Hi, my name is Shawnie Cahuya. I’m a dental hygienist and addition to working clinically, I have experience in education, sales and marketing. Specifically I have helped practices increase their practice profitability. And what I want to talk with you guys about today is the number one way that I get asked to help the practice is how to increase new patients. Now, practices often measure their success by how many new patients did I get in in a certain month. And oftentimes the number one thing that I hear is that they’ve spent the practice, has spent a lot of money, a lot of dollars on marketing, and their return on investment has been very slim. So whether it’s spending a lot of money on print advertising and they yield one or two new patients out of it, um, or they’ve spent a lot of money on SEO or Google ad words and really just didn’t see a return.
If this is you, don’t be discouraged. I’m here to help you with some unique ideas that you will be able to implement in your practice that will cost you a little to no money. So being that today dentistry is more competitive than ever. I really want to give you some unique ideas that you can use and implement in your practice to start growing your practice and getting new patients in the door. Now, the first one that we are going to talk about is amping up your relationship with your current patients. This may not seem like a new exciting concept. However, from what I’ve seen far too little planning and effort is spent in establishing and securing these relationships with your current patients. Gone are the days of longevity with patients. A lot of times now, especially with millennials and the new age and a dentist being on every corner, but the competition is endless and it is hard to maintain those relationships with your patients.
The way that we engage with our patients is a lot different than back in the day. This has to do with technology and just the ever changing way that we communicate with each other as a society. Now in the world of social media, we, everyone is everywhere and people’s expectations have changed on how they want to communicate with people they do business with and an effort needs to be made to continuously engage with our patients on social media. This is where they are chatting with their friends. This is where they’re looking at pictures of businesses that they might want to go check out or restaurants or places that they would like to visit. Now as a business, you need to be showing up in their daily social media viewing. One of them is Facebook. These Facebook is not for advertising or marketing per se. It’s to be friends with your patients.
They want to see what you’re doing in the office who has had a birthday. We’ll talk more about this later, but really we need to have a presence on Facebook so that you are connecting with your patients on social media. Instagram is another one. We have a local dentist here that has over 400,000 followers on Instagram. Instagram is somewhere that all businesses need to be on. It is another way that you are going to be able to connect with your patients in between their appointments. And then lastly is emails. Newsletters are a way for you to position yourself as the expert in the industry. I have had so many questions from patients on, Oh, did you hear about that article that says that you don’t have to floss or can you tell me what are your thoughts on the new toothbrush that’s out there now as an expert, rather than having to have our patients go and Google to get the answers?
Shouldn’t we be positioning ourselves with this information delivered right to their inbox, which is obviously on their phones. Again, a way that we’re connecting with our patients between their appointments. Now the next thing that I want to encourage you to do is make it easy for your existing patients to communicate with you. Gone are the days of picking up the phone. I mean, how many times do you call someone and you just ended up getting the voicemail or does your front office staff have to call someone over and over to try to confirm their appointment? People connect differently now and one of the main ways is through text messaging. The other way is through Facebook messenger. I’m going to get into this a little bit more on how we can actually capitalize on these ways to connect with our patients, but make sure that there is a capability for your patients to be able to connect with you.
Um, on all aspects. If your patients have an easy way to communicate with you, that’s going to be what they’re going to tell their friends and family about. Oh, my practice. I can just text into them. It’s so easy to communicate with them. Things that are easy and convenient for people nowadays is what works and that is how you’re going to get your existing patients to feel like you are someone they want to continue doing business with. Now, a patient referral bonus system, you may have one in the office, but does your whole team know about it? Is everyone talking about it? Do all of your patients know about it? Is the incentive for your patients enticing? This is something that I really want to encourage you to think about as a patient. What would you like to receive for referring other patients into the practice?
Make sure it’s something that they would want. That is something that motivates them to go tell people about their experience with you and how great of a dentist you are. We need to wow our patients with an experience like no other. We need to make them feel like they have the best experience they could possibly have. Let’s face it, it to no one’s favorite place to be to go to the dentist. Your patient’s experience at your practice is going to be how you made them feel, not how beautiful of a crown margin that you did and when you have a new patient walking through the door, that is your first opportunity to make them feel like you are unique. You are standing out and they are going to have a wonderful feel, good experience at your office. Some ways to do that, have a specific parking spot just for them.
I’ve had offices who put out a little sign that says parking spot reserved for, and then you can write in the new patient’s name. Additionally, when they walk in the front door, have a little marquee sign that says welcome and then their name on it. This is making them feel special. You know, people like to be called by their name. Everyone’s favorite word is their name. And so when you are doing that, you are personalizing their experience in your office. Have coffee and tea in the waiting room. Make sure that they’re comfortable in the back. Offer them a pillow, a warm towel, a blanket. These are little things that aren’t necessarily something new, but again, far too often we’re not putting ourselves in the patient’s shoes and thinking what would make them have a wonderful, outstanding, unique experience at my practice. And then the last and lastly, give them a party and gift for new patients.
