Welcome

to Dental Practice Solutions

Welcome to dentistry’s largest dental hygiene practice management resource center! We are the leading dental hygiene consultant/coaching business.

We will increase your TOTAL dental practice profitability without working more hours or days each year.

- Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, Speaker, Author. Dental Hygiene Coach & Consultant

Dental Practice Solutions - Debbie Bittke

5 Tips to STOP Dental Appointment No-Shows

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

September 24, 2014

Empty chair

 

Patient no-shows in the dental office are nothing new.

The important question to ask is “How much might this problem be costing your dental practice today?” AND “How much have patient no-shows cost your dental practice this year?” Have you looked at these numbers?

The national average for a dental practice to remain in business is $350,000 USD and this does not include the doctors’ salary. The national average a dental practice brings in is $525,000 in revenue annually. This means that you will need to bring in approximately $328.00 an hour if you work 1600 hours annually.

If you have one patient each day cancel, how much will this cost you? Have you taken time to look at this lost of revenue? And even digging deeper, the question is “How many patients need an appointment to be scheduled?”

Every office our team analyzes has over 100 patients who have unscheduled hygiene appointments NOT counting unscheduled treatment! Do you look at your numbers often enough?

I hear a lot of dental offices say that open holes are a big problem in their practice so let’s talk about some solutions.

Today, I will focus on 5 Tips to STOP dental appointment no-shows in your office:

1.    Know what makes your patient tick

Has your office done a personality profile with your employees? This is a fun exercise that we do with our client and teams which not only helps us to understand ourselves better but helps us understand how to elegantly and very effectively communicate with our patients.

Here are a few examples of two patients who will schedule a next appointment:

Patient A is a COO of HP in San Francisco. He always wants to be in control, is analytical and doesn’t want to be told what to do. Typically this is a patient who does not need a reminder and will be putting the appointment you give him on his electronic calendar as you speak to him about his next appointment. You want to ask if he even needs an appointment confirmation text, email or phone call. Remember he wants to be in charge so let him take charge of his calendar. This is not your typical patient who will no show!

Patient B is very compassionate and empathetic. This patient is a mother who does a lot of volunteer work at her children’s school and even leads her daughters Girl Scout troop. You will know who patient B is because her sentences include words such as “I feel” and they smile a lot. This type of person has the opposite posture than the COO of HP (Patient A). It is likely that Patient B will want an email and a phone call to confirm her next dental appointment.

Sending the correct type of appointment confirmation (Or even a reminder of any type) is also very important. Some patients need a lot of hand-holding and others do not want a reminder of any type.

Know your individual patient types.

2.    Build VALUE for each patient appointment, type of service and especially the message about oral health related to their total health. People will sit up and listen when you tell them you know of a way to help them live a longer and healthier life!

There are numerous ways to build value and initially this begins with the first new patient phone call. From here it builds from the confirmation call and the warm welcome to your office. Once the patient is seated in the treatment room, it is imperative the conversations develop from the patients personality behaviors and build value according to the patients individual needs.

How well the patient receives this information is how valuable their next dental visit at your office becomes to them. This is the make it or break it.

Again, speak the language of your patient. Mirror and match them. Make them feel they are #1 to you and your office.

3.    Offer same-day dentistry. While you have a patient in the chair and even before the patient is seated in the chair ask yourself “Do they need fluoride, Sealants, or maybe a nightguard, etc.?”

If a patient no-shows and you have a patient in your chair who does need other services, now is a great time to add value and a benefit for your patient in the chair.

Your morning team huddle is a great time to discuss outstanding treatment for patients you will see that day. Before patients are seated in the chair is the best time to plan for your perfect day!

4.    Use a Short-list. When you have patients who continually no-show without a good reason, put them on a list for calling only when you have a last minute cancellation. SolutionReach is a patient engagement software that will create group lists of patients you can call when there is a last minute change in the schedule. (I don’t recommend you tell your patients you have these “Cancellations” but use the word “Change”) Using the group list in SolutionReach means you can be in contact with numerous patients in need of a specific appointment time and they all receive your message within about 90 seconds. It is an easy way to fill a last-minute cancellation!

Another solution may be to collect a non-refundable deposit which will go towards their service when they do show and if they no-show this money is not refunded to them. Money can be a motivator to many people.

AND if the patient will not do any of the above mentioned are they really the type of patient you want coming to your dental office? You are running a business and people need to respect that it costs money to run a business. You are not a charity.

5.    You Practice Policy. Last minute cancellations and no-shows can be eliminated when you have a practice policy in place for these things. (As well as financial policies, etc.)

When you have patients who chronically abuse your office policies, point out what your practice policy is and of course refresh their memory with the practice policy they have agreed upon and signed that they understand.

