2017 Dental Marketing Year in Review

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After surveying hundreds of patients nationwide in 2017, we have compiled the following data to help your practice increase production and profitability in the coming year. In our proprietary survey process, we ask 25 key questions to uncover trends and changes in dental marketing year over year. This report details the cumulative data from three of those questions.

Would you search online for a practice like this one? [Yes – 70%, No – 30%]

The data shows a continued upward trend from last year, with 2016’s results indicating that 63% of patients would search online for a dental practice. That being said, you are still missing out on 30% of potential new patients if you are investing only in online marketing.

There are more than 50 marketing tactics that a dental practice could deploy, and of those, only a handful is right for your practice right now. The majority of practices realize higher production dollars and profits when the marketing plan includes the right combination of marketing tactics: brand/awareness, traditional, internal and online/digital.

What type of marketing do you pay attention to when searching for a dentist? [Referral – 37%, Online search – 21%, Newspaper – 2%, Email – 2%, Online reviews – 18%, Signage – 4%, Radio/TV – 3%, Social media – 7%, Direct mail – 5%]

While referrals are still the leading answer, they are down to 37% from 67% in 2016. Trends also show that the importance and significance of social media in a patient’s decision-making process is increasing. Recent studies show that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.[1]

This data illustrates another growing trend in marketing: patients, and consumers as a whole, will utilize and research on several different platforms before making a decision, especially when their health or that of their family members’ is involved. They may hear about your practice from a neighbor, scan your website, and check out your online reviews or social media profile. Then, without even realizing it, they may see your direct mail flyer that you sent two months ago in the stack of papers in their study. That totals four different contact points that they made with your brand before even making a decision.

Focusing on a single marketing tactic limits your pool of potential new patients, as well as your credibility and trustworthiness. By maximizing your marketing in a strategic and data-driven way, you will be able to target, attract and retain your ideal patient, building trust and strengthening the relationship before they even pick up the phone to schedule an appointment.

What would be the easiest way to encourage you to write a review or make a referral?  [Email reminder – 58%, In-office reminder – 13%, Handwritten note – 9%, Small reward – 21%]

Interestingly, email reminder is holding steady from 2016’s report. This data shows us how willing people are to sing your praises and send new patients your way, but generally one of two things tends to happen:

  • The patient gets busy with life and simply forgets to refer to you or write a review
  • The patient doesn’t even realize you are accepting new patients

People are very willing to send their friends and family your way or write a review, they just need to be reminded and it needs to be extremely easy for them to do so.

One way to do this is to send a monthly email reminder to your patient base with a link directly in the email for them to write an online review.

And, as always, we’re all little kids at heart and like to be rewarded/incentivized for “good” behavior. Offer patients a small gift card or account credit if they refer a new patient to your practice. Or, spice things up and enter their name in a drawing every time they refer, picking a winner monthly or quarterly.

Make sure to document all of this on social media, too. Your current patients need to feel the love, and your prospective new patients will want to be a part of that!

While these are the major trends we saw in dental marketing in 2018, our philosophy is that each practice has its own unique print in the world. Resist the temptation to copycat what everyone else is doing and explore all the possibilities for the best outcome.
Get a complimentary marketing plan for 2017 that is custom to your practice’s goals.

[1] https://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reviews-much-personal-recommendations-195803


3 Online Marketing Tactics Dentists Can Use in 2018

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Over the past 10 years serving the dental industry, online marketing has been a top lead generating tool for countless Big Buzz dental clients. Over the years, the types of online media have changed, ranging from SEO and online advertisements, to Snapchat filters to YouTube advertising. What’s next for 2018? Read on to find out what online marketing tactics you should pay attention to in the coming year.

1. Real-Time Content. You’ve likely heard of content marketing, and you may already be doing it. Perhaps you’ve been working off an editorial calendar that your team created in January based on your ideal patient/target persona. The content you’ve created has served a great purpose in educating your audience and providing your website with fresh content.

Take it up a notch: Implement real-time content into your strategy. Instead of just writing about brushing techniques or the benefits of implants, write newsletters and blog posts about current events, evolving technologies, and new services you offer. Your patients will get that much more out of your correspondence if it impacts and relates to their lives now.

2. Native Ads. Native ads are a type of paid advertisement that naturally flows with the user experience and blends in with the platform on which it is posted. An example of native ads is sponsored content on a website. The content may look like an article, but it’s really a paid media placement.

