Episode 008 – Competing with Convenience

The way patients are making decisions have truly changed. Consumers lives are changing. We’re busier with kids and activities, more demanding jobs and longer hours being worked, means less time for appointments and more anxiety about getting to the dentist. People want things quicker and simpler.

In the episode, Jackie and Shawn will discuss some simple ways to help make your practice more convenient, and in doing so, help gain and retain more patients.

S1 00:16[music] Hi everyone, and welcome to the My Dental Agency podcasts with your hosts, Jackie and Shawn.
S2 00:21Just in case you guys are not aware, we are a dental marketing company. We eat, breathe, and sleep dental. All right, maybe it's not our whole lives, but it's pretty close. We believe in thinking different from other mass marketing groups that you're probably used to, and we help you stand up against corporate dentistry. Yes, you heard me say it, we help the little guys. We do this by helping independent practices like yourself build genuine relationships with patients, create and manage positive reputations by utilizing online resources, and retain your current patients. And you're probably thinking, how the heck do you do that? We do all this by creating custom, relatable, personalized, and distinctly different campaigns that reflect the needs and personalities of each individual practice. It's as simple as that.
S1 01:11So, providing just valuable education to the dental community is a really big focus here for us, and this podcast just serves as one way that we do that. So in this episode and in episodes to come, we'll be talking a lot about common frustrations dental practices have with marketing, big marketing wins we've seen and been a part of, and even some really big failures. We'll also be sure to share as many tips and tricks as we can to make sure you're staying up to date on how you can really just best market your dental practice. [music]
S2 01:43In today's episode, we're going to discuss how to compete in today's super-connected world and how convenience could be key in marketing your practice. We need to focus and understand what drives consumers - and in this case, obviously patients - to buy. Understanding this fast-paced world is difficult and probably not on the radar for most dental practices, I would assume. The way patients are making decisions have truly changed. Consumers' lives are changing. Busier lives with kids and activities. More demanding jobs and more hours being worked means less time for appointments, more anxiety now than ever. People want things quicker and simpler. I mean, we're preaching to the choir. We know that you guys get this, but we need you to understand how this relates to your marketing. We may think that dentistry is excluded from this trend, but it's not. This topic applies to all practices. But I really personally feel like this is something for fee-for-service practices or high-quality practices that should really be paying attention to this topic. When you're a fee-for-service practice or a quality practice that doesn't want to compete with clinics or lowest cost options, you have to have a different focus to market your practice. And Shawn and I have talked about this before, in focusing on the benefits of your practice to help you stand out in your area. But this is something a little bit different. This is a topic all companies have been impacted by and should be focusing on. When you have little to market, things like you're not willing to market on price, no free consultations, and don't have the cheapest service on the block, the ideas that we're about to share with you are ways you can market without compromising your quality and still meet the consumers' need for convenience.
S1 03:17We know today that people are willing to pay more for convenience. Look at all the success companies like Amazon, UberEats, Shipt and other delivery services, as well as a slew of online retailers have had by just being the most convenient option. We know the general population has a growing tendency to prefer convenience over other factors.
S2 03:39It's interesting. So some of our listeners know that I recently had a baby. And prior to this little bundle of joy, I had a lot more time obviously, as most people do, right? I cannot tell you, the past five months since the baby was born, I have shopped online way more. Which I've never done in the past. I think I did almost all my Christmas shopping this year, Shawn, with Amazon and/or other companies. And I've never done that before. I mean, we were online shoppers, but not like now. And I'm not kidding when I say this, and Shawn knows this, that the first week the baby was born, we signed up for Shipt. We did all of our grocery shopping in Publix and other stores prior to this baby. But first week she was born, we started Shipt because it was convenient. And I didn't care about the cost to be quite honest with you. Because having our groceries shipped right to our doorstep was ideal for us. And again, I'm not just saying this because of this topic. I mean, this is reality. Our lives have changed and all I care about is convenience. And I'm going to pay top dollar for that. Right now, anyway. I mean, that may change down the road. But right now, I'm going to pay top dollar.
S1 04:51Yeah, and Jackie is certainly not alone, I don't think. My family's been doing the same thing for quite some time. And when I look around at the other people that I socialize with and that I know, it seems like everyone is taking advantage of these more convenient, but not more inexpensive, options at a growing pace nowadays. So we're going to talk about a couple different things you can do to help market convenience in your practice in today's episodes. And some of the topics we're going to discuss are appointment times, fewer and shorter office visits, allowing families to book consecutive appointments all in one visit and on the same day, making information more readily available to new and existing patients, offering flexible payment or financing options, making it simple and easy for patients to communicate with you, making it easy for new and existing patients to contact you online without making a phone call, marketing your location and its convenience if you have a really prime location, and offering a way for people to see the office and get to know you before their appointment.