Does your practice policy require that patients be charged for missed appointments? This fee can be waived if it is the first time a patient has missed an appointment but do consider this to be your office policy. Kindly point it out to patients who do abuse the policy.

CONCLUSION

To minimize costly holes in your schedule and maintain productivity, you must create and follow a step-by-step system that trains patients to value their appointments and keep their commitments to your dental practice.

Your communication process with patients and within your dental office are critical pieces for reducing no shows and even eliminating holes in the schedule.

Always consider communicating the value of dental care and benefits of completing dental care to your patients before they even schedule their next dental appointment. Discover how your patients want to be reminded of future dental appointments AND IF they even want a reminder of any kind.

Not only do the patients need to understand your office policies but your team members need to know what they are as well. Schedule a team meeting to discuss policies in your office so every one on your team is “on the same page”.

Discuss outstanding patient dental treatment during your morning team huddle so you know which patients can have another service completed while they are in the chair IF there is a last minute opening in your schedule. When you do offer more services to a patient seated in your chair make sure to communicate the value and benefits for completing their treatment sooner than later. For example: If your patients’ hot button is “time” – while they are in your treatment chair this is a great candidate to ask if they can stay longer and complete more treatment. Tell this patient how much time will be saved if they stay a little longer to complete necessary treatment. Explain how staying a little longer can benefit them!

Do you want more information about how to STOP Last minute cancellations and no-shows? Register for our Webinar on Tues October 14, 2014 @ 8pm EASTERN AND Receive a $10 Starbucks card when you do attend.  REGISTER NOW BUTTON TO USE

ABOUT DEBBIE

ME not too high jpegDebbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, is Founder of Dental Practice Solutions since 2000. She serves dental practices globally through her dental hygiene systems and online products. Debbie is known for creating sustainable and profitable dental practices through her vast knowledge of what makes a dental practice successful. She is also known as one of Dentistry Today’s Top Dental Consultants. She has a no-charge 7 Day Dental Hygiene Department Profitability Program that you can get a glimpse of what working with her is like. Grab your 7 Day Program here: 7 DAY DENTAL HYGIENE PROGRAM

Do you want to chat with us about your numbers and how much cancellations may be costing you? Schedule a NO-COST Time With Us Today

 

5 Tips to STOP Dental Appointment No-Shows

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

Patient no-shows in the dental office are nothing new.

The important question to ask is “How much might this problem be costing your dental practice today?” AND “How much have patient no-shows cost your dental practice this year?” Have you looked at these numbers?

The national average for a dental practice to remain in business is $350,000 USD and this does not include the doctors’ salary. The national average a dental practice brings in is $525,000 in revenue annually. This means that you will need to bring in approximately $328.00 an hour if you work 1600 hours annually.

If you have one patient each day cancel, how much will this cost you? Have you taken time to look at this lost of revenue? And even digging deeper, the question is “How many patients need an appointment to be scheduled?”

Every office our team analyzes has over 100 patients who have unscheduled hygiene appointments NOT counting unscheduled treatment! Do you look at your numbers often enough?

I hear a lot of dental offices say that open holes are a big problem in their practice so let’s talk about some solutions.

Today, I will focus on 5 Tips to STOP dental appointment no-shows in your office:

1.    Know what makes your patient tick

Has your office done a personality profile with your employees? This is a fun exercise that we do with our client and teams which not only helps us to understand ourselves better but helps us understand how to elegantly and very effectively communicate with our patients.

Here are a few examples of two patients who will schedule a next appointment:

Patient A is a COO of HP in San Francisco. He always wants to be in control, is analytical and doesn’t want to be told what to do. Typically this is a patient who does not need a reminder and will be putting the appointment you give him on his electronic calendar as you speak to him about his next appointment. You want to ask if he even needs an appointment confirmation text, email or phone call. Remember he wants to be in charge so let him take charge of his calendar. This is not your typical patient who will no show!

Patient B is very compassionate and empathetic. This patient is a mother who does a lot of volunteer work at her children’s school and even leads her daughters Girl Scout troop. You will know who patient B is because her sentences include words such as “I feel” and they smile a lot. This type of person has the opposite posture than the COO of HP (Patient A). It is likely that Patient B will want an email and a phone call to confirm her next dental appointment.

Sending the correct type of appointment confirmation (Or even a reminder of any type) is also very important. Some patients need a lot of hand-holding and others do not want a reminder of any type.

Know your individual patient types.

2.    Build VALUE for each patient appointment, type of service and especially the message about oral health related to their total health. People will sit up and listen when you tell them you know of a way to help them live a longer and healthier life!

