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Evolve or Die: Is Your Dental Practice the Next Kmart or Amazon?

by Graig Presti

❝Success is a lousy teacher. it seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.❞

-Bill gates

Kodak. Kmart. Blockbuster Video. Three companies that were once at the top of their respective industries. And now, they’re a little more than the butt of a joke or punchline to a cautionary tale… one that revolves around corporate complacency and the belief that once you figure out the secret to becoming fat, rich and happy… it will last forever.

Spoiler alert: It doesn’t.

For example… Kodak, a company whose business centered around the production and sale of film, actually invented the digital camera. Then out of fear, they stashed it away in the closet in a futile effort to safeguard their existing product revenues. Meanwhile, leaner and more aggressive companies who paid more attention to changing technology and advancing consumer preferences brought their own version of that camera to market, and Kodak lost out BIG TIME.

Double that for Kmart… a retailer that sold household products and clothes for low prices, and did it great for decades. That is, until an online upstart called Amazon leveled the playing field and made it so that consumers had easy access to those same goods at equally low prices… but didn’t even have to get off the couch.

And finally, Blockbuster Video. Some people, including their executive board, believed it would be around forever. I mean, they had tons of movies – dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of VHS cassettes! How could you ever replace that variety and convenience? Along came Netflix. Instead of hundreds of titles, they had thousands! And, those titles were available on demand with the click of a button on your TV, computer or even your phone! Netflix was the company that was more agile and able to adapt to customer demands faster and easier.

In case you were wondering… yes, this applies directly to your dental practice and its current state of affairs.

Every industry evolves and changes, and dentistry is no exception. Over the last several years, I’ve seen more practices get buried than I’d care to admit. Most of them coming to me asking for help, but it was just too late. Whether getting steam rolled by corporate behemoths or blindly relying on outmoded and obsolete business strategies, like "wordof-mouth" only marketing, especially when younger millennial dentists are investing heavily in Google, paid online ads, the internet and cutting edge technology. Meanwhile, the "old guard" continues to just drag on with the same ol’ dusty new patient strategies.

❝Too many doctors believe that "What used to work will keep me successful forever.❞

The undeniable truth is that our industry has changed, and does so every day. Doctors who have "old world" thinking are getting squeezed out daily (along with their beloved staff) and wind up closing their doors or selling their practice for WAY under market value just to stop the bleeding. This is proven by the fact that the Journal of the American Dental Association has reported that fewer dentists own practices now than a decade ago.

If you’re a regular reader of this column, you know that I never leave you hanging. In fact, I don’t like to waste your or my time talking about failure. Instead, let’s talk about how to avoid it.

Even better, let’s talk about how certain independent and solo dentist practices have figured out how to crush their competition and make their practice BULLETPROOF in this new economy, especially when it comes to attracting the younger breed of quality patients called Millennials!

More than 30% of Millennials have untreated tooth decay which is the highest of any age group, and the Millennial Generation is larger than the Baby Boom generation and three times the size of Generation X, numbering roughly 77 million; Millennials make up about one-fourth of the US population (src: Nielsen). The Millennial Generation (as controversial as it is) brings with it the opportunity to attract an entirely new crowd of Pay, Stay, and Refer patients.

Dentistry has witnessed a sea of change, and a huge part of it has to do with how doctors present themselves to potential patients. This is especially true when it comes to your online presence, or as I refer to it… your "Google house." You can utilize these best practices to capture the eyeballs of prospective new patients searching for a new doctor.

Dentists like my client Dr. Chris Hawkins in Burleson, Texas have learned these methods, and are consistently landing 60-80 patients per month and over $100K PER MONTH in production as a solo dentist!

SO many consumers now rely on opinions from other people like them via Google. As a result, you should be spending the bulk of your time, effort and marketing budget influencing them in a way that’s sincere, honest and direct. Word of mouth is dying and 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. ( src: ReturnPath)

I want you to learn how to leverage online marketing, social media and Google so that when a new patient is deciding who is their "go to" dentist, you’re at the top of the list; a respected professional who will treat them with care and concern.

How will they know this?

Again, it’s other patients who will tell them. Not some smudgy Yellow Pages ad or discount coupon in their local ValPak envelopes. Those are techniques of an industry that’s been on life support for years, and it won’t be long until they’re dead and gone. Don’t be like Kodak, Kmart, Blockbuster, or anyone who refuses to read the writing on the wall. You HAVE to adapt to changing times in order to stay in business.

The bigger overall lesson here is “inaction and indecision.” Remember more harm is done by indecision than bad decision.

