How many times have you thought “I wish I had more patients… but I don’t have enough money to run a marketing campaign”?
It’s a pretty common sentiment in dental practices… and most other businesses. If you don’t have money to market, how do you get enough patients to get more money?
Use What You Have
The answer lies in your existing book of business.
If I’m having a down month in our practice and don’t want to spend reserves on marketing, but still need more patients, I tap into my house-list. For most dentists, that list in in your dental software (Open Dental, Denticon, Dentrix, Eagle Soft, Etc.). You should be — legally — collecting email addresses from all of your patients. Whenever you need more patients, you can send out an email promotion (a favorite of mine is to offer a discount on planned but not paid for treatment. IE: “Call today and we’ll give you 10% off on your next phase of treatment).
I take it a step further, and have built a list of patients PLUS prospects. I don’t keep that in our software (in our case, Open Dental). Instead, I keep it in an email marketing system (mail chimp, constant contact, etc.). When I need to fill out the schedule or increase collections, I can offer new patient deals along with existing patient deals. With that strategy, I can almost always get 5 new patients within a few days and collect on outstanding treatment for at least one existing patient.
Don’t Lose Opportunities
The other thing that I see all the time in dental practices is that offices hemorrhage money at the front desk (see WHY YOUR PATIENTS WALK OUT THE DOOR… AND NEVER COME BACK). I won’t waste time on this topic, because I’ve covered it several times. But the reality is that if your staff isn’t properly trained, they are probably losing sales and making sales more difficult before, during, and after the patient visits. Imagine if every single patient paid an extra $1,000 when they came in. Would your bottom line be better? ABSOLUTELY! $1,000 may only be one procedure! Your staff should be able to help you get there… or at least shouldn’t be stripping that money away.
Knock on Doors
When the office is slow and you don’t have money to market, I all-too-often see dentists lamenting their situation instead of proactively fixing it. So what should you do? Get off your butt and knock on doors! Set up meetings with complimentary providers. Don’t tell me you’ve already done that… out of sight out of mind! Call or walk into other offices and talks to doctors and providers. Talk to staff (staff often drives referrals more than doctors). Don’t sit around feeling bad… get on it!
Look, social media is a reality of today’s dental practice. Unfortunately, it typically does more harm than good. But if you’re slow and need to generate revenue, hop on Facebook and chat with patients. Start provocative conversations. Reply to comments. And offer to help!
Sales is Not a Dirty Word
Like it or not, dentistry is sales-driven. I know you’re a doctor and you may hate the idea of “Selling” your care, but if you don’t give people a reason to come see you — and ASK them to come see you — then you won’t be providing services for very long. That’s the definition of sales. So start thinking of sales as a positive. You don’t need to be underhanded, unethical, or sleazy… but you do need to SELL yourself and your practice to prospective and current patients. Stop worrying about it and start doing it!
The bottom line is that you have a plethora of options in front of you to generate more patients and more revenue for your practice without investing a dollar in marketing. Seize the opportunities and run with the success!