There are numerous ways to build value and initially this begins with the first new patient phone call. From here it builds from the confirmation call and the warm welcome to your office. Once the patient is seated in the treatment room, it is imperative the conversations develop from the patients personality behaviors and build value according to the patients individual needs.

How well the patient receives this information is how valuable their next dental visit at your office becomes to them. This is the make it or break it.

Again, speak the language of your patient. Mirror and match them. Make them feel they are #1 to you and your office.

3.    Offer same-day dentistry. While you have a patient in the chair and even before the patient is seated in the chair ask yourself “Do they need fluoride, Sealants, or maybe a nightguard, etc.?”

If a patient no-shows and you have a patient in your chair who does need other services, now is a great time to add value and a benefit for your patient in the chair.

Your morning team huddle is a great time to discuss outstanding treatment for patients you will see that day. Before patients are seated in the chair is the best time to plan for your perfect day!

4.    Use a Short-list. When you have patients who continually no-show without a good reason, put them on a list for calling only when you have a last minute cancellation. SolutionReach is a patient engagement software that will create group lists of patients you can call when there is a last minute change in the schedule. (I don’t recommend you tell your patients you have these “Cancellations” but use the word “Change”) Using the group list in SolutionReach means you can be in contact with numerous patients in need of a specific appointment time and they all receive your message within about 90 seconds. It is an easy way to fill a last-minute cancellation!

Another solution may be to collect a non-refundable deposit which will go towards their service when they do show and if they no-show this money is not refunded to them. Money can be a motivator to many people.

AND if the patient will not do any of the above mentioned are they really the type of patient you want coming to your dental office? You are running a business and people need to respect that it costs money to run a business. You are not a charity.

5.    You Practice Policy. Last minute cancellations and no-shows can be eliminated when you have a practice policy in place for these things. (As well as financial policies, etc.)

When you have patients who chronically abuse your office policies, point out what your practice policy is and of course refresh their memory with the practice policy they have agreed upon and signed that they understand.

Does your practice policy require that patients be charged for missed appointments? This fee can be waived if it is the first time a patient has missed an appointment but do consider this to be your office policy. Kindly point it out to patients who do abuse the policy.

CONCLUSION

To minimize costly holes in your schedule and maintain productivity, you must create and follow a step-by-step system that trains patients to value their appointments and keep their commitments to your dental practice.

Your communication process with patients and within your dental office are critical pieces for reducing no shows and even eliminating holes in the schedule.

Always consider communicating the value of dental care and benefits of completing dental care to your patients before they even schedule their next dental appointment. Discover how your patients want to be reminded of future dental appointments AND IF they even want a reminder of any kind.

Not only do the patients need to understand your office policies but your team members need to know what they are as well. Schedule a team meeting to discuss policies in your office so every one on your team is “on the same page”.

Discuss outstanding patient dental treatment during your morning team huddle so you know which patients can have another service completed while they are in the chair IF there is a last minute opening in your schedule. When you do offer more services to a patient seated in your chair make sure to communicate the value and benefits for completing their treatment sooner than later. For example: If your patients’ hot button is “time” – while they are in your treatment chair this is a great candidate to ask if they can stay longer and complete more treatment. Tell this patient how much time will be saved if they stay a little longer to complete necessary treatment. Explain how staying a little longer can benefit them!

Eliminate Those Last Minute Dental Hygiene Appointment Cancellations!

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

September 18, 2014

REACTUVATE RETAUN EDUCATE ACQUIREAs a practice management consultant, when we first begin to work with our client’s one of the metrics that we review with our client is the number of hygiene patients who are overdue for a hygiene appointment.

Many of our clients inquire about our services because they want to add more profits to their hygiene department. Dentists know there is possibly more money sitting in their practice but they don’t know where to begin to find untapped profits in their dental practice.

The Hygiene Recare System is one of the areas of expertise at Dental Practice Solutions.

10 Tips to Eliminate Last Minute Dental Hygiene Appointment Cancellations:

1. Always attempt to pre-schedule 100% of all hygiene appointments. Research tells us that you will lose over 60% of your patients if you wait for them to schedule their next hygiene appointment.

2. When patients are in the office talk prevention and their specific reasons for any areas of concern. Provide value to every hygiene appointment and why it is imperative to return for preventive care.
3. Talk about the important of optimal oral health and its relationship to their total health.
3. Talk financial benefits of a healthy mouth.

4. Never wait until a patient is overdue to contact them for a next hygiene appointment.

5. Use a text messaging service to contact patients regarding overdue appointments.

6. If you discover (and most office do discover this when they look at their hygiene department metrics) that you have dozens, hundreds of overdue hygiene patients, think about using a service such as                                                                                            SolutionReach that will allow you to email a newsletter to your patients who are overdue for a hygiene appointment.

