Recruiting New Patients Via Traditional and Non-Traditional Means

January 22, 2016
Ed Rabinowitz

Recruiting new customers is no small task. One Florida dentist meets the challenge by using a mix of tried-and-true and out-of-the-box marketing methods.

Recruiting new customers is no small task. Consider the plight of car dealerships. According to statistics from R.L. Polk Company, the average car on American roads is now close to 11 years old. And J.D. Power and Associates reports that the average trade-in at new-car dealerships is now 6.5 years old.

So, it’s critical for car dealerships to cultivate relationships with new customers.

The same is true for dentists and new patients.

“You always have to get new mouths in the door or your practice is going to shrivel up,” says Daniel Greenstein, DDS, with Mizner Park Dental, in Boca Raton, FL. “Aside from the recall for hygiene, which financially isn’t a high-ticket item, once you’ve done the dentistry on someone they don’t need more for quite a while.”

To address that dilemma, Greenstein and his colleagues have employed some traditional and some not-so-traditional strategies.

All In

Greenstein is a most gregarious individual. He’s active in the community, and routinely dispenses his business card. He even leaves his card when paying the bill at a local restaurant.

But Greenstein doesn’t go it alone.

“From an internal marketing perspective, it’s important to make sure your staff is promoting you,” he says.

That means referring their family and friends. Asking satisfied patients to write online reviews, or providing them with several business cards to distribute.

“There’s a Starbucks right here in our plaza,” Greenstein explains. “When my staff goes there, they’ll give a card to the people who wait on them. We try to make sure [our staff] are ambassadors and help spread the word.”

He and his staff routinely ask new patients how they learned about the practice so that the practice may thank the individual who provided the referral. But Greenstein also acknowledges more can be done in this area.

“Before the Internet and social media, back in the days when yellow pages, mailers and coupons were the only way to meet new patients, we had three phone lines and one of them became our marketing line,” he says. “Whenever that line rang, we knew it came from the yellow pages ad or a coupon. But today we should be better at keeping track of where new patients come from.”

Outside the Box

In real estate, everything is about location. That’s one of the challenges Mizner Park Dental also faces. The practice is located on the third floor of an upscale shopping plaza with no signage above the shops.

“We’re buried upstairs,” Greenstein says. “I’ve bugged [the landlord] for years to give us a sign; even a little sign in the elevator, and they won’t. It makes me crazy.”

Crazy like a fox, that is. Greenstein and his colleague have a marketing car; a Fiat that is wrapped with the practice’s logo and phone number, and they take turns driving it around town.

“We try to park it in front of Starbucks, because there’s a lot of traffic there.”

And then there’s Greenstein’s comedy show, which he doesn’t specifically use to promote himself as a dentist, but the residual benefits are clear.

Back in the early 1990s, local restaurants and bars would put up a microphone one night a week and call themselves a comedy club. Greenstein began doing comedy bits making fun of dentists, insurers, and the like, and one day he was spotted by staff from America’s Funniest People television show.

“They wanted to film me,” he recalls. “I came in second and won $5,000. They had a public relations team, and that got me press locally.”

Greenstein went on to win a local fundraising event for multiple sclerosis called Boca’s Got Talent, and that earned him even more publicity. He has since been on National Public Radio, entertains at dental meetings around the country, and finished second in a contest promoted by Colgate called America’s Funniest Dentist.

“It’s an unorthodox way to meet new patients,” he says. “I often mention my phone number during my act—in English, Spanish and French.”

Solid Backing

Mizner Park Dental also engages in a wide range of traditional methods of recruiting new patients, including renting booths at local health fairs and community events, and having staff on hand to distribute small handouts, talk about teeth whitening, and engage the community.

“You have to have staff behind you,” Greenstein says. “We attend these events maybe twice a year. Sometimes they’re great, and sometimes they’re a dud. But two years later a new patient might come in, and when I ask how they heard about us, they say they still had the card from our booth at the health fair. So, you never know.”

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