Results of an informal survey of dental teams as well as existing and potential patients seeking to affiliate with a new practice show that significant planning is necessary to outline and formulate how to reach objectives successfully. Consider some of the suggestions as a guide to demystify the process: understand the current market place, review website priorities, pay attention to signs and logos, and maintain professionalism to help maintain growth in the practice.
Understand The Current Market Place
Most importantly, an accurate understanding of the current professional market place is a good beginning. Many potential patients and families seeking to affiliate with a new dental practice use the Internet for their research. In our last article, we alluded to today’s population’s heavy reliance on electronic media, especially the practice's website, when seeking medical and dental services. Even potential patients who are referred to an office do their own due diligence by consulting the office website in advance of phoning or visiting. Therefore, the message the website conveys regarding our particular office is of prime importance.
Review Website Priorities
Reviewing the practice's priorities has benefits. The website should carefully project the values of the practice and accurately portray the physical plan of the treatment sites. Website designers who track responses agree that descriptions and pictures of attending staff are most scrutinized by prospective patients. Pictures depicting state-of-the-art sophisticated equipment are far less important than pictures or biographies of the existing staff. The staff should be included in the human resources area of the website. The biography of clinical practitioners should also reflect their particular dental niche or expertise.
Another key component of the website should be a clear statement of the practice’s goals. For example, the practice may focus on prevention, and early treatment intervention to minimize the amount and cost of necessary treatment later. The website should also emphasize the two-way dialogue that occurs with patients and within the practice. Patients should be aware that they will be presented with and well-informed of suggested procedures. Presenting the practice environment as contemporary as opposed to cutting edge, or ahead of the pack, is better as many patients view cutting edge or early adopter practices as experimental and may not have prior history or trust with the practice.
The latest marketing feature of the website is a professionally produced and narrated video that introduces patients to the office and team. This allows prospective patients to visit the office without having to physically go to the office.
Pay Attention to Signs and Logos
With the move of many dental offices to store front exposures, it is increasingly important to pay attention to signage. Signs, as well as the physical and external look of the practice location, are prominent attention-getters and assist in attracting new patients. One important role of a sign designer, particularly for a storefront exposure, is to differentiate the space from the other commercial enterprises on the adjacent streetscape. Outdoor signs visually indicate the inside healthcare environment which is essentially a healthcare provider’s facility. Because an attractive sign may spark the interest of potential new patients, it is worth spending time, resources, and thought when planning the exterior presentation/sign of the practice.
The current trend is to name dental offices based on the location or recognition of the specialty services provided; for example, Walmer/St. Clair Dental Group or Endodontic Provider. One way to personalize outdoor signs is by including the following information:
Walmer/St. Clair Dental Group/Family and Specialty Dental Providers:
Many presentations are compromised by not providing the names of the dental providers with whom patients interact.
Keep it Professional
Signs including the following
may actually have a negative effect of turning off potential patients because the message is too commercial. As a result, the practice may only be attracting bargain-hunters.
To continue growth in our practices and make them stand out from the commercial environment, we need to understand the market place, review our priorities, and design a presentation that professional, substantial, and eye-catching. Avoiding some of the pitfalls will help in this endeavor. Above all, we need to maintain a professional image.