I am trying to build a startup. Due to COVID-19, I am having a hard time attracting new patients. What advice can you give?
Dear Dr. Gina,
I have finally built up the courage to start my own dental practice. However, I still have a lot of fear surrounding making it a successful practice. I am concerned that I won’t retain enough patients because there is so much fear patients may have about COVID-19 and if it is even safe to go to the dentist office now. How can I effectively engage new patients and build a loyal patient base?
Newbie Practice Owner
Congratulations on acting on the courage to start your own dental practice! Not everyone does this and I am excited for you!
A realization that I had that helped me immensely is that patients must see what you are doing to keep them safe, rather than hearing what you are doing to keep them safe. I learned this in Harry Beckwith’s book, “Selling The Invisible.” I highly recommend that you read this book as I have implemented a lot of his advice. It has paid dividends in the success of my practice.
An unfortunate result of COVID-19 in our dental practice environments is that our offices must be sterile. Pre-COVID-19 we could offer a warm and open environment to our patients. For instance, my friend and colleague, Dr. Ashley Joves, has a mini-bar in her office that creates a unique and warm experience for her patients. In my office, patients could walk in, take candy or a mint from the front desk, sit in the waiting room, and watch TV until the time came for their appointment. Due to COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of our patients, we must create a very hygienic and “medical-like” environment.
This is especially challenging for creating a dental startup. Before, you were able to sell an open and warm experience to your patients. My advice to you now is to create the safest and most sterile environment, which will communicate to the patient that you take their health very seriously. This will start to build a great reputation for your practice and trust with your patients. Here are some further tips:
Social Media Marketing:
Make sure to highlight that every single room is equipped with medical air purifiers and communicate that you are doing all in your power to create a clean and safe environment. By doing this, you are going above and beyond in showing patients that you are dedicated to ensuring their safety. Feel free to check out social media posts my dental software company employees have created for your practice.
Communicating With Patients on The Phone:
You will need someone with a warm, caring, and trustworthy personality who can communicate exactly what your office is doing to create the safest environment possible for them. This all must be done in a calm and reassuring manner.
Create a modern office that highlights your safety precautions with posters and physical memos:
Remember, patients need to see you creating a safe experience for them to believe it.
Send Your Patients a COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire:
Again, this ensures their safety and they will appreciate this. If you are a customer of my dental software company, YAPI, you can download our COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire.
Lead your employees with a plan:
Dentistry IQ featured me in an article where I address how to lead your team with a plan instead of panic. It is up to us to set a great example for our employees.
Again, I commend you for having the courage to start your own dental practice, especially under our current circumstances. I hope that my advice will help to empower you in your endeavors.
Dr. Gina Dorfman
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