“Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.”
You may recognize that as the theme song to the 28-Emmy-award-winning sitcom “Cheers.” I apologize in advance if that song is an earworm for the rest of the day, but it’s ringing in your patients heads as well. They don’t want to be referred to as the “root canal and crown prep on #4 in operatory 2.” They’d certainly like to be more than your “next patient”. They want to be like Norm when he walks into Cheers and everyone proclaims his name.
(Sam Malone: ”How’s life treating you?” . . . Norm: ”It’s not, Sammy, but you can!”)
What if you saw your patients as members? Dues paying, card holding members?
Assuming that your private club is your practice, your members would expect you to know their name (as well as a few things about their work, family and interests). They’d expect you to be of service to them. They’d want you to run on time.
AND they’d stop paying you if they didn’t feel special, valued and important. Why do you think Norm kept coming back to Cheers? (Certainly there are thousands of pubs in Boston)
Norm once said, “It’s a dog eat dog world out there and I’m wearing Milkbone underwear.” Don’t be caught in your Milkbone underwear. Train your team to treat those you serve as private members of your club (or regulars in your pub). If you don’t, Sam Malone, DMD down the street just might.
I was just contemplating the word “POWER”. What is power as it relates to a business?
I believe it’s the ability to obtain a desired result predictably. In our practices, power is directly related to effectiveness. Therefore, the major value of a dental practice doesn’t come from CPA stuff – bricks & mortar, equipment, and inventory. In my estimation the major sources of power are the following 5 concepts:
1. Our patients and our relationships with them. I’ve written about the “herd” and “tribe” previously. The value base in a business is the customer base. No patients = no practice. Lots of loyal patients = great practice.
2. Reputation – what are people in your community saying about you?
3. Marketing – how good are you at patient attraction and retention?
4. Clarity – do you know exactly what you want out of your practice? Does your staff know? All objectives should be clearly defined and regularly reviewed.
5. Team – you’ll have a true competitive advantage when you are surrounded by staff that you know, like, and trust. Then leverage their talents to make sure patients are being connected with and taken care of. Delegate, delegate, delegate . . . if it’s not your legal responsibility or it’s not something you are highly interested in, find a team member that can do it better or less expensively.
Keep these 5 sources of power in the front of you mind and make sure they are managed on not just a daily basis but a minute by minute basis. Turn on the power of your practice!
Posted: October 26, 2011 in direct response marketing
I was just reading an article about the world’s most powerful brands. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers. A brand may identify one item, a family of items, or all items of that seller.” Essentially it’s about creating an image.
As dentists we don’t have the budgets to create a strong brand like Apple or McDonald’s. We want to run an ad on Monday and see the results on Wednesday. That’s the idea behind direct response marketing.
You want advertising that’s measurable and trackable. Here’s some things to keep in mind:
1. Make an attractive offer . . . better yet, and irresistible offer
2. Prompt a quick response with deadlines on the offer
3. Capture the leads. If some is calling about your practice or offer, get their contact information.
4. Follow up. Not everyone is ready to make an appointment now.
5. Measure the results. Are you getting a return on your investment? Are there ways you can improve response the next time?
If you are good at points 1-5, you’re brand building will simply be a nice biproduct.
Posted: October 23, 2011 in customer loyalty
“Herd” is a Dan Kennedy term that refers to your list of customers and prospects. It’s not meant as a derogatory term. It’s a visual to capture your imagination. It helps the savvy business owner see which customers are highly loyal and which are about to “escape”.
My assumption is that you don’t want your patients to go elsewhere (most of them anyway). It’s much more costly (5x) to acquire a patient than it is to retain them.
Here are things that you can focus on to keep nurturing the relationships (feeding your herd):
1. Frequency – How often are your patients hearing from you? There are lots of mediums out there. You should use all of them . . . email blasts, personal notes, newsletters (printed and digital), social media, phone calls, etc.
2. Personality – Do your patients know who you are? I mean really know you . . . how many kids you have? Where you grew up? They should. Your marketing should capture your authentic personality. You want your patients to feel a strong attachment to a person (you) or persons (your team). There isn’t any attachment to a white coat with lots of degrees hanging on the wall.
3. Dependency – You want to be irreplaceable in your patients’ minds. If they have a dental need or desire . . . you want them to know that you are “the guy” (or gal). Your team is your competitive advantage when it comes to your patients relying on you. Here’s a question . . . would your patients rather wait 4 days to see you for a dental emergency because you are out-of-town? Or would they just go to the first available doc in your area? That answer will tell you a lot.
4. Affinity – Are your patients proud to be a part of your practice? Do they feel a sense of belonging when they walk through your doors?
Keep these 4 concepts in mind when you plan your internal marketing.
Posted: October 22, 2011 in customer loyalty
What’s the most valuable thing in your practice?
Pano or CEREC machine? The painting in your office? Your dental skills?
No, No, and No!
It’s your patient database and your relationship with those people.
It’s often called the list, your herd, or the tribe. Regardless of the label, it’s all there is (or isn’t) in your practice. You need to wrap a fence around that herd and make damn sure no other cowboy rustles them away.
You are making a mistake if the only time your patients hear from you is either a bill or a reminder call for their 6 month re-care visit.
If you had a great first date, would you wait 6 months to call them back? If you did wait months to contact them, how would that go over? The answer is: like a lead balloon.
You need to let your patients know you’re thinking about them and that you care . . . all of them.
Make it a point to have multiple phone numbers, email address, and a mailing address for each patient. Also, if you don’t already, make personal notes about them: children, hobbies, profession, major life events and things that are most important to them.
There are a number of outstanding ways to stay connected . . . but, I’ll go into more detail in future posts. Until then, just keep that fence in tact and keep a watchful eye on your herd.