It’s Like August Every Month by Lina Craven

‘It’s like August every month’ a client tells me during a conversation earlier this year. ‘August is the busiest month for us at the practice and during this so-called zoom boom era, it is like having an August every month!’

However, having had another conversation with the same practice only last week, the language and tone used are different. There is concern that self-referrals are down and that the conversion rates are lower and harder to achieve. The same goes for practices I have been working with during this quarter.

We always knew this was going to be the case. Didn’t we? This exaggerated amount of people knocking on your doors to straighten their teeth was not ‘normal’ and whilst this was a fabulous opportunity for the dental industry during harsh times, we always knew this was temporary.  So yes, I agree referrals are down and conversions a little harder to achieve but only down from the numbers we saw during the covid era. In my opinion, they are levelling back to what we saw prior pandemic times. Furthermore, other global circumstances happening now will also have an impact on these numbers going forward. My apologies, not what you want to hear but it is the reality.   

What should practices be doing (if not done so already) to prepare for the year ahead? 

Here is a list of some of the priorities I have been working with my clients:

  • Know your numbers. Accurate patient data is crucial not only to understand the current situation but to set up realistic objectives going forward. Totals for enquiries and treatment starts, knowing your average conversion rate and having an up-to-date list of pending (or waiting to be contacted) patients should be on top of your priority list.  When I asked a client last week how she was getting on gathering the data needed, this was her response: ‘Tightening up on the girls’ reporting as it’s nowhere near as accurate as we thought it was’.    
  • Key staff with key roles. Determine which staff will be best suited to help you with ‘specific’ objectives. For example, a Treatment Coordinator is not only responsible for all new patient consultations, but they are key to getting the patient tracker up to date, following up and reporting on a weekly basis. Another example is a social media champion. This is someone in the practice who will look for ‘specific’ engagement opportunities and pass them on to the relevant parties (I recommend rotating the social media champions every few weeks). A strong set of individuals working alongside you and the team is a priority.
  • Marketing strategy for every three months. In my opinion, there is nothing like patients referring other patients but realistically it isn’t as easy as it sounds but definitely not impossible. I am a strong believer that internal marketing and building relationships with current patients are crucial for longevity. Part of this strategy also includes looking back at all the patients who didn’t start treatment in the last 18 months. Why didn’t they? Just because they didn’t then it doesn’t mean they won’t now or in the future. Your digital marketing strategy must be honest and exciting. Connecting with people emotionally and most importantly ethically, should be priority number 1.
  • Adapt your mindset. This is true for principals, associates and staff. All negative thinking must turn into positive actions. And it all starts at the top! Your staff will follow (some slower than others) but they will.  
  • Set realistic objectives. Once you have the above priorities sorted out, set realistic objectives with specific deadlines and outcomes. What works best for my clients is when we set quarterly strategies with specific month-to-month objectives to work towards. I urge you to be realistic. Review and move forward.  

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. There are many other factors that will alter each practice’s priority list. My objective was to tell you, ‘Hey, it will be OK’ as long as you stop and assess where you are and carefully plan where you want to take your practice next.

Article by Lina Craven


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