It’s Not a Marketing Problem: How Finances and Operations Impact New Patient Acquisition

Picture this: a practice has invested in a dental marketing agency to increase new patients. The marketing agency deploys a handful of different marketing tactics and the phone begins to ring. And ring. And ring.

This situation actually happened a few years ago. The dentist’s goal was to increase new patient numbers by 20 each month. In that first two weeks, 20 new inquiries came in by phone. But the staff was all out of the office; the practice was closed for an extended holiday. What’s worse, no one returned the patient calls upon reopening.

In other practices, someone untrained in customer service answers the phones. Basic service acumen is the foundation for a great patient experience right from the get-go. The most successful dentists take smooth operations even more seriously.

Fortune Management helps dentists better engage the entire dental team in ushering new patients into the door and truly building a relationship with each of them. They help inspire a leadership mindset throughout the practice.

As for finances, here is another scenario: a practice has seen encroaching competition and an aging surrounding community, leading to fewer young families entering the practice. As a direct result, production has slowly declined over a 5-year period. Cash flow is strained, the doctor regularly struggles to make payroll and has over the years taken home less and less pay. The doctor takes a $30,000 loan to invest in marketing, thinking that will solve the issue.

In this case, low patient traffic is a symptom of a financial issue. The doctor was employing the same number of staff and paying on the same high-dollar lease. If cash is tight, it may be time to reduce staff or renegotiate the lease, two of the largest expenditures for a practice.

Wells Fargo Practice Finances advises that taking a short-term loan is a normal part of the lifecycle of many practices, yet that loan should be invested in improvements to the practice or into marketing only after trimming expenses. After all, the lender wants the loan to be used on assets that will make the practice money, not take its money.

This is the great trifecta supporting every successful dental practice: strong operations, sound financials and solid marketing strategies. When any one part is out of whack, it throws off the other two. In what area should your practice invest its time and energy now?