“Dear Santa, This Dentist Wants…”

Imagine that you can shrink a few feet and pull off being a kid again. You’re at the mall, and you’re presented with the opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap. You can ask the jolly old fellow for anything you want for your business in 2012. What’s on your list?

Think about that for a moment… Would you ask for more profit? New equipment? A better staff? A buyer for your practice? Or would you ask for more new patients?

Each of these goals is achievable, but the key to making these holiday wishes come true begins with a common first step — knowing the type of patients you want to attract.

Some criteria of the ideal dental patient are universal. All dentists want patients who’ll pay their bills on time, take care of their mouths, respect the dental staff’s advice, and come back for regular checkups and cleanings. All dentists want patients who will follow through promptly and completely with their treatment plans.

Depending on the location of your practice, even the ideal patient as described above may have unique features. To a dentist who caters to a blue-collar community, the ideal patient may, in fact, have dental insurance. However, to the fee-for-service dentist who caters to professionals in downtown Chicago, the paying patient may pay for a complete smile makeover in advance.

Outside of payment, appreciation of oral health, and case acceptance, criteria for the ideal patient depends upon the dentist’s practice focus. For instance, cosmetic dentists tend to want to attract full veneers cases rather than minutely profitable whitening cases. Orthodontists want to attract children and adults who need braces. Oral surgeons want to attract patients who need dental implants, orthognathic surgery, wisdom teeth extraction, as well as referring general dentists.

I want to urge you to take time this holiday season to make your list to Santa. Write down the future you want for your practice in the next 12 months. For each wish, define parameters — explain what that wish would look like for your office. Be specific.For example:

  • “I want to reduce the number of insurance patients and increase the amount of dental implants we do.”
  • “I would like to introduce cone beam imaging, but I need to do X# of implant cases to balance the initial investment.”
  • “I want to do 2 Invisalign cases per month first quarter, and by the last quarter, I want to do 4 per month.”

This, dear dentist, is goal setting.

Above, I listed some holiday wishes that begin with knowing your target patient. Here’s what that means…

  • Would you ask for more profit?If you want more profit, you need to attract patients for the services that are most profitable. Sure, you could JUST attract more patients, but that means doing more work… possibly needing more staff… closing more cases… and taking the long route to meeting your goal.
  • New equipment?If you want to afford new equipment, you need to attract the patients from whom you’ll profit with that new equipment. Want CEREC? Market one-visit crowns. Want cone beam? Market implants or ortho.
  • A better staff?If you want a “better” staff, determine what “better” means to your ideal patient. After all, your staff is there to serve your patients. A staff that keeps patients happy and referring friends is a good staff, indeed.
  • A buyer for your practice? Want to make your practice more salable? Improve your bottom line. Sell more dentistry and make more revenue.
  • Or would you ask for more new patients? Remember, you must define the patients you want. If you were in the market for a place to live, would you want an apartment, condo, lake house, garden home, mansion, conservative 3BR/1.5B? Or would any old abode do? As you would decide what type of home you want to invest in, determine the type of patients you want to invest in! It’s your practice, Doc, so you get to make the rules!

After you write out your goals with specifics, call or email Jill at Modern Dental Practice Marketing. She’ll review the goals with you, then help you determine how to make them reality. An effective dental website, blog, and brand can be a springboard to your success, and Jill can show you how the model works. By focusing our marketing efforts on your specific goals, rather than on the shiny “get more traffic” goal that attracts so many dentists, we can bring you the patients you need — not just viewers of your website.