After you have established your overhead, plugged any leaking holes in your processes, and have a well-oiled machine,...it's time to grow! But how do you get new patients? Do you know how many new patients you are bringing in each month? Are you growing year over year? Tracking the New Patient KPI is a key to understanding if and how you are growing as a dental practice!
First, it's a good idea to know where your current patient base first heard about your practice. You want to add fuel to an area where a fire already exists. This means you need to track your current referral sources to see where your new patients are coming from within the past year. Knowing the current main referral sources will let you know if you are receiving a return on investment in the marketing dollars spent and if that money needs to be reinvested into another area that is producing new patients.
How To Grow Your Patient Base with Your Current Patients
Do your patients know you?
How are you getting the word out to your community that your practice exists? Do you ask for referrals from your current patients, or is there a referral program set in place? Where are your marketing dollars currently being applied? If people do not know about you, you aren't going to grow. The best and most cost-effective way to grow your practice is to make each patient you have a brand ambassador of your practice. Get them talking!
Do your patients like you?
Your patients will want to align with who you are. If your practice was a person, what kind of person would it be? Would it be a formal, clean, and proper person; or, would it be a wacky, colorful, boisterous person? Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" is a great book to review in trying to align your practice to a set of principles that will help you identify your patient demographic that associates with your practice.
Creating a brand personality helps your current patient base relate to you and feel like they are a part of something. This creates an opportunity to inspire them to share about your practice on social media or just in conversation.
Do your patients trust you?
You are not the hero, but you are the guide! People honestly don't care about your credentials. How many of your patients request to see your diplomas? Did they ask for your GPA? Reality check: they don't care. However, they do care about the true hero, themselves. They want to see how you have guided other patients, just like themselves, through the same journey to satisfy the emotional need that they are looking for.
Establishing trust is done through many different ways: messaging, reviews, community impact, etc... If you create trust with your patients, they will promote your dental practice to their friends, family, co-workers, etc. through word-of-mouth!
Attracting New Patients To Your Dental Practice Through Marketing
In order to have a healthy practice, there needs to be new patients every month in the practice and that's just to cover attrition without considering practice growth. New Patient Acquisition is a KPI that you should be tracking with a smart Dental Dashboard. You can't just rely on current patients to do all your marketing for you. You need to have a well thought out marketing strategy to attract people who may not even know you exist. There are many ways you can attract new patients to your practice, and with the right information you can begin to market your dental practice effectively.
Marketing your dental practice includes:
- Website Design
- Referral Marketing
- Organic Online Marketing
- Paid External Marketing (Radio advertisements, direct mailers, Facebook ads, billboards, etc...)
Hiring a dental specific marketing agency can be a good use of marketing dollars. Just make sure that they have a proven track record of ROI and are well versed in the dental industry. You shouldn't have to pay for someone's education in all things dental before they can market your practice effectively.
Marketing doesn't have to be expensive and complicated. There's a lot you can do on your own to get started if you don't have the budget to hire an agency. You can learn more about how to attract new patients with our Marketing Blueprint: A Step-by-Step Guide for New Patient Acquisition.
Once you have closed the back door of attrition and established trust with your current patient base, you can start to market your practice to attract new patients. You don't want to attract new patients without, first, making sure your current patients like you and trust you. Otherwise, you will just continually lose patients out the back door. This increases marketing costs.
It costs a lot more to attract a new patient than to keep the ones you already have. So, just make sure you have a good reputation in place, are getting referrals from current patients, and are continually keeping the majority of those coming in before you spend money attracting new people. Then, you can be strategic in how you spend marketing dollars to grow your practice.