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One-third of dentists are offering patients promotions or discounts, revealed a Wealthy Dentist survey. For some, it’s a part of normal dental marketing, while others are feeling the pain of a tight economy.
February 19, 2009 (San Francisco, California) One out of three dentists is currently running a sale or promotion on dental work, found a survey by dental practice marketing resource The Wealthy Dentist. Many feel they have no choice in the current economy, while other are concerned that offering discounts may cheapen the perceived value of dentistry.
As part of normal dental marketing efforts, some dentists always run discounts. Said a Washington DC dentist, "We're running dental promotions, but no more than usual." These dentists often promote their offers via email patient newsletters or direct mail marketing.
Some dentists report good profits from running sales. "One ad offers $100 off any dental service. Another ad is good for $50 off every $500 you spend," said a Colorado dentist. "'Free whitening for life' is not bringing any returns as an ad, but it works well as an in-office patient referral system. Another offer that's working is $1000 off on any Invisalign case, with up-front payment."
The current economy has left patients with less disposable income to spend on dental work (particular elective cosmetic dentistry procedures). "I just raised my fees," said an Ohio orthodontist. "Things are never as bad as they seem or as good as we'd like. Panic is the worst management philosophy possible."
With finances tight these days, many dental practices offer discounts for cash. "We routinely offer a 5% courtesy for payment up-front," said a Texas dentist. An Arizona dentist reported offering discounts of "15-20%, but only for those without insurance. It has made a difference with people getting the work done, as they feel they are getting some help with the economy."
There are any number of ways to offer discounted dental work. "We are offering new patient exams, x-rays, and cleaning for $49," reported a Utah dentist. "25-50% off surgical placement of dental implants. It has worked well!" raved a California dentist. "10% -20% off Lumineers, Zoom laser whitening, implants, etc. with payment at start of treatment," said another general dentist.
Dental practices often offer discounts to attract more new patients. "We're offering practice entry discounts just to make it easier for patients to come in the first time," said a Washington dentist. "We offer free consultations on implant cases, then try to wow them." Cautioned an Illinois pediatric dentist, "Discounting only works if you are trying to attract new patients."
Tooth whitening discounts are relatively common. "Whitening is now $50 off," said a Missouri dentist, while a Tennessee dentist reported, "We've discounted Zoom whitening by $100." A Utah dentist reported offering free teeth bleaching to members of their Care to Share patient referral program.
Some dentists worry that discounting dental work could cheapen the profession in the eyes of consumers. "For higher-end practices, you have to be careful so promos don't come off cheesy," warned a Pennsylvania dentist. "I think it cheapens dentistry," agreed a Mississippi dentist. "I already do free Lumineers consults which require time. I love cosmetics and implants and provide both. I just can't sell it as well as others…"
New patient exams are one of the most frequently discounted dental procedures. "We routinely offer new patient discounts on comprehensive exam, cleanings, and tooth whitening," said a Maine dentist. "In December, we offered a $39 prophy for new patients as a limited-time offer. Hate to do it, but whatever it takes to stay afloat in this economy!" A Virginia dentist shared, "A new patient exam with x-rays is $140 off – regularly $289, now $149."
"Sales and discounts are a great addition to a dental marketing campaign," said Jim Du Molin, dental management consultant and founder of dental website The Wealthy Dentist. "Rather than cutting fees across the board, dentists can attract new patients with appealing initial offers."
Du Molin invites readers to visit his blog at http://www.thewealthydentist.com/blog/723/discount-dental-care/ and comment on this survey.
Visit http://www.thewealthydentist.com to learn more about other Wealthy Dentist surveys on topics such as sedation dentistry, dental implants, cosmetic dentistry,
braces, wisdom teeth, and dentures. Sign up for Jim Du Molin's weekly newsletter and get his insight into dental practice management.
Jim Du Molin