S2 05:57Okay. So let's chat about each of these in more detail. So for appointment times, obviously we know that a lot of the-- especially the practice that we work with, their ideal is to have convenient hours for them and for their team members. And possibly to even cut back on some of their times in the practice. And we understand that, Shawn and I get it. We want to do the same thing for our business. We don't want to be working 24/7. But we know, and as we just shared with you, convenience is key. So maybe you're able to offer flexible weekday hours. And that doesn't mean that you have to work more. But what if you thought about opening a little bit earlier one day? And that can mean that you take off earlier that same day. But if you opened a little bit earlier for parents or people that could get in there a little bit earlier to have an appointment, that'd be great. Or staying open, maybe, a little bit later that day. And again, you can come in later that day. What about making, possibly, one weekend a month, you come in for a few hours. And being able to offer that is going to obviously open up the potential for people that can't get in there during the weekdays. And another kind of unique thing is if you were to work through your lunchtime, or people are coming in through their lunchtime. Making it easy for them, possibly offering some snacks on their way out. They came in during their lunch, they probably weren't able to grab lunch. Shawn and I can relate to this. There's a lot of times that we have appointments all through the day, including our lunch hour. And if Shawn and I had to be out of the office and we were meeting with someone and they offered us a couple snacks on the way out [so?] we didn't have time to stop, we would look at each other like, wow, what a big win. We would do that day in and day out. And so maybe you can do that.
S1 07:41And another way is just being able to offer your patients fewer and/or shorter office visits. Ideally both, right, but even if you can achieve one of those, I think it's a big win. And there's a couple different ways we can do this, right? Having the technology you need right in your office so you don't have to refer out for things like imaging, scans, so on and so forth. Trying really hard to run on time so patients aren't left waiting. We absolutely don't mean you can't be running behind. We know that things are going to happen and you're going to run behind, sometimes fairly often. We know it's inevitable. But you really want to put a strong focus on scheduling properly so patients don't feel like they're waiting longer than they should and they feel like their time is valued. You don't want a patient waiting an hour or more for their appointment once they've got to the office and leave feeling like that you didn't value their time. You can offer things like same day crowns, teeth in a day, so on and so forth. So patients can get what they need without having to take off of work or school or whatever it is multiple times. If they're able to achieve their goal and complete treatment in one day, even if it's a rather full day or a whole day rather than multiple hour or two-hour visits, in my mind, that's a win.
S2 08:59And we realize that making an investment in a machine to do same day crowns, that is an investment, right? And not everybody's willing to do that. But as Shawn and I are talking today to you about convenience, you guys are going to have to adapt. You're going to have to change. You're going to have to think about things differently. And as Shawn just said, trying to do something like same day crowns isn't for everybody, isn't for every practice. But if that's something that you could market, that you could talk to patients about and potential patients. And it's going to get more patients into your practice because you are someone that can do that. You need to start thinking about it.
S1 09:32Yep. And another thing is making referrals more convenient. And this doesn't mean you shouldn't refer your patients to oral surgeons, periodontists, orthodontists, what have you. But what if you invited those specialists into your practice once a month or once a week or however often you need them to make it more convenient for your patients? So they don't have to go somewhere else. So at least they're coming back to your office, which is a familiar place, a place they feel comfortable. I think that that could even be a small win. Another thing that we want to talk about is allowing families to book consecutive appointments all in one visit and on the same day. I know certainly having two kids, for my wife and I, that it is much easier if we're able to book our child's appointment for the same day and time, at their pediatric dentist's especially. Both of our kids get their cleanings, their x-rays, both done at the same time all in the same day. So we're not there longer than we have to be. One of our kids happens to enjoy the dentist. The other does not. But having them both getting their treatment at the same time at the same place is certainly better for us because we're able to get in and out of there much more quickly. We don't have to pull them out of school earlier during the day to do that. It's just more convenient all around. And if you're a family practice, you can even take this a step further and offer appointments for parents at the same time as well. Now clearly, both parents and the children can't all be getting their treatment at the same time, right? I'm sure at least one parent's going to want to stay behind with the children. But if one of the parents can be getting treated at the same time or around the same appointment, I think that's a huge win. Again, parents especially are busy nowadays like everybody else. And even little things like this to make their lives more convenient can be a big win and be a reason why a new patient would choose your practice or an existing patient will continue to stay with your practice. Just because it's more convenient.