Why this is important now: If you are a specialist or CE provider and are looking to reach other dental professionals, consider writing thought-leadership articles that show your expertise, offer true value to the reader, and seamlessly blend into a respectable media source to build trust.

3. Deeply Personal Social Media. Social media is definitely something you’ve heard about before. More likely than not you have a Facebook page that you update every so often when someone remembers. That may have been your strategy (or lack thereof) last year, but this year, we want you to really engross yourself in it!

Personalize that page: The best dental social media pages are those that feature real, authentic images of the doctor, patients, office activities, and more. Those posts get the most interaction from patients so that conversations can be had. The point of social media is to be social. Stop posting only on holidays and appoint someone on the team to capture the true essence of what your practice is all about. Authenticity will shine through and potential patients will be able to connect with who you are on a much deeper level.

The Dangers of Duplicate Content

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Having quality content on your website is extremely beneficial in boosting your search engine rankings because that text tells the search engines what your website and its specific pages are all about. Search engines interpret the meaning of your web pages by looking at the text and keywords. If you want your website to appear for searches related to that text and keywords, you need original, quality content. When creating content, be sure to avoid duplicate content (content that is the same on multiple pages, or content that is the same as that on another website) as you run the risk of being penalized by Google’s Panda Algorithm. Panda, first launched in February 2011, penalizes sites for duplicate, shallow or copied content, and spam-like content stuffed with keywords.

Why does original content matter? Not having original content can cause a drop in rankings, therefore leading to a drop in website traffic. To provide users with a positive search experience, search engines limit the number of sites they show with the same content, forcing them to choose which site is likely to yield the best results for the user. Additionally, failing to feature unique content can lead to a penalization from Google, and once you’re on the search engine’s bad side, it’s hard to recover.

To avoid being hit with a Panda penalty, ensure your content is well written and contains no grammatical or spelling errors. Also be sure to include fitting keywords or phrases that help answer the questions for which users are searching. For example, including keyword phrases such as “the best kinds of tooth restorations are implants” can be beneficial for someone searching for “the best kinds of tooth restorations.” Make sure content is relevant, valuable and hearty in substance.

If you have already been hit by a penalty, it all comes down to identifying which version of the duplicate content is the “right” one. If there is content on the site that can be found in multiple locations, it is important to insert a canonical tag, which tells search engines a specific URL is the original copy of a page. The best way to do this is to set up a 301 redirect from the duplicate page to the original. Not sure how to handle this? Ask us for help!

Be sure all content you create is quality, original and full of substance. If you’re doing this, you are setting your practice up for SEO success!

Three Books That Will Make an Impact in Your Practice

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2018 is quickly approaching and that means hard-to-keep New Year’s Resolutions are just around the corner. Perhaps this year, you can divert from the traditional “lose 10 pounds” and instead commit to reading books that will make a lasting impact in your practice, far past next year. Here is a short list to get you started:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

If your plan for next year is to create a bigger, better practice and to grow your team, consider reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This classic is the foundation for which many personal and professional growth books are based. Read, understand and absorb the seven habits of Stephen R. Covey, and you will be primed for greatness in 2018 and beyond. Plus, these habits apply to work and life, making it a great read for anyone in a leadership role, be it a business owner or a parent.

Think and Grow Rich

If your plan is focused on creating wealth, read Napoleon Hill’s, Think and Grow Rich. Another true classic, this book provides everything you need to get into the mindset and practice of creating wealth for you and your practice. This book will help you to identify everyday behaviors and thought processes (both conscious and unconscious) so that you can consistently shift them to those of abundance, opportunity and success.

Why Can’t I Hire Good People?: Lessons on How to Hire Better

If staffing and team retention was a challenge this year, consider reading Beth Smith’s book, Why Can’t I Hire Good People?: Lessons on How to Hire Better. Smith clearly outlines how to hire powerful and passionate individuals who are a perfect fit. The right team will put your patients at-ease, help your practice to achieve more success and allow you to feel fully supported by a qualified staff.


If your 2018 is about attracting more patients, try KABOOM!: The Method Used By Top Dentists for Explosive Marketing Results. Request a FREE excerpt here.



Practice Management vs. Practice Leadership

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By Brian Passell, PhD / Executive Coach and Managing Partner

There is a significant difference between practice management and practice leadership.

