Ideas for Getting New Patients and Reactivating Former Patients
All practices need an influx of new patients to keep an office viable. Nothing beats word-of-mouth, but Facebook, Twitter, Google listings, positive online reviews and even postcards have their place. Patient recruiting efforts all have a cost; either time or money or both. Here are a few ideas that are inexpensive and not too time consuming that might result in more people becoming your patients.
Mouth-guards for student athletes. Returning middle school and high school athletes usually have a need for good quality mouth-guards. While there are do-it-yourself options available, many parents would like their kids to have a professional guard but may think they are too expensive. Setting up an evening at the office for impressions and mouth-guard fabrication can go a long way in providing goodwill exposure for your office, and a great possible source for new patients.
Next, contact the middle and high schools near you and arrange to bring some flyers and a couple of posters advertising your Back to Sports Mouth-Guard Night. Use your office Facebook and Twitter accounts to get the word out as well. Put some flyers in your office reception area, along with a poster advertising the night or nights. If you know a teacher or counselor at a school, ask if they could make a couple announcements a week or two ahead. Better yet, if you know a coach, call him/her and see if they can arrange for their team to come over to the office together.
Be sure to stress that you will need to know how many kids will be coming so you can plan. If you get great feedback, you could add a night or two if necessary. Deliver the guards in inexpensive cases bearing your office name and phone number. Plain cases can be purchased with nice office stickers placed later to save money. Include an information sheet describing the care of a mouth-guard and also what to do if a tooth is chipped or knocked out during sports. Be sure your office name and number is prominently displayed.
Tell all of the athletes, coaches, parents, and friends who arrive for Mouth-Guard Night that you are happy to see new patients.
This type of campaign for new patients is not an immediate money-maker of course. Some cost will be incurred to pay staff and supplies. However, the cost of this type of publicity is nominal compared with other types of advertising. Goodwill is created and people have a chance to meet you and the office team. The idea is that people who do not already have a dental home, or are not happy with their current dentist, will seek you out in the future. It’s a different approach and it works.
Back-to-School Home Tooth Bleaching Kits. All kids want to look their best when they go back to school. While many bleaching options are available over-the-counter, office bleaching is still preferred by most. Offering a low-cost bleaching kit is a great way to get new patients into the office.
Again, have a staff meeting to discuss which team members will be required to take impressions, cost of supplies needed, fabrication of home trays and appointment times. Decide what the fee for the kit with three tubes of bleach should be. Also decide if you will honor this offer for existing patients (probably a good idea to do so, it might reactivate some patients and families you haven’t seen for a while). Use your Facebook and Twitter accounts as mentioned before, and contact any teachers or coaches you have in the practice to help get the word out. Go to local hair and nail salons and ask if you can leave some flyers. Think about sending postcards to your local zip codes with a short message about your offer with the fee included. Again, the point is to attract new patients with a low-cost (but not free) offer, as free offers are often viewed with skepticism.
When the patients are in the chair, use that time to mention any decayed areas that are seen, ortho that might be needed, and wisdom teeth that might need to be extracted. Avoid any type of “hard-sell”. If cavities are observed you might say, “I am noticing a few teeth that need fillings. Let us know if you would like to get these fixed before they start hurting.”
Bringing in patients through some low-cost offers can generate interest and income for the office. New patients, and patients who have been somewhat inactive, can provide the boost you might be needing.
Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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