S2 11:30Or even refer. I mean, Shawn's kids are obviously a bit older than mine. And if he had a great experience with something with convenience and he shared that with me, you better believe that I'm going to consider that in a few years when I've got to look for my daughter, for a dentist. I mean, that's just human nature. And again, talking about convenience, that is going to be one thing that I'm looking for. And he's going to refer that dentist if he had that experience.
S1 11:52Of course. Yep. It's just common sense. And another thing you could do, and that you really should be doing - this is a really easy one that every practice should be doing. There's no reason any of you should not be doing this - and that's making sure that information is more readily available to new and existing patients. We know today, especially obviously being heavily involved in marketing dental practices, we know that patients today are doing much more research online than they ever have before. And they're really looking to be convinced that your practice is right for them. So doing very easy things, like making sure your before and after photos of past cases are easily accessible on your website and that they're organized by treatment. Making sure your patient reviews and testimonials are front and center throughout your website. These little things can go a long way to making new and existing patients more comfortable, more likely to trust you, and obviously more likely to accept treatment once they're in the practice.
S2 12:51And so Shawn points out something important here. Making it front and center. Going back to everyone has less and less time now. No one wants to dig for that stuff. No one's going around digging for that information. And that's what he means by making it front and center. Make it really easy for them to find.
S1 13:08That's right. We have seconds to convince these patients that your practice is potentially right for them and to really encourage them to dive deeper and to look further into what your practice is all about. And doing some of these things are really easy ways that can help us achieve that goal. And then obviously allowing us to communicate why you're the most convenient practice in the area.
S1 13:37Another way is offering flexible payment and financing options. We're absolutely not advocating here for discount dentistry. In fact, the large majority of our clients are fee-for-service, more of a higher quality practice. But offering solutions that work for the individual patient to make them feel more comfortable to move forward with a larger investment is really important. And there's a couple ways you can do this. Certainly, you can offer payment plans or options. Maybe offer some financing programs. And just even helping by filing their insurance claims can be a win and make it more convenient for them.
S1 14:12You have to make it simple, quick, and easy for patients to communicate with you. And this is another, kind of what I see as a low hanging fruit, another real easy win that all practices should be offering. But you need to at least offer email communication and make sure your team is on top of emails and responding to them in a timely fashion. More and more practices today are also offering text message communication. And we don't just mean sending out appointment reminders from an automated system, but real, personalized text message communication. Meaning that patients are able to send their own text messages to the practice and that your team is responding to them. Whether it's to schedule appointments, to ask about treatments, whatever it may be. Allowing them to communicate with you via text. It is no secret today that most people prefer to text instead of picking up the phone and actually making a call and talking to someone in real life. We may not like it, but that's the reality. And it's not just the younger generation. We're seeing this more and more with everybody. So offering text message communication can be a big win in the convenience department for your practice.
S1 15:19You also want to make it easy for new and existing patients to contact you online without making a phone call. And again, this is a real easy win. But having short and easy to fill out forms on your website, making them short and easy to fill out is key here. And we see a lot of practices who have inquiry or contact us forms on their website where we're asking the patient to fill out 10 or 15 different fields. Most patients are going to shy away from that, especially new ones. It's too cumbersome. They're going to feel like they don't have the time to do that. But having very short, easily accessible forms on the website to allow new and existing to patients to contact you is one way you can do this. Making yourself available on Facebook Messenger, almost every practice we work with gets messages on Facebook from new and existing patients asking questions. Being available there and making sure you're there to answer any questions or concerns that come in is really important. And then even just responding to comments on Facebook posts. Hopefully, you're posting good content to your Facebook page on a routine basis. I know we've talked in other episodes about why that's so important. I'm sure we'll talk about it again in future episodes. But absolutely you want to make sure that when a patient is commenting on your Facebook posts, which sometimes they will do and sometimes it's related to their treatment, that you are responding to them and addressing their concerns there.
S2 16:39And we're not advocating to talk about medical information and violating HIPAA. By no means are we talking about that. But there's a lot of simple questions that people are asking they want answered and they want answered quick and they want answered in the most convenient ways. And like it or not, it's a lot of times through Facebook.
S1 16:55That's right.
S2 16:56So the next piece of this is marketing location. This isn't going to apply to everyone. I would say the vast majority of practices are in convenient locations. But if you are in a prime location, or maybe you're in a downtown location, and there's something convenient about that location, you want to talk about it and articulate that in your marketing. And we'll talk about how you do all of these things and how you deploy these conveniences through your marketing here in a little bit. But if you are in a convenient location downtown, and it is something-- maybe someone doesn't have to pay for parking, or your parking garage is convenient, you want to talk about that.
