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Smart Buys

By Dr. Louis Malcmacher
Dentaltown May 2008

Throughout the life of a dental practice, marketing needs tend to evolve. At a given time you may need to attract new patients, improve case acceptance with the ones you have -- or quite possibly both. In my experience, 1 800 DENTIST has proven itself a great resource for all stages of practice growth. As a two-time Townie Choice award winner for Best Dental Marketing, they've helped thousands of doctors reach their immediate and long-term goals.

Founded in 1986, 1-800-DENTIST promotes the importance of routine dental care with national advertising campaigns on TV, radio and the Web. As a result, this free service to consumers is utilized by over 2.5 million people every year who are actively searching for a dentist. With a 24-hour call center and convenient Web site, people are matched with a practice that can meet their dental needs.

For dentists, 1-800-DENTIST provides a stream of fee-for-service patients who have been screened for everything from dental need and payment method to how long it's been since their last appointment. Their operators even connect callers directly to your front office whenever possible so your staff can welcome and appoint them. Contact information is immediately faxed to the office, saving time and enabling you to easily track your results.

I've also been impressed with how 1-800-DENTIST positions itself as a continual resource for both doctor and staff. Members are supported by an experienced Member Services team and have access to an array of tools -- including reference guides, patient dialogues, unlimited phone consultations and an entire suite of Webinars that feature prominent industry lecturers like Dr. Paul Homoly, Dr. David Hornbrook, Dr. Lorne Lavine and others.

It's important to note that 1-800-DENTIST is highly selective about their membership. Prospective member dentists must complete an extensive application, regularly provide proof of current licenses and insurance, and be in good standing with their state disciplinary board. Their Quality Assurance team then verifies this information on an annual or semi-annual basis. You may be surprised to learn that they also regularly solicit patient feedback, which, if needed, may lead to dismissal from the service.

All that said, what really sets 1-800-DENTIST apart from other marketing programs is their production guarantee. In most areas, members are guaranteed to earn in production at least what they pay in monthly dues, so there's truly no risk. And many practices report a 5:1 or better return on investment, which simply cannot be said for the majority of new patient sources out there. For doctors looking to get the most out of their marketing dollars, it's one of the best solutions around.

Of course, finding new patients is only half the story -- you also have to keep them coming back. To help improve recall and case acceptance, 1-800-DENTIST offers their internal marketing program, Patient Activator®. Their year-round communications, including full-color newsletters, educational recall cards, e-communications and unique patient intake forms, are customizable to your practice. With very little effort, your team can better educate your patients about all you have to offer and keep your practice in the forefront of their minds.

For doctors who feel that they're simply retaining patient files and not seeing the case acceptance they'd like, Patient Activator can help you communicate and educate your patients about dentistry and the latest treatments and procedures available in your practice. The goal of this program is to motivate patients to keep coming back and actively pursue treatment on a regular basis.

When considering your marketing options, I recommend leaving it to the professionals. Programs like 1-800-DENTIST and Patient Activator can expertly provide new patients and help move your current patients into complex care -- leaving you free to do the dentistry you love.

 
 
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