Offer them a branded water bottle or sunshades for their car with your logo on them. Give them something that they can take away that they feel like they, they are being thanked for coming into your office. Now we need to continue to engage with our patient base in between their three, four, six month appointments. We don’t want them walking out of the door and forgetting about you. Your team is amazing. You are the experts. You are a part of their overall health and make sure that you’re positioning yourself on their social media, connecting with them in many different touch points in between their appointments and you will always be top of mind for them. This is what will make your patients tell their friends and family about you. Sharing your activity on social media, posting pictures when they’re in your office and just raving about how amazing you and your team are.
So the second way that you can increase new patients to your practice is by making your team, your brand ambassadors. Does your staff know your vision? Is everyone on board with the practices, goals and your values? This is huge. If you have a happy staff, they’re going to want to tell all of their friends and family about where they work, what they do for a living. And of course this is your practice that’s accepting new patients. They should be talking about you on social media, checking into the office, showing how much fun they have at work, whether it’s a million, a crown with a Serac machine or um, celebrating a birthday or an anniversary. All of these things shouldn’t just be coming from your practice page, but your staff should be posting these onto their social media. This is going to show all of their friends and family what they’re doing.
These are all potential new patients for your practice. Here’s another thing. At a very minimal cost, you can get business cards for your staff members. Do each of your staff have business cards? They should. This is a way for them to be able to hand out to their prac, to their, to their friends and family. Now you can now on the back of their business cards, give some kind of a special friends and family discount that they’re able to offer and run a contest in the practice every quarter. Calculate how many new patients each employee has brought into the practice and give them some kind of a reward and a gift for whoever has brought the most new patients into the practice. It can be a massage, it could be a gift certificate for a local restaurant. Make it fun. Make it enticing for your staff and they will want to be your brand ambassadors.
Tell everyone how amazing your practices and help grow your practice. Your staff is what is going to help your patients experience. Be fun. Have your staff put together theme days where everybody wears specific costumes or everyone does breast cancer awareness. Um, social media signs. There’s a lot of different companies out there or you could even make your own that they can pose for pictures with the patients after they, um, have done, have completed a specific procedure or who bring their kiddos in for the first time. Make it fun. Make it a reason for your staff and the patients to post on their social media about being in your practice. The third way that you can attract new patients to your practice is by giving love to your community, the people in your community, the people who eat, work and play in your community. Those are your patients.
Those are the people that you want to attract to your practice. What are some ways that you can do this? Is there a local charity in your community that you can team up with and help to sponsor a five K? Possibly have a barbecue in your parking lot at the end of the five K, is there a local charity that you can get together and host a blood drive at your practice? These are all ways I’m going to encourage you to give back to the community and show what an amazing team and practice you are and this is intern going to get people talking about you in the community, going to get people referring to your practice. Other ideas that you can do or hosting a food or toy drive during the holiday season. Educational open houses. Does your office do Invisalign or implants? Can you host an educational seminar in your office with with some appetizers that you can invite the community to give the education and this is going to be at little or no cost to you.
And the fourth way that you could attract new patients to your practice is to keep your online presence in check. What is your online presence? First thing I want to recommend is a YouTube channel. YouTube is the number two search engine. It is free to use. You don’t need any fancy equipment, just a cell phone to record different videos. Here’s some ideas for videos, what you think about some questions that you get asked a lot from patients. Perfect. Do a Q and. A. You’re the expert. Have one of your staff interview you asking questions. Ask a patient if it’s okay if they ask if they can be recorded. Asking that question. Give postop instructions on video. Maybe you’re a hygienist can do a motivational segment on how to properly brush their teeth or motivating them to continue flossing. All of these things can be posted not just to your social media, but a hosted YouTube channel that is going to organically help you in your SEO ranking.
So this is a way to help your SEO without paying for anything. Now going back to do we make communication easy and convenient for our patients. I want you to make sure that new patients, potential new patients, have a really easy way of getting in contact with you. Now, do you offer online scheduling? I know. I know that this is not everyone’s favorite thing, especially the office managers out there. However, this is a way that patients want to be able to have convenience to do nowadays online scheduling. I want you to consider it, whether it’s from your Facebook page or Facebook messenger or on your website. Consider easy ways for patients to be able to book appointments at your practice. It will open the door for more new patients. Here’s another thing. Your phone number, your office landline phone number should be text enabled. Now, the reason for this is imagine when people land on your website.
Typically they’re going to be on their cell phones. Instead of being able to click the phone number, your phone number and call you. I want them to be able to click your phone number and text you and if they are able to text right into your practice and say, do you accept my dental insurance or are you accepting new patients? How many more patient inquiries do you think you’ll receive? Then people who forget to call you or who call you when they go to voicemail, do you know what happens when a new patient calls you and they go to voicemail? They’re going to call the next practice. If they’re able to text in and immediately get a response back, then the line of communication is open and this is the way that patients are going to schedule at your practice. So those are four ways that you can attract new patients to your practice spending little to no money.
My challenge for you is to take one thing out of each of the four categories that we talked about that you can implement starting today. Get those new patients coming in the door. Let them know how wonderful you are. Don’t go spending a bunch of money on a marketing company or SEO or anything like that before you use these internal ideas that you can do today to start bringing new patients in. I heard a message at a seminar I attended and it really stuck with me. There are three types of people out there. Those that watch what is happening, those that wonder what has happened and those that make things happen. I believe in you. You can go out there, make this happen, increase your profitability in 2020 and be a success as a team.