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Archive for category: Marketing

What’s the Quickest Way to Lose Patients?

What’s the Quickest Way to Lose Patients?

That’s an easy one––don’t listen to them. People find it infuriating when they’re ignored especially by the person they’re talking to. In a dental practice, this happens when staff members fail to give patients their undivided attention by multi-tasking, answering phones, texting, talking to their colleagues, looking at their computers, etc.

Active listening is a physical activity. It takes focus and energy to listen to someone and not do anything else. Even routine requests require active listening. If patients feel that the practice doesn’t value their time, there’s a good chance they won’t be back.

The Impact of Not Listening

I recently spoke to a dentist who was upset because his front desk coordinator had cost the practice a patient and her family. The mother was trying to schedule her three children for appointments. She told the staff member that she needed to leave quickly to pick up one of her kids. The front desk coordinator kept stopping to answer the phone and talking with callers before returning to the waiting patient. After the third call, the mother canceled all of our appointments and stormed out of the office. It’s obvious that the mother felt that customer service was less than satisfactory, but she also felt she wasn’t being heard.

Scenarios like this happen every day in dental practices. During interactions with dentists and staff, patients want to feel they are your #1 priority. They don’t want to repeat things two or three times, be put on hold endlessly, or be left in the treatment room unattended for 10 minutes. All of these are great ways to lose patients quickly.

How do you actively listen? Here are a few key tips:

  1. Always look directly at patients when they are speaking. This will keep you from multi-tasking and reassure them that you are focused on them.
  2. Repeat and summarize what they said. For example start the sentence with “So what I hear you saying is ….”
  3. Ask questions if clarification is needed. For example, “So you would prefer a Tuesday afternoon over a Thursday morning?”
  4. Nod and smile at patients when they are speaking. Even leaning forward creates a positive energy and a sense of listening.

Additional Resource

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper Stage III Customer Service by clicking here.

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The Top 3 Reasons New Patients Are Avoiding Your Practice

The Top 3 Reasons New Patients Are Avoiding Your Practice

Every practice wants more new patients. You need them to grow your production and help maintain your current level of revenue because every year you will lose patients. That’s a fact!

Your practice may have the greatest team in the world and you may be the most beloved dentist in the tristate region, but you’re still going to lose patients because people…

  • Move away
  • Become sick or incapacitated
  • Die

There’s nothing you can do about those patients. Then there are those other patients who decide to stop coming in due to a variety of reasons:

  • They lost or changed their dental insurance
  • They had a bad experience at your practice
  • They switched to another dentist

Depending on your customer service and patient outreach, you and your team may be able to persuade some, but not all, of them to return to your practice. But that’s not enough. You’ll always need a steady stream of new patients coming in the door to ensure practice success.

Where Have All the New Patients Gone?

Most practices don’t have enough new patients. There are a lot of reasons why, but based on what we see in new consulting client practices, here are the top 3 reasons why new patients aren’t coming in…

1. Your Team’s Phone Skills are Terrible

Your marketing may be top-notch, but if your front desk team doesn’t know how to talk to prospective patients, it doesn’t matter. If your staff isn’t enthusiastic… isn’t building value for your skills, your team and your practice… isn’t motivating callers to schedule and show up for their appointments, then all the money you’re investing in marketing campaigns is going to waste.

Solution: Give your front desk the scripting and training they need to excel at what they do.

2. Your Website is Older than Betty White (and Far Less Interesting)

Does your website make people flashback to the days of AOL, Geocities and dial-up? If so, it’s like you posted a giant neon NO TRESPASSING sign on the internet, warning prospective patients not to visit your practice. If you don’t care enough to keep your website current, what does that say about the care and treatment patients can expect to receive at your office?

Solution: Work with a web design company to bring your website into the 21st century.

3. Your Customer Service is Worse than the Cable Company’s

In reality, your customer service doesn’t have to be awful to keep new patients from calling… it just has to be less than great. Because if your current patients aren’t singing your praises about the amazing customer service they experienced, you’re sabotaging your new patient outreach activities. You don’t want to be perceived as just another dental practice that “cleans” teeth and fills cavities. You want to stand out in a crowded field, and WOW customer service is one way to do that.

Solution: Review the entire patient experience through the eyes of new patients. Be as critical and thorough as possible, listing deficiencies and opportunities for improvement. Implement customer service upgrades for all noted items within two months.

Conclusion

Many practices are their own worst enemies when it comes to growing their patient base. They send mixed signals to prospective patients. A powerful marketing message is undermined by the front desk’s team poor phone skills, a lackluster website or less-than-stellar customer service. Take a hard look at your practice. If you have any of these issues, correct them now.


