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Dental schools teach how to provide the highest level of dental care, but learning how to build a growing and successful practice also requires careful study. Attracting new patients and keeping the ones you have are the foundation for success. Here are some proven strategies that have worked for your colleagues.

 

Like any small business, a dental practice doesn’t have the resources for marketing and advertising budgets. But using social media skillfully has the potential to reach a lot of people.

 

Set up a Facebook page with a profile of your business. Add to it with things that will interest readers, like mentions of interesting new research in dentistry and interior photos of your office space. Facebook Insights will give you useful information on metrics and how viewers interact with your page.

 

Create a Google Business Page, which prominently displays basics like address, phone and business hours when people do a search for your business.

 

The patient always comes first. Develop a great chairside manner. “Listening to their stories of traumatic dental experiences, what they do for a living, what some of their interests are, and what some of their present concerns are has helped me to ease and alleviate current dental fears,” writes Toronto dentist Dr. Priya D. Kothari in Dental Economics.

 

Adding new specialties and services can attract new business. Dentistry is very competitive. It’s a good idea to set yourself apart from the pack by offering something different.  This is comment by Dr Stan Park, who has been practicing dentistry in Mississauga, Ontario since 1990 and runs a dental office, Dr. Stan Park Family Dentistry. His office augments basic dentistry services with extras like nutritional and tobacco counseling.

 

If you’re running at capacity in terms of how many patients you can see daily, it’s time to expand: add another chair or two or an extra exam room.

 

Some patients experience annoying long waiting times at the dentist. Others are whisked right into the examining room on time, unless an emergency throws the schedule off. Good scheduling systems help the workflow and make things move along smoothly.

 

Your team — hygienists, assistants, office support —  is an important asset. Patients can sense when the staff is unhappy.  Keep employees motivated with bonuses and incentives. Schedule monthly meetings to get their input: they’ll feel like they have more of a stake in the practice’s success.

 

Referrals are a powerful way to build a client base. Offer patients incentives — maybe a gift card or discount on cleaning — when their referrals to you result in new business.

 

Also offer patients flexible financing options. If they don’t have insurance, they may decide to postpone or forgo minor — and even major — dental work because financial concerns. Give them options like credit/debit card payments, and financing and payment plans.

 

Automate time-consuming tasks like billing and staff scheduling. There are good affordable software programs that can streamline these processes.

 

There’s one thing you should never automate, though. Have a real person answer the telephone during business hours. When someone’s in pain with a toothache, the last thing in the world are the words “Leave a message.”

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