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a blog by Chris Barrow

Now and forever marketing – and a question

Leading on from yesterday’s conversation about “what to do when it is quiet” there were a number of clients asking “what do we do about marketing when the appointment book is full?” That’s a change of language in 24 hours – best illustrated by a practice that converted to private over the last year. They have taken on board all the Dental Business School stuff about Patient Journey, Smile Checks and customer service – surpise, surprise – the owner said to me this morning “I have just had the figures in from the accountant – we achieved the same level of sales as last year but I am seeing fewer patients and working less hours – I can’t understand how that has happened. The book is full – do we really need to be marketing at the moment?” “Told you so” was my immediate response – with a further observation:

  1. Dig a well when it’s raining – not when the rain stops;

  2. It’s raining patients at the moment but the rain will ease off – it always does;

  3. That’s when your marketing reservoir will pay you back;

  4. I work with practices who not only have waiting lists for treatment but also waiting lists for membership of the practice;

  5. Scarcity creates demand!

Marketing is an activity that you undertake “now and forever” – it never stops – no matter how busy you are. If you cannot fulfill demand then create a waiting list – the effect can be remarkable. ________________________________________ On a separate note – a question on my client conference call last night related to the “buggeration factors” when you are preparing treatment plans for dentistry. The client in question had witnessed a patient going through a detailed discussion of a treatment plan with the dental receptionist – and asking her to explain/justify why the final bill had altered from the original estimate. Two things were missing here:

  1. Clearly, there had been a communication breakdown between the dentist and the patient – a loss of trust, lack of time (whatever) that led to the patient speaking with the receptionist – big mistake;

  2. Also, the original treatment plan (by the dentist’s own admission) had excluded any refernce to the fact that things can change.

I was asked whether we had a template paragraph to cover this – I don’t and I’m inviting any reader to suggest a better language than this: “The investment quoted in this treatment plan is our best estimate of the likely costs involved. However, dentistry is an art as well as a science and we sometimes find that the condition of the patient’s teeth and gums can be different from that originally assessed. In these circumstances it may be necessary to suggest a change in the treatment procedure to safeguard your long-term dental health and appearance. When such changes are considered appropriate, we will always discuss them fully with you and obtain your approval before any additional costs are incurred.” That’s my first attempt – any ideas?

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