The facts for this occurrence are simple (but ignored by 99% of dentists who refuse to change)!

1. Corporate dental practices invading cities and breaking private practices over their knees in a matter of months, regardless of market size (urban or rural).

2. Patients spending less money than ever (hoarding cash due to economic uncertainty, looming economic policies, employment uncertainty, and a new unproven president).

3. LARGE private mega practices buying up everything in sight, including market share.

4. Young Millennial dentists who know how to market their practice in this new modern economy.

5. Insurance manipulation and domination of the market place.

6. Dental practices lose 12% of their patient base each year and have no marketing system in place to replace these patients year over year. (src: ADA)

I want to help you put an action plan together to get your practice moving in the right direction. Do NOT be a stick in the mud, who refuses to change. This year can be that year for change. Let’s do it!

3 Things You Need To Do:

1. Clean up your Google listings immediately. Without fail 99.99% of the thousands of clients that work with us come through the door with multiple practice listings on Google.

This is problematic for a few reasons:

• Google views you at trying to “game the system” to gain more exposure and ultimately won’t show your practice or will remove you permanently.

• Your patients either can’t find you to review you and/or get confused because they see multiple pages and get frustrated, confused and overwhelmed, so they don’t leave a Google review.

• It just plain ’ol looks bad because most times the doctor and practice names are misspelled and/or contain misinformation. No patient is going to accept treatment from a business that can’t organize their own brand name online.

2. WARNING: Do NOT ask every patient for a Google review and do not automate your Google review process. This is how negative, 1 star reviews typically happen from people that you didn’t know were unhappy.

We know who our happy patients are, so we simply have to ask them through simple scripting and systems that use their smartphone to review you right in the chair! The doctor needs to lead by example and the entire staff need to be “hand-in-hand” on this because getting 5 STAR reviews on Google is a team effort and before you know it you’ll be at over 100+ reviews and counting!

3. Start getting “6 STAR Reviews.” What are “6 STAR Reviews”? They are emotionally based patient videos describing their amazing experience with your practice.

Now these aren’t your “typical testimonial” video that you see most practices use, and are not clinical videos that make patients eyes glaze over.

“6 STAR Reviews” are Youtube videos that are real life stories from your best patients bragging about you and the reason they’re so powerful is because you can’t fake a video review; it’s a real live human describing their experience. It’s extremely powerful especially for larger case acceptance and people who fear the dentist.

Anatomy of a Patient ❝6 Star Video Review❞:

Keywords – Any 5 year old can post a video these days, so you have to have proper keywords and optimization for your patients to see the video. Make sure you include the keywords for your services and area!

Emotion Based Response – The patient should describe their experience unscripted and natural (ie. “Since having my dental implants placed, I can now smile in a family photo and go out to eat without fear of being embarrassed.”).

Youtube Channel Branding – Set up a YouTube channel and make sure to have your channel setup properly with full contact information, image branding and website information. Most dental practices have this setup improperly or not at all!

Remember you lose 12% of your patient base (national average) to the attrition of moving, death and disatisfaction, etc… so no shows and cancellations hurt even more on top of this, so please use the tools above and start to keep more of those satisfied patients coming in the door!

Graig Presti is founder and CEO of four-time Inc. 500/5000-recognized company Local Search For Dentists™ (LSFD) located in the heart of the tech mecca, Austin, Texas. Local Search For Dentists™ is a full service dental marketing agency that has helped thousands of dental practices just like yours gain dominance in their local markets and attract new patients with proprietary online marketing systems that have helped thousands of dentists achieve more freedom, greater new patient numbers, and the ability to reach their income goals.

Local Search For Dentists™ (LSFD) has ranked on the national Inc. Magazine Top 500/5000 FASTEST GROWING COMPANIES list for the FOURTH year in a row! Only 10% of companies can say they’ve achieved this because it means LSFD has been recognized four times as one of the most reputable, fastest growing and most successful companies in the country, and the main reason for their success is the direct success of their clients.

LSFD clients success always comes first, no questions asked. Exclusively for The Profitable Dentist Magazine subscribers…. Claim YOUR FREE & PERSONAL…“New Patient and Referral Magnet Formula™” & Double, Triple (or even quadruple) Your New Patients & Referrals In Less Than 120 Days!

If you’ve ever felt… confused about how to get more new patients and referrals more consistently… frustrated with marketing that rarely works or at best works inconsistently… worried about your practice not consistently growing and feeling like your process is constantly 1 step forward and 2 steps back… perplexed about why even your best patients still seem to avoid referring their friends and family to you as much as they should and as much as YOU DESERVE…

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