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8 steps to maximize the benefits of adding a new service

Aug. 22, 2022
When done correctly, adding a new service presents great opportunity to practices interested in increasing production and profitability. Try these eight steps to maximize the benefits.

Dental practices have many opportunities to increase practice production and profitability. One of those is to add a new service. However, when a new service is added, there should be a communications and marketing plan that allows the practice to properly introduce the new service to patients, create awareness, highlight the benefits, and generate patient interest. In many cases, new services are added to practices and simply offered to patients one at a time, when the situation presents itself.

All too often practices take opportunities for granted. Introducing a new service is an opportunity to create production, profit, and a powerful image of excellence. There are three components to new service introduction:

  • Creating awareness
  • Communicating benefits
  • Identifying candidates for treatment

If the marketing/communications campaign is carefully planned and executed, many patients will self-identify with interest in the new service. It also leads to referrals of new patients who learn about the new service from family and friends. The truth is that most practices don’t have a standard process and plan to introduce a new service, which is why overall results are usually limited.

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The goal in launching a new service is not to have a small increase in practice performance, but to maximize the opportunity, which creates a return on investment for the time, education, and expense that the dentist or practice invested to bring the new service to patients. Properly launching a new service is the ultimate win-win for both the practice and the patients.

The following steps can be beneficial to any practice when launching a new service.

Step 1: Send an email update to all patients

Levin Group recommends that practices have an “every 30 days” communications program as a general marketing/communications protocol. This would mean that the practice communicates with patients on a 30-day cycle with relevant information about dentistry, the practice, or overall health. When a new service is available, the practice would communicate the news, explain the benefits of that service, and detail which patients are candidates. This will generate immediate interest and create awareness of the new service throughout the patient base.

Step 2. Mail out a hard-copy announcement

A hard-copy announcement sent via the mail, often in the form of an invitation with verbiage such as “We are pleased to announce the launch of …” will garner a different type of attention. Because it is from the dental practice, it will be opened. It should take no more than 20 seconds to read. This will reinforce the 30-day communication email and a larger number of patients will now be aware that a new service is being offered from their dental practice.

Step 3. Implement telephone scripting

Examine the new-patient scripting being used at the front desk. In most cases it will be easy and appropriate to work in a sentence letting patients know that the practice now offers a new service. It is simply a way of letting every new-patient caller know that a service has been added and, even if most patients have no need for the service, it still raises the image of the practice as leading-edge and high-quality.

Step 4: Implement hygiene scripting

Most patients spend more time with the dental hygienist than they do with the dentist. The dental hygienist is a powerful motivator and influencer for patients. The short script by dental hygienists about the new service, the benefits, and whether the patient in the chair might be a candidate for the service is a great idea. Once again, do not restrict this to only patients who can utilize the service. In the world of branding and communication, you want as many people as possible to know about services that cast the practice in a positive light. Whenever practices add a service, it comes across as extremely positive to all patients.

Step 5: Put up signage in the office

Professionally produced signage placed throughout the office in a tasteful visual manner will encourage patients to ask about any new service. All patients will see the signage and those with interest or questions will bring them up at some point during their appointments. The practice should develop scripting for all staff on how to respond to questions about the new service and offer a complimentary exam by the dentist to determine if the patient is a candidate and if the new service will be beneficial.

Step 6: Address dental insurance coverage

If the practice participates with dental insurance, then it will be important for patients to know upfront whether the service is covered. This information is good to know for every service, but for a new service, interest may be generated by helping patients understand whether there will be any insurance coverage. Once again, all staff should be prepared to appropriately address this question. It is also beneficial to have interest-free financing available and let patients know about it. This is seen as a much more convenient way for them to cover their portion of the treatment.

Step 7. Keep the marketing/communications program going

Periodically reinvigorate the marketing/communications program for a new service. Another email several months later talking about how patients are benefiting from the service, explaining other ancillary information such as comfort levels, recovery times or insurance coverage will bring new angles and maintain awareness for the new service. Many practices are extremely excited about a new service when it launches but stop talking about it within a few weeks as the excitement begins to wane.

Step 8. Consider investing in an external advertising campaign

Suitable mostly for practices that understand or have been involved in external marketing and are willing to invest and evaluate results, external advertising (in all its digital and real-world forms) may generate an overall increase in referrals of the new service. It all comes down to the question of attracting sufficient new patients to offset the cost of the marketing campaign.

Making the most of your new service

Adding new services to a dental practice is a powerful way to increase production and profitability and can create internal excitement and motivation for the dentist and team. When a new service is introduced, the practice should create a plan that maximizes the opportunity by creating awareness and stimulating interest. Scripting is critically important, as always, to answer patient questions, focus on the benefits, and identify potential candidates for the service. Offering a complimentary exam for that service also creates an openness where patients who may have marginal interest decide to explore the possibility of the new service.

Adding a new service can stimulate practice growth for practices that have a definitive plan with deadlines and carry out that plan. Those practices will perform at a much higher level when introducing the new service. 

Editor’s note: This article appeared in the August 2022 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

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