A healthy practice that is in growth mode should bring in anywhere from 25 to 40 new patients per month – depending on their “growth” model. The average new patient will spend approximately $450 dollars. A practice that is very sharp in communication and sales skills will be able to increase this amount substantially.
A practice also needs to identify a marketing plan that will attract the desired target audience. This means becoming laser focused on whom they are looking to attract, how they plan to reach the target audience and systems to track the ROI. For example; I was recently in an office where the dentist was promoting $89 for patient exam, cleaning and 4 BW along with free whitening. The practice averaged 20 new patients per month. What the dentist did not know, was that ROI was breaking even, and the patients attracted from the promotion did not return. What is wrong with this picture? Can you figure out why the practice is not growing?
A practice does not need to start off aggressively in their marketing plan – especially if funds are tight. Internal marketing is one of the least expensive methods of marketing that could potentially yield the highest rate of return. It is essential in building your patient base and needs to be consistent; as well as positive.
There’s no mystery behind why internal marketing works. It leverages the fact that current patients are often times more than happy to refer their friends and family. The referrals they send are “warm,” meaning they are already sold based upon what the referring source has stated about you. Practices lose opportunities for referrals because dentists and team members don’t communicate that the practice is actively accepting more patients. If you don’t ask, how can you expect to get answers?
Are you aware 75%-80% of new patients should come from patient referrals and should generate anywhere from $11,250 to $18,500 per month of additional revenue – depending on how aggressive your marketing plan is and the communication/sales skills of your staff. Please feel free to contact a Strategic Practice Solutions representative to find out the solutions we have for this.
Knowing what you know now, could we not agree that an effective internal marketing program designed to increase patient referrals should be your focus? You should really narrow that focus to your “ideal” patient. What does your ideal patient look like? What type of dentistry do you want to do more of-cosmetics, implants?
Listed below are some internal marketing strategies:
- Train your staff to ask for referrals.
- Place signs in the office that show referrals are appreciated.
- Start a practice building program.
- Display testimonial letters.
- Make your practice brochure an effective marketing tool.
- Display posters of the dental services you perform.
- Create marketing events to showcase your practice and staff.
- Start a practice newsletter.
- Aim for the “WOW” response.
What’s the most effective kind of internal marketing for your practice? Different patients respond to different types of marketing and forms of communication. Unfortunately, many practices take a scattershot approach to marketing rather than implementing a well-designed series of strategies that drive new patients to the practice. I firmly believe the application of DiSC in any form of communication and marketing has a positive impact on the outcome. [Please feel free to contact me should you be interested to learn more of this concept.]
The next step is to decide on a marketing budget and marketing plan. This will constantly need to be evaluated as the practice continues to grow and the net profits increase. The general rule in a marketing plan should take this into consideration:
Total Revenue x 5% = Marketing budget required to maintain current awareness and visibility
Total Revenue x 10% = Marketing budget required to grow and gain market share
For external marketing, aim for a marketing budget no more than 2% to 3% of your net income. External marketing can include, but is not limited to, the items listed below:
- Direct Mail
- Yellow Pages
- Television Ads
For internal marketing, I would recommend a marketing budget of 1% to 2% of your net income. The budgeting process for internal marketing includes a variety of aspects. Listed below are those items that should be included within your internal dental marketing budget:
- Patient Satisfaction Surveys
- Reward Programs for Loyal Customers
For the branding and image creation portion of your dental marketing budget, marketing experts usually recommend an initial amount of $5,000 to $6,000, with an annual maintenance increase each year.
Your Web site Building and keeping “brand equity”
Establishing brand/identity standards
Creating a “name” for your practice
Creating a “tag line” for your practice