S1 17:35Absolutely. If there's valet at your building. This is really more important for practices that are in large cities, obviously. Other practices that have their own parking lots and that are convenient to get to, this isn't a concern, right? Most people assume that it's going to be easy to park and get into the practice. But in larger cities, where you're located and how convenient it is to get there, whether it's by public transit or readily available or easy or free parking, things like that can really help people get in and out of your practice quicker, which certainly is a convenience.
S2 18:09So the next and last thing is a virtual tour. So as Shawn was talking about before, people, they don't want to dig around. They don't want to have to dive too deep to know what to expect. And allowing people the ability to see the practice and making it convenient for them to see what they're going to be getting into, having a virtual tour on your website can be key.
S1 18:29So now that we've discussed a handful of ways you can make your practice more convenient to new and existing patients, we should talk a little bit about how you can market these ideas. So the first example is, just make sure any of your ads online or offline highlight how convenient it is being a patient at your practice. So all these different things that we've talked about, if you offer any of them, you should be highlighting them in any of your ads. Whether they're ads in the newspaper, ads on Facebook, Google ads, local magazines, TV, radio, whatever it is, you want to make sure that you're highlighting these things. Because, to be honest, most of your competitors won't be.
S2 19:04We forgot to mention one thing. You don't have to be doing all of these things. These are obviously ideas. And as Shawn said, you'd want to talk about these things in an ad. Does not mean that everything we just spoke about, you have to be doing every single one of them. Obviously, you want to do a couple. But if there's one or two of these that are a really big change for you and can make a big impact, focus on those.
S1 19:27Yeah, absolutely. Some of these, and like I mentioned, are really low hanging fruit. Things that really every practice should be doing, that there's no reason why you shouldn't be doing them. But I would challenge you to take one or two that are not that easy and give it a shot and try offering it. We're not saying you have to commit to doing this for months and years to come, but try. Because especially if you don't have much to market because you are a practice that is fee-for-service and you're not doing things like free consults and offering specials and promotions or things of that nature, you have to remember that you still want to drive new patients to the practice and you're still competing everywhere with practices that are offering those things. So this is a way that you can still continue to offer the high-value dentistry that you do offer at your practice and not have to do free consults, special offers, and promotions, but still generate a good volume of new patients and set yourselves apart from the competing practices nearby.
S2 20:24And play to the, as we share in the beginning, to today's super-connected world and all about convenience.
S1 20:31That's right. So the second example is making it very clear on your website. A lot of new patients are going to look at your website and they're never going to see an ad, right? So like Jackie had talked about earlier, right, when her daughter gets older and she's looking for a dental practice, maybe she asks me what dental practice we go to and I'm going to tell her. She's never going to see an ad. But almost guaranteed, she's going to google them and look at their website before she ever even thinks about picking up the phone and scheduling an appointment with them. And it's not just because she does digital marketing for dentists. Any person today would likely take that route and do that research before they moved forward. So you want to make sure you're making it very clear on your website how convenient it is to be a patient at your practice. You have to highlight it not only on your home page but throughout your website to really drive home how important it is to you that your practice is more convenient than any others nearby.
S1 21:28And then lastly, you want to be talking about this on Facebook in your regular patient emails, anywhere else you're routinely communicating with new and existing patients. Even for existing patients, it's really important that they don't forget how convenient it is being a patient at your practice. We don't want them to forget that. Because likely someone in the future is going to try and lure them away to their practice, and to one of the competing practices nearby. And of course, we want them to feel like it would be a great inconvenience for them to go to another practice, for many different reasons. So it can go a long way to help keeping your patients long-term and preventing them from considering the competition.
S1 22:10So that concludes today's episode of the My Dental Agency podcast. I know Jackie and I really hope you guys found some of these ideas helpful and that you leave today's episode thinking about how you can make your practice more convenient for patients. Not only to keep your patients happy, but to make your practice more attractive to new patients. Especially, like we said earlier, if you're a practice that doesn't offer things like free consults, special offers, promotions, discounted dentistry, so on and so forth, which we're absolutely not advocating for. But we speak to a lot of practices that are kind of in that bucket, so to speak. And I think these are really ways that we've seen can help you market yourself if you're that type of practice. Jackie and I would both love to hear how you're making or plan to make your practice more convenient for your patients. So if you'd send us an email to podcast@mydentalagency.com, let us know what you're up to. We love to see what practices are doing out there. Certainly, other practices that aren't ones that we're working with and have the privilege to work with. We love to hear what you're doing and what's working well for you. We may even share a few responses on a future episode.
S3 23:22We hope all of you enjoyed today's podcast. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast platform to make sure you receive all of our future episodes. I also encourage you to visit our website at mydentalagency.com or email us at podcast@mydentalagency.com if you have any questions or comments. Thanks so much for listening.
S2 23:39See you guys.