For the past few weeks our team has been diligently working to find the best practical solutions to not just “get by” but remain as profitable as possible during and after this time. We are constantly learning new things and receiving many helpful updates from the community that have proven very useful for us and our clients, and I want to return the favor by sharing the top things that we are seeing can make your practice as profitable as possible during and after Coronavirus.
Given the ADA recommendation to solely accept emergency cases, the single best thing you can be doing right now is going/calling around to all the local hospitals, ERs, and emergency clinics in your community, find the owner/operator/CEO/head of the hospital, and telling them you’re taking on emergencies and want to help, and to have them send those patients to you. Right now, these centers are getting a ton of emergency dental cases (depending on the city/community) and don’t have the ability to give them proper care. Much of the public assumes that dental offices near them are either closed, or they view them as somewhat risky in terms of sanitation, when in fact statistically the opposite is true. Your local ER centers and hospitals can easily be persuaded to send those patients to your practice for emergency care.
Speaking of accepting emergency cases- we have a few strategies you can use to assert yourself and your office’s brand as the primary emergency practice in your community. This is something you very much want to do your best to achieve- making sure that your practice is known right now and going forward as THE best place for emergency dental care. We’ve done studies on this at our own offices, and dollar-per-dollar you will make more from emergency cases, even when considering lifetime patient value, than you will from hygiene- if you are providing a great patient experience. Why? It’s on average 3x cheaper to acquire an emergency patient than it is a hygiene patient. Almost all markets are saturated with messages from dental offices wanting you to go there for your hygiene treatment. If you can add to that branding that you specialize in emergency care (bonus points if you have weekend or extended hours) you will most likely see a big jump in new patient volume. Furthermore, if you provide a great experience we typically see about half of these patients come back themselves as long-term hygiene patients, or provide some sort of referral. I hear the stigma often that emergency cases are “one-hit wonders” but from statistically speaking this is actually not the case, and they can be the single most lucrative kind of patient you will see.
The data is clear that over 80% of all people looking for emergency care are primarily using Google to find the right practice, and this behavior is especially true now that everyone is in quarantine. Screen time on mobile phones has shot way up, as has desktop use as people look to the internet for essentially everything. Here’s how you can take advantage of this.
Thinking as a potential patient for a moment, if you chip or crack your tooth, you’re most likely not going to take the time to call around to friends and family for a good dental recommendation. Even if you did, you’d still want information on location and office hours. In short, you’d do what most everyone does – you’d Google it. That said, it’s incredibly important to make sure your Google My Business (GMB for short) profile is up-to-date with your current hours and contact information, and I highly recommend writing out a message speaking to the fact that you are exceeding all sanitation guidelines set by the state and federal government, and your office is fully equipped to handle whatever dental emergency need a patient may have. This is also a message you can turn into a post on Google My Business, very similar to how you would post on Facebook or another social media platform. You can access and update your GMB profile at business.google.com
That said, the single most lucrative thing you can be doing right now is running an inexpensive Google ads campaign targeting emergency patients. This is the #1 thing we are doing right now for our offices that is allowing us to remain profitable. When you Google “Emergency Dentist” or anything for that matter – the top 3-4 results are ADS! They are not “organic” results. Why is this so important? Because even if your website is in the top spot organically on Google for these search terms (meaning it’s the best it can possibly be without running ads) the highest it can ever be is position 4.
Given that the vast majority of searches take place on a phone, you actually have to SCROLL DOWN before you get past all the ads. Most people obviously don’t do this and end up clicking on the first, second, or third listing (I like to put ads in the second slot because a lot of people avoid the first slot thinking it’s an ad and click the second, not realizing it is also an ad) – Running Google ads is not easy, and you need to make sure you have the right partner running them for you, but they are the single most lucrative thing you can be doing right now outside of communicating with your local ER centers and hospitals. I am happy to help point anyone in the right direction when it comes to either finding a partner to run these ads, or learning how to run them yourself.
You also want to update the messaging on your website. You should talk to your current web company/marketing provider to make sure your hours are updated on every relevant page on your site, and that you have a clear and concise statement as to how patients should communicate with your office (Should they still call the same number, or your cell phone? Can they still message you through the Contact for on your site? etc.) You’ve probably spoken to your phone provider by now and updated the message on your voicemail, but ensure that all of the profiles with that phone number are updated everywhere they appear on the web (Facebook page, Google My Business Page, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.) I recommend having a pop-up or top banner that appears when you first visit your website that has a statement similar to the following: