These last four years I’ve traveled across the Continental US presenting seminars to my peers and their staff.
All in all, these “road trips” provided the opportunity to meet and/or lecture to close to 4,000 dentists (about 2.5% of the profession). While frequent travel can be taxing, I don’t think that anything short of this would have given me the unique perspective I’ve gained on our profession. To say it’s been “eye-opening” would be an understatement.
I’ve seen countless talented dental professionals frightened about their future, or giving away quality dentistry just to “make a living.” I’ve met doctors who are making it financially but living with the stress that comes from the lack of control over their business. I’ve had far too many conversations with doctors who, having spent their lives providing quality dental care, now find themselves (financially) unable to retire.
This is so unnecessary.
The common denominator behind all of this has nothing to do with clinical quality or skill. Each and every one of these doctors I’ve met who are having trouble are getting their “butt kicked” by the business end of the practice.
Marketing isn’t bad!
I’ve talked about this in many of my articles – we are all trained dentists, but not trained businesspeople. It’s a different mindset, but a successful practice requires a proper blend of both “hats” (doctor/businessperson). And that’s the answer to the question of “Why do MGE clients do well despite the prevailing economic issues in society?” We train them on how to handle the business side of things.
Take marketing for instance. Many years ago, I was where many of you might find yourself. My practice in rural Indiana was in trouble. New patients were down by 66% and revenues by 25%. I needed a change, but as a dentist, I never wanted to have to advertise. I had all of the viewpoints of advertising that still to this day live and breathe inside the dental profession:
- A dentist who has to advertise is “desperate”
- It’s unprofessional
- It doesn’t work for dentistry and is a waste of money
- It will ruin your reputation
- Just be a good dentist, get involved in your community, and the rest will take care of itself (I’m not sure that ever worked, but it’s definitely not working today)
The first one was actually correct, in a way—I was desperate. I was having a hard time taking home a paycheck and I was ready to lay off staff. I had to do something.
I tried a Yellow Page ad the year before and all it brought me was people who weren’t interested in comprehensive care. By the way, that ad that was designed by a dental marketing company and cost me $3,000. Not a good investment. But I felt I had to try something.
Fortunately, I found my way into MGE and the Hubbard Management System before I wasted more money on something else that wasn’t going to work.
The key to any promotional campaign is to survey the types of people you want to attract and find out what they want before you spend money on anything (i.e. direct mail, website, newspaper, Yellow Pages, and so on). One of the biggest marketing mistakes is to think that you “already know what everyone wants.”
As dentists, we “know” that everyone wants a “bright smile”—right? So we advertise smile makeovers, veneers or discounted bleaching to get them in the door. But is that really what they want today?
I was on the verge of doing a direct mail campaign on bleaching just prior to starting my first MGE course, the New Patient Workshop. Again, I never wanted to promote but remember, I was desperate and needed to do something. The money-back guarantee that the New Patient Workshop came with satisfied my skepticism, so I held off on the bleaching promotion to see what I would learn on the course.
Before I arrived for the course, MGE had me do something I had never been asked by any other consultant or marketing company. They gave me a survey and had me get it filled out by the best patients in the practice. The ones I would have loved to fill my practice with. The ones that wanted to keep their teeth and just did what the doctor said. I got forty of them filled out from my farmers and housewives.
I learned how to tabulate the survey results during the New Patient Workshop. During the tabulation exercise on the course I found (much to my amazement), that only one person out of forty said anything about a bright smile! Thirty-two out of forty wanted to keep their teeth, have healthy teeth, and avoid dentures. And that’s exactly what I wanted for them! Restorative dentistry is a blast—fix something that is broken so they can use it for a long time. But who would have guessed that?
This became the foundation for the message in all of my marketing (direct mail, newspaper, and Yellow Page ad, etc.). Obviously, I scrapped the bleaching campaign with the “brighter smile” message.
I learned that Mr. Hubbard had done exhaustive research on the subject of marketing and developed seven points that create an effective ad. I learned those seven points and incorporated it all into what I was promoting. Within six months, I went from five or ten new patients per month to over forty! All in a town of only ten thousand with eleven dentists!
Then, learning how to get patients to want what they need (instead of just what insurance covered) from the MGE Communication and Sales Seminars, I found myself becoming so busy that I had to get an associate.
In any normal business environment it’s common knowledge that promotion and marketing are vital components for business success. It works exactly the same in dentistry. I simply learned how to do it correctly and the rest is history. Know what the people want by surveying them. Don’t guess. Then get that message out properly and the phone rings. Pretty simple.
That fall, my Yellow Page ad was up for renewal. Prior to taking the New Patient Workshop, I had no intention of renewing it. I wasn’t getting enough new patients and the ones that were coming in had no interest in comprehensive treatment. After doing the course, I looked at my ad and knew exactly what was wrong with it. I redesigned it myself and in the first month had a patient come in from it that turned out to be a $5,000 case!
While advertising media has evolved over the years (i.e., the internet and so on), basic marketing principles are still the same. Online campaigns, newspaper ads, and direct mail can actually bring in good quality new patients if they are surveyed and carry the correct message.
With my marketing in full swing, I began to average fifty to sixty new patients per month (with no PPOs or HMOs). My two highest months were eighty-three and eighty-eight. I—and the associate I hired within a few months—were very busy after I became a businessperson who knew how to properly promote my practice as well as a dentist.
Want to run a successful practice? Get trained in business just like you trained as a clinician. Start like I did with the MGE New Patient Workshop. See what it can do for you. It still comes with a 100% money-back guarantee if you aren’t satisfied, so you’ve truly got nothing to lose—and everything to gain!