7. When contacting overdue hygiene patients look at their chart notes and speak to each patient individually and speak about any specific concerns noted in their chart. These important facts may                                                                                                        include bleeding on probing, previous non-surgical periodontal therapy (Scaling and root planing, etc.), restorative concerns, etc.

8. Use customer satisfaction surveys to understand how your office is performing. When you do use a service such as SolutionReach these surveys can be customized with your office brand and then                                                                                                  sent directly to various sites such as Google+, YELP, Facebook, TWITTER, etc. This is a cost-effective way to gain search engine optimization and New Patients searching the internet for a dentist in                                                                                              your community is more likely to discover your office and your website.

9. After two attempts to call, email or text an overdue hygiene patient, you want to send a letter. I suggest that you have a perforated portion where they patient can tear off and respond to why they may                                                                                           not be responding to your messages about scheduling a hygiene appointment. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope to make it easy for patients to respond.

10. Ask your patients how they would like you to confirm their next hygiene appointment. Most patients in today’s fast-paced world would much rather have a text message sent to confirm an                                                                                                                appointment. Ask patients which method they prefer: Post-card only, email, text message, phone call or no reminder at all.

You will always have patients who need to change or cancel a hygiene appointment. Life happens. At Dental Practice Solutions we recommend that our clients have their answer machine say At some point during the voice message include this: “…This answer machine does not accept cancellations. If you need to cancel your appointment please call during normal office hours or call doctors cell phone…”

You probably already know which patients are most likely to cancel last minute. You can name off a list of patients who are chronic abusers of your cancellation policy. These are the patients who call on Friday when the office is closed and leave a message on your answer machine to cancel their Monday morning appointment. This most likely means that you will have an open hole in your schedule when you get to the office on Monday morning.

All patients must understand your cancellation policy and if you charge for last minute cancellations. When patients understand your office expectations and they understand they can’t cancel without at least 48 hours notice, you will discover very few last minute cancellations occur.

Another strategy for chronic offenders that you do not wish to dismiss from the practice is to have the patient prepay a sum of money or provide a credit card number in order to hold the time in your appointment schedule. If the patient does cancel with 48 hours of their scheduled appointment, they will lose the deposit paid to reserve their appointment.

The best recipe for eliminating last minute hygiene appointment cancellations is to hold your patients responsible for their appointments and set a consequence for disappointment.  Creating and following through with a broken appointment fee can create harm to your dental practice and may cause the patient to angrily leave the practice. It is possible that they may bad-mouth the doctor and the entire team if you confront patients but then you must ask “Do you want to keep a patient in your practice, who does not respect your time?” Remember that you are running a business and to be a successful business, people need to have respect for your business and value your time.

Every patient cancellation should be dealt with individually and in an appropriate manner because there are legitimate reasons people miss dental appointments and some will need to call last minute to cancel or reschedule.

In summary

  • Every team member needs to be pro-active by identifying chronic offenders of your cancellation policy.
  • Do not allow patients to leave messages of cancellation on the office answering machine at any time. Patients must call during normal business hours or call doctors cell phone. Some doctors even have a special cell # they use for these type of calls. It’s well worth a few extra dollars each month for this additional phone #. You will also discover not too many patients wish to call doctor on their private cell # to cancel an appointment. You’ll be surprised to discover not too many patients really needed to cancel bad enough to call doctor and let them personally know about their excuse for not coming to the office. I have heard excuses such as “I can’t get another appointment for a haircut unless I cancel my dental hygiene appointment.” TRUE STORY!
  •  The clinical team needs to stress the importance of preventive care and the need for routine dental  hygiene appointments. Add value to the dental hygiene appointment by using words like “Preventive Care”, “Periodontal Maintenance” or “Hygiene Appointment” and nix the word “Cleaning.”
  • Attempt to preschedule 100% of all hygiene patient next appointments.
  • Understand how each patient prefers to be contacted to confirm their appointments. You will probably discover that many of them want a text message sent! Remember, most patients now communicate via text message. This is how we communicate in today’s world.  May seem sad but this is very true about today’s population.

If you would like script templates please email our office and we are happy to send scripts which you can customize and make your own words. We recommend our clients practice what to say to patients who prefer not to preschedule a next appointment.

