Nine ways to attract new patients from your favorite local companies

March 18, 2010

By Lonnie Hirsch and Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Let’s call them your “favorite local companies.” You know who we mean. Just about every dentist has a mental list of businesses in the community that are (or could be) a source of new patients for the practice.

You are seeing some of these employees currently, and there are good reasons why you would welcome others. Perhaps it’s because they represent the right demographics for you … upscale, families, young singles. Perhaps it’s a company that provides insurance that you prefer, maybe it’s a company that’s right across the street, or perhaps they are a dominant employer in your community.

A rich source of new patients

Begin by putting your mental list of local companies on paper. Some company names will be top of mind, and the general manager of XYZ Company might already be your patient. Take the time to check with the local chamber or business development group to confirm the bigger and better businesses in your practice area. (You might be surprised.)

Remember to talk this through with your staff — chances are they know where many of your patients work, and have grass roots connections through friends, family, neighbors, or social acquaintances to help the list grow.

Consider the following tactics, and keep in mind that one or more ideas might be appropriate to more than one target group:

Tactic 1: Talk with existing patients from the company to point you to the right decision makers within the business. Maybe it’s the company’s general manager, or personnel or human resources chief.

Tactic 2: Make an appointment to meet with that person and discuss opportunities to present talks or participate in health fairs or appropriate employee activities such as a lunch-and-learn presentation.

Tactic 3: Offer to write informative articles for the corporate newsletter. This type of publication is usually starving for interesting editorial material, especially if it brings a benefit to the employees. Newsletters typically don’t accept paid advertising, but good articles are more effective, provided they are interesting and specifically about your practice.

Tactic 4: Create a special page on your Web site just for employees of XYZ Company. Include text and pictures that relate to this group, and include a special offer expressly for them. Ask patients from that company for referrals and forward a link to the special page to them.

Tactic 5: If the company is large or dominant in the community, direct some of your general media advertising to target these employees specifically.

Tactic 6: Make brochures available as a “take one” in company common areas. Or, if you have a really good relationship, insert them into pay envelopes or mailboxes. Be sure to include the special offer “for employees of XYZ Company.”

Tactic 7: Provide posters for company bulletin boards that present informative, dental health information, promote specific events such as the lunch-and-learn, or feature the special Web site page for XYZ Company.

Tactic 8: Is there an opportunity for your staff to meet with key company people? Arrange an exchange of tours to get better acquainted, and bring people of influence at XYZ Company into your office and your people to tour XYZ.

Tactic 9: Bounce ideas off the dental reps that visit your office. They may be a valuable resource for special offers or may provide quantities of sample products for health fairs and presentations.

If XYZ Company is a source of new patients that you want to attract, target them specifically with the message that you and your practice consider them worth special attention. Keep the message, in talks, flyers, or your Web page, focused on patient benefits. It’s not about generic “dental health” or “what you do” — the message is value for them.

Through any of these approaches you want them to know how and why your dental practice is uniquely capable of understanding and serving the specific needs of XYZ Company employees.

After all, it’s your favorite local company.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA, and Lonnie Hirsch are cofounders of Healthcare Success Strategies and two of America's most experienced practice marketers. They have worked with dentists for a combined 30 years, written numerous articles on practice marketing, and consulted with more than 3,000 private health-care practices. Reach them at (888) 679-0050, through their Web site at, or via e-mail at [email protected].