Strategy Tag Archive

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e-Reminders Reduce Missed Appointments

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No one needs to tell you that time is money and nothing undermines your practice productivity more than missed appointments. The good news here is that technology, when properly implemented, can reduce your practice no-shows substantially. E-reminders, that is reminders sent via email and/or text message, are much more effective and less costly than postcards and phone calls. Furthermore, most patients actually prefer electronic reminder to phone calls.

How does an e-reminder system work?

There are a multitude of solutions providers to help your practice implement e-reminders, but here is a typical process with recall appointments.

  1. When your patient checks out for their current cleaning appointment and schedules their 6 month recall, they will receive a “Save the Date” email immediately. This email increases the probability of the patient adding the appointment to their personal calendar.
  2. A week before the appointment, the patient will get an automatic email reminder and/or text message reminder.
  3. The day before the appointment, the patient will get an automatic email reminder and/or text message reminder.
  4. The day of the appointment, the patient will get a final text message reminder.

Naturally, most systems allow you to customize the time-frame parameters and frequency of e-reminders as well as default to a phone call system when you do not have the patient’s email address or a phone number that accepts text messages. The biggest advantage of most of these systems is they are implemented automatically by your service provider. That means that your staff will not need to spend time running reports, making phone calls or printing reminder cards and can focus on tasks that require their personal touch.  Not only are e-reminder systems more effective than phone calls, they are much less costly.

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How can your practice use Facebook and Twitter to get referrals?

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Even if you don’t use Facebook or Twitter, I’m sure you are aware of what they are. If you happened to live under a rock for the last few years, Facebook and Twitter are websites people and businesses use to share what’s happening on a day to day, hour to hour, and yes, even on a minute to minute basis.

So what are the chances your patients or potential patients use these top social media services? I’d say pretty good considering Facebook has 1.06 BILLION monthly active users and Twitter has reached over 500 MILLION total users! Don’t kid yourself, this isn’t a fad. These numbers will continue to grow.

Here are some ways to increase your effectiveness on social media websites:

1.) Brand it. Having the same color scheme, name, and messaging across all platforms ensure that your entire online presence is using one cohesive marketing strategy. Social media is an extension of your business, it should represent that.

2.) Link it. Make sure the icons are up on your website and visible for all to see. It only takes 3 seconds for someone to hit a button and you’ve gained a new outlet for referrals and engagement.

3.) Use it. Content is King. If you have a page sitting there for weeks between updates, what’s the point? Demonstrate your expertise, what services you offer, and interact with your patients. Finding the time to answer a question or interact is important to build strong relationships. Interesting articles, funny pictures, news about your office, and special offers all go a long way to keeping your patients engaged.

4.) Put it to work, even when you aren’t on it. The way the Facebook news feed and Twitter retweets work, people out of your “network” will still see their friend’s activity on your pages. If Sally likes your status, writes a positive review on her wall, or shares your post, all her friends see it. Social media is responsible for 70% of patient referrals because recommendations from family and friends carries more weight than any other information source.

These are just a few basics to get you on the right path. Some practices decide to spend the time themselves while others opt to use an outside source to help engage their patients. Whichever you choose, keep in mind the upside of having a cohesive, active, online presence, and have fun with it!

VivioSites is a premier provider of dental websites, advanced search engine optimization, and social media management packages. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to help your practice get new patients anyway we can. Call us at 800-227-2513 or visit www.viviosites.com.

 

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Don’t Confuse Indecision with No Decision

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Food for Thought is our way of sharing interesting concepts on corporate leadership and management with others who might find it useful. The thoughts offered are intended to be controversial and thought provoking. They always follow our motto of helping develop logical leadership.

Do you or your organization find yourself wanting to make a decision and not being able to do so? Do you find that you have gathered all the data you can get, considered the options but can’t decide which way to go? Is that indecision or lack of a decision? We offer a distinction. Indecision is an individual’s inability to make a decision. “No decision” is the organization’s confusion as to how a decision is going to be made. Both are harmful to the organization.

