Joy talks with Village Green Dental's Dr. James Monroe, who has seen robust new patient increases thanks to referral marketing, better staff training, and marketing consistency
A year ago, Village Green Dental was regularly acquiring 55 new patients per month. Practice owner Jason Monroe, DDS, knew they could do better. Of course, he was right. Today they're seeing 80 new patients a month. That's 46% growth-and it happened in one year.
How did Village Green Dental do it? I spoke to Dr. Monroe to find out exactly what changed in the last year. I think all dental practice owners can benefit from his experience and insight, which he generously agreed to share. He's a client of mine, but I can't take all the credit here. In fact, I was wowed by his business acumen and marketing know-how. Here's what I learned:
Use Referral Marketing to Create Up to 25% Higher Profit Margins
Dr. Monroe acquired his Aurora, Illinois, dental practice in 2010. In the years since, he's focused mainly on internal marketing-communicating with current patients and rewarding them (mostly with gift cards) for referrals. It's a smart strategy, considering these numbers that one study found:1
• 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know.
• People pay 200% more attention to recommendations from friends.
• Referred patients bring in 25% higher profit margins.
A practice can't thrive on referrals alone, however, so Dr. Monroe also marketed with postcards, pay per click (PPC) advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), and local sports team sponsorships. But those efforts were "off and on," the doctor said, and they weren't really being tracked. Then, in early 2015, he sent out some postcards through my company, PostcardMania.
DR. MONROE: "Postcards used to be a great thing for the office, but it just seemed like it was dwindling and I wasn't sure why, so I wanted to go another way and make sure it was trackable and see if it could deliver results."
When he got down to tracking and listening to the recorded calls on his DirectMail2.0 dashboard (more on this shortly), he realized something: His front staff was only converting 18% of new callers into scheduled appointments.
Increase Conversions by 122% with a Well-Trained Front Staff
The doctor decided he wasn't going to spend more money on marketing just to have those hard-earned leads (82% of them!) disappear after the first call. So, he pulled back to train his staff on converting callers into patients. Dr. Monroe consulted with the Scheduling Institute, and he fine-tuned and implemented what he learned. He even created a 34-page handbook for his front staff to use as a reference. Now, being able to convert callers into appointments is a job requirement.
DR. MONROE: "The whole front office has to go through training. I personally certify them and continue to recertify them on a six-month basis."
Sounds like a lot of work, but it has paid off: Village Green Dental now boasts an average conversion rate of 40%.
DR. MONROE: "It's not just throwing more darts at the dartboard. It's making sure you get more bullseyes."
Dr. Monroe also spent time developing his new customer relationship management (CRM) software, which increases his tracking capabilities. His staff asks every new caller where they heard about the practice, and the staff have the option of checking off more than one source for every lead. For example, they can note that a patient was brought in by both their postcard and their website.
DR. MONROE: "Even though someone called from the number on our website, that might not necessarily be the only reason they found us. They may have gone to our website from the postcard."
It should be noted that your website really isn't a source for leads-it doesn't just appear in front of prospects. Something has to be done to get them there. Postcards, pay per click, organic search, etc. Your website is a lead capture tool, not a lead generating one.
With a stronger front office foundation in place, Dr. Monroe was ready to start marketing again.
Market Consistently (at a High Volume) for a Potential 1,322% ROI
Armed with a fully-trained front staff, Dr. Monroe started sending out postcards regularly-5,000 per week-with DirectMail2.0 New Patient Edition, which is a fully integrated marketing program my company offers that exponentially increases exposure and response. It works like this: Prospective patients in your service area already receiving your postcards will automatically see coordinating online banner ads across the entire Google network. (That's millions of websites and thus the exponential exposure.)
Let's look at all of the numbers from that first campaign:
• Postcards mailed: 75,000
• Campaign cost: $26,238.47
• Per-piece cost: 35¢
• New patients: 38
• Immediate revenue: $48,864
• Planned production: $256,230
• Return on investment (ROI): 876.54%
"Planned production" is the revenue Dr. Monroe expects from future treatments already planned, but not yet scheduled, for new patients. Village Green Dental averages a 66% treatment acceptance rate. With that kind of ROI, the doctor knew he was on the right path and kept going. Now he is reaping the benefits.
Let's look at the big picture for Dr. Monroe's entire marketing plan:
• Monthly marketing budget: $18,000
• Average new patients/month: 80
• Average patient lifetime value: $3,200
• Monthly revenue: $256,000
• ROI: 1,322%
That's an increase of $80,000 in revenue every month from where he started a year ago, averaging just 55 patients per month.
If you're wondering how he breaks up that $18,000, here it is:
• Postcards: $7,480
• SEO and PPC: $2,000
• Referral gift cards: $1,950
• New patient gifts: $1,400
• E-mails, texts, etc., to current patients: $1,000
• 1-800-DENTIST: $1,000
• New-to-the-neighborhood marketing: $225
• Other (CRM, appreciation days, sponsorships, etc.): $2,945
As income grows, he says, so will his marketing budget.
Measure Your Return in Actual Dollars, Not Number of Responses
Dr. Monroe demurred when I complimented his marketing skills, but after working with more than 4,600 dentists, I can tell you this: he's reaching expert level. So I asked him if he had any advice for other practice owners.
DR. MONROE: "Most dentists don't see things from a business perspective. If they sent 5,000 cards they can't process that if 20 people come in, it is still a reasonable investment. They go, 'Well, there's 4,880 people who didn't come in.' The biggest thing is making sure that you actually track results and don't get stuck on what didn't happen, but what did happen, and seeing if that outweighed the cost it took to get there."
See Dr. Monroe's full marketing and postcard experience at postcardmania.com/dr-monroe. Village Green Dental is always looking for new doctors and team members. Reach Dr. Monroe at (630) 504-2037. And don't forget—as a Dental Economics reader, you are entitled to 5,000 free dental postcards, printed by PostcardMania, as well as free samples of postcards that are working right now for other dental practices. Redeem online or call (844) 269-1836 today—free marketing advice for your practice is also included!
1. "Why Referral Marketing Is Awesome." Referral Candy website. http://www.referralcandy.com/blog/referral-marketing-awesome-infographic/. Accessed May 1, 2016.
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