The title may be a little deceiving if you think we are going to discuss marketing your clinical services. I was asked in a seminar as to what is the best marketing strategy and while all of those campaigns that everyone always thinks of leaped to mind, I had an epiphany. The one thing that every one of my patients bragged about and told their friends about had nothing to do with postcards, radio, TV, billboard, etc. I want to take the time to help you see what things you do surrounding your clinical procedures that are really just another level of marketing.
We know the concerns of patients: Money, time, fear, and trust. If you could check the boxes on these four areas, you would find yourself with 80% referrals, few if any cancellations and no shows, and an over 90% case acceptance. Within this list of clinical marketing you can find the seeds for turning your practice around.
• Being on time every time. We never ran late or ran over. The trick here is to engineer your schedule and make sure your treatment plan is flawless. There should not be a double standard where it is all right for you to run late but you jump the patients about their tardiness. Same for employees. Model the behavior you expect and move on.
• Giving patients more of what they want and less of what they don’t. This is pure consumerism. The trick is to actually listen to the patient and find out what they want. Patients will show up and pay for what they want: FACT. Patients will always baulk at treatment they don’t want, fear, can’t afford, can’t fit into their busy schedule, from a doctor they don’t trust. The primary mistake, and it is fatal, is to come across as you wanting the dentistry more than the patient does. The second mistake is thinking that patients want what you have to sell.
• Always giving them an exact cost of services. I know what you are about to say: “Yeh, but what if it is worse than we thought.” You should have put that “worse” in the treatment plan estimate. Nobody likes surprises when they are spending money while trying to live within a budget. If you don’t have to do that root canal or build up, you are a hero. If you do, then they already knew that. This is just human nature. Be consistently competent at financial arrangements and treatment planning. In my office, if I failed to tell them what was needed, I did it for free. This will get you better at treatment planning because it is painful to eat the cost of a service you should have anticipated as a possibility.
• Always offer outside interest free financing with multiple vendors. Just so you understand: Care Credit can be one, but in most cases there are others who have a higher acceptance rate and are not a credit card company with outrageous interest rates if your patient gets behind.
• Always making a pre-op and post-op doctor call. While every doctor reading this is thinking that they will just have the staff make the call, this would be a big mistaken. The pre-op call I made to every new patient was the number one reason for them always showing up. The post-op call I made to every person that had a problem or that I stuck with a needle was the number one reason they referred and came back. There is no wiggle room on this one. Just make the call.
• Always, always getting them profoundly numb quickly and painlessly. This ranks right up there with the pre-op and post-op calls. In a few words, use an Intraflow handpiece, a Stabadent, or an X-tip and never have anesthesia problems again.
I tend to type five or six pages on a topic, but in this case, I will divide the list and finish next week. Doing what you do so well that others can’t help but tell everyone they know about you is the solid foundation and needed outcome of every marketing plan. These two articles should be the corner stone. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS
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