Most communities have more dental practices than ever before. Between corporate dental chains and other private practices, the competition is fierce. Patients have endless options, so why should they choose you to take care of their teeth? In my over 30 years as a dentist, I’ve learned a few things that will bring new patients and keep your existing patients coming back year after year.
Impressions. Whenever a patient interacts with any element of your practice, it has the potential to leave a big impression. In order to differentiate your practice, you must give your patients a positive experience at every possible touchpoint.
For example, the first point of contact with a prospective patient is vital in shaping their opinion of your practice. An inquiring phone call, a visit to your practice’s website, or even a drop-in at the office all might be a person’s first impression of your business. With this in mind, do you think these touchpoints are currently making a difference in bringing in new patients?
Intentions. A surefire way to blend into the crowd is to be like everyone else. And that’s exactly what will end up happening if you don’t create your dental practice with intention. Every element of your dental practice should be planned and executed with a specific goal in mind. You can start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Will this give my patients a better overall experience?
- Does this reflect my dental practice’s values and who I am as a business owner?
- How will this decision affect new and existing patients?
- Does this contribute to the quality of care we can provide?
A great place to practice intentional design is your reception area. Don’t fall into the stereotype of medical offices with old magazines and stained furniture. Create a space that you would also want to spend time in!
Another way you can apply this philosophy is with how you train your staff. Does every member of your team purposefully interact with patients in a way that’s friendly, warm, and helpful? If not, staff can come across as rude, indifferent, or unprofessional. Remember, no customer-facing element of your business is too small to make an impression on a patient!
Investments. Cutting-edge dental equipment is expensive, and with the exception of an occasional promotion, there’s really no way around it. On the bright side, new technology if purchased intentionally, often pays for itself over time through greater efficiency/less waste and better quality of care for your patients.
I’ve seen the positive results of modern dental technology in my office. One of the best examples is the iTero® digital scanner from Invisalign® which allows us to accurately scan a patient’s mouth without the need for goopy dental impressions. This provides more precise results while also making procedures more comfortable for patients.
You have a choice as a dentist and a practice owner. Don’t lose your patients to the dentist down the street who is willing to invest in his or her office and who purchases the latest technology. If you’re not sure where to begin, consider asking your patients. Sometimes the best suggestions come from those in the exam chair!