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s popular book The 31 Biggest Mistakes Dentists Make by clicking here and then hitting the Read an Excerpt button.

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The Power of Power Words

The Power of Power Words

Everyone learns to talk at an early age. Somehow we think this means we are all excellent speakers. Unfortunately, most of us are just adequate communicators. For dental practices, this is a challenge… because successful interactions with patients depend on clear, effective and positive communication.

Without superior verbal skills, staff members (and dentists) will find it difficult motivating patients to accept treatment, pay bills on time, and refer friends.

For 32 years, Levin Group has educated dentists on the importance of scripting. One key component of effective scripts is something we call power words. When used properly, they create energy. Why is that important? Because energy creates trust. People with high energy are more attractive to others, their energy is contagious, and what they recommend is acted on.

Can You Feel the Power?

What are some power words? Wonderful, excellent, terrific, fantastic, unbelievable, outstanding, delighted are all examples. What’s the most powerful power word? If you guessed power, you would be wrong. The answer is love.

Not love in a romantic sense, but rather from a viewpoint of appreciation. Let’s look at some examples of what I mean…You’ll love the way your new smile looks… You’ll love meeting our dentist and team… You’ll love our new extended hoursYou’ll love meeting our new hygienist.

Don’t believe me. Try adding a few of these phrases to your interactions with patients and see what happens. You’ll love the results. Sorry, couldn’t help myself there.

Power words are a life-changing concept that will attract other people to you and create far better results. As one dentist said recently, “I’m using power words in every aspect of my life, and it amazes me how much nicer people have become.”


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from Dr. Roger P. Levin’s book Essential Scripts for Patient Communication. Go here and click on the “Read an Excerpt” button.

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Turn Your Facebook Page into a New Patient Generator

Turn Your Facebook Page into a New Patient Generator

Facebook is a missed opportunity for most practices. Dentists don’t know what to do with it. They started a practice page a few years ago and put a lot of initial effort into getting likes, but as time has gone by, the page now sits idle for weeks at a time.

A related scenario is that the practice doesn’t devote any resources to keeping its Facebook page updated. Our consultants have heard something like this many times: The marketing coordinator used to do it, but then she left the practice. Since then, Sheila at the front desk has been pitching in when she’s slow, but it’s been really busy lately. The dentist or the hygienist will throw something up on the Facebook page when they’re feeling inspired. But nobody has posted anything in over a month.

Facebook can be a marketing asset for your practice, but you’ve got to put it to use. Here’s how you can improve the performance of your practice’s Facebook page in four steps:

  1. Have a Consistent Presence – To get the most out of your Facebook page, you should be posting at least three times a week. If you’re only posting a once a month, then you have a “dead” page, which is worse than no page at all. It signals to current and prospective patients that you really don’t care. On the flip side, you don’t want to overwhelm people by posting 10 times a day either. You want to find a right balance. The minimum we recommend to our consulting clients is three times a week. If your office doesn’t have an official Facebook person, appoint one. Usually, it should be the marketing coordinator. If you don’t have a marketing coordinator, talk with your team to see who would be interested, who is the most familiar with Facebook, and who would be proficient at it.
  2. Be More Social – As the name implies, social media should be social. It’s not a one-sided conversation, but rather a dialogue. If all you’re doing is talking about your practice or talking at people, they will tune out. Make it about your patients and your other followers. Respond when they comment. Even if it’s negative, reply. Gather the facts and try to find a mutually agreeable solution. That kind of responsiveness shows that you’re listening and that you care.
  3. Think of Facebook as the technological equivalent of walking around your community, shaking hands, meeting and greeting people, sharing information and stories, and, ultimately, building relationships and rapport. Facebook allows you to do all of this online.

  4. Mix It Up – To engage current and prospective patients, you should post a wide range of interesting and informative content, including:
  5. • Oral health tips

    • Patient contests

    • Open appointment alerts

    • Testimonials

    • Treatment updates – educate patients about the different types of procedures available

    • Service promotions – such as a discount on whitening or the new patient hygiene visit

    • Fun information about staff members, such as hobbies and pets

    In addition, your posts should be visually interesting. Try to include photos and videos with the majority of your posts. They make people want to engage with what you’re saying.

  6. Promote Your Practice – With its demographic database, Facebook makes it easy for you to reach prospective patients through online ads. You can target your audience by age, gender, interests, occupation, geography and other factors. You can spend as much or as little as you want on your campaign. If it’s going well, add more money to it. If it’s not working, turn it off and try a different approach. But compared to other media, such as direct mail, Facebook is incredibly inexpensive. And when done well, it can be extremely effective.

