Have you recently noticed that business at your once robust dental practice has been falling off as patients have moved out of town or decided to try another dentist? Perhaps, in the past, this may not have been a problem because your scheduling books had always filled up anyway. But, lately, you might have noticed growing holes in your schedule and that new customers appear to be scarce. If so, it's time to re-think your marketing strategies to draw in valuable new clients.
Your Internet Site
Once upon a time, dental practices like yours relied heavily on customers finding your practice through local newspaper ads, phone books and client referrals. However, a recent poll showed that 39 percent of dentists no longer advertise in the phone book. One dentist interviewed by the site stated that he believed people today prefer to use the Internet to locate a dentist. That's why it's so important that your website be an excellent representation of your business. If you haven't looked at your site lately, it's time to study it thoroughly to see:
- That your dental website's design is clearly laid out and that pertinent information, such as your phone number are clearly listed -- not buried on a secondary page that a potential client will have to search your site to find.
- It's also extremely important today that your site be mobile device friendly. What does that mean? Let's say, for example, a new customer is intrigued by your practice and wants to call you. Your site should be designed so that all a potential client has to do is hit the little telephone button on your website to get in touch with your front desk. Another reason why you should make your site mobile device friendly? More than one billion people use only their mobile devices to access the Internet.
- Do some detective work on your Internet reputation. There are a lot of sites out there that allow customers to grade or review your dental practice. Unfortunately, it only takes one disgruntled customer to tank your once stellar reputation with a nasty -- and perhaps false -- review. If you discover that a customer has written untruths about your practice, you should write a rebuttal or hire a company that specializes in cleaning up your Internet reputation. In addition, a growing number of businesses are suing reviewers who have left slanderous remarks on these customer review sites.
Up Your Presence in the Public Eye
While the Internet is an undeniably important tool for growing your list of clients, it is also equally important to make your physical presence known in the community, as well. For example, you should:
- Check with your local elementary schools to see if they encourage dentists to teach dental hygiene to their younger grades. If so, and you do decide to participate, ask the school if you can bring a "goodie bag" for each student that contains a toothbrush, floss and your business card.
- Consider purchasing an inexpensive billboard that advertises your business at a local baseball field or at a high school football field. Or, even better, how about paying for a banner at the ice hockey rink? Because, you know, hockey players of all ages have a reputation for losing their teeth.
- Give a certificate to a charitable event for a service such as teeth whitening. It's always good for your image to contribute to a charity, plus you may actually get a new customer if the winner likes your service and decides to return for future treatments.
Don't wait until it's almost too late to give your business a much-needed kick start. As you probably recall when you first began your dental practice, it can take a while to turn leads into solid clients.