Forget location, it’s all about Retention, Retention, Retention

22 August 2022 | | Blog, Marketing

I have to say that I find nothing is more puzzling in life than when Kirstie and Phil ask the two prospective homeowners about their budget. ‘Well, I’m a part-time water slide tester and my wife volunteers for the local arts centre. Our budget is £650,000’. Well, that makes perfect sense doesn’t it. However, with the reality of grimmer economic times ahead, the fantasy buyers of Channel 4’s premier house purchasing show will no doubt be even harder to come by.  And for everyone else in the real world the focus is going to be on tightening belts, so what does this mean for dental practices?

After the pandemic lockdowns ended, the dental industry saw something of a mini boom. Thousands of patients had little to spend their money on when closeted in their homes and were fresh from countless Zoom calls, staring at close-ups of their faces and those of their colleagues. When they were let out, many practices were flooded with enquires for everything from whitening to implants to orthodontics. This trend has slowed in the wake of inflationary pressures and soaring energy bills and now practices face an altogether different landscape. The key to navigating it successfully will be the measures taken to ensure patients feel looked after.

One thing that patients really value is spreading the cost. Dental plans are becoming ever more popular in the wake of many practices moving away from NHS contracts. They allow the patient more flexibility and control over their dental maintenance and, as they often include treatment discounts, they can be useful in encouraging patients to undergo treatment that they might have otherwise put off. Your marketing should reflect this approach by making it clear to prospective patients that you have a dental plan available and walk them through how it works and how simple it is to sign up to. Consider having a link to the plan on your homepage and putting that, if not quite front and centre, then in a place of some prominence.

Additionally, consider the sort of messaging you are putting out in your paid advertising and social media. It may not be the best time to extol the benefits of costly treatments without offering the patient an incentive to do so. Finance options can certainly be a useful tool as can discounts for existing patients where possible.

The central idea here is keeping hold of patients and ensuring they don’t drift away to other practices or turn away from dentistry altogether. Whilst many practices are rejecting new patients at the moment, this is unlikely to last forever, and it’s important to remember that your most valuable patients, i.e. the ones who will spend the most, tend to be those that have been with the practice the longest time. Ensuring their loyalty does mean a slight change of focus but will prove to be an invaluable investment in the future. And beware! A dentist that fails to put their existing patient base first runs the risk of having their practice being showcased on national TV as the next ‘conversion project’ for an inexplicably wealthy middle-class couple.

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