While your dental practice is primarily a healthcare establishment providing a vital service to the community, it also needs to run efficiently as a business in order to protect your livelihood. To maintain a healthy profit, the most obvious thing you need is a steady flow of patients attending on a regular basis, but how can you ethically encourage this to happen? Here, we’ve outlined our top tips to boost attendance at your practice…
Make it affordable
When it comes to spending money, dental care is perceived by many as a non-essential item, and it can often sit way down on the priority list below things like holidays, nights out, new shoes, the list goes on. With this in mind, you need to make your service affordable to your patients by offering solutions such as 0% finance to help spread the cost of expensive treatment, or patient plans to allow them to factor dental care into their monthly budget and therefore attend more frequently.
Go the extra mile by teaming up with local businesses to offer mutual discounts to your dental plan patients. Not only does this provide your patients with an added bonus when they sign up, it also encourages people to spend in their local area.
Make it easy
In our modern lifestyles we’re all trying to cram as much as we can into each day while also juggling family and/or working lives, as well as social engagements. A trip to the dentist often doesn’t appear highly on people’s priority lists and when it’s difficult to attend because of opening hours, they just won’t come.
When considering your hours of operation, think about your existing patient base. Are they mostly working professionals, young families, etc? These groups will have differing requirements; busy mums may want to bring their children along straight after school, and full-time workers will require appointments before 9am, after 5pm or at the weekend.
With some careful planning, you can cater to these needs without spending every hour in your practice. Perhaps offer ‘Kid’s Time’ on a particular day, where 3pm-5pm is dedicated to your younger patients (and their parents!). Or select certain days of the week where you open earlier/later to cater to those who require appointments outside of working hours.
We live in a world that is driven by the internet and social media, in fact these are the channels that people are most likely to use when searching for a new service in their area; so if you don’t have a web presence, you need one!
Social media is a very effective (and free) marketing tool and allows users to interact with your practice. You can use it to offer dental advice and tips, introduce the members of your team, share any special offers you are running, etc. Being active on Facebook and Twitter allows your practice to become part of your patients’ daily lives as they see your posts on their timelines, which often creates the perfect reminder to book a check up.
Give them what they want
Gathering feedback is highly effective for learning what your patients really want from your service. Think about it, how do you know if you’re providing the services that people want if you don’t ask them? Create in-practice surveys that ask patients what they would like to see offered and what areas of the practice they feel could use some improvement.
This makes great business sense because it allows you to offer new services that patients desire and will pay for, while also preventing you from investing in training and/or products that they won’t be interested in. The feedback may also highlight things you may not have noticed, such as the need for different magazine titles, or an alternative radio station in the waiting area. It’s these little changes that can make a difference to your patients’ experience with you!
- On 7th February 2017