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  • Denise Ciardello

Don't just talk community

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

New patient acquisition is imperative to continue to grow a practice, whether you are just starting out or you’ve had your door open for 30 years. It’s the old adage, if you’re not growing…. well, you know the rest. We always need new patients walking through the door.

Hand in hand with patient attraction is patient retention. We constantly preach on the importance of patient retention since the cost to retain a patient is about 1/4 of the cost of bringing in new patients. Even if you do not spend much money on marketing, the time and resources are also a cost associated with new patients. Why spend money getting patients to come in the front door only to allow them to walk out the back door – figuratively speaking.

Would you be pleased to know that you can achieve both of these important steps in your practice with focus on one key thing in your practice – internal marketing? Just about every time I use the phrase – internal marketing – I get eye-rolls and hear “I hate to ask for referrals”. Yes, asking for referrals is one way to implement internal marketing, however, it is not the only way. Let’s take a look at why this is so important and also how easy it is to implement.

Internal marketing truly begins the moment the phone rings. How you answer, what you say and how the patient ‘feels’ are forms of marketing. If the patient hangs up the phone feeling like just another number, you have just given them the idea of how they will be treated as a patient in the office. A patient that walks up to the front desk and is ‘greeted’ without looking up or without using their name will not feel like a valued customer. On the flip side, a patient that is greeted with a big smile and a personal greeting, will feel welcomed in the office.

To continue this marketing focus, take some time to evaluate how patients are treated in your practice. Is there pleasant conversation as they are escorted to the operatory, while seated and when escorted back to the front? Patients appreciate explanations of the process

that will occur during their visit. Although it is old hat to us, our dental language is foreign to patients. Take the time to ‘dumb it down’ a bit to help the patient to feel comfortable with what to expect. These are things that we all know, sometimes it’s important to receive a reminder.

If you are totally bored with this article because your office is spot on with all these areas of the patient experience, then let’s take this idea just a bit further. When it comes to marketing, being community minded has always been on the list as a way to attract and maintain patients. However, that’s a bit difficult during the pandemic, since there are no little league teams to sponsor or dental health visits to local schools. What CAN we do remain community minded and support our patients outside the practice door?

  • Birthdays – we all have them so let’s celebrate them. We gather birthdays in our practice management software and most offices have a form of electronic communication with our patients. Combine the two and have automated birthday wishes sent out to your patients on their special day. I have seen offices take this even a step further and make a video where the team sings around a cake with a lit candle. Everyone receives the same message; however, it feels very personal. Are any of your patients celebrating a birthday during the week of their visit. Have a $5 Starbucks gift card inside a card signed by the team. “Take life, one sip at a time.” Some of the practice management software will pull these reports for you to ease the burden. How about that patient that is hitting a special number? They would love to receive a card in the mail from their dental team.

  • The News – you probably have someone listed in your local newspaper every single week. Did you see the picture of Little Johnny Jones at a local festival or having a drive-by birthday parade; or Betty Smith’s article about her promotion in her company; or even one of your patients listed in the obituary section. Cut it out of the paper and send it to your patient with a congrats or a condolence. If you are on active on Instagram &/or Facebook, take a quick picture and put it out for your dental family to see and celebrate with you and your patient.

  • Patient Spotlight – You have some very special people in your patients. They all have important roles in the community – health care workers, teachers, coaches, first responders, military, local or even national celebrities or athletes. Many of your patients would be proud to be have their life’s work spotlighted on your Instagram &/or Facebook page.

One of our clients has an all-female team and is focusing on spotlighting females within her practice weekly. She is calling it Wonder Woman Wednesday. (Dr. Anna Ashley – you rock!)

This idea could go to the national theme of the month –

  • February - Black History Month

  • March – Women’s History Month

  • October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

You get the idea.

This pandemic has caused us all to be distanced from our communities. However, the world is still turning and special people are still doing special things. Let them know that you appreciate them and what they do. At the same time, you will be spreading the love of what they do to your community. It’s when you do things for other people without expecting anything in return, that you are truly being community-minded.

I am sure that you could come up with even more ideas that would spread the community love and I would love to have you share your thoughts with me and my community.

Until then … Be Good, Be Kind and Do Community.


Denise Ciardello, Consultant

Denise is co-founder of Global Team Solutions. A professional speaker and published author, her enthusiasm and knowledge about the dental profession has helped many dental teams. She brings experience, insight, and creativity into her management style, along with a sense of humor. In a profession that can cause anxiety in some dental employees, Denise’s consulting approach is to partner with doctors and team members to help them realize the dream of creating a thriving, successful practice.

Denise can be reached at:

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