Growing a dental practice is about more than just attracting new patients. Sure, it’s important to maintain a steady stream of new patients, but savvy dental practice owners know that healthy practice growth requires two other, complementary actions: investing in a patient retention strategy and streamlining your office operations.
There are dozens of ways to appeal to new dental patients and keep current patients satisfied and coming back to your practice. If you’re looking for ideas on how to grow your dental practice, here are our top strategies, tactics, and growth hacks you can apply at your business to take your practice to the next level.
Ways to grow a dental practice
- Set an attainable practice growth strategy
Sustainable growth doesn’t happen by chance — it’s intentional. That’s why long-term strategic dental practice growth demands starting with a detailed plan. Create a plan that outlines the tactics and strategies you should implement to reach your goals.
- Establish measurable goals
Speaking of goals, you need to define what success looks like for your dental practice. Whether it’s new patient volume, revenue growth, or improvements in patient retention, set realistic goals, (and stretch goal achievements) so you and your staff know what you’re working towards.
- Track your performance
Determine which metrics contribute to achieving your dental practice goals, and then monitor your performance on a regular basis. Consider basic key performance indicators (KPIs) such as website traffic, dental SEO metrics, and patient satisfaction scores. Create a dashboard so you can see how you’re performing at a glance.
- Know your audience
Too many dental practices think their audience is ‘anyone who needs a dentist.’ Carefully evaluate the demographics of your current dental patient panel, including average age and household income, demographics, as well as their communication preferences. Tailor your dental marketing and engagement strategies to this audience and you’ll likely make stronger connections with current and prospective patients.
- Display dental patient reviews and testimonials
Reviews are the number one decision-making factor for patients choosing a new healthcare provider, according to PatientPop research. A great growth hack is to let your patients do the bragging for you. Post their positive reviews on your website and social media channels, and within your dental practice office.
- Use email marketing
You can promote patient engagement and even increase appointment volume with regular email campaigns to patients. To keep your practice top-of-mind, consider a monthly email newsletter, and use email to share operational updates, reminders, and any promotions you may be offering.
- Offer promotions and discounts
If you’re looking for a growth hack, consider offering patients an incentive. Whether it’s a discount on professional whitening or a promotion for patient referrals, rewarding your patients for their loyalty can help drive dental patient retention.
- Use video to attract dental patients
Social Media Today touts video marketing as the best-performing digital content type, driving more views and greater engagement than other options. For dentists, video can be used for both promotional and educational content. YouTube is the second largest search engine, so include video in your dental SEO strategy to help gain visibility for your practice.
- Distribute patient satisfaction surveys
Asking your patients for feedback lets them know you value their opinions which, in turn, strengthens the patient-provider relationship. The responses you receive can help your practice promptly identify problems that could impact patient satisfaction.
- Train staff to focus on a positive patient experience
Smiling, helpful team members who go the extra mile for patients can really set the tone at a practice, contributing to an overall positive experience. Because online reviews often focus on interactions with staff, your team’s customer service skills (or lack thereof) directly affect patient loyalty and opportunities at patient acquisition, too.
- Focus on local search engine optimization (SEO) for dentists
Generally speaking, people don’t want to go far to see their dentist, making local SEO for dentists a top strategy for landing new patients. For best local visibility, optimize your Google business profile to give your practice the best chance to show up in the Google Local Pack; also, use the relevant keywords for your services and focus on your online reviews. This combination of efforts all impacts your dental SEO performance.
- Keep your website fresh and updated
Too often, dental practices build a website and forget it. Adding new content routinely — blog posts are particularly useful — supports your dental SEO strategy. Enhancing and improving your site regularly for conversion can also drive practice growth.
- Claim and optimize your online profiles
Sites like Google My Business, Yelp, and Vitals can give online searchers more opportunities to find and connect with your dental practice. Claim your profiles across listings websites, and optimize them with keywords, photos, and relevant practice details to improve your online presence and boost appointment requests. Better yet, hire dental marketing experts who know what Google is looking for and can do this well.
