These days, it’s not enough to simply provide quality general dentistry services. Your practice is competing in a tough market filled with gimmicks, specials, and patient extras, so you need to set yourself apart from the pack to attract and maintain the patients that are so critical to your practice revenue. Branding can give your practice the boost you need to rise to the top of any prospective patient’s list–and keep your existing patients engaged and loyal!
Why Branding Matters — In Dentistry
Let’s talk about branding and why it matters. Branding is more than a logo. It’s an experience that is conveyed in every area of your practice. It encompasses your purpose, your values as a dentist, and the experience you want to provide your patients the moment they walk in the door.
So what does good branding look like? Here’s two examples you might recognize.
If you have one in your area, you’ve probably seen their long lines and packed dining areas. What is driving the demand? Lots of places have good chicken and good fries; what makes the restaurant so popular? A large part of their popularity is their cohesive brand experience. They are friendly and accommodating, and greet you at the door, responding to every request with the signature “my pleasure!” Their lengthy drive-thru lanes run fast with strategic moves like sending employees out during busy times. They provide consistent quality in their food so you always know what to expect. This experience can be found at nearly any of their restaurants and is consistent across all staff. They have created a solid brand.
You can see a similar strategy with the drive-thru coffee chain Dutch Bros. You do not even step foot inside a commercial space, but you know they are fun, friendly and fast. They hire gregarious teenagers to take your order and they are trained to ask you friendly questions and talk to you as you wait. They organize their lines to move quickly by taking orders before you get to the window and having you pay before you get there. Your cashier asks you about your day and compliments you while serving your drink. Like Chick-fil-a, this is a cohesive experience you can expect at almost any location. In short, Dutch Bros. has also mastered the art of branding.
Now, you might be asking: What does fast-casual dining branding have to do with dentistry? The answer is that their core branding principles are replicable in dental practices and can help you achieve your own level of popularity with your existing and future patients. Based on the examples above, here are three key principles you can apply in building your own brand for your dental practice.
1. Decide the Core Values of Your Dental Practice Management
The first brand principle to apply is to determine your dental practice’s core values. What sets you apart from other practices? Do you cater to families? Support complete health treatment? Do you have a caring, friendly team (more on that in a minute)? Do you give back to the community? What is your vision? What is your purpose?
Once you know what drives your practice, you can begin to infuse those values into your daily operation. Here are a few questions to help get your wheels turning:
- How do you want your patients to perceive you? What takeaway should they have when they leave your office?
- What sets you apart from other dentists and makes you special?
- Do you want to appeal to certain audiences in order to get the type of patients you desire? Can you sincerely convey their values? Do they align with your brand?
2. When You Hire a Dynamic Team
You can be the hardest working dentist in the business, but if you don’t have the team you need to back you up, your practice won’t achieve your goals. Employ a team that is friendly, professional, and knowledgeable. Hire a team that is dedicated to imparting the core values of your practice.
The catch with hiring good talent is ensuring you have a desirable workplace. Those values you just worked so hard to discover? They aren’t just for customers! If your practice is healthy on the inside, it will shine through to your patients. Create a workplace that attracts top talent and hire team members that will help you achieve your practice goals through personifying your values in their work. A united team is a huge part of successful brand-building.
3. Create a Positive Patient Experience
Most people avoid going to the dentist out of fear or a lack of education on how important dental health is to their well-being. Still more patients avoid the dentist because of negative experiences in past visits. Dissatisfied patients often point to long waits, rude staff, unempathetic hygienists, and a host of other just plain bad antics. In other words, very bad branding. Like any other business, you want to give your patients a positive experience every time they enter your offices.
Here are a few tips for building positive associations with your branding:
- When your patient walks through the door, they should be greeted in a timely manner.
- Your waiting area should be clean and comfortable with options like bottled water and universally friendly programming on the television (avoid news shows, crime shows or other potentially disruptive programs).
- Do not make patients wait a long time to be seen. They already do not want to be there, do not give them a reason not to come back. If they make the effort to be on time, you have to reciprocate.
- Make patients feel comfortable and heard while they are in the chair. Address concerns and instruct all staff to pay attention to how their patient behaves while being treated. Many patients won’t tell you they’re in pain, thinking they can wait it out or that they don’t want to be difficult. It’s up to your team to check if they see a patient is grimacing or showing other signs of distress.
- Set their next appointment as they leave to show you care about keeping their care consistent. This is also convenient for them.
- Bill accurately and in a timely manner. Thank them for their business on all billing materials and payment receipts.
- Send friendly reminders about appointments and cleanings. Make sure communication is non-judgmental and not overwhelming — don’t spam your patients.
The purpose of these actions is to build a positive brand image. Your practice is on time and listens to patients. Your practice removes the common barriers that deter patients from coming back or referring your practice to their friends and family.
If you’ve been looking for additional ways to give your practice a boost, consider the brand image you are conveying to patients and take steps to make necessary changes to propel you toward success.