In this episode of Dental Marketing Mastery, we discuss dental call tracking ROI. Why is it important? How do you get the actual numbers?



Podcast highlights:

  • Do patients lie to you?
  • “We don’t need call tracking”
  • Gaining actual insight into patient sources
  • What is the EXACT source of a new patient?
  • Dental call tracking budget
  • Listening to calls
  • Dealing with staff pushback on call tracking
  • Increase ROI for less than a penny
  • Evolving systems and communication
  • ROI ancestry trees

Podcast Transcription:

Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by and New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again, as my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Howie: Well, hello, Mark, how are you today?

Mark: I’m wonderful, Howie. How is it back in August in Las Vegas? Is it Is it cool there?

Howie: It’s still a little bit cooler. The temperature plunge to 102 yesterday. So

Mark: excellent. Were you able to go outside?

Howie: No, I stayed inside.

Mark: That’s a good plan. Good plan.

Howie: Today, I think I think we started talking about return on investment.

Mark: Return on investment with the analogy, wrestling a greased Piglet with chopsticks.

Howie: In other words, it’s pretty hard to get hold of this as a natural.

Mark: That’s right. It’s really difficult to get a hold of it. Yeah.

Howie: And it and it, there are reasons it is hard to get a hold of right?

Mark: Oh, no, there’s tons of reasons. Yeah, no, no, no, there’s no and they’re all good reasons. Yeah. It’s just that every dentist listening to this believes they have a handle on it.

Howie: Exactly.

Mark: Exactly. And I’m and invariably we become the bearer of bad news.

Howie: Yep.

Mark: And it’s almost sometimes can get confrontational.

Howie: What do you mean? Well say.

Mark: Yeah, exactly. What do you mean? What do you mean, Mary at my front desk isn’t perfect. Right? What do you mean, she doesn’t think what everything in the database? What do you mean, she doesn’t ask every patient where they What do you mean, my patients lie to me? Right. But the dentists are making incredibly important business decisions. Based first on data on data that they believe they control on data that they believe they collect.

And that is, let’s say, they think it’s 80% accurate. And that’s okay, if it’s a Hey, if it was 80% accurate, I’d be okay with it. Right, you know, making decisions from it, that would be great. But the reality again, is, it’s not. And we have to jump in and say what will back up, back up, back up. Hang on a second. I’m there, you’re the most common response we get is, I really think my staff really does a great job asking the patients how they found us.

Howie: Right.

Mark: How many times in the last 27 years have you heard that, Howie?

Howie: Yeah. We don’t need call tracking because, you know, we keep we keep track of it.

Mark: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Howie: And it’s accurate.

Mark: It’s accurate. Okay. Alright. So now, dentists normally have never worked the front desk of a busy dental office. So, they may not realize that maybe half of the new patients are asked how they found you. And I know you have a form and, on the form, it says, How did you find us? And I know you know that that is blank at least half the time and I know that dentists right now are going yeah, he’s kind of right. It is blank half the time because the dentist looks at it, the dentist looks at it.

The front desk is probably peeling some kid off of the ceiling fan in the reception area, why she’s answering the phone on hold with an insurance company and trying to take the payment from the three hygiene patients who are backed up at the front desk and you’re going to you’re going to be you’re going to be angry at the person at your front desk because they didn’t have the patient with the new patient fill in that form properly know not, because your front desk person is busy with 19 other things. The reality is, is that you don’t get source information on every new patient that comes into your practice. Now, here’s another reality. Half of what your patients tell you is a lie.

Howie: Or just incorrect.

Mark: Well, it’s a lie. It’s a lie. I mean, come on. It’s out of laziness. And it’s out of forgetfulness. So, it’s not like a bad lie. Like you would say No, Mom, I didn’t need those 13 cookies. It’s not It’s not that kind of lie. Okay. But it’s still a live. You if you don’t know when you give an answer. It’s still a lie.

Howie: Okay.

Mark: All right. So, you know, and dentists are sitting there on the end of this podcast thinking now my patients don’t lie to me. Okay. Go back into your dental management software and do a search referral product, productivity by referral source analysis report and tell me how many of your patients said yellow pages in the last five years as the source of their new patient experience? And I bet you’re not in the yellow pages? Oh, yeah. There are at least five patients who have lived here. My point is, is that there’s no nothing in it for the new patient to be accurate. Nothing.

