Swords Orthodontics
17 Main St, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland

5 Characteristics of a Successful Dental Practice - Part 5

5 Characteristics of a Successful Dental Practice - Part 5

Well, this are my thoughts on the final 5 of Gary Brown's 25 Characteristics of a Successful Dental Practice, which was part of the keynote address he presented to the Irish Dental Association's practice management seminar last month. Once again, I reckon these are ones that would wait until you've sorted out the others at the top of the list, but all the same, they are the details on a very smooth operation.

1. Successful Dental Practices Make Use of Their Voicemail and Call-Waiting Messages

A missed call doesn't need to be a missed opportunity. Having an answer phone or call waiting message means you can still communicate those important things to your patients.

For example: Instead of playing generic music (that monophonic Four Seasons drives me bananas), you could talk about the deals you're offering; or you could mention information that your patient could be looking for, like your opening times or how to find the practice.

Or you can arrange for call diversion to a messaging service where a real person answers the phone and deals with the query (to some degree at least, judging by my non-dental experiences with them) and can impart some helpful info at the same time.

 

2. Successful Dental Practices Use Mail Based Promotions

Sometimes, email marketing won't bring much of a result, even when you have a great promotional offer. As well as the risk of nobody ever seeing your email (if it gets caught in the spam filter) people have learnt to ignore most “special offer” emails because of the large number of scams online.

Another thing that has happened to email marketing, particularly since Gmail became so popular, is the automatic compartmentalising of mail into personal, social and promotional. When you get lumped in with the other promo offers, you’re more likely to get swept away with some “Delete All” clicking, even if you avoided the spam filter.

How can you avoid these problems? Use traditional mail. Because your patients will have to physically hold your offer in their hands, they'll be far less likely to ignore your promotion. A page with interesting, engaging, text on it might go to the bin, but first it might hang around a table being read by various people while several cups of tea are drunk.

 

3. Successful Dental Practices Have Branded Merchandise

Unfortunately, people tend to put off visiting their dental practice. It slips people's minds, finding its way lower and lower down their list of priorities. To target this problem, you need your practice to play a small part in your patients' everyday lives.

By putting your practice's name or website on merchandise, you can constantly – but non-intrusively – remind people about your practice.

It's important that the items you put your name on get used very frequently by your patients, and that they use them up-close.

When was the last time you bought a biro? Did you ever get handed a promotional pen from someone that has no obvious connection to the thing the pen promotes and wonder how they came to own it – and how many hands did it pass through on the way there?

Examples of effective merchandise:

  • Pens, rulers and other stationary
  • Calendars
  • Mugs
  • Address books, planners, diaries etc.

4. Successful Dental Practises Thank Patients with Handwritten Notes

When a patient refers a friend to your practice, they've gone out of their way to help your business. By saying thank you to the patient, it's not just being polite, to them it's good customer service.

There may not be any bad ways to thank your patients, but there are more effective ways. To make the best impression, write out a thank you note by hand. It's personal, and gives the impression that you've taken time out of your day for them.

Printed notes don't give the same impression of sincerity, for all the patient knows, you could have just added their name to a template and printed it out. When a new patient attends Swords Orthodontics and identifies a former or existing patient as the reason they came, I would usually write a card to the patient to thank them – but be careful on wording, as there is a potential confidentiality problem here – you can’t identify the new patient.

 

5. Successful Dental Practices Welcome New Patients

When it comes to new patients, first impressions mean everything. People want a dental practice who cares for them as individuals. A easy and effective way to build a good impression is to send new patients a welcome package.

As well as a welcome letter, you could take this opportunity to include some of the educational leaflets that we discussed in a previous article; it's a chance to show your patients that they've chosen a professional practice that has a good idea of what it's talking about.Something else to consider including is some of the branded merchandise that was mentioned earlier in the article. 

 

Right, now I have to practise what I preach, so I am going to through the list and see what needs done!

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