Practice managers help the staff to feel good while the staff performs tasks to get the job done. It’s about getting tasks done with enjoyment. Practice managers can manage the practice when it is stable, but they have difficulty when circumstances are changing, as leadership is required

Practice leaders possess internal stability on a hierarchy of factors – environment, behavior, capability, beliefs & values, identity, and connection to something beyond self. Practice leaders create bonds to these factors thereby providing stability for others to follow. They believe that what they do moment to moment is an expression of who they are. In essence, leaders lead! Practice leaders know that to change your life you must change your questions. So practice leaders facilitate change of focus and open access to new resources.

Great practice leaders possess these qualities:

  • Beliefs – develop strong core beliefs and “To thine own self be true!”
  • Optimism – be a problem solver, not a problem maker; believe there are solutions.
  • Courage – take action in the face of fear.
  • Preparation – do your homework; “luck” is where opportunity and preparedness intersect.
  • Teamwork – be humble and know that you can get others to help with success.
  • Communication – people who can influence others can move the world; get good at it by practicing all the other qualities.

Also, practice leaders know that when placed in charge, they must make decisions. They know how to make decisions even if they don’t have sufficient information to make the best decision. Why? Because they recognize that a decision is needed to be made, and their responsibility is to not hold things up.

Practice leaders are not afraid to make decisions in their practice because they hold the belief that there is no such thing as failure, only results. In addition, they are strongly guided by a commitment to, “Do the right thing!” namely, to do what’s right for the patient, what’s right for the practice, and what’s right for their team, in that priority.

Where to Put Your Marketing Dollars: Indirect vs. Direct Marketing

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There are over 50 marketing tactics that a dental office could deploy and it may be difficult to know for sure which tactics are best. Marketing typically falls into four categories: brand/awareness, traditional, online/digital and internal. More simply put, marketing can be either indirect or direct.

Indirect marketing may include things like SEO, social media, or patient appreciation events. These activities are a softer sell, and often reach people who may already know of your brand. For example, let’s say you are running SEO on your website. If someone is searching online for a dentist near them, your practice may appear in the search listings and they may visit your website, along with four to five others.

Direct marketing includes things like online advertising and direct mail. These activities speak directly to consumers’ needs and wants with more of a hard sell. For example, if that same online user from the SEO example is searching for a dentist near them, they may click on an online ad first. That online ad will go to a custom landing page that explains the patient’s first visit, introduces the dentist, and describes the new patient special. The messaging on the ad and landing page will be much more direct and targeted than what is written on your website and will likely attract a more intentional customer.

This is not to say that only direct marketing tactics are the right ones. Awareness or indirect marketing is extremely beneficial, especially if you’ve recently rebranded, moved to a different location, hired an associate, or know that word-of-mouth is a big driver of new patients.

How do you know what’s right to do then? Ask the people. We say time and again that no one knows your practice story like your happiest patients. Ask your patients how they heard about you, what stood out most about you, what made them stay, etc. They will light up with enthusiasm and gratitude about how you changed their life for the better, and you can then put those messages to market using the media they (and their friends and family) pay attention to most.

Ensure you are running the marketing tactics that make most sense for your practice, your goals, your budget and your target audience. Need help? Contact a dental marketing expert today.

Guest Blog: Stop Managing. Start Leading, and Build a Great Practice by Chuck Blakeman of Crankset Group

By | Advertising

Manage Stuff. Lead People.

Dr. Jensen was not having a good day. He had told everyone exactly what to do at the beginning of the day and yet some staff members didn’t seem to be engaged, others were doing only what they had been told and nothing more, and with a few others, he frankly had no idea what they were doing. He always felt torn between doing what he loved – helping patients – and having to run the practice. There had to be a better way.

The problem was that Dr. Jensen had been doing exactly what he had learned from countless business articles on how to manage a business. But it was just making him tired. In short, he had been taught to manage, when what he should have been doing is leading, a very different thing.

Managers, the way we know them in business today, were invented in the Factory System of the Industrial Age. The assumption was that workers would always work better if someone was standing over them telling them what to do. Or even worse, they’re not smart enough to figure things out without a manager.