They can say whatever they want. And they will say however they want Yellow Pages, my friend, I forget my friend’s name. I’m go I googled you. That’s, that’s a famous one. I googled you, dentists love to hear that because they give, they give the credit for that new patient directly to their dental office website. Right?

Howie: Right.

Mark: All right. Now, here’s the other problem this creates. Now let’s say that this example practice is doing a combination of online and offline promotion. And let’s say a patient comes in and says I google found you on the web, Google. Yeah, they received your ad either in the mail in the newspaper, what however, you’re promoting your dental practice.

Patients are going to tell you the last thing they did and they’re never going to remember the first thing that triggered them. Okay, so far, we have empty referral fields in your database. A front desk person who you must admit sometimes gets too busy to remember everything. And patients who lie to you. Yet the dentist will call me and say no, I’m 100% accurate. It’s a myth, it’s a mystery. It’s what’s that phrase? A conundrum wrapped in a, I don’t know, in a vortex, okay.

Howie: Enigma?

Mark: Yeah, it’s an enigma in a vortex in a conundrum being flushed down the toilet. That’s what it is. Okay. So, the reality is, is that none of us know the exact source of every new patient. None of us do. Let’s all agree to that, so that we can work on this together. Okay. Because before you go invest x thousands of dollars on your next marketing campaign, don’t you want to know at least within reasonable tolerances how it’s doing? And I think the answer everyone would say is well, yeah, of course, I thought it was, well, half of this podcast is to get you to admit that it’s not. And the second half is to tell you how to maybe start to rebuild it. So that you do still not going to be 100% accurate.

But it’s going to be a heck of a lot more accurate than it is right now. Okay. So, your first step is to go back to all the where all the problems are. The first step is to put dental call tracking numbers on any of your external promotion that costs you more than 10% of your annual budget. So if you have a dental office website, and you had, let’s say, external dental direct mail marketing campaign, or magazine campaign, or, or paid ads, or radio or whatever, whatever, your offline promotion and your website, you should have a call tracking number on both of those. One for your mail or one for your website at a minimum. Because it stopped there, Howie?

Howie: Well, no, it doesn’t.

Mark: It starts there, doesn’t it?

Howie: Yes. Why? Why would we suggest that a unique number on each outbound marketing device?

Mark: Well, when people call those seven numbers, then there’s a website that traps all the information, the date, The call came in the time The call came in, umm which number was dialed how long the call was, in some cases, who answered the phone, the location of the prospect, the prospects telephone number, in case you missed the call, whether or not you missed the call. And there’s all sorts of other analyses that come into a reporting website for every phone call that comes in from this advertising source.

Howie: Sounds like useful info?

Mark: It does. Okay, so remember, back to our example. You know, sometimes it gets a little crazy up at the front desk, well, okay. On it gets crazy up at the front desk. But if every new patient phone call was recorded somebody when it’s not so crazy, could go back, listen to those phone calls and go into the database and update the referral field properly. Couldn’t?

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Wouldn’t that be special? Right now? I’m sorry, go ahead.

Howie: There’s one other thing, you know, it can also point out to you that, you know, you know, for example, you get a phone call come in, and it’s, you know, two o’clock pm on Wednesday. At lunch, you’re open for business. And nobody answered the phone.

Mark: Oops

Howie: Oops, this can tell you that one tells you a lot of things. But it can tell you that your front end is probably overwhelmed. Yes. was at that point in time, right? Because Miss calls during business hours should never happen. But they do.

Mark: Right? That’s right. And I can tell the dentists who are listening to this podcast that all of you will get pushback from your staff, for having for having tracking numbers on your advertising. It’s the same concept as them never wanting a management consultant to ever come into your dental practice, they probably don’t want you or anyone else listening to the phone calls either. Okay, so I’m just letting everybody know that.

All right. So, you have to deal with that up front. But once you have the numbers, and people dial the numbers, and you record the information, and you listen to the interaction between your team and the and the person, the new patient on the telephone, and you know what day and time and you know which ones you missed. It’s funny, when a dentist doesn’t know they’re missing new patient phone calls, they hardly ever went. But when you tell them that they’re missing 13 new patient phone calls a month, they went.

