Over the past few months I’ve had the pleasure of presenting The Practice Plan Workshop Tour along with my friend and dental communications expert, Simon Tucker. We’ve had a great time hosting events up and down the UK from Southampton to Edinburgh.
The theme of the tour has been ‘The 10% Push’ – an interactive day looking at ways in which dental practices can drive up their income and profits – and it’s been a fascinating experience.
In the first session of each event, we asked dental teams to brainstorm where that additional income might come from. It was amazing how many ideas could be generated in a very short space of time – literally 40 or 50 ideas per workshop!
Of course, it would be foolish to try and implement all of those ideas at once – teams would just tie themselves in knots. So, the first thing to do is to analyse each of the ideas and choose those that have the greatest chance of making a big impact on practice financial performance.
I thought I’d share the three most common ideas that came out across all of the workshops.
None will come as a surprise, but all have a big impact on your bottom line.
Outside of referrals, your website is, without a shadow of doubt, your most important marketing tool. Most people when looking for a new dentist will search online to find a dentist in their area. But they’ll also flit from landing page to landing page looking for the one that ‘feels’ right to them, the one that connects.
However, the problem with many dental websites is they tend to be all about the practice and not enough about the customer and the benefits that they could receive by becoming a patient. So, go and take a look at your website, but try and view it through the eyes of a prospective patient. Is it talking in layman’s terms or blinding you with dental terminology?
Is it reflecting the key desires and concerns of the patient with a clear and easy way of getting in touch? Is it focusing on the big things that matter to patients or is it full of inconsequential noise?
If the answer to any of those questions is no, then you’re falling behind the competition. Your website is a strategic tool for the development and growth of your practice and you should be prepared to invest the time and financial resource into it to ensure that it’s always working to the max in your favour.
Increasing plan numbers
Most private dental practices see the benefit in growing the patient membership plan – it gives them a regular and dependable income and also creates a deeper relationship and loyalty between the practice and the patient. But what is the most effective way of growing your patient plan numbers? Research into our own clients shows that those practices who are the most successful at signing patients up to the plan work on three key principles.
Firstly, the whole team in the practice have to believe that the plan is the best way for the patient to maintain a high level oral health. Research shows that it is – patients on plan are more likely to turn up for their appointments and also to invest more time into maintaining good dental practice at home. This common belief throughout the team takes away the feeling of having to ‘sell’ the plan, which many feel uncomfortable with. Selling becomes advising.
Secondly, each member of the team has to be fully conversant with all aspects of the plan and confident in talking to patients about how it works and the benefit it brings.
And thirdly, the plan is the default option for any new patients. It’s positioned as ‘the way we work or operate’. If it’s positioned in this way, the vast majority of new patients will be happy to join the practice on this basis.
Maximising the latent potential of your patient base
The annual recall rate for dental practices in the UK is around 67%. That leaves 33% of patients, who are already registered with your practice, not turning up for their regular dental health checks. It’s far easier, cheaper and more productive to communicate with these patients and get them back on board than it is to attract new patients to your practice. Most have simply let things slip and a simple friendly nudge is all that is needed to get them back into the chair.
Get stuck into these key areas of your business and you will see your income and profitability improve dramatically. Good luck!