Partnerships for patients: Could community groups and businesses help you find new patients?

I’ve often lamented the fact that dental school teaches us how to diagnose and treat patients, but not how to attract new patients.

I’ve often lamented the fact that dental school teaches us how to diagnose and treat patients, but not how to attract new patients.

To learn how to run our practices, we have to look beyond the world of dentistry and embrace ideas from business. Recently, Entrepreneur Magazine ran an interesting article on how a new business can attract customers by partnering with existing firms.  With some tweaking, I think the ideas in the article could help your average dentist find and attract new patients to his office.

The author recommends finding a local business with a customer base similar to the people you hope to attract. In exchange for a database of the business’s customers, you send out a ‘special offer,’ for a free product or service. You receive access to new clients, and the business gets to earn goodwill with a ‘perk’ that cost it nothing.

So, how would we tweak this system to apply to dentistry? Well, I used a similar tactic when I advertised my dental savings plan through presentations at a local retirement community. I knew I wanted to attract retirees, I offered them a perk for showing up, and the community event planners got the credit for offering a fun evening activity. Depending on your target patient demographics, you might be able to team up with other community groups.

More from Dr. Phelps: How to grow your practice with wine, cheese and a dental savings plan

For instance, a pediatric dentist could offer a free dental care goody bag to every member of the local little league who came into his office. While the families were there to pick up the goodies, you staff could let them look around and offer them the chance to make appointments.  If you’d like to target young professionals, approach a local gym about forming a partnership. Since dentistry is essentially a ‘health and wellness’ business, you can work with other health and wellness firms in your community to reach new customers.

The key, as with all marketing, is to have a good idea of your target audience. Then, meet them where they are and get them to come to you.  Finally, before you start a campaign like this, make sure you’ve trained your staff in how to convert calls and visits into new patient appointments.  If you need help teaching you staff how to interact with new patients, Call Tracker ROI can help you analyze phone calls and improve performance.

Remember, it’s never too late to learn entrepreneurship and business management skills.  When it comes to attracting new patients, you face the same struggles as every other business on the planet. Be creative, apply innovative business solutions to your own situation and grow.