We can also send you a form that outlines what your office voice message should say to eliminate those last minute cancellations. Just email our office at: dentalpracticesolutions@gmail.com

 ABOUT DEBBIE SEIDEL-BITTKE, RDH, BS

ME not too high jpegDebbie Seidel-Bittke is President of Dental Practice Solutions and her team serves dental practices throughout the world. She has worked in the trenches for over 25 years, is a former assistant professor at the University of Southern California and wrote the accreditation for a Dental Hygiene Program in Portland, Oregon. Debbie started Dental Practice Solutions in 2000 and her passion is to help other dental professionals share the important information about oral health and how this can help us all live a longer and healthier life. Through her dental hygiene department programs she supports dental office globally, to tap into profits without working harder or more hours. Debbie has a unique dental hygiene recare system you can use to customize your messages to overdue hygiene patients. The eBook gives example scripts and how to time your messages to patients who have been lost from your dental practice. You can reach Debbie to receive a complimentary call to DISCOVER your dental practices’ untapped potential. Call 503-970-1122 or schedule a 30 minute Discovery Session here: SCHEDULE A NO CHARGE DISCOVERY SESSION NOW

 

Eliminate Those Last Minute Dental Hygiene Appointment Cancellations!

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

As a practice management consultant, when we first begin to work with our client’s one of the metrics that we review with our client is the number of hygiene patients who are overdue for a hygiene appointment.

Many of our clients inquire about our services because they want to add more profits to their hygiene department. Dentists know there is possibly more money sitting in their practice but they don’t know where to begin to find untapped profits in their dental practice.

The Hygiene Recare System is one of the areas of expertise at Dental Practice Solutions.

10 Tips to Eliminate Last Minute Dental Hygiene Appointment Cancellations:

1. Always attempt to pre-schedule 100% of all hygiene appointments. Research tells us that you will lose over 60% of your patients if you wait for them to schedule their next hygiene appointment.

2. When patients are in the office talk prevention and their specific reasons for any areas of concern. Provide value to every hygiene appointment and why it is imperative to return for preventive care.
3. Talk about the important of optimal oral health and its relationship to their total health.
3. Talk financial benefits of a healthy mouth.

4. Never wait until a patient is overdue to contact them for a next hygiene appointment.

5. Use a text messaging service to contact patients regarding overdue appointments.

6. If you discover (and most office do discover this when they look at their hygiene department metrics) that you have dozens, hundreds of overdue hygiene patients, think about using a service such as                                                                                            SolutionReach that will allow you to email a newsletter to your patients who are overdue for a hygiene appointment.

7. When contacting overdue hygiene patients look at their chart notes and speak to each patient individually and speak about any specific concerns noted in their chart. These important facts may                                                                                                        include bleeding on probing, previous non-surgical periodontal therapy (Scaling and root planing, etc.), restorative concerns, etc.

8. Use customer satisfaction surveys to understand how your office is performing. When you do use a service such as SolutionReach these surveys can be customized with your office brand and then                                                                                                  sent directly to various sites such as Google+, YELP, Facebook, TWITTER, etc. This is a cost-effective way to gain search engine optimization and New Patients searching the internet for a dentist in                                                                                              your community is more likely to discover your office and your website.

9. After two attempts to call, email or text an overdue hygiene patient, you want to send a letter. I suggest that you have a perforated portion where they patient can tear off and respond to why they may                                                                                           not be responding to your messages about scheduling a hygiene appointment. Enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope to make it easy for patients to respond.

10. Ask your patients how they would like you to confirm their next hygiene appointment. Most patients in today’s fast-paced world would much rather have a text message sent to confirm an                                                                                                                appointment. Ask patients which method they prefer: Post-card only, email, text message, phone call or no reminder at all.

You will always have patients who need to change or cancel a hygiene appointment. Life happens. At Dental Practice Solutions we recommend that our clients have their answer machine say At some point during the voice message include this: “…This answer machine does not accept cancellations. If you need to cancel your appointment please call during normal office hours or call doctors cell phone…”

You probably already know which patients are most likely to cancel last minute. You can name off a list of patients who are chronic abusers of your cancellation policy. These are the patients who call on Friday when the office is closed and leave a message on your answer machine to cancel their Monday morning appointment. This most likely means that you will have an open hole in your schedule when you get to the office on Monday morning.

All patients must understand your cancellation policy and if you charge for last minute cancellations. When patients understand your office expectations and they understand they can’t cancel without at least 48 hours notice, you will discover very few last minute cancellations occur.

Another strategy for chronic offenders that you do not wish to dismiss from the practice is to have the patient prepay a sum of money or provide a credit card number in order to hold the time in your appointment schedule. If the patient does cancel with 48 hours of their scheduled appointment, they will lose the deposit paid to reserve their appointment.

The best recipe for eliminating last minute hygiene appointment cancellations is to hold your patients responsible for their appointments and set a consequence for disappointment.  Creating and following through with a broken appointment fee can create harm to your dental practice and may cause the patient to angrily leave the practice. It is possible that they may bad-mouth the doctor and the entire team if you confront patients but then you must ask “Do you want to keep a patient in your practice, who does not respect your time?” Remember that you are running a business and to be a successful business, people need to have respect for your business and value your time.

