Attracting new patients is a perennial challenge for practices, and something I often hear when visiting dentists is how to do so without spending too much money. Of course, the best approach for you will depend on your practice’s individual circumstances, your goals and your budget. Having said that there are some areas that are worth thinking about as a starting point as to how you can begin to entice new patients to your practice…
1. Good signage
It sounds obvious, but how visible is your practice? Many practices don’t have the right signage to A. create the right image and B. be noticeable to passers-by on foot or in a car. Take yourself 100 yards down your street and then walk up to and past your practice – is your signage visible enough?
2. Story telling
Engage with the local press and provide them with interesting copy and information about your practice and the service you are providing for your patients. Make sure you are telling a story of how you’re helping your patients achieve a smile they always wanted. For example, ‘Janet was able to attend her son’s wedding and smile confidently because of the implants we provided for her’.
If people are looking for a new dentist, a Google search is likely to be their first port of call. An attractive, informative and benefits-driven website is essential in getting you noticed. After word of mouth, your website will be your most important marketing tool – make sure you invest in getting it right. If you’re not sure where to start, why not listen to a podcast we created on this very subject.
Make sure you have someone who is prepared to ‘get out there’ into your local community and tell your story. Establish your presence and find out who the key influencers are – make an effort to join their circles – business clubs, sports clubs, Chamber of Commerce, etc. Many of these organisations hold regular meetings and events, and some quite often look for speakers – volunteering to put an interesting talk together on the health benefits of good dentistry could also get you in front of a few audiences. My colleague, Amy D’arcy Burt, talks more about this subject in another podcast.
5. Social media
A hard-working Facebook page (and Twitter page) is a must for any practice wanting to spread the word. Find the person in your practice who is most experienced in social media and ask them to head up your social media activity. But make sure you concentrate on providing engaging and relevant content, not just a stream of adverts for your practice.
6. Open days
An open day is a great way of getting a number of potential new patients into your practice in a short space of time. You can publicise it through your social media channels, the local press and via your network. But make sure you think about what you want to happen on the day – demonstrations, presentations, tour of the practice, meet the team, etc. The day needs to have structure and a clearly defined set of outcomes.
Everyone likes a good deal. Why should potential patients give your practice a chance? Think about low-cost, but high-perceived value ways in which you could incentivise patients into your practice. For instance, you might be able to buy an electric toothbrush from the trade for £20 – but in the high street stores it would retail for nearer £90. You could run a promotion (make sure it’s time-based) offering a new electric toothbrush worth £90 for each new patient who has an initial health check and joins the practice.
The above are great ways to begin thinking about how you can start growing your patient numbers, without needing to invest too much financially. It’s also worth tracking how successful each of these are, so you know where best to direct your resources in future.