Educating Your Way to High-Quality Patients in Your Dental Practice

This week we have our last installment of our interview with Jacob Puhl, the Co-Owner and Co-Founder of Firegang Dental Marketing. We’ve talked about dentistry as a business, quality of care, digital marketing practices, patient education, and creating a strong online presence. In this last conversation Jacob, we’re talking more about patient education, staff training, and retargeting advertising as a way to attract more high-quality patients.

Targeting High-Quality Dental Patients

There are multiple patient pools you can draw from for your dental practice. The high-quality patients will be those looking for cosmetic or more comprehensive restorative dentistry, and it takes a different approach to attract them. The best way to attract and keep these patients is education and marketing within your own practice.

For example, a patient comes in for a fee-based service, like a crown. Your chance to educate comes once they see the result of using a tooth-colored crown and they remark on how their smile looks great. Educating this patient about aesthetics and replacing other dentistry means a possible increase in that patient’s value.

Where this gets tricky, though, is when you’re not operating in a solo or small dental practice. As a solo practitioner you’ll have the chance to choose your lab and have total control. In a corporate dental office, however, dentists often don’t have control over the lab they use. Some realize the product is lower-quality than they would want for some of their patients, which means they won’t educate and upsell them on services.

There is also the chance that they could be scheduled to a different dentist. So while they did a great job of educating the patient on additional treatment options, they won’t see the benefit of that, which will make them less likely to do so in the future.

The Best Internal Dental Marketing

There are two basic types of marketing for a dental practice, and those are external and internal marketing. External involves outlets like mailers, social media, and other traditional advertising. Internal advertising involves patient education like we mentioned above, but it also involves referrals.

Referrals are the best type of dental marketing because it comes from the patients themselves. When you have a great overall experience for the patient, from the work to staff to scheduling, people want to share. Especially if they’ve experienced poor service in the past!

Train Your Team for the Tough Questions

High-quality patients that are looking for the bigger ticket procedures will be doing their research, and it may not be when they’re in the chair during a cleaning. They’re going to call your office, which means your team needs to be ready with answers to the tough questions.

Training your team about the cost and benefit of various procedures ensures you can educate those calling as to why you’re the best choice. First impressions are critical in dentistry, and if patients don’t like what they hear or how they’re treated, they’re going to go elsewhere.

Your team should be able to give basic information for your cosmetic dentistry, cost, and payment. While many corporate dental offices have free consultations, you may charge. So what’s the upside? It’s important for your team to know why this is and how your consultation differs and what extras you may offer. A script and/or guidelines can be helpful to get the patient in the office to talk further with the doctor.

Training is an ongoing piece of your practice, which means you or your team lead should be regularly checking in to see how they’re answering questions and if they’re leaving out important information. While typically used for retail, secret shoppers can be one way to check in on your dental practice.

It’s important to know where you’re losing these potential patients. If it’s before they walk in the door, then you have work to do. If it’s after the consultation, then at least you’ve been able to talk to them face to face and start building that relationship.

Separate Your Dental Cases by Type

Because there’s a difference between patients who are only in for a cleaning and an exam and those who are spending beyond that for cosmetic work, it can be valuable to differentiate between the two.

The insurance-shopping patient will be in and out as soon as they can, but the cosmetic patient will offer you more time to sit down and talk about different treatment plans. Knowing this ahead of time can help you better communicate with your patients.

You want your team to sell you and your services, so when someone calls and asks about veneers, they’ll create the value they’re looking for in your practice.

You Need to Continue Your Own Education

We’ve talked about running your dental practice like a business, and we’re touching on that again. In order to better service your patients, you need to educate yourself on your patients’ needs and preferences.

This customer research involves payment plans, scheduling, and additional services. If you don’t ask a patient about replacing an old crown or if they’ve heard about your whitening treatments, you’re losing an opportunity to provide more value and create a high-value patient for life.

Dr. Hornbrook mentioned the quote, “Enthusiasm equals credibility.” If you aren’t enthusiastic about treatments that can help your patient, then your patients won’t be, either. Confidence in your services and in your approach will speak louder than words. If you need more training or research in order to become confident in your treatment, then do it. You’ll soon start seeing the results as your practice grows.

Learn the People Side of Dentistry

It’s important to remember that while your staff may know what you’re talking about, your patients don’t. When discussing treatment options, make them feel heard and valued by taking the time to use language the patient will understand, without making them feel silly for asking a question.

The benefits a patient is looking for may not be solely health-related. It could be looking better or being more confident, whereas you may be thinking of veneers in technical benefits. By realizing where the patient is coming from, you can better communicate with them and create a high-value patient.

Focus on Long Buying Cycles

Long buying cycles are what makes high-value patients so valuable. This is done in part by education, but it’s also important to stay in front of them once they leave the office. In marketing, there’s the idea of retargeting. It’s an unobtrusive method that allows you to target specific groups of people, like those who visited your website and looked at the implants page.

If you’ve ever shopped online, you’ve likely experienced retargeting. Say you shop for a kitchen appliance, then go to Facebook to check out your News Feed. Lo and behold, as you scroll through the baby pictures and pet antics, you see a sponsored post for an oven.

There’s a likelihood of you purchasing that brand or from that store because of these ads. Retargeting helps move you along the buying process.

Running Facebook ads (or other pay-per-click ads) specifically targeted to those that visit your website will keep your practice in their minds. Because cosmetic work is expensive, it can take some time for patients to save up and decide on specific treatments. Retargeting, then, is an effective way to remind them you’re still available.

Your Patients Are Buying You

Dentistry is a service, and your patients are buying you and your experience. By creating value in yourself as a dentist, communicating effectively, and truly getting to know your patients, you’ll create strong relationships and they’ll want to keep coming back.

Another piece of this is making quality dental work more accessible, like offering a strong in-house financing option. Cosmetic dentistry is expensive, and even if it’s a cash patient, they may not have the full amount available at the time.

When a patient calls and asks the cost of veneers, it’s important to educate your team on the support you offer. Instead of talking about the upfront cost, they can explain early on that you offer financing options that make it easier for patients to get quality work done.

To create a successful dental practice, you need to run it like a business while still focusing on people. Understanding their needs, communicating effectively, and emphasizing education will create a strong and resilient dental practice.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these sessions with Jake Puhl of Firegang Dental Marketing, and that they’ve been helpful for you. Additionally, Firegang is offering Jake’s book free of charge to you! Head to their website to learn more about getting your copy.

Visit Jakes Main Firegang page:

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