Every patient cancellation should be dealt with individually and in an appropriate manner because there are legitimate reasons people miss dental appointments and some will need to call last minute to cancel or reschedule.

In summary

  • Every team member needs to be pro-active by identifying chronic offenders of your cancellation policy.
  • Do not allow patients to leave messages of cancellation on the office answering machine at any time. Patients must call during normal business hours or call doctors cell phone. Some doctors even have a special cell # they use for these type of calls. It’s well worth a few extra dollars each month for this additional phone #. You will also discover not too many patients wish to call doctor on their private cell # to cancel an appointment. You’ll be surprised to discover not too many patients really needed to cancel bad enough to call doctor and let them personally know about their excuse for not coming to the office. I have heard excuses such as “I can’t get another appointment for a haircut unless I cancel my dental hygiene appointment.” TRUE STORY!
  •  The clinical team needs to stress the importance of preventive care and the need for routine dental  hygiene appointments. Add value to the dental hygiene appointment by using words like “Preventive Care”, “Periodontal Maintenance” or “Hygiene Appointment” and nix the word “Cleaning.”
  • Attempt to preschedule 100% of all hygiene patient next appointments.
  • Understand how each patient prefers to be contacted to confirm their appointments. You will probably discover that many of them want a text message sent! Remember, most patients now communicate via text message. This is how we communicate in today’s world.  May seem sad but this is very true about today’s population.

If you would like script templates please email our office and we are happy to send scripts which you can customize and make your own words. We recommend our clients practice what to say to patients who prefer not to preschedule a next appointment.

We can also send you a form that outlines what your office voice message should say to eliminate those last minute cancellations. Just email our office at: dentalpracticesolutions@gmail.com

What Does The #Icebucketchallenge Have to Do With Your Dental Practice and Profitability?

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

September 11, 2014

Over the past month you have probably notice a lot of videos of people dumping buckets of ice and water over their heads. This is NOT the result of global warming but a viral phenomenon which brings awareness to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. You may wonder “What does the #Icebucketchallenge have to do with your dental practice and profitability? And WHY would I write about this in a dental blog?!

The idea of dumping ice water on your head because of a cause is really not new or innovative, and in fact it was not originally associated with ALS. How did this movement lead to a record number of donations to ALS research over such a short period of time? AND what can we learn from the ice bucket challenge that can benefit your dental practice?

There are a few ideas that I have to bring in overdue dental hygiene patients as well as gain new patients. Halloween is around the corner and why not participate in the Halloween Candy Buy-Back Program? Invite parents to come by your office with their children and drop off their Halloween Candy. The children will receive $1.00 for every pound of candy these bring to your office and in return you can donate to the armed forces or replace with something healthy. Possibly you will choose to donate fruit or healthy food to a hospital or food bank in your area.

The holidays are around the corner so maybe an open house for patients. They come to your open house as a CELEBRATION and “THANK YOU for Being a Patient at Our Office!” Think of this as a patient appreciation event. Offer prizes on the hour for those who do come to your event. Now is the time to get the word out to your patients and get your idea to go “viral before the holidays are here and gone.”

These are just of the ideas that came to mind when I thought about what we can learn from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

How you can use this Ice Bucket Challenge to promote patients New and Patient of Record, come to your dental office?  Here are some suggestions you can expand upon to bring back patients and get new patients coming to your dental office:

  • Target an audience where you know your patients will be and make certain that even potential new patients will discover your innovative ideas that ultimately attract them to your dental office. Most people are communicating on their smart phone and social media accounts so make sure to take advantage of communication via these methods.

Do you have access to send out a newsletter to your patients? Let your patients know what special events you have going on at your office. Tell your patients specific dates and time to come by the office and participate in your event. Invite your patients to bring their friends and neighbors with them. Have a raffle or hourly give away during your event. Most people want to know WIIFM (What’s in it for me).

If you are making a donation for a cause, let people know about this when you promote your event. Most people feel good knowing they are doing something for a worthy cause. If you are donating the candy or if you will exchange Halloween Candy and bring fruit to a community food bank, let your patients know about this plan.