But managers are the core “business disease” of the Industrial Age, and although we supposedly left that all behind in the 1970s, almost all businesses today still reflect the tired, ineffective top-down hierarchy of management that has worn Dr. Jensen down. Leaders have been around since man lived in hunter, gatherer groups, but management is a very new, and very different thing. Managers are a sacred cow that have only been around for a little over a century, and they should go away as quickly as possible. Few things are as disruptive, unhelpful, and unproductive in the workplace as managers. Dr. Jensen was only doing what he had learned, but it isn’t helpful.

Solve and Decide, Or Become Less Important?

The manager’s worst habits are to a) solve things and b) decide things. No other actions are as debilitating as solving and deciding for others. When a manager solves and decides, the only thing left is to delegate tasks to be executed – “do this or that, at this rate”. But when we delegate tasks, people feel used. Managers who solve and decide things are fundamental in the dehumanizing of the workplace, because tasks are for machines.

Leaders do it quite differently. They train others to solve problems and make decisions, and then they get out of the way. If you’re becoming less and less important in your position, you’re leading.

The Best Business Leader Makes The Fewest Decisions

The art of traditional management involves planning, organizing, staffing, controlling, and awful assumptions like “manipulating human capital”. In the management model, people are “capital” to be manipulated and controlled, just like chairs and desks.

In contrast, the art of leadership is to know how few decisions the leader needs to make.

Ricardo Semler owns an estimated $1billion private company called Semco, and hasn’t made more than a few decisions in 20+ years. Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Square says, “When I’m making decisions, I’m not leading. Both of these are great examples tremendous leadership, and we should all aspire to it by training others to “solve and decide” and then, by getting out their way.

It works because these guys have trained others to solve problems and make decisions. Having gotten out of the way, the leaders are now free to ask questions, review, assess, and think about the future. If you’re making decisions for others, you’re managing. If you’re just asking questions, you’re leading.

Here’s a short hand explanation of the difference that you should memorize:

Managers tell, leaders ask.

Managers make decisions and then just tell people what to do. Leaders agree on a result, then ask good questions to make sure others are making good decisions. Then they get out of the way, because leaders focus on results. Managers focus on the process, so they can never get out of the way. Agree together on the result, then allow and require others to figure out the process.

What Are You Delegating; Tasks or Responsibility?

We said earlier that when managers delegate tasks, people feel used, because tasks are for machines. But leaders delegate responsibility – “get a great result – a much broader thing that requires thinking, solving, and deciding. When given responsibility, people take ownership, and ownership is the most powerful motivator in business. Are you delegating tasks that simply require action, or responsibility, which requires the whole messy, creative person to show up?

Management Is Not Leadership

Management is a very recently invented construct, but leadership has been around for centuries. We’ve conflated the two. Here’s a simple reference for pulling them back apart.

Manage Stuff, Lead People

The fundamental flaw in the “manager as a solution” mindset is that people need to be managed. They don’t. They need to be led, and the difference is not semantic, it is gigantic. Dr. Jensen resolved to stop telling people what to do and instead decided to focus on a simple two-step “engagement” process.

  • Decide together with each staff person what result they should be getting on whatever process was in question. Great leaders don’t even “tell” the result, they get people involved in owning the result.
  • Ask those involved to figure out the process for getting that result. When they brought it to him, his commitment was to not tell them what he liked or didn’t like, but to ask good questions to help think through the process.

What Dr. Jensen found, to his surprise, was that some staff members loved having the responsibility of figuring out how to get results, and others actually didn’t. But he was tired enough of making things happen that it became mandatory – you either make decisions because you want to, or because you have to. They were all adults and could make great decisions at home. Now they were all allowed or required to be that same adult at work. It didn’t happen overnight, but quicker than he thought, people began to take on great responsibility, freeing him to be the great dentist he loved being.

People Are Not Stuff

To get this right, we need to separate people from resources. Human “resources” is a terrible description of people. A resource is “stuff”, and stuff needs to be managed. People don’t. The Factory System reinvented people as extensions of machines, and when people are extensions of machines, they are “stuff” to be managed. But if they are fully human, they require leadership instead.

In our company, we only manage stuff; paper, numbers, software, processes, systems, delivery of goods and services, accounting, marketing, sales, etc. These are all “things” to be managed, and everyone in the business manages stuff. But we don’t need someone with the title of “manager” to hover over any of us to ensure the stuff will get managed. People manage the stuff, and we lead the people by vision, guidance, training and support, and then most importantly, by getting out of the way.

