Your internal marketing engine

May 19, 2016
Dentistry is the only business that has a built-in repeat customer mechanism called the hygiene department.

Gary Kadi

Dentistry is the only business that has a built-in repeat customer mechanism called the hygiene department. How beneficial is it to have this type of repeat-business mechanism? The oil filter manufacturer Fram developed the same approach, saying, "Change your oil filter every 3,000 miles." You could say that's worked out pretty well!

But here's the catch: In our independent surveys we found that only 20% of patients average two visits annually.

If your marketing is attracting fewer new patients because consumers' trust in businesses is at an all-time low, you're probably feeling frustrated and underproductive. Maybe you don't know where to turn.

However, there are teams who are putting their attention toward things they can control. They're directing their strategies at these things, and they are finding themselves growing.

Now is the time to rethink the age-old, high-cost, and low-return answer of finding "new blood." It's not the answer. After all, according to our data, new-patient case acceptance is only averaging about 15% on total treatment presented.

There are three ways to grow your practice, represented by the acronym CARE: case acceptance, retention, and the experience. Here are the details:

First, focus on your existing patients and take massive action to get them to visit you at least two times per year. It sounds so fundamental, and most doctors think that their patients are already doing this, but this isn't the case.

Second, while your patients are in your practice, generate interest and get them to commit to buying treatment. Once patients leave the office without making a commitment, it is virtually impossible to have them buy. After they leave, the emotion is gone, the education is forgotten, and nothing hurts, so they carry on and get the kids to soccer practice.

This is why hunting down incomplete treatment looks to patients like you are trying to sell them something they don't need. Instead of fruitless treatment calls, reach out to get them back to see the hygienist. Then the process can start all over.

The process I am referring to is internal marketing. I define marketing as generating interest. Instead of spending gobs of time and money on creating interest outside your four walls, invest internally on training your team and giving them bonuses. This will drive them to do the things that lead your patients to buy while they are at your office.

Instead of simply telling patients that they need to come back (no one likes to be told what to do), explain why making the commitment to a hygiene visit is the source of total health and wellness. They need to believe that regular hygiene appointments will make a difference for them. To convince them, you have to locate their "why"-the personal motivation they already have inside of them that is usually related to family, occupation, or health.

When your entire team is coming from a place of conviction that dentistry is the gateway to total health and wellness, it shifts patients' perceptions that hygienists just clean teeth and dentists just fix problems. Going from molar jockeys and gum gardeners to total health-care providers, you will see a dramatic shift in your hygiene schedule. You will also see your team with a daily pep in their step, knowing they are making a difference in people's lives versus "I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go."

For each patient, it's important to emotionally connect with what I call their Personal Motivator.TM This means you touch their heart on an emotional level. You show them why making and keeping hygiene appointments will make their lives better.

We all have things we never miss. Take my wife, for example. She never misses her hair color appointment-it's just that important to her. You can create the same level of urgency with the right people in the right places saying the right things.

Use the tools available to you. For example, have your patients visually see the problem using an intraoral camera. When you do so, they can see why they should come back without fail. No flat tire, no meeting, and no "I forgot" will stop them again!

By joining this health and wellness movement and believing that dentistry is the catalyst for overall health, you are opening up a new world for you, your team, and the communities you serve. Instantly, your patients are buying the promise of looking good, feeling good, and being healthy, and they'll come back again and again.

Gary Kadi is CEO of NextLevel Practice. He created NextLevel Practice to implement the Complete Health Dentistry business model, where teams willingly embrace and implement change, patients respect their treatment regimens, patients invest in their health, and doctors enjoy practicing the way they envisioned when they graduated from dental school.

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