Decisions that have a deadline force a conclusion. Should we extend the lease or find new space? Should we make a tax-efficient investment for this tax year? Should we hold a Holiday party? These questions have deadlines and a decision is put off until, and made by, the deadline. In contrast, decisions that have no deadlines often lead to indecision. Should we open a branch in that other town? Should we hire an additional marketing professional? Should we invest in the development of myself or my people? In most of these situations you are convinced you should do so eventually, but wonder if now is the right time. Leaders sometimes spend considerable time thinking through the issue, often spending more in the cost of their time than the cost of any risk they might undertake in the decision.

Indecision is usually the result of an individual’s unwillingness to take risk. Usually they have considered all the options but are unable to predict how the future will unfold in order to evaluate which option is best. Decisions are actions taken today whose validity will only be realized when the future unfolds. In fact, if the best option for a difficult decision becomes self-evident, you might well be accused of procrastination! The best way to deal with indecision is to have a self-imposed deadline, preferably declared publicly. Also useful is to recognize that you can make an overt decision not to make a decision until a future deadline. Again, such a deadline should be established and declared publicly. These techniques force you to minimize wasted time and yet bring closure.

A lack of a decision is often a bigger organizational problem. You often find people in the organization claiming, “No decision has been made on that issue.” What it really means is that they have no clue as to who, how and when a decision is going to be made. Whereas indecision is usually a characteristic of questions without a deadline, a lack of decision can be found in both questions with and without a deadline. A lack of decision is really an implicit decision to let the default status quo prevail. Lack of decisions maintain status quo and inhibit change in the organization. Organizations become stagnant and slow to move.

Arguably, decision making is the most common activity of management. Organizations must have a clear decision making process. The leader of the organization should establish the process and promote its deployment throughout the organization. While we have our opinions on the various decision making processes (see Consensus is a Road to Mediocrity), any process is better than no process. For a full discussion on four styles of decision making (Consensus, Democracy, Authority and Command) contact us for a full length article.

Both indecision and lack of decision is harmful to the organization. Much time is wasted discussing issues that yield no conclusion. The leader is responsible in both cases: for their own indecisions and the organization’s lack of decisions.

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Re-activate Non Responsive Patients; Technology that Pays for Itself

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Action Run is an online e-service that contacts and re-activates non-responsive patients. This is not a new idea, what is new are the tools that ActionRun has developed and applied to this task.

Early attempts to use digital technology to re-activate patients simply automated the tasks we had sought to do with paper records. That is to look up patients who have not been seen in a couple of years and then send them a notice. A slightly more sophisticated application could scan uncompleted treatment plans and send messages to those people which could even include a motivational note.

However, a car is not merely a faster horse. To truly take advantage of the power of digital technology we can apply tools that were just not possible with paper records; tools that essentially mimic the thought processes of a human mind

Here is a really simple example. The computer examines records and discovers a patient who had a root canal completed on a molar but has no record of ever having a final restoration placed on that tooth. The system knows this is a potential problem; with no intervention from a human operator.  The patient is then contacted and advised to return for treatment.

I am working with this company because I believe that they are using sophisticated digital technology in creative ways. For example with Action Run: Data is retrieved from your dental office computer and is analyzed (mined) by a sophisticated system online (in the cloud). Based on over a million transactions a self learning system (artificial intelligence) identifies a patient needing treatment. Based on his/her need the patient is contacted (data base marketing). All your office staff needs to do is answer the phone when the patient calls to schedule (automated e-service)

Two additional items to note: Early users have had amazing success with an ROI of six or seven to one. That is for every dollar they invest in the system they get six dollars in increased production. Second. These kinds of creative systems can be used in many areas; re-activation is just the beginning.

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10 Tips To Grow Your Dental Practice

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Most dentists I talk to have a strong desire to grow their dental practice. Many have even hired so-called SEO guru’s, website designers, local ranking experts, and consultants, but with very little success.

With the competitive landscape for most business niches, dental is no different. You can’t have a piece meal marketing approach. You must have a strategy (plan) that is all-encompassing, covering all facets of both online and offline marketing, that work cohesively together, to get more new patients.

Below are what I consider the top 10 critical marketing elements you must have in place and work on consistently to grow your practice and be the leader in your locale.