Howie: Yeah, that’s wasted money.

Mark: That’s just yeah, you might as well just take hundreds, it’s sort of like going to Disneyland, just just get a Tissue Dispenser, take all the tissues out, fill it up with hundred dollar bills, and just walk around and throw it at Mickey and Donald. Basically, what it’s like you’re just throwing money away. Right? And that makes a dentist win.

Howie: You know, you know, Mark, you remember this? Sometimes during our live presentations, we’ll just ask for a show of hands in the audience. How many of you would like to increase your marketing effectiveness, your marketing ROI without spending any more on marketing than you are right now?

Mark : That’s right.

Howie: And of course, everybody’s hand goes up. Right. And, this and that we save this, what we’re about to tell you will increase your marketing punch by 20%.

Mark: Right.

Howie: And that in its in three words, answer your phone.

Mark: Answer your phone, right. It’s actually 18.8%.

Howie: 18.8 This is what we’ve discerned are missed calls missed.

Mark: Yeah.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Miss totally, completely missed. The only I mean, we’re experts we are, I don’t know where to tooting our horn here. But dentists come to us because we know how to get the top half of the dental market to react and come into their office, let’s just call it like it is okay. And the only thing that we create in our entire company that generates a phone call to an answer machine where the new patient actually leaves a message is our eight-page magazines. Every other thing that every other management or marketing company will ever do to produce new patient phone calls for you. When those new patients call and get the voicemail. They will hang up.

Howie: Yep.

Mark: Okay, they’re not calling back. Not unless they got our magazine. If they get our magazine only have a 25 Minute Message. Okay, but,

Howie: Yeah, yeah,

Mark: But, but still, I mean, magazines aside, the bottom line is, is you’re never going to get to our magazines unless you handle this first. So, let’s focus on handling this correctly first. If you have a day off during the week, and you’re not covering your phones, you’re going to see this show up and your call tracking. Right? Okay, you’re going to see 18.8%, 18.8% of all of the calls that come in new patient calls that come into all of our offices in an aggregate are missed. And they’re, they’re not being missed, because new patients are calling on Sunday mornings at 930. These are calls between Monday and Friday, you know, eight to five. So anyway, so now, but wouldn’t that be nice to know so that you can grow your dental call tracking ROI? Right?

Howie: Right.

Mark: Okay. Everybody says they want to grow their ROI? Well, you can’t just look at your advertising guy or gal. You can’t just look at your marketing company. Okay, some of this stuff, unfortunately, is you and your staff. Some of it is systems, and arguably some of it is communication. Okay? But we always focus on the system side first, if you can, if you can somehow stop 18 and a half percent of your new call new patient calls from being on answered and go into voicemail and having a hang up. Boy, that’s an that’s an advancement, that’s an improvement in an ROI immediately. And that’s always something that we would gravitate toward and, and, and put in front of.

Howie: Right. And it’s also a matter of what’s correct, what’s accurate, what’s real. If you don’t have a tracking service, and it doesn’t matter. I mean, we’ve got one for our clients, but there are other ones out there. But if you don’t have that, then you don’t have that that certainty. What will what those dentists will end up thinking invariably, is that there’s something wrong with the damn marketing, it isn’t working.

Mark: Right.

Howie: And they’ll and they’ll flit around. It would be okay. Now we need to try something else and now we need to try another company. And now we need to do this. And we need to get it all based on the fact that they don’t have an accurate picture of what’s really happening.

Mark: Right.

Howie: And so, you know, even our own clients, I’ll say, Gee, I don’t want I don’t know if the market is working. Well, have you have you taken a look at the phone calls? Well, no, they don’t have time for that. So, we go listen to them.

Mark: Right.

Howie: Right? And we find out Gee, Doc, you got, you know, x, you a new patient phone calls, and you only got one out of that, you know, it’s not the marketing, like a bunch of other stuff. But it isn’t the marketing, the phone’s ringing.

Mark: Right.

Howie: You just know it.

Mark: Right, right.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: And there’s, you know, there’s all kinds of things that that will spin off of this first podcast, because, you know, dental call tracking is one thing, covering your missed calls is one thing. There’s a company now, who will put a widget on your website and integrate with your practice management software, where new patients can actually book their appointment right there on your website, and it won’t double and triple booked them. It’s not like other systems, it actually integrates real time with your practice management software.