Conclusion

It’s time to turn your practice’s Facebook page into a new patient generator. Use these four strategies to help you attract and win over potential new patients. Make 2017 your best year yet!


Additional Resource

For more on a related subject, watch Dr. Levin’s video “Internal Marketing – The Key to More New Patients” by clicking here.

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Marketing Lessons from Lady Gaga

Marketing Lessons from Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is one of the world’s most recognizable entertainers. In the span of less than a decade, she has become a household name, conquering the worlds of music, fashion and celebrity culture.

Since the release of her debut album The Fame in 2008, she has sold 146 million singles and 27 million albums, appeared on The Simpsons, had a recurring role on the cult TV show American Horror Story, made an album of duets with Tony Bennett, released a perfume, and is scheduled to perform at the 2017 Super Bowl halftime show.

Is there anything a dentist can learn from the woman who once wore a dress made out of meat to an awards show? You bet.

Here are three marketing lessons learned from Lady Gaga that will help you grow your practice:

1) Don’t Settle for What Everyone Else is Doing

Lady Gaga made a name for herself not by copying what others were singing but by creating her own unique blend of pop, dance and rock music.

To stand out in a crowded, competitive field, you have to look for ways to continually WOW patients. You can’t settle for just good customer service, because good isn’t good enough anymore. When you and your team amaze patients with extraordinary customer service, they’ll tell their friends and family about the experience, leading to an increase in referrals and new patients.

2) Brand Your Practice and Sharpen Your Image

What makes your practice different? Do you offer specialized services or a wider range of treatments than other practices? Are you a boutique cosmetic practice? Is your office the only one in the area that treats both children and adults?

What you don’t want to be is a bland generic practice. You don’t have to be outrageous like Lady Gaga, but you do want to be known for something. If you’re not sure what your brand is, make a list of all your practice’s attributes, including any special training or skills that you have. This exercise will help you zero in on your competitive advantages. Also, take a look at the competition––how would you describe those offices? What are they doing well and what not so well? Your answers should reveal additional opportunities for effectively branding your practice and positioning it against competing offices.

3) Inspire Your Fans (Patients)

As of this writing, Lady Gaga is the seventh most popular person on Twitter with 64.6 million followers. Ten years ago, she was a singer in a local band; now, she’s a worldwide media phenomenon. Talent and drive are important to her success, but so is her ability to engage with her fans––in person and online. She often responds directly to fan tweets, which wins her even more followers.

Let me get something out of the way… you’re never going to have a million Twitter followers. That’s OK, neither will I. But you can grow your social media audience by…

  • Fully engaging with your patients (and others) when they’re in your office and online
  • Sharing fun stuff happening in the practice, such as contests and patient appreciation events
  • Making it personal––let patients see your “non-dental” side by posting occasional pictures of your pets, your hobbies and your activities
  • Responding promptly to comments, reviews and suggestions

Conclusion

Lady Gaga has seized on opportunities––both traditional and digital––to grow her audience. In a crowded music field, she has found a way to stand out. She has a unique, recognizable brand identity and she continually engages her fans, directly and indirectly. All of which are good lessons for dentists to follow.


Additional Resource

For more on this subject, learn more about our Marketing Consulting Program by clicking here.

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Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

Where do good ideas come from? Here’s my process…

First, spend a great deal of time—as I do—watching and listening. Take in everything you can, some focused on your profession and some not. Read books. Engage in meaningful conversations with everyone you encounter. Dive into the internet, letting curiosity be your guide.

Then… once your head is filled with a rich mix of facts, images, theories, stories and background noise… shut it all off. Step away from all the chatter and stimulation, so you can mentally relax and simply think.

I’ve discovered a great way to flip the switch. When you have a few free moments, with no patients to see, no staff members to meet with, and no other business to attend to, leave the building. Go outside (do NOT take that smartphone with you!) and just stand there looking at the sky. Aside from the occasional bird or plane and the passing clouds, it represents a blank slate… one that will draw out new ideas based on all that “input” you’ve taken in.

Where do ideas come from? For me, they come out of the blue—sky blue.

Additional Resource

Ideas also come from Dr. Levin’s highly motivating seminars. To hear his latest advice for achieving practice success, check the full schedule of upcoming seminars by clicking one of the links below:

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Thinking About Owning Multiple Practices?

Thinking About Owning Multiple Practices?

In our work with hundreds of dentists and specialists, Levin Group has noted a trend. Many of them are now upgrading the efficiency, productivity and profitability of their practice in preparation for launching a small group practice… consisting of five or more offices.

There are many doctors earning excellent incomes from small groups, and many others who are losing money. Obviously, there are pros and cons to this growth strategy. If you’re thinking about expanding your dental business, you need to understand what you’ll be getting into.

