Running your own dental practice means having your eyes on many different things at once. One of those things is how to make your dental practice stand out from the competition. Answering this means uncovering a few key elements on what makes a dental practice successful and creating a to-do list to help make it happen.
Your To-Do List:
- Identify Your Ideal Patient
- Improve Patient Experience
- Market Your Dental Practice
- Implement Strategic Practices
Identifying Your Ideal Patient
Focus your efforts by taking the time to clearly identify who your ideal patient is. Who are you trying to attract to your services? This identification is tied to what makes your dental practice unique and what you offer patients. It helps to pinpoint how to run a successful dental practice by illuminating your marketing strategies and improving your patient experience.
- If your dental practice specializes in pediatric dentistry, then you are primarily marketing to parents and want to highlight your family-friendly office.
- If you offer techniques and practices that ease dental anxiety, then your marketing would highlight your calming environment and tools.
- If your office specializes in the elderly, then your marketing would highlight how you promote oral health in older patients.
Answer these questions to put your ideal patient front and center in your dental office:
- What is your niche?
- What do you have to offer to this ideal patient?
- How do you highlight this specialty to attract the patients looking for this service?
- Where does this ideal patient live? Work? Play? Hang out?
- What does this ideal patient do for a living? For fun?
- Where does this ideal patient primarily get their information?
- What are the demographics surrounding your office locality?
- What can your dental practice do to make visiting your office easier?
Knowing who your ideal patient is allows you to show them that you are their ideal dentist.
Improving Patient Experience
Your patient experience is the lynch-pin in raising your dental practice success rate. Your patient’s end to end experience is the glue that holds everything together. This includes not only the experience your patients have with you but also with your associates, assistants, hygienists, and front office staff. Improving everything from first contact, booking an appointment, and patient in-take to treatment, billing, and payment is how your dental practice thrives.
Some ways to improve your patient experience:
- Automate office procedures and operations for efficiency
- Implement technologies to enhance treatment options
- Ensure user-friendly and forward-facing office operations
- Cultivate a professional presence that isn’t just marketing to patients but helping them
- Utilize best practices for exams
- Offer time-saving scheduling solutions such as online appointments and text confirmations
- Practice warm, caring, and clear communication at all levels
- Present your treatment plans in understandable language and formats that avoid confusing technical jargon. Help patients know the what and why of their treatment.
- Create a welcoming environment that is calm, comfortable, trustworthy, and safe
- Employ chairs that fit all shapes and sizes
- Ensure patient centered treatment options
- Implement installment plans and ways to ease out of pocket payments
- Initiate a reward system for loyal patients
- Cultivate a positive office culture with your employees
- Ensure your employees share the same values, philosophy, and focus on patient care
Marketing Your Dental Practice
The best patient experience doesn’t mean a whole lot if no one knows about it. This is where marketing comes in. But like most things in our world today, everything is interconnected.
It’s difficult to have a successful patient referral program if you do not offer a good patient experience. It’s difficult to have a strong social media presence if you do not offer something special to highlight. It’s difficult to build a strong digital marketing campaign if you do not have good patient reviews to increase visibility.
Leveraging smart marketing practices means understanding how everything loops back and reflects on your dental practice.
Curate Your Social Media and Digital Presence
Your digital presence presents the first impression of the 21st Century. Don’t blow your opportunity to make a good first impression. Potential patients may find your practice through a Google search, but they will also use the Internet to check out what your dental practice is.
Make sure your presence is:
- Friendly and genuine
- Helpful and professional
- Personable and concise
Choose a social media platform that fits your ideal patient. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok and even NextDoor have different ways to reach different audiences. They are not all created to serve the same audience equally. Different audiences prefer different platforms for different interactions.
Platforms are not static. They change. Which means your digital presence cannot be static either. It needs to be continuously updated.
Make it easy to not only get to know you but to get connected and stay connected. Generating the connection is one thing, but booking an appointment with that connection and turning it into an office visit is how your dental practice grows.
Your Dental Practice Website
Your website is the hub of your professional presence on the Internet. It helps your patients connect with you and discover:
- Who you are
- Who your staff is
- What your office looks like
- How to find you
- How to book an appointment
If your website is ineffective and outdated, it communicates that maybe there are other things in your dental practice that need an upgrade. No one wants that kind of first impression or even a second, third or fifteenth impression. Your website is not only for new patients, but existing patients too.
Ensure it is:
- Interactive and user friendly
- Optimized for mobile users
- Secure to handle personal patient information
- Scalable so it can grow with you
Make sure it also adds value to patients’ lives by:
- Allowing for booking, canceling, and rescheduling appointments
- Making payments and checking billing
- Answering FAQ’s
- Providing information on procedures and oral health
Implementing Strategic Practices
You can grow your dental practice by incorporating a few strategic practices that will help it stand out from the competition. These practices are based on attracting new patients and retaining your current ones. It takes both patient retention and patient referral efforts to boost revenues and increase your bottom line.
Sponsor Community Events
You are a healthcare provider and small business owner. This makes you a visible member of your community, but upping your community involvement can make this role more prominent. Sponsoring local events, such as concerts, performances, sports tournaments, or charity fundraisers is a great way to do this. They place you among your future patients.
Seek out events that you are interested in, something you are passionate about, not just because you think it will make you look good. It needs to be a genuine connection to make a positive impression. It shows who you are as part of the community that you and your patients live in. It also gives you something positive to highlight in your newsletter, social media posts, and on your website.
Seek Reviews and Patient Referrals Proactively
Reviews Open Up Your Visibility
Reviews are at the heart of your online presence. Don’t let them fall down your to-do list. They optimize social media campaigns, website traffic, and searches for dental offices in your area. Your Google rating is improved by good reviews. Increasing traffic to your online presence increases traffic to your dental practice. You cannot leave gathering these reviews to chance. You need to seek them out.
Ask for reviews:
- On your website
- With after visit follow up emails
- Through personal requests
- Via your social media platforms
- As a link in a short survey
Referrals Build Your List of New Patients
People tend to trust recommendations from people they know more than they will trust an advertisement. Patient referrals are a way to leverage your current patient list to build your new patient list. Again, this is something you need to ask for and make it easy for patients to do. You can ask for referrals through the same channels listed above for reviews. In addition, consider a patient referral program that includes incentives. The key is to make it easy and not leave it to chance.
Stay connected to your patients between visits. Face it, people don’t think all that much about their dentist until their next appointment or in a dental emergency. Educate and connect with your patients between visits to build trust and loyalty. It boosts both your reviews and your referrals too.
You can do this through:
- Monthly or quarterly newsletters
- Social media posts (about those sponsored events even)
- Blogs giving health information and expert advice on oral health
Stand Out from the Competition
By working through your to-do list, your dental practice can stand out from the competition. Then, by continuously analyzing it and maintaining its key elements, your dental practice will grow and thrive into the future.