How to Encourage Consumer Spending
Keeping our patients happy, is vital to business success.
During an economic slowdown, businesses may struggle to stay afloat because consumer confidence and spending power wane substantially. Dental Offices are a small business so we have to rely on business strategies to stay in the black. Some practices may reduce prices on their services drastically but this isn't always the best move because patients may come to expect sales prices on all visits. It's better to come up with some creative marketing ideas to keep the patients you have happy, and not let them out the back door. While at the same time enticing new patients to come through your doors.
Analyze the data. What areas of treatment are you doing? What areas are weak? Are you selling products? If not why? What courses did you take last year to advertise, such as Six Month Smiles? What will you add this year? Focus on what needs attention the most so as to not blindly throw solutions at the problem. Study the figures to ascertain the "when, why and how" of the economic downturn and its direct effect on your business. Then, craft an action plan on how to address those issues. For example, if hygiene numbers are down, run an advertising campaign that focuses on how health is necessary and not a want but a need.
Offer VIP memberships or frequent-buyer cards that allow for discounts or other incentives. These types of programs not only reward the loyalty of your regulars but also track their spending habits. Knowing what your patients tend to expect can help you cater to them better. You can sell specialized merchandise not found in stores but products your patients need to continue with treatment at home. You can keep popular-selling items better stocked so patients don't continue with treatment. Another promotion that could increase traffic involves offering customers a discount or small gift if they bring in a friend who ultimately signs up for your offices program or purchases for home care products. Provide education with all products, and if you are providing treatment with the need for home care, add them into the original treatment plan. Let patients that travel that every three months you can mail those refills. Many older patients go to the warm weather, so have them leave a credit card on file, and send them the products. What a win win!!!!!
Know your demographics and focus your advertising on them. During a down economy, it's better to focus your ad revenue on patients who are more likely to need your services, as opposed to placing ads in periodicals that may not cater to that base.
Make your customers' shopping experience special. You have piqued their interest, and now it's time to make your practice stand out. Provide complimentary refreshments at the door or services such as free delivery for home care products. Let them know you are on call for anyone in their family for any issues that may arise. These patient-service initiatives will give people more reasons to practice, plus, you'll stand to benefit from positive word of mouth.
Utilize social-networking websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. These sites make it easier for you to reach your target audience for free. Post specials and information online that will encourage people to follow your Twitter feed or Facebook updates. The majority of people today spend a vast amount of time online thanks to smart phones and laptops, and once you've built a following, they'll be eager to keep an eye out for the information on specials, and education that helps them stay healthy.