No more waiting if you need a crown. Our office can prepare and attach your new crown in just a few hours because we use state-of-the-art computer design technology. Your crown is made here on site!
All this advertising is bound to create some interest for this office. Here’s the thing. Most of the existing dentists here already offer most, if not all, of the items mentioned in this mailing. Your office probably does as well. The question is: do people know about it? If not, why not? Will patients be attracted to this type of marketing and office setting and not to yours simply because of good advertising?
Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool, but your office might need more. In this world of increasingly corporate-owned dental offices, here are some things you can do to be sure that potential patients know about you and your practice.
Take a look at your website. Attracting young patients is so important for new as well as mature practices. Young people use the internet to the exclusion of many other types of information sources. Is your website easy to navigate? Is it colorful and attractive? Do you offer the capability to fill out forms or request appointments? Do you offer other types of information such as short articles on dental treatment or answers to common questions? Do you list what you offer such as digital x-rays, intra-oral photos, same-day crowns, and treatment for children? Do you mention that you can help with insurance forms or arrange for a credit plan? Your web-site is vital. Be sure that it reflects the practice in the most positive light and gives plenty of information!
What about a mail-delivered advertising piece? Many disdain direct mail as “advertising from the past.” However, a colorful piece that briefly showcases what you offer and directs potential patients to your coordinated website can be effective. It should feature pictures and short copy. Too much “reading” will land your piece directly in the rubbish.
Dealing with insurance and offering credit plans. Signage for your office indicating that your staff can help patients with insurance or direct them to potential avenues to help them pay for what they need is a plus. It can be tasteful, not tacky. Many patients want the dentistry you offer, but worry about how to pay for it.
Does your office have curb-appeal? Realtors are known for advising individuals trying to sell their homes to spruce up the exterior. Regardless of where your office is located, there may be things that can be done to make it more attractive. Clean windows and doors, parking lot and sidewalk trash pickup on a daily basis, fresh paint and new signage, even container flowers at the entrance can make a difference and are not expensive. People are attracted to clean, fresh, and colorful.
Ask for help.No one can know all things. If you feel overwhelmed in the area of marketing or practice improvement, there is help available.
Corporate dentistry is here and individual practices are forced to compete. The good news is that many patients want to come to an individually owned office; if they know about you and what you offer. Make sure that they do!
Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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