You don’t need an MBA to notice that the economy isn’t exactly booming lately.
In fact, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that America has had less than 3% growth in the GDP – and this low is a record-setter!
Forbes Magazine doesn’t expect this dismal pattern to change either, predicting that the U.S. economy is stuck at a dreary 1.5% growth rate.
Bottom line? Consumers across the board are getting hit in the wallets – hard.
And when their wallets aren’t as full (or in some cases, when they’re empty), people might find ways to afford what they want – such as a new laptop on a manageable payment plan – but not necessarily what they need. As a result, things like dental procedures get pushed into the margins.
Are dentists going to be affected by this trend as much as we think? The answer is yes.
Early in 2016, ADA News reported that while dental spending has “flattened,” the number of new dentists entering the field has increased! This means that dentist earnings are “stagnant,” and that a “new normal” in terms of dentist spending, demand for dental care, and dental earnings is here (ADA News, January 2016).
Do you have a plan for competing with a steady flow of new dentists entering the field, the rapid growth of corporate dentistry and a stagnant economy? Will lower dentist earnings be your “new normal?”
These facts sound scary (mostly because they are…), but lower income doesn’t have to be the “new normal” for you. You can live the lifestyle you imagined when you became a dentist. You just have to use strategies to make people want what they need – and put your services back on the “spending” list.
Here are a few suggestions that are tested and proven to attract more new patients as well as increase case acceptance rates:
1 – “Consumerize”
If you want to compete, you need to bring your practice up to the “patient-friendly” standards of today. This includes weekend hours, handy appointment availabilities after school or work, multiple services offered in the same convenient location, beverages for the patients, funky play areas for the kids with current toys and fresh activities, patient appreciation gifts (try out branded lip balms or tote bags for mom!) and minimal waiting times.
People don’t feel “lucky” to get in and see you anymore. To keep them booking, or referring, they need the Disney-like service they’ve come to expect nowadays – and if you don’t provide it, someone else will. TIP: your marketing material can peel back the curtain to reveal the fantastic customer service you provide, which attracts new patients.
2 – Increase Case Acceptance Rate By Reducing Sticker Shock
Sticker shock is surprise or dismay experienced by someone when they hear about the high price of a service or product. This leads to delayed decisions regarding dental work, even if the work is necessary!
Sticker shock also decreases your referral rate; if people don’t allow you to work in their mouths, they don’t discover that you’re a wonderful dentist – which means they don’t refer.
Try communicating with your patients in a way that supports the need for dental treatment – and most importantly, eliminate sticker shock by breaking dental treatment up into affordable stages.
3 – Distinguish Yourself from the Crowd
An effective marketing campaign is a KEY strategy to bringing in the number of new patients that you need each month in order to remain competitive.
This aspect really ties points one and two together, because with the right kind of marketing material you can let prospective patients know about your Disney-like service and your manageable payment plans. A large, bright, high-quality Direct Mail piece filled with pictures of the beautiful features in your dental office, including information about payment plans and offers, is usually the best way to push ahead of the pack.
When you let potential patients know that you’ll treat them like royalty (without draining their already strained wallets!) they’ll start flooding your office.
A couple of strategized tweaks are all you need in order to stop your dental practice from sinking into the “new normal.”