The manager’s quest is to be as helpful as possible for as long as possible. The leader’s quest is to relentlessly train others to solve and decide, and become less important every day.

It’s important enough to say twice: the art of leadership is to know how few decisions the leader needs to make.

Stop managing (telling) and learn how to lead (ask). You’ll have a lot more rewarding practice, and everyone who works with you will be taking charge like you always wanted them to.

Complete Guide To Google’s 9 Major Algorithm Updates

By | Blog

Google launches an update to its algorithm nearly every day. Most of the time these updates are merely minor adjustments but on occasion, can seriously impact search results. This article is designed to help you make sense of Google’s most important algorithms as well as some SEO advice for each one.


First Launched on February 24, 2011

Risk of Penalty: Duplicate content, plagiarized or thin content sections, spammy content, keyword stuffing and/or hidden links in copy.

What is Panda?: Panda works by assigning an organic quality score to each page on your website; this quality score is used to rank best results for SERPs (search engine results pages).
When Panda first initially launched, it acted as more of a filter rather than part of Google’s ranking algorithm. However, in January 2016, Panda was officially merged into Google’s core algorithm. Currently, Panda updates occur more often with both penalties and recoveries happening more quickly.  Google has openly announced that it considers Panda as one of its top two ranking algorithms.

What to Do: Ensure that your content is useful, relevant and unique to your practice. Check your website regularly for content duplication, thin content and keyword stuffing. To do that, you can use a free site crawler, such as siteliner.com or Copyscape to check for plagiarism.



First Launched on April 24, 2012

Penalty Risk: Spammy, deceptive links that are considered manipulative in nature, keyword stuffed hyperlink text, a large accumulation of low-quality external links from, or to, a particular website.

What is Penguin?: Google Penguin’s main purpose is to downrank websites that use links considered manipulative. Penguin has been part of Google’s core algorithm since late 2016, and unlike Panda, it works in real time. Penguin, along with Panda are considered the two most important ranking factors.

What to Do: Monitor your link profile’s growth and run regular audits with a backlink checker. If you accumulate a large profile of poor or spammy links, make sure to submit a disavow request to Google so as to reduce your risk of a Penguin penalty.   When making changes to your own website, ensure that when content is moved or updated you 301 redirect URLs to their corresponding pages.  This goes for broken links such as 404 response codes as well.


First Launched on August 22, 2013

Penalty Risk: Keyword stuffing and/or low-quality content

What is Hummingbird? The purpose of the Hummingbird algorithm is to better interpret search queries by providing results that match searcher intent. While exact match keywords are important, Hummingbird allows a certain page to rank for a search query even if the word typed into the search doesn’t contain the same words the user entered. This is achieved with the help of natural language processing that relies on latent semantic indexing, co-occurring terms and synonyms.

What to Do: Do you research. Use tools such as Google Keyword Planner and keywordtool.io. You can also look at the autofill queries when typing in a certain keyword or the blue suggestive links at the bottom of search to gain ideas about similar search suggestions for your specific keywords.


First Launched on July 24, 2014

Penalty Risk: Poor Onpage and Offpage SEO

What is Pigeon: Pigeon affects search queries in which the user’s location is deemed more relevant. The update further connected the local algorithm with Google’s core algorithm, incorporating traditional SEO factors into local search results. This gives priority to local businesses who utilize best SEO practices.

What to Do: Invest effort into on- and off-page SEO. Work with a company or research best practices for technical, on-page and off-page SEO to ensure that your website is optimized for highest ranking results.


Mobile Friendly (Mobilegeddon)

First Launched on April 21, 2015

Risk of Penalty: Poor user experience on mobile devices. Lack of mobile-friendly or responsive web design.

What is the Mobile Friendly Algorithm: Google’s Mobile Update, which was coined “Mobilegeddon”, gives preference to mobile-friendly websites for mobile search, while pages not optimized for mobile are filtered out from the SERPs (search engine results page) or severely punished in rankings.

What to Do: First test your site with Google’s mobile-friendly tool. Google’s mobile-friendly test allows users to see which aspects of your page’s mobile version need to be improved. You can then work with a qualified web design company to ensure your site is mobile friendly and responsive.


First Launched on October 26, 2015

Risk of Penalty: A mix of everything. Shallow or thin content, poor linking, bad user experience metrics such as bounce rates or time on site.

