I spoke to a dental practice recently. In this case, this husband and wife team are actually dear friends, and great dentists.
I've told them about the great content we have available for our Social Content Scheduling Clients, and offered to hook them up.
When I spoke to the office, their social media manager told me they are looking at Altice and Hearst.
I was confused; so I called. They were under the impression we're in different leagues. Altice will get them on television and local media, and Hearst is a big media company that “offer[s] customized audience solutions for every business, service and institution.”
The Same Sandbox
But the truth is, we're not only in the same league, we're in the same playground, and for their purposes in the same sandbox.
At the present time, my friends are not booking every hour that they are both available to work. The kids are growing and back in school and they can both now dedicate full-time to the practice.
I can safely assume that they don't want to become dental celebrities. And they don't have other dentists working for them. They know the quality of their work and are not willing to compromise. In other words, they have only their own time to sell.
So, unless I'm missing something, there are only a handful of questions here:
- How do we fill the schedule?
- How can we ensure that we are attracting the highest value clients?
- How do we assure that we are getting the highest value from our present clients?
- How can we do this most efficiently?
So what are things we might want to measure for our marketing purposes?
Maybe we want to fill the practice with new patients. We could look at how many hours we book per week for each active patient in the practice. If the current active book is 1600 patients, and 80% of available appointments are scheduled, we might want to set as our first target increasing the active book to 2000 patients.
And maybe we realize we don't need so many new patients; maybe we could reengage a portion of our inactive ones instead, or as well.
Maybe we feel we could engage our current active patients better. Let's say our Annual Production per Active Patient is $650, and we'd like it to be $800. There are procedures that are good proxy for patient engagement. For instance, we could measure whitening procedures per month.
We could also look at what populations will bring us the highest lifetime value. For instance, if we target brides, maybe for whitening procedures, we'll be reaching people just setting up a home. This could bring with it husbands, future children, and maybe even the bride's maids, without too much extra effort.
On the other hand, older patients might need more work, and be more likely to already be settled in this community.
The Ultimate Measures
The bottom line is what it will cost to put the next high quality patient in the chair.
Let's go back to my earlier assumption. Let's say 80% of slots are booked now. Let's assume both dentists are available for 40 hours of chair time a week. We want to fill 16 hours of chair time.
This may require an initial push to fill the slots, and then a relaxed marketing effort to make sure that new patients are coming in at a rate that approximately equals the attrition rate, adding to that a certain level of continuity marketing to raise the engagement rate of current patients.
What will that cost? I love these people. I don't care if they go with me, or Hearst, or Altice. I care that they make great money, and don't spend more than they need to to do that.
It's All About Return on Investment
They shouldn't spend dollar one with me if it's just to make them look pretty on Facebook. That's not good business. On the other hand, they shouldn't spend a few thousand a month for a fancy website and local press, and have to go on doing that indefinitely to fill those 16 hours, if I can get them those patients on half the budget with decent social media engagement.
And it's Not All About the Investment.
I'm not Altice, or Hearst. I can't provide “customized audience solutions for every business, service and institution.” I don't really believe that Hearst can be everything to everyone either.
What I do believe is that I am invested in my friends, and for me every customer is my friend (it's just not worth it to me to work with people I don't like). I'll do what's necessary to get the results my people expect of me.
I don't know that the people at Altice and Hearst would or could do what I do. They'll give you a safe site based on an accepted formula. They'll require you to sign on for a year to give them a chance to dial things in. They'll need to cover the cost of setup and their overhead.
They'll give you an account manager, hopefully a little more reliable than the millenial who manages your facebook page in-house, who you can hope will be there in the long run.
I won't tie you down. I have faith in what I do, and I have faith that I'll take such good care of you that you'll soon forget you ever considered Altice or Hearst.
And I'm part of a scrappy community that is constantly innovating in this area. We're doing this day in and day out. If I don't have the answer, one of my folk does. And when I have it, I can implement faster than your account manager at Hearst.
But I won't get you on cable television, or local radio, unless you really want me to. We've got a big world of social media to exhaust first.