1. Lead Generating Website

Notice how I didn’t just say website, I said “lead-generating” website. There’s a big difference. Of the hundreds of dental websites I’ve reviewed, I can only count a handful that are truly designed to attract new dental patients.
Unfortunately, web designers are not marketing experts. They are building their portfolio to attract more design or creative customers, not businesses that truly need leads. Unless they have a internet marketing background, it’s not wise to spend the $3,000-$10,000 on a website that does not convert.

2. Dental Blog

This could be part of number 1 above, but I am making it a separate category, as it is a crucial piece of your marketing pie. You see…a blog allows you to produce and publish valuable content that both your visitors, and the search engines love.

This will result in higher search engine rankings, and a perceived leader (authority) in your special niche of dentistry, whether it be veneers, invisalign, braces, implants or any other high transaction value cosmetic procedure.

3. Video Marketing

Youtube is the second largest search engine in the world, and more people are choosing to search and watch videos as opposed to reading text. This, as a dentist, gives you a huge opportunity to implement a video marketing strategy that will position you as the expert, making the decision to hire your much easier.

The only problem I see is many dentists who have a youtube channel, but have not optimized it, or any of the videos to get more eyeballs. This ends up being a waste of time and money. Allotting a budget to have a video marketing company or consultant come in and do this for you is a wise business decision.

4. Reputation Marketing

This is an area that is exploding online. More and more people are making their buying decisions on social reviews. You’ve seen these before. You do a search, and google shows local business listings.

Right in the listing, you’ll see a link to reviews. This is where people go immediately to read about the business. Are there any reviews at all? Are they positive or negative.

There is an entirely separate service for cleaning up bad reviews, and gaining new ones. As time goes on, businesses are going to be investing large amounts of money into their online reputation.

5. Local Listings And SEO

More and more people are searching for local services. If you don’t have a google+ local page that is optimized with images, videos and offers, your competitors are going to easily outrank you and get all the phone calls.
Focusing on local seo and business listings is a wise decision of both your time and money. If you’re not found when your potential patient is looking for you, you lose!

6. Mobile Marketing

Take a look around you. Everyone is buried in their mobile phone. Texting, talking, skyping, you name it! Mobile marketing is exploding! Did you know that over 60% of local searches are done on the cell phone. Next year that number is expected to grow to 80%; and the following year (2014) it is said, mobile search is going to exceed desktop search.

With those types of numbers, you better “get mobile”.

Again, there is a specific marketing approach that you must take if you want your mobile marketing investment to pay off.

7. Email Marketing

They say “the money is in the list”, and I tend to agree.

It’s standard now to get patient email addresses, but what most dentists are missing is getting the email addresses of their website visitors. This is a massive lost opportunity that I would say 90% or more of the online dental websites are missing out on.

There is a specific strategy to maximize this approach. It can be a time consuming, time-sucking method, and one that I would recommend most dental practices hire out to the professionals who have experience in this.

8. SMS Text Marketing

Above we already mentioned mobile marketing, and text messaging is a close second. In fact, many marketing professionals would say text messaging goes in the same category as mobile marketing, but I beg to differ.
There are companies now that only offer SMS marketing. You may or may not need a separate company to achieve the results you’re looking for, but just imagine the ability to send appointment reminders for example. Very powerful stuff!

9. Facebook

We all know how big facebook is. Over 1 billion active users! If you do not have a Facebook marketing strategy, you are losing out on a huge potential goldmine of prospective patients.

This is another area I’ve seen with hundreds of dental practices who are doing it all wrong. There are so many strategies you can implement just with Facebook, that it would take 5-10 hours per week just for this.

10. Social Media

Social media is evolving all the time! With Twitter, Pinterest and now Instagram your demographic (teens) are there. They are tweeting to their friends. They are uploading to Instagram. Pinterest is the fastest growing social network in the world, and it is a fantastic opportunity for you to pin your before and after pics, as well as any other event you have going on in your practice.

But…the key to all this is to optimize what you’re doing for the best SEO results. If you don’t, you’re wasting time (and money) doing it, as you won’t see results.

These 10 tips (strategies) I’ve listed would take easily 40 hours or more a week if implemented completely. That is why you should consider a marketing firm, or consultant to do it, as we are the professionals, and can get you a better ROI than if you had a staff member “try it”.

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