Growing Your Patient Base Without Breaking the Bank

We all know that there are more dentists than ever before, we also know that even with more dentists only about half of the population attend the dentist regularly. There isn’t a magic button you can press to instantly bring more patients into your practice, there are some effective strategies that you can use to grow your patient base without spending your marketing budget.

You can mount a flashy marketing campaign, it will bring in some new patients if it is done through social media, Google ads and landing pages. This approach will also work if you are targeting a specific market.

Even if you mount a flashy campaign you need to remember the basics when looking to attract more patients to your office. Working with your team to ensure that these bases are covered will have you reap plenty of new patients as well.

1. Always answer your phone promptly and never put a potential new patient on hold for any reason. If patients have looked up your office on Google and they press the call button, if your office doesn’t answer they may not leave a message, they may just press the call button on the next dentist in the Google listings. You don’t want to take that chance if possible and have a call go to your answering machine, it is quite unlikely they will wait for a call back before they call another office. The same premise works for putting patients on hold, although it may seem like a short hold to the administrator it will seem much longer to the person who is on hold, and they may just give up and try another office.

2. If you have a digital patient communication system where your patients can text or email you, the team must be prompt in their responses. Unfortunately, we now live in a society where we expect expedited responses (thanks, Amazon Prime). Your patients will view your office as being efficient or not based on the response time to their messages. Responding as quickly as possible to messages should be a priority for your admin team.

3. Think of every new patient phone call, email, or text as an opportunity to build the office’s relationship with the patient. This is the first step in building their loyalty and trust. The first contact will require answering their initial questions of why they contacted the office, will allow you collect their basic information as well as asking them about their concerns. This contact should not be rushed, let the

patients connect, ensure that all information is recorded in the patient chart so that it can be passed on when the patient is in the office, knowledge of this information will allow the clinicians to connect quickly with the patient as well.

4. When a patient has completed treatment and they compliment anyone in the office about their experience, the patient should be asked to post a Google Review. Google Reviews are easy for patients to post and are free advertising especially when a patient is pleased. You can even print up a Google Review “cheat sheet” to help you patients post the review.

5. Increase the capacity of your office, not by adding more hours but by pre-blocking spots for new patients. New patients are usually impatient and may want to be seen sooner than later. If you have reserved pre-blocked spaces for new patient exams, then you have the ability to offer an appointment with very little time for the patients to change their mind and see another dentist who has a sooner opening.

6. Many patients will make their decision about a new dentist based on financial scenarios. Ensure that your office offers financial options that are appropriate for your geographic and demographic area. Your team needs to be clear on the options available and how to present them to patients. In our current economy we need to be aware of our patient’s financial concerns and how we can best serve them.

The methods I have listed are all at no extra cost to an office, these will help you grow your practice with internal referrals (internal referrals still make up 65% of every office’s new patient growth). Having a conscious marketing effort is important in every office, getting the patients to contact the office is hard enough, once you get them to contact the office, ensure that you keep them as patients.

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