In order to attract more new patients or to motivate existing ones to commence with treatment, you need to either become a rain-maker or acquire one. A rainmaker is someone who brings more business to any organisation and provides the opportunity to increase their income. They literally make patients rain on you!
They come in many guises including the principal, the manager, and the nurse and even better the entire team. And be under no misconception that it is impossible to have the entire team be rain-makers because it is a tried and tested fact that the use of certain motivational strategies can indeed convert all into rain-makers! In reality, it should be the responsibility of any person within the business who comes into contact with patients to identify, attract and keep the patients.
In his book “How to Become a Rainmaker”, Jeffrey J. Fox discusses at great length how people in business can grow at substantial rates by using these sound principles effectively. Dental practice owners can also benefit from this shrewd concept since they too are business owners and thus need to develop these business skills. Creating rain-makers is the single most important task which will directly help to take the business forward.
We would have no business if we were not able to attract patients. We would not even have the opportunity to provide the kind of care we wished to, be that cosmetic dentistry or any other differential. Keeping this in mind you may say that your yellow pages advertisement is doing great, but have you considered how you were going to entice these new interested people to actually become patients of the practice for keeps? For this extremely important job, you need a rain-maker. The rain-maker is the person who is going to make the money spent on any form of marketing actually worthwhile
The good news is that rain-makers are not born, they are made. And there are certain strategies you can use to create rain-makers and make sure you are maximising your money if you want patients to rain on you:
- Make sure you have a well researched Marketing Plan in place. But more importantly, make sure you have a prioritised list of how you are going to execute that plan. This will not only make efficient use of your marketing budget but will also maximise your exposure to the population in the most efficient way that is possible for you. For example, why would you want to conduct a marketing activity in a holiday period, when there aren’t many people around to notice it.
- Consider all types of marketing, not just advertisements in various directories. Most of these aren’t working efficiently because the actual message is hidden by the cosmetic appeal of the piece; your message is cluttered up by too much competition or the target audience is diluted.
- Create a practice that would appeal to new patients. A small portion of your budget should be spent on the development of your ideal practice and this does not necessarily mean you have to spend a huge amount of money. Simple ideas such as fresh flowers in the waiting area or serving tea and coffee to your patients. Anything which automatically becomes a talking point for your patients once they leave. If you are very adventurous you can even try creating a spa-type dental practice……they are not very difficult to do.
- If you feel you are increasingly becoming frustrated at attracting new patients despite all your efforts, one good idea is to simply STOP for a moment and take a step back and review your situation. Almost like taking a bird’s eye view of your business. Sometimes when we are so focused on achieving something we become very tunnel-visioned and subsequently miss opportunities that lie under our very noses. So sometimes it is better to simply recalculate your action plan.
- Once you have given direction to your entire force into acquiring new patients it is extremely crucial to monitor your efforts. Otherwise, you may find you are running around in circles not actually getting anywhere.
- Once you attract a new patient then you need the rain-maker to communicate correctly to that potential patient and invite that patient to stay and become a patient of the practice.
- Time spent training and gearing up the entire team to meet patient expectations is definitely not wasted effort. It will save you a lot of money in the long run, because you can make sure your marketing plan is actually being met at the end of the line.
- Build yourself up with a good reputation. This can be for your expertise and knowledge and skill of work or it can be for providing an exceptional experience for your patients. Create talking points for your patients so that they can go away and rave about you to other people – other potential patients. A referral by word of mouth is often the best kind of marketing strategy you can invest in – it is more likely to work and is very cheap.
- Patients often have no real idea of how good they may be as a dentist. When they come to see you and agree to be seen by you, often they only understand how good your marketing has been. This is what they use to build an expectation level in their minds. For this reason you not only must deliver what you have promised in your marketing but also if you exceed that expectation level then you will really create raving fans of your patients and they will refer their family and friends to you. Hence new patients will rain on you!
- Finally, take note of how many of these new patients are actually going ahead with treatment or are they leaving after they have has time to consider what your practice is all about. If the number of new patients leaving, to those going ahead with care is significantly different, then you need to take a closer look at what your rain-makers are doing. Rain-makers must also make money rain.
Rain-makers make marketing money count
Considerable forethought needs to be applied to this concept. You need to make sure you are actually sending your message and that you are not obscured from patient visibility. Take a look at a directory and lookup for example plumbers. Which one would you choose and why? The exact same principals would apply to your business. So set yourself up with dynamic criteria for advertising. For example, is your advertisement an eye-catcher?
Explore other avenues to put your message or your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) in. This is the unique services that would compel patients to come to you over other businesses in the same industry as you i.e. other dentists. Why should they come to you?
Once you have discovered your USP you can then decide what methods or what marketing activities best suit your target audience. These can include social networking, direct mail, media or even participating in local business networks. This is a great opportunity for use of your imagination.
Often new patients make up their minds within the first three minutes or less of meeting you whether you are the practice for them. For this reason, the first contact any new patient has with your practise should be with a rain-maker. Especially since currently most new patients are also window shoppers, often with no idea what they are looking for! With the correct communication skills, the rain-maker can convert a potential patient to an actual patient booked in your diary.
Another facet of this skill is to have someone with excellent communication skills, correctly trained, to answer the telephone when new inquiring patients call. Do not underestimate the power of an initial telephone conversation.
The Rain-maker Ethos
- Listen to patients and discover their needs
- Seek first to understand then be understood
- Teach patients to want what they need
- Provide your patients with a little above expectation
- Thank each patient sincerely and often
- Help patients to pay you so they won’t be embarrassed and go elsewhere.
- Learn how to continuously make patients feel at ease and comfortable
- Talk to them about their lives and build a friendship.
- Understands personality types.
- Give more than you get – provide excellent service no matter what
- Treat patients as you would yourself – give high value
These techniques discussed are the main differences between what would differentiate an ordinary practice from excellent practice. All dentists are well trained in the science and most do reasonable dentistry, but the differentiating factor in today’s world is the ability to understand marketing and ultimately to understand how to provide the service of dentistry. Once this concept has been acknowledged you can then create rain-makers to convert all potential new patients to long-standing loyal patients of your practice.
Thereafter…………..Let new patients rain on you!