Dr. Michael Kesner shares four marketing tips you need to be doing to gain more new patients that cover everything from existing patient referrals to increasing your case acceptance rate.
I don’t think I have ever heard a dentist say “no” when asked if they needed more new patients. We all need a constant influx of new patients for our dental practices to be successful. The more new patients you get every month, typically the more revenue your practice will generate.
We find that most single-doctor practices see about 12 to 20 new patients a month. I advocate that a healthy number of new patients is 70 per month. There are specific things you can and should be doing in your practice to help bring in more new patients.
No. 1: 40% to 50% of your new patients should be from existing patient referrals.
If your number of referrals is lower than 40%, then your patients are probably not having the experience in your office they are wanting. Your patients may not say anything to you about what they did not like, but they will vote with their feet and not come back, or refer.
What do your patients want and expect? A clean, modern office, new technology, convenient hours, friendly and caring doctor and staff, fair fees, same-day dentistry, appointments within a few days, no sticker shock from having too much dentistry presented too soon, gentle dentistry, no confusing dental jargon, acceptance of their insurance, staged treatment that fits their budget, offering multiple dental services, and more.
You and your team must meet your patients’ expectations. If your referrals are low, then you and your team are probably missing the mark somewhere.
No. 2: Your new-patient phone-call-to-appointment conversion rate should be at least 75%.
How many potential new patients call your office and don’t schedule an appointment? Over the years, we have recorded and monitored many different dental offices’ inbound new-patient calls. We have found that the call conversion rate of caller to new-patient appointment averages only 30%.
This means that seven out of 10 potential new patients who call the office don’t make an appointment. The reason for this is the staff person answering the phone has not been trained how to inspire the caller to make a new-patient appointment.
Correcting this problem alone can immediately double the number of new patients on your appointment schedule every month.
No. 3: Increase your case acceptance rate.
What does case acceptance rate have to do with increasing your number of new patients? We find that dentists who have a low case acceptance rate also have a low referral rate. Why is this?
Low case acceptance negatively impacts your referral rate because patients who choose not to accept treatment rarely refer. If they didn’t get to experience your good dentistry skills and gentle touch, then they don’t have anything to tell their friends and family about—especially if they decided to go somewhere else for a second opinion.
Our goal is to have an 80% case acceptance rate. A few of the things that contribute to a low case acceptance are confusing the patient, presenting too much treatment too soon, using words that diminish the problem, not inspiring the patient to want what he or she needs, the doctor not sounding confident, poor financial arrangements, etc.
No. 4: Market yourself and your services.
As you know, there are many ways to externally market your practice: direct mail, radio, TV, social media, website SEO, Google AdWords, local magazines, and online reviews, just to name a few. You can spend a lot of money on external marketing, but I wouldn’t spend a dime until you fix Nos. 1, 2, and 3 above. Otherwise, you are just wasting your money.
When developing a marketing plan, get help from someone who knows about marketing. In my experience, this person is typically not the sales representative for the company that sells you the marketing campaign. Their expertise is typically in sales, not marketing design.
Your marketing plan should take into consideration where you are going to get the most bang for the buck. There are lots of effective things you can do online that are not very expensive. As your practice grows, then you can afford more expensive marketing campaigns. I recommend that you spend about 3% to 6% of your monthly revenue on marketing.
Remember that a marketed new patient also becomes a referring patient, so marketing will increase your number of referred patients. A healthy, steady flow of new patients every month is critical to the success of your practice. Improvement in these four areas will go a long way toward growing a financially successful practice.
Michael Kesner, DDS, has a practice that ranks on the Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in America. He is the author of Multi-Million Dollar Dental Practice and the CEO of Quantum Leap Success in Dentistry, which teaches more production, higher profits, and less stress. Contact him at [email protected].