News From The Wealthy Dentist #18: November 8, 2006
by Jim Du Molin
Dental Marketing – Signage
I’m a fanatic about signage, specifically dental practice signs. I actually carry a digital camera when I travel just so I can snap pictures of a great dental practice sign that I may see in my travels. Why is this so important to
me? Signage is the least expensive way to acquire a new dental patient!
Recently I got a question from a doctor asking me if it was worth a 100% premium to add an electronic digital reader board to his new sign. The addition of this feature literally doubled the cost of the sign from $7,500 to over $15,000! He wanted to know if it was worth the extra expense.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with digital reader boards, these are essentially programmable digital displays with changeable moving messages and basic images. They are usually attached just above or below your standard
practice sign. The answer depends on three questions.
- How much drive-by traffic will your sign have?
- Are you willing to spend the time changing the programmable message on a daily basis?
- What is the average value of a new patient in your practice?
First, for any dental practice sign to be successful, it must have great drive-by traffic. If you haven’t got significant drive-by or foot traffic visibility, do not invest heavily in signage.
Second, digital reader boards are involvement tools. Yes, you can program them with the time and temperature and let them run on their own. But for maximum return on your investment you should change the message daily and turn it into a community bulletin board.
This works especially well if your office is near a high school or college and you program your sign to tie into sporting events, honors programs, community events, plays, etc. People will always look at your sign to see what’s new. If
your market is more urban, program your sign with famous, but short quotes from famous people.
Third, if the average net contribution of a new patient to your practice, after the cost of providing the dentistry, is for example $500, then you only need an additional fifteen new dental patients over the entire life of the sign to pay
for the additional cost of the programmable reader board. This falls into the “No-Brainer” category of dental practice marketing decisions.
Jim Du Molin
Dr. Doolittle Down Under
We’ve addressed the dentist crisis brewing Down Under more than once in this newsletter. Some might say that Australia’s dental care system is going to the dogs, but the truth is it’s going to the horses.
While reports show a major shortage in the number of practicing dentists, the number of equine dentistry students has hit a record high. Why so many are flocking to veterinary medicine is anybody’s guess, but chances are it’s got human patients in desperate need of dental care champing at the bit (pun most
Fresh Reading Material for NHS Casualties
The UK’s Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has released a manual meant to educate the general public on all of their options when it comes to paying for dental care.
Written with the cooperation of the British Dental Health Foundation, some hope this will lessen the blow to the thousands of people left without a public dentist after a whopping 1600 professionals flocked to private care in the last
six months alone. At least this gives patients who still can’t afford care something to read while waiting upwards of 6 months for a check-up, assuming they can get one at all. We’re sure they’re grateful.
The Case of the Hillbilly Heroin
Police have busted a man trying to get his hands on some Oxycontin, or what some fondly refer to as “hillbilly heroin.” (This was, of course, Rush Limbaugh’s nectar of choice for some time.) The man called a local pharmacy posing as his
dentist, and ordered a prescription in his brother’s name.
The quick-thinking pharmacist ran the bogus order past the real dentist, and police greeted the unsuspecting fake at the counter. It turns out the man’s alleged drug use had caused major tooth decay (and a heaping dose of pain), but
his dental anxiety prevented him from making an appointment.
We’re sure some of you have had some interesting run-ins with anxious patients too frightened to sit in your chair.
The Bay State Needs Dentists; Groups Coming to the Rescue
According to a recent report, as many as one in every five Massachusetts towns is completely without dentists, and half don’t have a single periodontist or endodontist. That’s a lot of untreated toothaches and cavities. To top it off,
an Oral Health Collaborative of Massachusetts report concludes that the poor and the rural disproportionately bear the burden of the dental care imbalance.
Fortunately, a number of groups are coming to the rescue. Recent private and public efforts aim to recruit more dentists by giving students a break on tuition or helping them repay loans if they agree to practice in community
health centers. That is, of course, unless Scotland or Australia gets to them first.
This shortage also underlines a basic problem for baby boomer dentists in rural areas getting ready to retire. To whom will they sell their practices? Since many dentists have the greatest part of their personal wealth tied up in their
facilities, this may mean we will see fewer dentists retiring and more dying at the chair.
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