168059498 © Chernetskaya | Dreamstime.com
Data indicates that new patients have a 200%–300% higher financial value in the first 12 months than current active patients.

Attract new dental patients with internal marketing

Feb. 12, 2024
Data indicates that new patients have a 200%–300% higher financial value in the first 12 months than current active patients.

The benefit of adding new patients to a dental practice is astounding. Levin Group data indicates that a new patient has a 200%–300% higher financial value in the first 12 months than the average current active patient. We also have a model that indicates that 40% of doctor production should generally come from new patients, as new patients are an enormous source of production.

Marketing today has many different options, and they all have benefits or deficits. However, starting with a foundation of internal marketing will help ensure that patients refer other patients, which are often the best referrals a practice will ever receive.

Five ways to improve internal marketing

The following five recommendations will benefit any practice in terms of increasing referrals.

Send 30-day emails. Dental practices should stop limiting their contact with patients to only every six months when they present for a hygiene visit. Instead, they should expand the relationship to contacting patients every 30 days with a one-page or less email newsletter. Simply identify several topics and then write a paragraph under each one. You can include updates on the practice, the latest information about doctors or staff, new services, opportunities to take advantage of specific services, and other logistical information. Your emails should also thank all patients for their referrals and emphasize how much they are appreciated.

You might also be interested in: One simple technique to increase case acceptance

Ask for reviews. There is a very inexpensive way to generate hundreds of highly positive reviews—just ask for them! Every patient who presents to the front desk following treatment should be asked a single question every time, no matter what. The question is, “How was your visit today?” Most patients will give highly positive answers, and this should be followed by a script that says, “Mrs. Jones, I am so glad you had a wonderful experience. Would you do me a favor? Would you be nice enough to write a review of our practice so other people can learn about your experience?” Patients will usually respond positively, and you should follow up by handing them a simple card that expresses your appreciation of them as a patient and lists the steps of how to leave a Google review.

Call and thank the referring patient. Every patient who made a referral should receive a call from the doctor thanking them personally for the referral. Patient value alone should be enough reason to call a patient who referred someone and thank them. You may also learn something about the new patient that would be beneficial in building a relationship and presenting cases. The simple act of a doctor calling to say thank you is extremely powerful and greatly appreciated. It also motivates patients to refer others. Be sure to thank them, but also let them know that any future referrals are appreciated.

Use multiple methods to promote new services. The steps you might follow could include sending an email letting all patients know about the new service, creating a brief script for every patient that calls the office to hear about the new service, including a sentence in confirmation text messages that says “ask us“ in reference to the new service, and giving the hygienist a script to tell all patients about the new service. Remember, even patients who don’t need it may know other people who do. You can then follow-up with more information in your 30-day communication email.

Implement a new-patient family program. One nice idea is for all new patients to refer other family members for no-cost first exams. We found this to be remarkably effective if it is explained as a program and the new patient is given a card explaining how it works. The word “program” makes it sound official and something people feel is a benefit that they can take advantage of.

Five-star customer service

The goal of every practice is to have five-star customer service. Most practices are at a three or four, which is not bad, but not quite five-star. If you can develop stellar customer service, you will be able to differentiate your practice from most others much more easily and your internal marketing strategies will be far more effective.

Customer service is about creating an environment where patients feel respected, appreciated, and valued. You must have an enthusiastic greeting, take time to get to know each patient on a personal level, build a relationship by asking questions, and learn one thing about every patient. Furthermore, you should know their specific needs such as favored appointment times, show interest in their lives, give clear explanations of dental recommendations, and include them in conversations during case presentations. In my book titled Wow Every Patient, I explained that practices with five-star customer service typically build larger patient bases through lower patient attrition and a higher number of referrals. Customer service turbocharges the practice’s internal marketing strategies.

Internal marketing may still be the best way to build a base of excellent patients. Typically, patients who provide referrals already have a level of trust in the practice and an expectation that they will have a positive experience. As well, they tend to cancel fewer new-patient appointments and look forward to being a long-term patient. As we like to say at Levin Group, a patient referred by another patient expects to be a patient for life.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the February 2024 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and founder of Levin Group, has worked with more than 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles, and regularly presents seminars in the US and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email [email protected].

About the Author

Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and founder of Levin Group

Roger P. Levin, DDS, CEO and founder of Levin Group, has worked with more than 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles, and regularly presents seminars in the US and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email [email protected].

Updated January 23, 2024

Sponsored Recommendations

Clinical Study: OraCare Reduced Probing Depths 4450% Better than Brushing Alone

Good oral hygiene is essential to preserving gum health. In this study the improvements seen were statistically superior at reducing pocket depth than brushing alone (control ...

Clincial Study: OraCare Proven to Improve Gingival Health by 604% in just a 6 Week Period

A new clinical study reveals how OraCare showed improvement in the whole mouth as bleeding, plaque reduction, interproximal sites, and probing depths were all evaluated. All areas...

Chlorine Dioxide Efficacy Against Pathogens and How it Compares to Chlorhexidine

Explore our library of studies to learn about the historical application of chlorine dioxide, efficacy against pathogens, how it compares to chlorhexidine and more.

Enhancing Your Practice Growth with Chairside Milling

When practice growth and predictability matter...Get more output with less input discover chairside milling.