THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

so what's YOUR strategy?

Below is an exceprt from one of my recent Confidence Club ezines that looks at the strategies we have to emply in today’s market. These are the trends that I’m seeing – so what’s your strategy? Free Versus Fee – a Dilemma in Dentistry (Part 1) There is a gap developing between those of my clients who tell me that “business is booming” and those who report gappy books for dentistry and hygiene. I’ve been watching and listening very carefully and offer some observations. Question 1 – why are the winners winning? I’ve written before about the “big 5” retail offers and “KEDOS” – here’s a quick revision. The “Big 5”

  1. tooth whitening

  2. botox

  3. invisible braces (did you know that the word “Invisalign” is now appearing significantly in Google rankings?)

  4. smile makeovers for yummy mummies and glamorous grannies

  5. dental implants

It has been suggested that 2 out of 3 enquiries for private dentistry are now made via Google – and that the above list (plus “private dentist”) is what people are looking for. Conclusion You MUST have a web site that is SEO’ed – (search engine optimised) for these terms. KEDOs The “knock ’em dead offer. It’s a recession. Every shop on the high street is throwing a SALE. You are in competition with EVERYBODY on the high street. Make me an offer. Examples that are working:

  1. whitening wednesdays (half price whitening) first seen in Liverpool a year ago – and now spreading virally

  2. invisalign open days and open evenings

  3. botox parties

  4. CPD study groups for referring dentists

  5. 24/7/365 emergency services

  6. dental tourism into the UK

Conclusion You HAVE to make me an offer to get me in the door. Now this is all well and good for the cosmetic practice – focused niche marketing for specific patients an/or specific products – it seems to be paying off. But what about the GDP who is servicing a mixed bag of families as well as other demographic groups? They are the dentists who are reporting gappy books and an Autumnal chill developing around the cash flows. Some of them are attempting to “whiten” their way out of trouble, or use another of “The Big 5” to generate sales – but that may be a false indicator if the new patient numbers do not grow and if the dental and hygiene recalls continue to decline. A commentator on the Today programme last week suggested that this recession may be “W” shaped and not “J” shaped – that we are heading for a second dip, after the Government’s help for banks and business has been exhausted. I’m wondering if there may not be a “second dip” for the private economy as well, forcing the hard-working British nuclear family to rein in their expenses – perhaps after one last Christmas jamboree? Question 2- why are the strugglers struggling?

  1. Why do patients cancel hygiene appointments?

I suggest that’s the easy question – you know the answer. Its because the dentist has always concluded a check up with words to the effect of: “why don’t you just pop next door now and see Mary for a polish?” In other words, the importance of the hygienist has not been “bigged up” by the dentist and the team. £50-55 for polishing my teeth and a chat about Strictly? No thanks, I’ll wait until next time.

  1. Why do patients cancel and defer check-ups?

I’m going to suggest a couple of observations: They don’t cancel if they are “members” of the practice (paying a monthly direct debit) – unless they are in dire economic difficulty Conclusion Get that membership in place. They do cancel if they are on a fee per item basis and the cost of the check up and/or hygiene visit is becoming prohibitive

  1. Why do your new patient consultations drop?

Because you are simply too expensive and priced out of the market OR you are too cheap and the right type of patients are not attracted by your offer.

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