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5 things you can do to grow your patient base

Aug. 30, 2021
What sets this dental practice apart? High staff morale (and even an occasional impromptu staff cookout). A longtime office manager breaks down five surefire ways to grow your business and keep your current patients coming back.

by Ruby Eaches, MAADOM

With new dental offices popping up all around us, we continually ask ourselves what we can do to stay relevant. What sets us apart? Why would patients choose our dental practice? So, this is a topic we revisit often.

In our experience, doing these five things continually throughout the year will not only create a dynamic place to call your dental home—but will also be a sure way to grow your patient base.

Our top tip: ask for reviews

Don’t be shy—just ask! We talk each day in our morning meeting about who in our schedule would be a great reference.

At the end of the patient’s appointment, someone on the admin team asks them:

“How was your appointment today? Fantastic, I am so happy to hear that. We would be over the moon if you would take a few minutes to share your experience with a review! Be on the lookout for a text with a link. We appreciate you. Thank you!”

This is how we ask. Simple.

We recently started using Weave. They will send out the link one hour after the patient’s appointment is completed. We have increased our reviews and rating 68% in just six short months by doing this.

I am checking our Google Business on a daily basis. I am also responsible for replying to the reviews, which I do every week.

In our morning huddles, we celebrate by reading our reviews out loud. We high-five and applaud and even sometimes give a standing ovation. Our daily review record is eight in one day—talk about a morale booster! We even had a celebratory impromptu cookout that day!

Keep your website up-to-date

A few years back we had a marketing company tell us that doctors’ and dentists’ web pages are for information only. “There is no reason to keep your website up-to-date,” we were told, but we sure did not agree with them. We believe that our website is working for us 24/7—and all you need to do is keep it updated and accurate.

During the earlier parts of the pandemic, it was one of our main ways to communicate with our existing patients and to let them know what we were doing to keep them safe while in our practice.

New patients are able to meet our team, read a little about us, ask questions, and request an appointment.

When talking to new patients over the phone, we mention our website and our social media pages so they can get familiar with us and find out a little more about our practice.

Emphasize what sets you apart from other dentists.

Patients are looking for you, so that’s why number 2 is really important. But what sets us apart from other practices is apparent when you walk in the door.

We are paperless. We send patient paperwork via email or text prior to the patient arriving at the practice. If they choose, they can use an iPad to complete paperwork in office.

When you walk into our practice, you’re greeted by our patient concierge. She’ll show you around the office so you quickly get familiar with all the important places. As she is showing you around, this is one of the first times a patient is introduced to our “green ways.”

“Our office practices green consciousness throughout the practice,” she’ll say, as she shows you our Cone beam computed tomography (CBCT). Also, in our x-ray room, she tells you about our top in technology handheld x-ray devices. Our combination of DigiDoc and digital sensors help us to minimize radiation and unnecessary retakes.  

We recycle.

Last stop on the office tour is the toothbrushing station and restrooms. We’ve replaced paper towels with hand towels in the public areas; you’ll notice a bin for you to place your hand towel. We wash, dry, and reuse them.

Our office was recognized nationally and got the Henry Schein Cares Foundation Green Leader award in 2017!

This is a fun one: join your community!

We’ve been an established dental office in Surf City, North Carolina, since 2007. Our community is a small one that’s growing rapidly. We make it a point to be involved and support our small local businesses because we live here, and so do our our friends and families.

  • We sponsor two seasons of recreational sport teams, basketball and soccer. We show up to show our support and cheer them on.
  • We have an annual party inviting all of our patients and community. We use local vendors, food, and music!
  • We have sat on our community parks and rec board.
  • We participate in the annual business expo. We set up a table, answer questions, and raffle off gifts.
  • We have a team member in the community on a regular business sharing what’s new with us.
  • We host contests throughout the year, like guess the items in a jar to win a $50 gift card to one of our local businesses. We’ve done such gifts as an escape room, tacos, or spa gift cards.

Last but certainly not least—GROW!

Bring on an associate, go to a new continuing education course, bring on a new piece of equipment—always think about how both the team and people as individuals can grow.

Each year in our office we set goals. We have office goals, as well as individual, both professionally and personal.

Last year we created a dream board of what we wanted for our office. I took a picture of the board and made it the background on our desktops so we look at them daily.  

This year, ours consists of having our new associate trained and certified in facial pain therapy, purchasing an Itero scanner, completing our sedation certifications, and getting and implementing new labs and processes for overdentures and implants. We are also finalizing our new expansion, which will include two surgical suites, five operatories, new doctors’ offices, and a large conference room where education will happen and where we can grow.

Ruby Eaches, MAADOM, started her dental career in 1990 in the United States Navy as an Expanded Functions Dental Assistant and was honorably discharged in 2000. She added the title of office manager to her credentials in 2004 and has been leading her team at Surf City Dental since 2011. In 2017, the Henry Schein Cares Foundation awarded her the Green Leader of the Year. This September, she'll be inducted into the first class of Diplomats of the American Association of Dental Office Managers.