What do you do in a rebound year? How do you take full advantage of it, and reap the benefits for years to come? In this episode of Dental Marketing Mastery, Mark and Howie explain how an upturn changes the dental consumer’s spending habits, how to market to these new behaviors, how to ready your office for the upswing, and more.
- What happened in February of 2017?
- The resurgence of elective procedures
- Consumer confidence
- Are you blocking yourself from the upcycle?
- The scheduling changes you need to make
- Changing your marketing message
- Dealing with capacity issues
- Are you overbooking?
- Adjunct promotion
- Getting a marketing plan that makes sense
- Avoiding the stop and start mentality
- Turning a 1 year rebound into a 9 year rebound
Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by DentalWebContent.com 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: Hello, everybody. Welcome back to our podcast.
Mark: Howie – you’re back?
Howie: I have returned. So I’m glad to be back.
Mark: Where do you go tell everybody where you went? Because there’s
Howie: No man I had a great trip
Mark: Had 400 emails over the week that said, Where the hell is Howie?
Howie: I flew up to the Olympic Peninsula, Seattle area to meet up some old buddies mine. Some of us go back to high school. And we had a nice Fourth of July. picnic kind of a thing and played a couple rounds of golf and adult beverages were consumed.
Mark: All right,
Howie: it was great. It was good to see everybody again.
Mark: Oh, so like a like a reunion?
Howie: Oh, yeah. A reunion with my close friends. Not the entire class.
Mark: Right. Right. Right. Or a reunion without all the formality and real napkins under your fork. I get it. I get it.
Howie: Yeah. Yeah.
Mark: So anyway, what’s our topic for today? Howie?
Howie: Well, I think we were talking about the subject of a rebounding economy. And I would just, you know, it, it depends on what numbers you want to look at, or who you want to listen to, is the economy better or worse, or what’s going on. But I think it’s indisputable that consumer confidence has gone up. And that usually drives an uptick in the economy. And I think that’s what we’re seeing now. So I think we wanted to talk about how do we handle this, you know, because we, we gave advice on what to do during the downturn and the depression, recession that now that that that seems to be turning around? What, what’s next for dentistry?
Mark: Yeah, cuz, here’s what we’re seeing we, we gather numbers from clients, you know, then we have clients that were in a lot of US markets, and we don’t really, you know, choose who we look at who we don’t look at it, just you know, some people send us their numbers, some people don’t. And when you look at the numbers, and you compare them from, you know, this year to last year, I’m almost I mean, it looks like almost everybody’s up double digits. So, when you see that, you go back, and you say, all right, well, you know, eight years ago, or nine years ago. The latter part of 2008, Howie and I don’t know how many articles or how many seminars we gave on how to manage your marketing through a down and economic downturn.
And if you actually go and look at the stats, you can find them on Google pretty easy. The dental industry shed, you know, 20 $20 billion, you know, between 2008 now, and I’m that’s that, you know, you all everybody listening to this shared in some of that, you might have shared a little bit, you might have shared a lot, it might have felt like you were sharing a lot. But everybody listening to this podcast shared the economic downturn, and we gave specific, very specific things to do to manage the downturn. And now, there’s an upturn. There’s a rebound. So now, it’s not so much about managing your marketing during a downturn, it’s about leveraging your marketing during and up cycle,
Howie: Kind of exploiting it, right?
Mark: Yeah, absolutely exploiting it, because it’s out there for everyone to exploit. And we, you know, far too few dentists to do it. And it really doesn’t cost more money to exploit, you just have to use the money more wisely. So let me give you some background. I’m one of the key indicators was this past. February, there was an announcement made that nationwide, home values had found their median price point prior to January 2008. In other words, took nine years for all of that loss to work itself through the financial systems. And to get home values stabilized get inventory sold down to wear on homes are now valued. Equally. Okay. All across the nation. This is this was a; this was a pretty big deal. In other words, it was a point in time where homes weren’t losing any more money.
Howie: Right, right. Because, you know, pretty much everybody, especially here in Vegas in 2008. You know, everybody was upside down,
Mark: got shredded, because
Howie: I just got hammered.
Mark: All right.
Howie: And now, you know, I’m no longer upside down. So it is, but it’s bounced back. But it took cheese all that time,
Mark: right, nine years. So what so you say, “Well, Mark, we’re not selling houses, we, we sell dentistry, we provide dental services. Why does this matter to me?” Well, here’s why it matters a great deal to you. People looking for more elective procedures, have a habit of maxing their credit card and paying it off with home equity. And for the last nine years, they couldn’t do that. And usually sat there wondering where all the big cases were? Well, the need or the want, or the desire to have a new, beautiful smile that didn’t go away. The availability of funds went away.