Doing well with one or two offices does not translate directly into operating five, six or 10 locations. Managing a business of this scale poses a whole new set of leadership, managerial, financial, marketing, legal, regulatory, human resources and other challenges. To succeed, you need to develop highly efficient systems and best models in your current situation, ready to roll out in a small group practice.

If your vision is to own multiple practices someday, prepare yourself well for meeting the challenges. And don’t try to go it alone. Line up outside experts to help guide the process and avoid pitfalls or significant mistakes.

Additional Resources

Free Whitepaper – For more advice about implementing this growth strategy, download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper, “Building a Sustainable Multi-Doctor Practice.” Click here.

ADA Seminar – Attend the ADA’s BIG Idea: Small Group Practicea special day-long conference on Oct. 19, preceding the annual meeting in Denver. Dr. Levin will be one of the speakers at this event. For details, click here.

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Three Reasons to Host Referral Events

Three Reasons to Host Referral Events

One of the best referral marketing strategies is to host an annual educational seminar for referring doctors and/or staff. The day of the seminar represents an opportunity to build relationships and provide valuable information… all during a memorable and enjoyable event. We also teach host practices how to follow up after the seminar to further enhance referral relationships.

The top three reasons to host a referral marketing seminar are:

  1. A referral marketing seminar has real value. With the right speakers and topics, it provides immediate practical takeaways that can improve their practice. This creates strong bonds with referring offices.
  2. Referring doctors see it as positive “payback.” The referral process can feel like a one-way street, benefitting only the specialty office. An educational outreach event shows how much you appreciate their trust, by giving them something powerful in return.
  3. A referral marketing seminar is a wonderful way to say thank you. If a specialty practice wants to increase referrals, it needs to show appreciation… and a referral marketing seminar is one of the most powerful ways to do that. It also showcases the specialty practice for an entire day, enabling the doctor and staff to say “thank you” over and over again.

Educational seminars for referrers belong in every specialty practice’s marketing plan because it takes advantage of dentists’ respect for continuing education and has a direct impact on referral relationships.

Additional Resource

Need a Speaker for Your Next Event? Arrange for Dr. Levin to present a seminar to your referring doctors. A leading expert in practice management and marketing, he’s also one of the most dynamic speakers in dentistry. For details, click here or contact our Seminar Events Manager Rebecca Luwisher at rluwisher@levingroup.com or 443-471-3202.

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New Game. New Rules.

New Game. New Rules.

Many dentists are attempting to play soccer on a football field. It doesn’t work.

Dentistry is no longer what it was. The game has changed. There are new rules. And if you try to run your practice the old way, you’ll lose. Your production will slow down or decline, and your income will suffer.

The key to winning the new game is to understand what’s changed… the number of dentists is increasing… corporate dentistry is growing… dental insurance companies are lowering reimbursements… student loan debt is higher than ever… and there are six other game changers that are reshaping our profession.

This might sound like bad news, but it’s actually a huge opportunity. Just ask any of Levin Group’s clients, who are growing every day. With our guidance, they’re responding to the new rules with results-oriented systems, targets, scripting and checklists. This means really training their team, not just giving them a tip or pearl here or there. It means real management by objectives, rather than merely observing, making occasional comments or ignoring what’s going on in the office.

Playing soccer on a football field won’t work. Running dental practices as we did in the past will not work either.

Additional Resource

Hear what Levin Group clients say about our consulting programs. Discover how much better your practice can be once you learn the new rules from the leading dental practice management and marketing consulting firm. Watch video testimonials here.

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Three Things You Can Learn from Lexus

Three Things You Can Learn from Lexus

Do you remember the origin of Lexus?

It was originally promoted as an advanced Toyota, and few people believed it would be able to break into the luxury car market. But there were three things that Lexus did that made it a powerful player:

First, it was an incredible car. Despite the price tag on many expensive cars at that time, they didn’t always operate properly. Just Google “Audi electronic problems” and you’ll see what I mean.

Second, Lexus introduced incredible customer service. Their dealers were the first to provide loaner cars during repairs, vehicle pick-up when necessary and rapid service response.

Third, they made their customers feel special.

Dental patients want more value than ever for the money they’re spending. They have no idea how to judge the dentistry in clinical terms, so they judge it on the basis of customer service. The truth is that most dental teams don’t yet understand that the way to provide incredible service to patients is with a step-by-step business system… not just a set of personalities.

Follow the Lexus method and your practice production will accelerate like a well-tuned luxury car.

Additional Resource

For a better idea of how to drive practice growth with exceptional customer service, read Dr. Levin’s whitepaper, “Stage III Customer Service.”To download it for free, click here and enter the code LEXUS16 at checkout.

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