Q. I have just bought a new Cerec machine to save on lab costs. How can I use it to help attract new patients?
A. From a patient’s perspective, the biggest advantage that Cerec treatments have for them is the convenience factor. It’s quick, you can get your new restoration done in just one day, and there is no need for return visits, messy impressions or unrealistic temporaries. The fact that your practice has such a state-of-the-art machine is a good secondary selling point as it shows that your practice is modern and has the patients’ interests at heart.
By focusing strongly on the key benefits, you can carry out a marketing campaign centred on Cerec treatments. This can include highlighting it in your patient newsletters, producing a flyer for direct mailing and using it as the basis for any advertising you do.
There are a few other things you can do to make the most of your investment. One may sound obvious, but it is not always carried out – take the time to become proficient with the Cerec machine, and use it to its full potential. Many dentists seem to use it solely for crowns, whereas it can of course be used for several other treatments including veneers, inlays and onlays. It would also be worth talking to other practitioners about how they use their Cerec machine.
Also, make sure you set your prices at the right level. Some practices price it at below the cost of lab-made crowns, not realising that in fact people will be happy to pay extra for the sheer convenience the treatment offers. Pricing it lower may also send out the wrong message about the quality of the treatment – you need it to be seen as the first choice, not a poor second.
Q. A large new hotel has been built just up the road from us. We’d like to promote our services to their staff but are not sure how to go about it.
A. Hotels can provide two potential sources of income to a nearby dental practice. One revolves around its staff, the other around its guests, and each will depend on the type of hotel it is. A hotel relying largely on tourism for its business is likely to be staffed according to the low and high seasons, and often this can mean they have temporary employees living on or near the premises. There is great potential in this for the forward-thinking practice, as you can work with the hotel management to provide a dental health or dental emergency service for such staff.
A hotel which has a more steady source of income throughout the year may well have different needs – for example their staff may be permanent and live in their own homes, without such a strong need for social support systems.
With regards to guests, there will inevitably be occasions when a dental emergency arises while they are staying at the hotel, and you can work with the hotel to ensure that such cases are passed to your practice.
To get the ball rolling, we would suggest writing an initial letter of introduction, and following it up 7-10 days later with a telephone call to arrange a meeting. Don’t approach the hotel with a specific plan in mind – let them know that you can offer a service which is specifically created for them, to meet their own particular needs.
Q. I produced a very high quality implant referral leaflet and sent it to lots of local GDPs. The initial response was good and I got seven new cases including two worth around £25,000 each, but now things have gone quiet again. What else can I do to keep the referrals coming in?
A. Unfortunately, this experience is not untypical among dentists who need to encourage referrals. We feel this is because when dentists see something such as a referral leaflet it tends to have an instant impact, and they will happily act on it. But because they’re so busy, a month later they have almost forgotten about you again and revert to their usual way of doing things.
Regular communication with GDPs is the best way of ensuring you stay in their minds. Quite a few of our clients now have a newsletter specifically aimed at their local GDPs, going out twice a year, and the response so far has been excellent.
A questionnaire sent to GDPs can be very effective. It can help pinpoint any improvements you can make to your referral services, and can also show which GDPs are most likely to need your services so you can focus your marketing on them.
Other things to consider include offering GDPs the chance to have as much or as little involvement with each patient as they would like, and enabling dentists to fit their own restorations.
For more information about Blue Horizons services, visit www.bluehorizonsdental.co.uk or email [email protected]