- Encourage patient referrals
Current patients can be your dental practice’s greatest advocates, but you have to ask. Encourage patients to recommend your practice to their friends and family via tasteful signage in your office and reminders in email newsletters.
- Use appointment reminders to reduce patient no-shows
Missed appointments lead to lost revenue and unproductive time at your practice. Dental practices can reduce last-minute cancellations and no-shows by sending automated appointment reminders to patients, via email or text message.
- Enhance your social media strategy with creative Instagram ideas
Instagram is a powerful social media tool that currently boasts greater engagement than any other social media platform. It also lends itself to visual content, so brainstorm creative Instagram ideas and wow your patients with unique and compelling dental information and insights.
- Run a social media contest
One of the Instagram ideas you can try is to conduct a social media contest. This is a great growth hack for building your follower count and awareness of your dental practice. Create a post that encourages your followers to enter a contest that requires them to follow your practice on Instagram and tag a friend in your comments. Brainstorm a suitable prize for the winner, like an electric toothbrush or a discount on a teeth cleaning. Find a website or app that will help you randomly select a winner or simply pull names from a hat.
- Promote your dental practice using Google advertising
Investing in cost-per-click (CPC) ads can help dental practices connect with prospective patients in a highly targeted yet affordable way. You only pay when a viewer clicks on your ads, based on the keywords you’re targeting. As a result the return on investment (ROI) is higher than what you see in many other advertising channels. It is easy to waste money here though, proceed with caution or hire medical marketing experts or a suite of services.
- Increase reach with Facebook ads
Facebook is the leading social media channel, reaching 59 percent of social media users, according to eMarketer. Advertising on Facebook helps your practice connect with users who aren’t already following your practice, expanding your reach with highly effective targeting.
- Respond to negative reviews
Online reviews are the new word of mouth, but with much greater impact. If a negative review comes through, respond promptly and professionally, and offer to resolve the issue offline. This can turn patient sentiment around, and signals to onlookers that your practice prioritizes the patient experience and works to remedy a negative situation.
- Improve staff productivity
Keep overhead in check by streamlining your front office operations. By implementing practice management technology — two-way text messaging, online scheduling, digital intake — your staff can accomplish tasks with less administrative work.
- Enhance patient communication
Stay in touch with patients in between visits using email and text messaging, and make it easy for them to contact you with whichever method they prefer. By expanding the ways your patients can connect with your practice, you can boost engagement and appeal to new patients.
- Go for the upsell
Many patients are accustomed to seeing their dentist just twice a year for routine cleanings. While they’re in the office, or in between visits, take a moment to remind them of other products and services you offer — whether it’s over-the-counter whitening products, veneers, or clear aligners.
- Get active in your community
Gain visibility for your dental practice brand in your local community by sponsoring local schools, sports teams, and fundraisers. This can drive brand preference and loyalty, and elevate your practice’s local reputation, all leading to dental practice growth over time.
- Be easy to do business with
Today’s consumers demand convenience. Dental practices that deliver that convenience stand to gain more new patients. If you can offer online scheduling and registration, multiple options to contact your practice, and digital payments, you’ll make it easy for new dental patients to choose and stick with your practice, a necessary foundation for long-term growth.
- Adopt a growth platform
The greatest growth strategy of all is finding an all-in-one platform that can help you manage your dental practice growth strategy. You’ll save time and money by investing in a single solution that can help your dental practice meet a variety of critical business goals including attracting more new patients, increasing patient retention, enhancing the patient experience, and boosting office efficiency.
Smart dental practice growth is multifaceted
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to growing a dental practice. Many practices want to increase their patient base, while others may benefit from a comprehensive patient satisfaction and retention strategy. Some practices may not have the capacity to add new patients, but are still looking for ways to increase revenue.
Regardless of how your practice performs today, there’s always room for growth. Finding the right combination of growth hacks and long term tactics for smart dental practice growth requires creativity, commitment, and some good old trial and error.