COVID-19: How to Get Predictable New Patient Flow in Unpredictable Circumstances

COVID-19: How to Get Predictable New Patient Flow in Unpredictable Circumstances

In these uncertain times, we’ve seen dentists make knee-jerk decisions to cut costs and just try to survive. We wanted to let dentists know that you still have control over your practice’s future, even though it may not feel like it right now. But it takes strategic leadership and planning to be one of the practices that leads the dental industry (and the country) out of this right now. Ryan Menacho, Director of Sales & Marketing, hosted a Masterclass to help dentists see the opportunity in the industry right now, but only with the right, strategic choices. 

Click below to watch the full Masterclass.

If you want to get the word out to as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible, then click below so we can help you set up your emergency dental marketing.

Don’t Just Survive….Thrive

Right now, we do need to find a way for your practice to survive these COVID-19 closures, and only the dentists that stay anchored, are strategic, and drive business right now will come out of this thriving.

In a few months, we will know which practices survived these closures. After that survival point, only the practices that make the right decisions will thrive over the next few years, while others struggle. To find out what line you will be on during survival, watch the timestamps: 2:15-16:24.

There is a lot of opportunity here for dentists that are willing to use the time they have on their hands now to work on their practice. But there is much valid concern for where to find the capital to seize that opportunity and, once you’ve got it, where to invest it. We believe that by following these steps, your dental practice will end up with the best second half of a year you have ever had. 

Step 1: Stay Anchored

There is a lot of panic and fear in every industry right now, and when you see your peers slashing their budgets, you can’t help but think that must be the best or only option to survive. However, as Henry Ford said, “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save the time.” When we take a look back at the 2008 recession, companies like Amazon and Netflix put their marketing into high-gear and streamlined their offerings. As a result, they found themselves, during the peak of the recession in 2009, becoming globally-dominant companies. Amazon’s sales grew by 29% while Netflix gained 3 million new members. A new global superpower company is will come out of this COVID-19 crisis, so why can’t your dental practice do the same in your area?

Finding Capital

Finding capital is the biggest problem dentists are facing right now, but we sat down with financial advisors Mike White and Eddie Geraghty to discuss your options, which included the CARES Act. Click here for the full interview.

While we wait for The CARES Act to pass through the House, here are a few other ways to open up cash flow for your practice:

  • Defer loan and credit payments, many banks have offered deferment at no penalty right now
  • Look at your most recent P&L statement and cut unnecessary costs
  • Ask for temporary deferments on rent or mortgage
  • Begin the SBA Application, even if you aren’t sure you will use it 

For details on the pending CARES Act and how it will affect the dental industry, click here. We will be updating it regularly as news is reported to keep dentists informed.

Step 2: Be Strategic

Now that you have capital, the only place that money and your time should be invested is in growing your practice. The first step is communication: invest your time into letting your patients know how your practice is adapting to these circumstances. Put a page on your website that explains the precautions you are taking, your availability, and tentative re-opening date for your practice. If you offer virtual consults, make sure that is on your website (see below for a great example.) Be sure to update your Google My Business hours and post updates to social media. It is critical that you assign someone to your phones to answer patient questions. Now is the time for the person who can best answer questions and build trust with employees to be the face of your practice, whether that is a doctor, hygienist, or a member of your front office staff.

river valley covid-19 message on website

Expand Your Audience

Millions of people are sitting at home, scrolling through their phones. Mark Zuckerberg himself has stated that Facebook is seeing unprecedented, “big surges” in traffic right now. You can increase your visibility by advertising on Facebook, starting with emergency ads. Let people in your community know that you are available to them, especially if your competitors are not. If a patient knocks out a tooth or has pain that calls for an emergency appointment, they will abandon their dentist for whoever is available and visible.

You should also use your social media to show patients and your community what you are doing with this time:

  • Are you making improvements to the office?
  • Is your staff video-chatting about how to serve patients? 
  • Are you taking part in a viral challenge (i.e. push-up challenge)?

