The problem with racing to be the “cheapest” is that you just might win.
You do the math: If the dentist in this picture has discounted their crowns in an effort to keep the door hinges from rusting shut in this new economy – even 10% – that means to make the same money as before he or she is going to have to see 10% more patients, work 10% percent longer, and will have to then account for 10% higher expenses… and that’s just to break even.
We see this slippery slope all the time now that the economy is in its third year of stagnation. With the projected GDP to grow at only 1% during the next one to two years, and the real unemployment rate at 22+%, it’s no surprise that new money for dental services is likely to remain tight within household budgets, and dentists wishing to remain profitable must find a way to attract the patients “with cash in their pocket.”
Remember the tale of selling ice cubes to the eskimo’s?
We had a call from a dentist client last week who was “slow” and wanted to send out a marketing piece offering $50 off an introductory visit. Most dentists going down this path end up frustrated trying to sell dental care when all their new patients want is the “cheapest.” Our experience the past decade marketing with dentists has found time and time again that those who respond to that type of marketing will jump from dentist to dentist to get the free stuff, and will never spend any money on the restorative & cosmetic “big case” services.
Do you discount to the point of reducing profit margins, using less costly and inferior materials, working longer hours with fewer staff, holding off investing in the latest techniques, or rushing more and more patients through your week? What about your long-term plans… how do you justify steep increases in prices and fees to just get back to normal? Do you think you can regain that ten or twenty (or more) percent and not lose patients at that time?
The slippery slope of discounts for the sake of patient numbers has implications for a very long time. Yes dentists, like many businesses, have to do something creative to maintain or grow in this new economy. But the race to cheap is not the only and certainly not the best solution!
There are businesses, and that includes dentists, that are thriving without discounting; up thirty percent, up 56%, up twenty-six percent: Those were some numbers I just read and were even reported on Bloomberg this past week.
What Was Their Secret?
In all cases they had two things in common:
2. They recognized the important role a good marketing strategy can provide, and they had the foresight to keep investing in what works
Many businesses, not just dentists, make the mistake of cutting back their marketing and advertising budgets during slow times. That’s understandable, but it leads to making poor choices, like “discounting.”
This also leaves the door wide open for dentists who can position themselves as offering quality services, maintaining a “steady as she goes” image, and grabbing what is available… and there is always business available for those doing exceptional work AND marketing with the right message…
We all know it takes money to make money. So why do many dentists think that they can get away with bypassing that age old rule of Business 101 by scaling back their advertising and reducing their prices?
As a business owner you have a choice to make: Do you discount yourself into longer work weeks and falling budgets hoping more work means more money, or do you wisely make the decision to move ahead with a strong marketing position, a strategic plan, and a unique selling proposition (USP) that can be filled with all of the necessary tools for broadcasting your message?
What’s your niche?
Many dentists operate in the mindset that “your patients choose you as their dentist.” So what kind of patients are going to choose you when you are competiting to be the best (lowest) price? Successful dental practices choose the patients they want.
By only marketing to attract the types of patients & cases you want, you can stay profitable in this new dental economy without discounting and without working 12 hours a day 7 days a week.
There are things that can be done to promote your dental practice that gets you noticed by the patients YOU want.
Consider these Facts:
90% of searchers won’t look past page 1 of the results page, according to Google
71% of searchers will visit the websites ranked #1, #2 or #3, leaving the lower ranks to fight for the scraps
85% of local searchers will follow up with a phone call or visit to the listing that stands out best
A dental practice without a dominant online presence is losing patients
Give our awesome sales guys a call to learn more at 888.741.1413 and get your marketing back on the fast track to finding the new patients that YOU want.