The fact of the matter is that as we get older our dental healthcare inevitably changes due to general wear and tear etc. According to a recent survey of Denplan members, one third of all dentists surveyed (34%) have seen an increase in the symptoms of dry mouth in their patients in the last five years. The survey also showed that around three out of five (61%) of the respondents indicated that the condition was most common in patients aged 65 and older (Denplan dentist survey, August 2013, 422 respondents).
Dental practices with a high percentage of more mature patients, therefore, will find themselves doing very different dentistry to those in an area high in young families, for example. There are lots of things you can do in your practice to recruit new patients aged between 50 and 70, and this can often be a highly profitable group to target.
Some payment plan providers can help you with a patient profile report to see just what your current patient base looks like. If you want to attract more mature patients to the practice, the report will indicate whether the older age group is a suitable target group in your local area, giving you appropriate postcodes and locations for your promotional literature.
If you’re unsure of how to begin, these tips are designed to give you a starting point.
Look at your marketing material
According to patient profiling reports, patients in this age group are often careful with their spending and will expect value for money, even if they have good levels of income, savings or a pension etc. Therefore, it’s well worth ensuring that all your communications highlight the benefits of your offering and particularly any special offers, payments plans or refer a friend schemes you may be running.
Create loyalty gestures
It’s also important to keep providing clear value-for-money rewards to help keep these patients loyal in the longer-term, not just when they join the practice. This will help you retain their loyalty and make sure they don’t reconsider their options. Loyalty gestures such as birthday or celebration cards at important milestones will be appreciated, as will sending flowers after a difficult course of treatment, newsletters, gift vouchers, goodie bags, and invitations to open days or practice celebrations.
Spruce up your practice
Patients in this age group are also likely to notice and appreciate the quality of their surroundings – especially if they’re in the practice for more frequent or longer treatment periods. It’s a good idea to make sure that patient areas are clean and welcoming with a good choice of magazines, refreshments, fresh flowers, hand cream and other little touches that show patients you have made an effort to make them comfortable. Some payment plan providers also offer practice loans to help if your practice is in need of a full refurbishment.
Target your messages
Fifty to 70-year olds may also start to need some degree of restorative treatment, so why not target them with relevant information and special offers for dental implants and different restorative options, including cosmetic procedures? Communications can include discount vouchers, flyers, information brochures, TV displays in the patient lounge and posters. They may also be interested in aesthetic treatments such as teeth whitening and facial rejuvenation, so if you offer that type of service you have a real selling point with this age group.
Offer appropriate incentives
Finding out what types of things your patients are interested in or do for their hobbies can really pay dividends when it comes to your marketing. You can include a few questions in your regular patient survey and this can help come up with relevant incentives and offers for them. For example, offer M&S, Waitrose, John Lewis or garden centre vouchers on refer a friend cards, and consider running competitions to win a round of golf or tickets to a local cricket match depending on what the results of your survey are.
Advertise in the right places
To attract more patients of this profile to your practice, consider sponsorship/advertising at local golf courses and cricket grounds, exclusive offers for members at local sports clubs and health clubs, and donate goodie bags or dental prizes to clubs and associations’ raffles etc. You could even team up with other local businesses such as opticians to promote referral discounts and loyalty schemes.
Make the most of Mouth Cancer Action Month
Take advantage of specific PR messages and campaigns that will be relevant to this age group, such as Mouth Cancer Action Month (MCAM). Consider taking part in the national MCAM campaign and sending out a press release to your local newspapers highlighting the risks and symptoms of the disease and that you’re offering free screenings. You can also think of other campaigns that may start to be relevant to more mature patients, such as links between gum disease and heart disease, diabetes and other conditions, and put yourself forward as a spokesperson/authority.
Stock relevant products
Many patients in this age group can be product savvy and stocking products that are relevant to them can be a further value-added-service that you provide. This could be items such as ergonomic brushes to help with grip and arthritis issues or minimal intervention products that can help contribute to improving their oral health.
However you decide to market your practice it’s important to ensure you are marketing to the right group for your area, not deciding what type of practice you want to have and asking local people to fit in with your vision. Patient profiling reports are the perfect way of doing this, so it’s worth speaking to your payment plan provider and seeing what is available to you as part of your membership. Targeting your marketing can not only ensure that you retain your current patient base, but it can actually attract new patients and provide ongoing growth and stability for your practice.