Following an eventful summer in the dental industry, we now enter the traditional conference season. September and October are packed full of dental events with something for everyone. The British Orthodontic Society Conference is closely followed by the BDIA Dental Showcase, before the Private Dentistry Conference makes its first appearance on the dental calendar on the 24 October. So with all of these just a few weeks away we thought we’d take a look at what to consider when running your own practice event.
As with all marketing activities, the starting point should always be why you are running the event and what you hope to achieve. The reasons for holding a practice open day are many and varied, from celebrating an anniversary or introducing a new clinician, to re-launching your dental plans.
A number of practices have recently joined the Mouth Cancer Foundation’s Mouth Cancer Screening Accreditation Scheme, which DPAS supports, marking this occasion with an open day offering free mouth cancer screening to patients. But, whatever you choose, you need to have a reason for opening your doors.
Open events are an excellent way to expose your practice, not only to your regular patients, but also to their friends and family. Don’t forget to invite the local press along and you might even get some nice editorial coverage following the event.
The key to a successful event is organisation. DPAS clients can benefit from support in this area, but I recommend appointing a team member to take responsibility for the programme. This should include the format and timing for the event, what will entice people along, what they will see, what they will take away with them, opportunities to meet the team, demonstrations of new equipment etc. Whatever you have planned make sure the event is interesting and informative, as well as running like clockwork.
Timing is crucial. It is important that you give patients as much opportunity as possible to attend. Normally late afternoon/early evening for summer or early autumn, or a Saturday morning if the event is later in the year. It’s also worth looking out for any other events taking place locally on the same day, as such clashes have spoiled many an event in the past.
As with any event it’s important that you let people know it’s happening and don’t just tell them once. You can email and text patients with event information, however you choose to communicate, invitations should be sent in good time. You should also promote the event on your website and social media to encourage new patients to come and take a look around and of course make sure all your front desk staff invite every patient as they leave the practice.
Ideally, patients should leave with something tangible to act as a reminder about the event, such as oral health products, which are both useful and are linked directly to the event itself. Include some referral cards so they can be passed on to friends who may have been unable to attend.
From a team-building point of view, open days can provide a focal point to foster team spirit as everyone pulls together to achieve a specific goal. It also provides an opportunity for individuals to shine and everyone’s contributions should be acknowledged.
Remember, an open day is your opportunity to showcase your practice to the public. So everything, from the initial greeting to the quality of the refreshments you serve, will be a reflection of the service and care you provide. If you do decide to run an event at your practice, take the time to organise it properly and it will be remembered for all the right reasons.