So, there might be an answer right there. That’s 24/7 365 coverage for new patient appointments from the internet. Right. So, there’s several ways now that we can help you begin to put together a real cohesive, orchestrated, properly functioning properly operational, overall total marketing plan, a total marketing plan is, is really honestly Howie it’s part us and part client. Don’t you agree? I mean, we have, we have clients that we’ve, we’ve blown the doors, the number of phone calls was, it was above our expectation.

Right, and you know, they’re in a one to 1900 market, we tell the doctor, well, it’s going to be a little better than average. And all of a sudden, boom, you know, just you know, call volume and call quality is just skyrockets. And a doctor calls and says, Yeah, I don’t know, I don’t know what I’m getting from it. I’m like, Oh, my God, he kidding me. You know.

So, this podcast, you know, and there’s, there’s all kinds of other issues, when you talk about ROI. This is the really the first ROI podcast will call this dental call tracking ROI, I guess, okay. But there’s going to be I can guarantee you, there’s going to be one on blocking new patient appointments, there’s definitely going to be some time devoted to not only blocking new patient appointments, um, but finding, finding that sweet spot of being booked out in the doctor book.

We have, we have many clients over the years, who got too full. And they didn’t really recognize it when it happened. And that’s a problem you never want to hear. You never want to market your way into a situation where a patient has to wait more than a week or so, to see the dentist. Okay. So, there’s a number we can talk about balance. And then we can talk about oh my god, the, the it’s like an ancestry tree of ROI.

Howie: Oh, yeah, that’s another whole subject.

Mark: A whole other probably two podcasts, right? They did that we will do for you. But it’s for this podcast here, here’s what you learn from this one. I hope this I hope this is what you’ve learned. Come to peace. I wish I could do like a; I don’t know. Um, you know, come to peace with the fact that you’re, your, your new patient source data is terrible. Just come to peace with it. Okay, because it is all right, come to peace with the fact that the person who works at your front desk probably has your best interest in their in their heart in their mind.

But come on, man, it gets busy up there, and they can’t possibly make sure at that one little field, the referral field in your database is filled in 100% of the time or accurate, come to peace with the fact that your patients lie to you, because there’s nothing in it for them to be accurate. There’s nothing in it for them to tell you the real source of them finding you. So, they make stuff up. I drove by whatever guy they don’t. So, there is no accuracy, even from your patient’s perspective. And even if there were, now we can get into measuring it, and you’re really not measuring it accurately or appropriately.

We basically just introduced you to this thing called call tracking today, which from an operational standpoint, systemizes the new patient sources into a database that you can analyze on the back end, where you can see your shortcomings, you can take action to close them up, you can follow up with new patients who leave a message on your answering machine on your day off just on the happenstance that you might catch them and be able to reclaim that new patient. You can set up your phones to be covered as well as you can, maybe you can put the appointment scheduler on your website to make it easier for new patients to make their first appointment. Get there, get to that point, because once you get to that point, we probably have two or three other podcasts for you.

Howie: All right,

Mark: That’ll, that’ll take you through to you know, separating out the real, the media types offline, online, what to expect from each as far as ROI. And then you have first line responders, referrals, tertiary production from all those, it just gets unbelievably viral. But it is incredibly important for you to understand how to measure it. Because if it is here, here’s why. If you don’t measure it appropriately, you will always just be disappointed with whatever advertising you do.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay? And it may not be the advertising. It may be the way you’re measuring it. And if you go through your entire dental career frustrated over the impact of your dental advertising, that’s just going to add stress to unnecessary stress to your life, you should be able to go through your career as a dentist, not worrying about how your advertising is doing. That’s the whole idea. Right? So, um, you know, this start and stop. You know, this didn’t work, I’m going to move on to this. I mean Howie brought it up before, that’s a terrible, terrible way to go through a dental career. So, with this podcast and the future podcasts on ROI, we’re hoping we can help you bridge that, bridge that gap so that your advertising is as predictable as humanly possible and creating a great return.

Howie: Great, Mark. Well, nice talking with you again today.

Mark: You got it, sir.

Howie: And to all of you out there listening. We’ll see you again next time.

Mark: Bye bye.

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