The business of dental care is shifting – but are you shifting with it?
I remember going to the dentist as a child. The chairs were old and ratty, the magazines even older and rattier. It was a dark waiting room and it had an odd smell that I can’t pinpoint to this day but I’d know it again if I smelled it. A lick of paint and some new periodicals would have made a huge difference but year after year, the place looked and smelled exactly the same.
As I said in the last post: “…your dental practice is a highly skills based enterprise but dentistry is still a business.” So you’ve decided that you’re going to spend some money upgrading your facilities. A number of new offices have opened in the general area that you are located in and you want to make sure that your dental practice is putting its best foot forward, so to speak, to attract and retain clients.
Put yourself in the place of your ‘potential’ client: if you can identify with your customers, you can provide them with what they want.
What do clients look for in a dentist?
- Most logically, people are interested in the professional competence of the dentist. Your education is not a thing in the past: ongoing development and maintenance of your skills are also a factor in whether a client will trust you.
- The quality of the smiles in the office – clearly, if your staff have teeth in poor condition, it won’t leave a client with much confidence about the treatment they will receive.
- Personal touches – calling a patient yourself, instead of delegating the task to a staff member, after a major procedure is an excellent way to show your interest in their well being. Remembering that they have three kids, one of which is about to go to university is also a small thing to note on file and a tremendous piece of information to bring up, making the client feel cared for.
What do patients look for in a dental practice?
- Timely first appointments – if a potential client has to wait weeks for a first appointment, they might just move on and become a lost opportunity.
- Short wait time at appointments – while everyone can appreciate that emergencies crop up and disturb the wait times for scheduled appointments, consistently long wait times show the client that their time isn’t being respected. This is a problem that can easily be handled with dental practice management systems in place.
- Convenient hours – extended hours and weekend hours are ideal for many whose work environments are not always conducive to taking time off in the middle of the day.
- Clear explanations of procedures and costs – being clear and upfront about ALL costs involved in a procedure and why it is needed are essential. Provide alternative options, if there are any available – perhaps a distinction between a procedure that is acceptable and one that is optimal, with pricing for both, so that a client can make a full and fair decision.
- Financing options – most people do not have savings for more major dental procedures and many insurance plans are more limited than in the past. Providing a way for your clients to be able to say yes to the procedure is comforting for them and will lead to stronger retention numbers.
- Up to date and clean facilities – this requires little explanation. No stained chairs. No odd smells. These are the memories that stick and affect the likelihood of a client booking again.
- Friendly front office staff – bar none, one of the biggest turn offs with dental offices is rude and unhelpful front office dental staff. Training in this area should never be ignored nor should growth opportunities for those staff: they are the face of your practice so make sure it’s the best it can be.
WIFI, tablets to use onsite, video screens and earphones for kids – big and little. These are all ‘extras’ that can round out the experience for a client and encourage them to book future appointments with you as well. They’re not essential and there is no question that some of the other items mentioned above are far more compelling reasons to visit a dental practice, but the extras show a level of care and interest in the client’s well being and comfort during their visit. That could make all the difference.
You need to do the work that you enjoy and that capitalizes on your skills and education. In other words, do what you do best. You don’t need to be bogged down in marketing plans and management conundrums. Let others do that.
Contact the experts at Dental Management Advisors and we’ll help you get back to doing more of what you love. http://www.dentalmanagementadvisors.com/contact