Are you a new dentist? You’re entering the field at time when there’s plenty of potential—but also plenty of challenges. Dental industry revenue has been growing steadily for the last five years, according to IBISWorld, but so has the number of dental practices. In fact, 49% of dentists are concerned about increasing competition.
To ensure your new practice gets off on the right foot, you’ve got to stand out from the competition. Here are three essential steps to success that every new dental practice should take to do that.
Step 1. Build a website and social media presence
Getting your first patients starts with letting patients know you exist! These days, your online presence is your “storefront” and is just as important as your physical location when it comes to attracting patients. Invest in a professionally designed website. Make sure it’s mobile-optimized; most online searches start on a smartphone. Prominently display essential information such as your address, hours, email and phone number. Include calls to action, such as a “Contact Us” or “Schedule an Appointment” button. Enabling patients to make appointments online offers even more convenience for patients.
Throughout your website, but especially in title tags, image tags, headlines and captions, be sure to use keywords that people might use when searching for your practice. For instance, you’d want to include your city or neighborhood as keywords, along with any specialties, such as “Pediatric dentist” or “No-pain dentist.”
Use your website to highlight what makes your practice different. That might be a particular specialization such as pediatric dentistry; offering appointments on Saturdays or during the evenings; or using a cutting-edge new technology. Don’t forget to share photos of your office and your team, as well as “human interest” details about your hygienists and dentists. You never know when someone will choose a dentist based on a shared alma mater or love of “Star Wars.” Lighthouse 360 makes it easy to upload photos onto your website and create photo galleries you can use to promote your practice.
Facebook is a great place to start with social media for your practice. It’s the most popular social media site worldwide, so whether you’re marketing to millennials or moms, you’ll find them there. if you’re not planning to get active on social media right away, it’s still a good idea to reserve your practice name on the major social media sites so no one else takes it.
Step 2. Get listed on online review sites
Your practice may be brand new, but it’s never too early to start collecting reviews from your patients. Begin by making sure your practice is listed on local review sites such as Yelp and Google, as well as any dental-specific review sites.
Politely encourage patients to review your practice after their appointment. You can send them a follow-up text or email with a link to make this easy. It’s even easier if you use Lighthouse 360, which automatically collects and posts reviews from satisfied patients to Google and other major review sites, saving you time and effort.
Step 3: Set up a patient communication system
A new patient has made an appointment. Congratulations! To make sure the patient keeps that appointment, stay in communication with them. Choosing the right patient communication system from the get-go will make your life much easier. Start your practice off right by using a patient communications solution that’s designed expressly for dentistry, like Lighthouse 360, rather than one that’s an add-on to other services.
Lighthouse 360 lets you automate appointment reminders and follow-up communications. It also gives you the flexibility to send reminders by email, text, phone or even regular mail, so you can tailor communications to the preferences of each patient. (Seven in 10 consumers are more likely to choose a healthcare provider that offers follow-up care reminders by email or text.)
Look for a solution that combines automation with personalization. Lighthouse 360 provides additional tools, such as the ability to text back and forth with patients directly from the Lighthouse portal, that give you the flexibility you need for all types of situations. For example, you can automate treatment reminders to a patient, but then text him directly after a root canal to follow up one-on-one.
Because Lighthouse 360 appointment confirmations go directly into your PMS, your front desk staff saves time compared to inputting them manually. (On average, Lighthouse 360 saves 16 hours a week for the front desk staff.)
The last step? Sit back and get ready to handle all the patients you’ll bring in.