  • If you are making a donation let your patients know how they can also personally make a donation instead of this be all about your office making the donation. Let your patients participate at any and every level possible. Provide a website in your communication where they can participate if they prefer to just make a donation.
  • Provide a specific time and date that you will have your office “challenge,” open-house or Halloween Candy Buy Back event, etc. Post the date and time in your newsletter, on your website, and your social media pages, etc.
  • This is a perfect time of year to promote an event for your patients. Many dental offices believe that September is a slow month, why not make time to plan something big for the end of year to bring in your patients and gain more New Patients? Why wait until January 2015 to get a plan in place that will increase your dental practice profits? When you know it is going to possibly be a slow month, create a plan for success. Be proactive not reactive to a slow month.
  • You may not have realized it but the Ice Bucket Challenge started as a generic summer charity challenge and ALS- focused campaign in late July 2014, when members of the Boston College community and Boston College Alums, Team Frate Train, adopted this practice as a creative way to raise awareness in the Boston area. These groups overlapped and created a domino effect that quickly spread throughout the New England area and then led to national exposure.

This may seem like a pure stroke of luck; the involvement early in the challenge of several high-profile sports and entertainment celebrities who were associated with each of these communities had established social media followers, and they also contributed to this huge momentum.

Do you want to know how to help gain exposure for your dental practice? Use the hashtag with all of your social media postings. In our SEO-driven world, your campaign will spread more effectively when you remember the hashtag. Possibly use your dental office name with the hashtag in front of it to create more SEO exposure for your office. Example: #HarborCoveDental

The hashtags will make it extremely easy for people to search and learn more about your efforts. Create some videos; take pictures about your event just using team member smart phones and post on social media, on your website and in your newsletter, when you send out your event information.  And when you have your event also post pictures and videos of the event in the same ways that you promoted it.

Fast-moving campaigns like this will start to  gain traction and notoriety; frequent users of social media, i.e. your patients, naturally want to get on the bandwagon to show they are part of the in-crowd. Instead of waiting to get challenged, you may want to post your own videos from your dental practice proactively. People in general, think it’s cool to be involved!

In the case of the Ice Bucket Challenge, some people have gone to great lengths not just to participate, but to  stand out from the rest of the submissions, creating more buzz–and interest in getting involved. The downside of these types of viral campaigns is that they tend to go from “white hot” to “ice cold” quicker than you can fill a bucket with a bag of ice.

When members of Team FrateTrain issued the Ice Bucket Challenge to their base, they did not set out to make it a huge viral hit, nor did they have a large fundraising goal in mind. They simply wanted to raise awareness about ALS and Pete’s fight among as many people as they could. By focusing and executing this goal all by itself, the rest of this exposure happened organically.

Whether you are running a small dental office or a large group dental practice, creating the next world-changing event, or promoting  a new service in your dental practice (Such as just INVISALIGN, a new whitening service, etc,) for your existing patients, understanding how to leverage social media effectively to gain awareness and traction for your efforts is crucial.

Good business marketers already know this, but even the best have a hard time actually getting it right. By incorporating some of lessons we have learned from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and setting reasonable expectations for success, you can give your next marketing campaign a better chance to gain traction and provide a boost to your growing dental practice and get patients coming to your dental office. Now… consider yourself challenged!

Did you glean any great ideas to get patients coming back to your dental office? If so, I’d like to hear about them in the comments section below. Please do tell.

What Does The #Icebucketchallenge Have to Do With Your Dental Practice and Profitability?

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

Videowww.dentalpracticesolutions.com

 

Over the past month you have probably notice a lot of videos of people dumping buckets of ice and water over their heads. This is NOT the result of global warming but a viral phenomenon which brings awareness to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. You may wonder “What does the #Icebucketchallenge have to do with your dental practice and profitability? And WHY would I write about this in a dental blog?!

The idea of dumping ice water on your head because of a cause is really not new or innovative, and in fact it was not originally associated with ALS. How did this movement lead to a record number of donations to ALS research over such a short period of time? AND what can we learn from the ice bucket challenge that can benefit your dental practice?

There are a few ideas that I have to bring in overdue dental hygiene patients as well as gain new patients. Halloween is around the corner and why not participate in the Halloween Candy Buy-Back Program? Invite parents to come by your office with their children and drop off their Halloween Candy. The children will receive $1.00 for every pound of candy these bring to your office and in return you can donate to the armed forces or replace with something healthy. Possibly you will choose to donate fruit or healthy food to a hospital or food bank in your area.

The holidays are around the corner so maybe an open house for patients. They come to your open house as a CELEBRATION and “THANK YOU for Being a Patient at Our Office!” Think of this as a patient appreciation event. Offer prizes on the hour for those who do come to your event. Now is the time to get the word out to your patients and get your idea to go “viral before the holidays are here and gone.”

These are just of the ideas that came to mind when I thought about what we can learn from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

How you can use this Ice Bucket Challenge to promote patients New and Patient of Record, come to your dental office?  Here are some suggestions you can expand upon to bring back patients and get new patients coming to your dental office:

  • Target an audience where you know your patients will be and make certain that even potential new patients will discover your innovative ideas that ultimately attract them to your dental office. Most people are communicating on their smart phone and social media accounts so make sure to take advantage of communication via these methods.