Keep it personal, and post regularly. This is also the best time to take a video tour of your office!

Step 3: Drive Business

Right now, you can’t interact with patients to get more reviews. You can’t treat a new patient, who will go home and tell their spouse or their friend to book an appointment with you. The only way to keep your practice in patients’ minds is to keep your marketing running. After all, patients still need help, this is the cheapest online ads have been in over 10 years, and high-value patients looking for services like implants have more time on their hands to do their research and pick the right dentist. If you are not a visible option, your practice won’t even be considered.

If You Stop Your SEO & Ads…

We’ve seen many dentists immediately slash their marketing budget (a mistake every industry has warned businesses not to do during a recession or crisis). It can be difficult to understand the impact that halting all of your marketing will have on your business, especially when you can’t see the results right now. Here are the facts:

If you stop your SEO, your rankings will drop, your traffic will drop, and the largest negative impact this will have is in 3 months, when doors are expected to be open again and thousands of patients will be looking for a dentist.

If you stop your SEO, and your competitors do not…you will give up market share, revenue, and patients right when your doors opened up again.

If you stop your ads completely, you will be missing one of the greatest opportunities the dental industry has right now: ad cost is down, and usage is way up. For our dental clients running Pay-Per-Click ads right now:

  • Overall cost per conversion is CHEAPER by 46%
  • Emergency ad cost per conversion is CHEAPER by 56%
  • Search impression share is 20% HIGHER

By advertising right now, you will reach more people and have a greater impact than you’ve ever had, on a discount.

Market share is up for grabs right now, and as our friend, Chris Mahan said, “Once things get back to 100mph, market share doesn’t shift easily…today it does.”

Embrace Teledental

There are 3 reasons patients are calling you right now:

  1. Cancel their appointment
  2. Dental pain
  3. Dental fear - they are experiencing pain or symptoms that they fear will turn into an emergency

We recommend rescheduling any canceled appointments immediately for your tentative re-opening date, but the best way to help your patients is to embrace teledental. The practices that will come out of this with the greatest rebound and truly thrive, will be the ones that are getting in front of patients today. You can use teledental to answer questions about pain, implants, and introduce yourself to new patients all from your home. The time you spend using teledental now will result in appointments on your calendar when your doors open back up. You will build relationships and help patients the best way possible right now: virtually.

How Teledental Works

Just as they would with a regular appointment, your staff would take a call from a patient and book a virtual consult for a certain time. The patient would show up to their scheduled consult with the doctor (as shown below with one of the best-performing telehealth programs, doxy.me). Many teledental softwares are set up to generate auto email and text reminders, and they often take payments, share files, and more. Most importantly, telehealth platforms like doxy.me are HIPAA compliant. 

(Photo courtesy of doxy.me)

Patients love virtual consults because there are no distractions, you are giving 100% attention to your patient, and it leverages both your time and the patient’s time, making them highly convenient. If you are available to patients via teledental while your competitors are not, you automatically become the most reliable option in your area. 

Survive to Thrive

Right now, we do need to find a way for your practice to survive these COVID-19 closures, and only the dentists that stay anchored, are strategic, and drive business right now will come out of this thriving. It takes clarity, commitment, and courage in order to find the capital and invest it in growing your practice right now. 

If you want to get the word out to as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible, then click below so we can help you set up your emergency dental marketing.

Let Us Take a Look

Schedule a free 1-1 call with us, and we’ll assess your practice and show you how to take your practice to that next level you’ve been aiming for.

Request Free Practice Assessment (800) 398-0979

Contact Firegang Dental Marketing

(800) 398-0979

"I like to believe that it is important to establish a win-win relationship with business partners. Some companies don't care how your business does as long as you pay the invoice. I have never felt that with Firegang. I know the initial price tag for marketing can seem high, but I remember on average that every $1 I spend on marketing I get at least $10-$15 back!"

Daniel Morrissey, CEO

Daniel Morrissey

CEO

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