What is RankBrain: RankBrain is a machine learning system that is able to understand the meaning behind specific searches, and serve the best search results in response to those queries. Recently Google announced RankBrain the third most important ranking factor, behind Panda and Penguin. While RankBrain still remains somewhat of a mystery, the consensus is that it is highly intelligent AI software that identifies relevance features for web pages ranking for a given query, which is basically query-specific ranking factors.

What to Do: Ensure that your website has quality links, provides a good user experience and is chalked full of useful and relevant content. For more insights, you can look at the over 200 SEO rankings that are believed to be processed by RankBrain.


First Launched on September 1, 2016

Penalty Risk: Increased Local Competiton, Filtered from Local Search.

What is Possum?: The Possum algorithm made it so that local results varied more frequently depending on a users location: For example, the closer you are to a business’s address, the more likely you are to see it among local results.
The Possum algorithm also resulted in greater variety among results ranking for very similar queries, like “dentist San Diego” and “dentist near me.”

What to Do: Expand your keywords, copy and meta descriptions to target local variations. Local businesses now, more than ever, need to be targeting more keywords than they used by targeting a set of keywords for each page.


First Launched on March 8, 2017

Penalty Risk: Thin, affiliate-heavy or ad-centered content

What is Fred?: Fred targets websites that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines. The primary websites that were affected were blogs with low-quality posts that appear to be created mostly for the purpose of generating ad revenue.

How to adjust: Start by reviewing Google Search Quality Guidelines and avoid the use of thin content. If you do show ads, make sure that they appear in a relevant and/or appropriate manner. In a nutshell, don’t try to trick Google into thinking your page is about something when it really is a gateway page full of affiliate links and ads. There are a lot of publishers that make money off advertising, which is fine as long as it is not in a deceptive or manipulative way.


First Launched on August 22, 2017

Penalty Risk: Competition in close proximity to your target location.

What is Hawk? Hawk is an expansion on the 2016 Possum update that ensured local results were more closely related to the area in which the user was searching. Prior to Hawk, local businesses may have been filtered due to the fact that a more prominent competitor was down the street. Now, more listings appear on local search based on where the user runs a query.

What to Do: Ensure that your practice has a Google Business Page and that your NAP (name, address, phone number) is consistent across all mediums: Website, Google Business, Citations, and Social Media.




8 major Google algorithm updates, explained. (2017, September 18).


How Patient Tracking Can Raise Revenue

By | Advertising

For the past 10 years, Big Buzz has helped dental practices nationwide to attract new patients to their doors. Using online marketing, social media, direct mail, and more, Big Buzz had implemented strategic marketing plans that yield real results. How? We ask the people.

Our most successful clients start with the Marketing Platform, which begins with Big Buzz surveying the practice’s ideal patient base to uncover trends and perceptions related to the practice’s unique brand. We ask how they found the practice, what attracted them most to the practice, what types of marketing they pay attention to, what they like and dislike about the practice website, and so much more. Using this data, we can pinpoint the marketing media and messaging that will resonate perfectly with your target audience.

How can you take advantage of this concept right now? 1. Contact us about creating your own Marketing Platform, or 2. Start tracking new patients on your own.

If option 2 is the best place for you to start, keep these ideas in mind:

Each time a new patient calls your office, make it a must for the receptionist to ask, “May I ask how you found our office?”

On all patient intake forms, make it a requirement for new patients to answer the question, “How did you hear about us?”

Implement call tracking software on your online ads and website to track where calls are coming from.


Once you uncover where new patients are coming from and how they are finding your practice, you will know precisely where to invest your marketing dollars in order to reach more potential new patients just like them. And that level of precision not only makes money, it saves money. No more throwing darts in the dark hoping you hit the marketing bull’s-eye.

Where your current patients are spending their time and seeking out healthcare information is where potential new patients just like them are also spending their time and seeking out healthcare information. If you’ve been running a television ad but realize that all your patients are finding you via Google search, reallocate those funds into quality SEO. If you thought you’d try Yelp ads but your patients are more active on Facebook, implement a Facebook ad campaign instead.

Ask your patients where and how they found your practice, record their answers, and implement changes based on what you learn.

So simple, yet so often overlooked.

Easily track new patient sources with your own custom dashboard. Schedule a demo to learn more.