Well, now that home values are back to a level playing field and in some markets increasing in many markets actually increasing in value. People can tap Home Equity and pay off credit cards again, somebody some of you are sitting there going. Yeah, you know, last five or six months, I think I did do a few more bigger cases. I know why. I just thought to myself, Wow, that’s cool. Okay, well, from a macro economic standpoint, that could be why it could be your patients now have access to the funds, they need to buy what you sell.
Howie: Right? And they’re also not as nervous about borrowing money.
Mark: That is also true. And we’re not in a political environment for a presidential election
Mark: where nobody did anything thing. Nobody, nobody bought new lawn mowers
Mark: just watch their grass grow, right? What is sitting, but that ended and the consumer confidence rebounded and the home values on created a median point. And you take all those things all working together. And what you have your many of you I know, I know you’re experiencing x, I’m looking at the numbers. Many of you are experiencing an uptick this year, some of you well over double digits. And when you see that, it’s time to do a couple things. The first thing is looking at look for any barriers that are standing between you and exploiting this up to up cycle. Because there they are out there because I also see them in the numbers. Okay, so we’re going to explain that, um, and then specifically how to explain it.
Howie: Yeah, it’d be a good time for us to go away to a break. But we’ll be right back. You don’t go away now. Okay.
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Howie: Okay, we are back. Let’s continue the discussion here about how to handle a rebounding economy.
Mark: All right, the barriers. Alright, so here’s what we see production, up 10, 15, 8, 19, whatever. But it’s almost every one of these practices is up. And I’m not talking about a startup or a third year practice. I’m talking about, you know, practices that have been around for 15-20 years, and they’re not really doing anything that much differently than they were the previous year only this year, all of the sudden, everything’s okay.
So when we see that the first caution we give our customers is pay attention to your capacity. And well, because of online dental appointment scheduling, we can now actually log on to our clients offices and see when the next available appointment for a new patient is and we’re seeing them getting booked further and further and further and further out. And what will happen if you allow that to happen is you will absolutely squelch the exploitation of the uptick.
Another thing you need to do a spotlight again doesn’t you know, have to have online scheduling, but um, you may want to shift focus of your advertising more toward maybe 60% family 40% elective, that would be a good mix, right? Instead of all family, which is what you what we instructed you do during the downturn. Now, maybe the marketing message you’re putting out there turns into about 60% family benefits, and about 40%. Collective
Howie: right, because the neglect that has happened as now you know, the chickens have come home to roast, and people now have the money to fix the things they neglected during the recession.
Mark: Right? So how do you get your capacity opened up? Here’s how you do it. You take an average number of new patients that you’ve seen over the last six months, and you say okay, the average is, let’s say 20. And you figure All right, well, in order for me to exploit this market, I need to add about four new patients a month to that. So I’m going to have 24 appointments in my schedule pre blocked for new patients. And I’m going to offer them the most popular early mornings, early evenings perhaps right at lunchtime appointments that every other patient wants. But I’m going to pre block them in my schedule so that when people go online to make their first appointment, they’re available to them. And when people call to make their first appointment, those appointment times are available to them.
Mark: That is not going to take care of all of your capacity issues instantly. But it will absolutely help probably for 90 to 120 days, if you pay attention to how many new patients came in, and you simply add 10 or 15% and pre block those into the future. Watch what happens, you’re going to end up with more new patients. Because what here’s what we get as a marketing firm, Hey, Mark, I can’t get off this 20 I can’t get off this 24 Hey, Mark, I’m stuck at 40 new patients a month. My marketing is not working. It’s not working. So I can get 60. And then we look and we say well, a new patient can’t get in for two and a half months.
Mark: Of course, you’re never going to get the 60. I’m surprised you’re a 40.
Howie: I, I just talked to a client of ours just the other day long time client, and he was saying the same thing. And I didn’t. So we went and listened to some of his phone calls. And we discovered that, you know, the person answering the phone and said, Well, we can’t get you in until you know, down the road six weeks or eight weeks,
Howie: , there’s your problem.
Mark: There’s your problem. What are you expecting people new patients are not going to wait. Right?
Mark: So whether you have online scheduling with us or you don’t, or you have your website with us, it doesn’t matter. Okay? when people call or go online to make their first appointment, they expect to be able to be seen within eight work days. You need to make that happen in order to fully exploit this uptick. Because that’s the biggest barrier is you’re actually putting your own we had a wonderful lady doc from the Washington DC area, her office manager emailed us yesterday or today and said, Hey, we want to increase we liked it the quality of these patients, we want to increase the volume because you know, a year or so from now we want to get an associate. Okay.