Do you have access to send out a newsletter to your patients? Let your patients know what special events you have going on at your office. Tell your patients specific dates and time to come by the office and participate in your event. Invite your patients to bring their friends and neighbors with them. Have a raffle or hourly give away during your event. Most people want to know WIIFM (What’s in it for me).

If you are making a donation for a cause, let people know about this when you promote your event. Most people feel good knowing they are doing something for a worthy cause. If you are donating the candy or if you will exchange Halloween Candy and bring fruit to a community food bank, let your patients know about this plan.

  • If you are making a donation let your patients know how they can also personally make a donation instead of this be all about your office making the donation. Let your patients participate at any and every level possible. Provide a website in your communication where they can participate if they prefer to just make a donation.
  • Provide a specific time and date that you will have your office “challenge,” open-house or Halloween Candy Buy Back event, etc. Post the date and time in your newsletter, on your website, and your social media pages, etc.
  • This is a perfect time of year to promote an event for your patients. Many dental offices believe that September is a slow month, why not make time to plan something big for the end of year to bring in your patients and gain more New Patients? Why wait until January 2015 to get a plan in place that will increase your dental practice profits? When you know it is going to possibly be a slow month, create a plan for success. Be proactive not reactive to a slow month.
  • You may not have realized it but the Ice Bucket Challenge started as a generic summer charity challenge and ALS- focused campaign in late July 2014, when members of the Boston College community and Boston College Alums, Team Frate Train, adopted this practice as a creative way to raise awareness in the Boston area. These groups overlapped and created a domino effect that quickly spread throughout the New England area and then led to national exposure.

This may seem like a pure stroke of luck; the involvement early in the challenge of several high-profile sports and entertainment celebrities who were associated with each of these communities had established social media followers, and they also contributed to this huge momentum.

Do you want to know how to help gain exposure for your dental practice? Use the hashtag with all of your social media postings. In our SEO-driven world, your campaign will spread more effectively when you remember the hashtag. Possibly use your dental office name with the hashtag in front of it to create more SEO exposure for your office. Example: #HarborCoveDental

The hashtags will make it extremely easy for people to search and learn more about your efforts. Create some videos; take pictures about your event just using team member smart phones and post on social media, on your website and in your newsletter, when you send out your event information.  And when you have your event also post pictures and videos of the event in the same ways that you promoted it.

Fast-moving campaigns like this will start to  gain traction and notoriety; frequent users of social media, i.e. your patients, naturally want to get on the bandwagon to show they are part of the in-crowd. Instead of waiting to get challenged, you may want to post your own videos from your dental practice proactively. People in general, think it’s cool to be involved!

In the case of the Ice Bucket Challenge, some people have gone to great lengths not just to participate, but to  stand out from the rest of the submissions, creating more buzz–and interest in getting involved. The downside of these types of viral campaigns is that they tend to go from “white hot” to “ice cold” quicker than you can fill a bucket with a bag of ice.

When members of Team FrateTrain issued the Ice Bucket Challenge to their base, they did not set out to make it a huge viral hit, nor did they have a large fundraising goal in mind. They simply wanted to raise awareness about ALS and Pete’s fight among as many people as they could. By focusing and executing this goal all by itself, the rest of this exposure happened organically.

Whether you are running a small dental office or a large group dental practice, creating the next world-changing event, or promoting  a new service in your dental practice (Such as just INVISALIGN, a new whitening service, etc,) for your existing patients, understanding how to leverage social media effectively to gain awareness and traction for your efforts is crucial.

Good business marketers already know this, but even the best have a hard time actually getting it right. By incorporating some of lessons we have learned from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and setting reasonable expectations for success, you can give your next marketing campaign a better chance to gain traction and provide a boost to your growing dental practice and get patients coming to your dental office. Now… consider yourself challenged!

Did you glean any great ideas to get patients coming back to your dental office? If so, I’d like to hear about them in the comments section below. Please do tell.

 ABOUT DEBBIE

ME not too high jpeg

Debbie is Founder of Dental Practice Solutions since 2000. She serves dental practices globally through her dental hygiene systems and online products. Debbie is known for creating sustainable and profitable dental practices through her vast knowledge of what makes a dental practice successful. She is also known as one of Dentistry Today’s Top Dental Consultants. She has a no-charge 7 Day Dental Hygiene Department Profitability Program that you can get a glimpse of what working with her is like. Grab your 7 Day Program here: 7 DAY DENTAL HYGIENE PROGRAM