Fortune Management Guest Blog – Retention: The Difference Between a Million-Dollar Practice and One That Can’t Pay the Bills

By | Blog

By Marissa Nicholson / Executive Coach at Fortune Management 

I have been in the dental field for more than 20 years. I have lived my life as a hygiene assistant, EDDA, manager, regional trainer, territory manager, and a dental consultant. I have been on teams of six and lead teams of 1,000. With all I have seen and learned in this field I love so dearly, retention remains one of the biggest issues in practices all over the country. How is it we can give someone a crown in one day and we can’t figure out how to keep the patients we have so carefully and painstakingly attracted to our office?

The answer? Control. Simply put, the more control we have over the patient visit, the more comfortable they are. Comfortable people refer others, accept treatment, and pay their bills. So how do we create control without being controlling? Systems. Systems are what take us from average to extraordinary. They are also what keeps our staff members from feeling like they are surviving every day to feeling like they are arriving every day!

So why doesn’t every office have strong systems in place?

The truth is, as a dentist, you are so busy being the CEO and the main production source that knowing exactly what metrics to focus on is often lost. If there is any advice I can drive home, it is that what you give attention and power to will thrive.

That being said, retention is a wonderful place to devote your time. Often I have dentists tell me all they need is “X” amount of new patients a month. The truth is, if those new patients aren’t being retained, they do you no good.

Take a step back and look at how your patients are being escorted through your practice.

  • How is your phone being answered?
    • Is there a pleasant, knowledgeable staff member answering your phones?
    • Does your office have a new patient intake form that helps create a relationship?
    • Have you made your vision clear to all staff members of how you want your patients to be treated?
  • How are we scheduling?
    • Is staff being mindful as to where the patient is scheduled?
    • Have we trained all admin staff to read our schedule so they are giving the visit enough time to ensure no wait times?
    • Do our new patients see Hygiene first or are they filtered through the doctor’s schedule?
  • Are we saving spots for key appointments in our schedule to ensure a quick conversion rate?
    • If we want 40 new patients a month, we need to save 40 new patient spots.
    • Do you have big production spots saved in the restorative schedule to ensure you are hitting goal?
    • Are you planning your day or is it happening to you?
  • How are patients greeted?
    • Is your team standing to greet the new patient as they arrive?
    • Are we making them aware where the bathroom, snacks and/or coffee are in our practice?
    • Is the back staff approaching the new patient and introducing themselves and their role as they bring them back?
    • Are we making sure we let the patient know where to put their purse, coat or other belongings as they are seated?
    • Is your team explaining every step as the patient is walked through the patient experience?
    • Are we making sure to check on the patient’s comfort throughout each appointment?
  • How are they enrolled in our Hygiene program?
    • Do you have a clear hygiene protocol?
    • Are we saving SRP and Perio Maintenance spots in our schedule?
    • Are we booking out at least two PM appointments?
    • Is there a protocol in place to take Intra oral photos on all new patients?
  • What does the exam/diagnosis process look like?
    • Are you calling out the treatment in dental terms to a hygienist or assistant?
    • Are you then sitting with the patient up to discuss their needs in layman’s terms?
    • Are you taking time to ask what is most important to the patient?
    • Are you going into an exam in the last five or 10 minutes of the hygiene appointment?
    • Are you going in with at least 20 minutes to spare to ensure your financial coordinator has time to prepare a strong treatment plan?
  • How are we handling the patient hand-off to the front desk?
    • Are we walking the patient up with the route slip and treatment plan at the same time?
    • Are we truly passing off the patient and treatment in a way that creates urgency?
    • Are we stating needs to the front office and giving them the time and information they need to complete the patient appointment?
  • What does the financial arrangement and scheduling of treatment look like?
    • Do you have a staff member that is comfortable with finances that is in charge of this system?
    • Are we fully trained on all third-party financing that we offer?
    • Do we have a strong follow-up system in place?

We have to over-communicate with our patients and control their visit so they feel comfortable. A comfortable patient will overlook when the lab case isn’t back on time, or when the estimate doesn’t match the EOB. Most importantly, they will refer others that will trust you as well. If you don’t have strong systems in place for controlling each step of a patient’s experience, I urge you to look closely at them. I truly believe that the difference between the million-dollar-plus practice and the practice that is barely paying the bills is the systems that are in place to control and provide a WOW patient experience. You too can have a well-run practice that feels like a well-oiled machine. Your key to getting there is control through systems.