So what did I do? I went right online and went on to their website. And they after tomorrow morning at 8am, they can’t see a new patient until August 3. So how many? How many new patients are going to wait? Right? So anyway, I don’t want to belabor the point. But you have to pay attention to your capacity, whether you’re scheduling them on the telephone scheduling them online, or both new patients have to be able to be seen within a workplace, if you don’t your whatever additional marketing dollars that you’re going to allocate to your dental practice marketing, I’m not going to say you’re wasting them. But boy, you’re certainly not exploiting them.
Howie: Well, you’re putting them at risk, perhaps,
Mark: You know, yeah, you’re putting them certainly at more at more risk. Now another thing that we have, there’s tons of dentists out there, who are our clients, and they’re obviously 99% of the dentists out there aren’t our clients. Right? So the advice I have for them is Well besides be our client, obviously, is now is the time now right now, right now is the time to get a marketing plan together, that properly aligns your assets, avoid your liabilities and dental office marketing plan that you can that that creates consistency, where, where it doesn’t, it almost doesn’t matter.
If it’s September and you had a down month or it was October and you had a great month, it just keeps going and going and going and going you keep your eye on capacity. As long as that marketing plan keeps going and going and going, you are going to exploit this uptick.
Mark: You’re going to be the doctor in your market. Now. Here’s the other side of that we have tons of fee for service practices and we have tons of clients who are in you know mostly fee for service maybe they participate with Delta or what have you. We are recommending to all of them to do adjunct promotion during this uptick. Now adjunct promotion might be okay we handle their dental office website we do their SEO maybe we do. Maybe we do PPC campaign with good with for them and we handle their internal promotion. But um, you know, the doctors may be 55-60 years old and wants to do a whole bunch more new cases while the you know, the associate handles the bread and butter of the practice.
Well, if you promote 60% family, that’s bread and butter if you promote 40% elective that’s the main owner doctor. And if you do that through adjunct promotion, an example would be a page magazines. There’s it’s not nearly as cost prohibitive, you might think it is ok. But if you do that, if you expand your marketing in an expanding market, you’re going to exploit the market if you do it properly, so if you’re a dentist out there that that doesn’t have an orchestrated, managed arm cohesive, I don’t know what other adjective to say.
You don’t have a marketing plan. That makes sense. Right? Get Why? Because what will here’s what because if you don’t here’s what here’s exactly what happens. You’re going to ride this, this, this upswing, and then it’s going to turn and you’re not going to be prepared for when it turns. If you ride this upswing organized, orchestrated, properly done marketing. There is no end. Okay,
Howie: It’s just like we used to say during the during the recession, I mean, when the good times are rolling,
Howie: Dentists will stop marketing because you know, they don’t need the new patients and
Howie: The turn inevitably comes again. Oh, now they’ve lost all that momentum.
Howie: They’re scrambling to get their marketing act together. And we always preach, just keep it steady through good times and bad.
Mark: Exactly. And those are the same people. Those are the same Dentists Howie back in ‘09 and 2010 we’d look at the same reports. And we’d say okay, you’re down 6% against the dental market. Dental markets down 18%.
Howie: Yeah, they were up.
Mark: Okay. Yeah, well, against the dental market. They were way up. Right. So to the dentist, they thought this isn’t working. And to us, it’s Oh, no, Hell no, this is working. You just don’t know the other side of the story. Right? So this is the same thing only like a positive same thing. This is where you get excited to finally have, you know, a cohesive orchestrated marketing plan with a with a plan, right, with, with timelines, with projects with, you know, that’s all laid out that this is the time that you get to exploit. I don’t know if any of the dentists listening to this were around during the cosmetic dentistry heydays between 2003 and 2007. But it was shooting fish in a barrel. You know, there’s 150,000 dentists in the country. 140,000 of them is became cosmetic dentist.
Mark: Okay. And, and so the same thing happened when the craziness was going on with housing values, right. Everybody had equity to tap into everybody went out and got cosmetic dentistry with their credit cards and then paid it off with home equity. They did that for four to five or six years until the cover came off while now this all has to rebound over the next eight to 10 years. This is not good. This rebound is not going to be well. I’m not an economics soothsayer. But it’s in America. It’s one of the best markets in the world. The dental market is that’s why there’s so much speculation money in it. And you guys just had a bad nine year run. I fully expect a great nine year rebound. So anyway, that’s what to do in or in during a rebound.
Howie: Great. Well, we hope you’ve enjoyed our podcast today, and we will look forward to seeing you again soon. Thank you.