Dentists have open books, but do Australians want to book in?

Patient acquisition and retention is front of mind for most dentists, so being ‘Fully Booked’ is clearly a goal. Carolyn S Dean has been both a medical practitioner and is now a dental marketing specialist herself. What are her insights?

Dentists have open books, but do Australians want to book in?

We all have goals, and strive for some kind of validation. Within the dental profession, a full appointment book is certainly one way to demonstrate you are doing something right.

As Carolyn S Dean says “you can be the best practitioner in the world, but if you’re not putting yourself out there, then you won’t succeed.”

In the past 5 years particularly, Carolyn says she’s seen “a greater need for practices to market themselves. Whether they are independent practices, have already been acquired by a corporate, or are in fact a corporate dental group, there is definitely a single theme – they have one limited pool of patients to draw from.”

Headlines last year shared that 5.7 million Aussies are living with dental health issues. New studies are continually proving that more people avoid the dentist then attend their regular six monthly appointment. Children are being raised with similar dental trends, only a small percentage of pre-schoolers brush their teeth and only 17% have seen a dentist by the age of two

“Dentists are all competing for the same patients, and for the patients who will be loyal and accept treatment planning,” says Carolyn.

Am I doing the right thing?

“When you are a standalone practice you operate in isolation,” says Carolyn. “You don’t have any point of reference to know how well you are doing.”

A key benefit Carolyn and her team currently offer practices, whether singular or corporatised, is the ability to benchmark and teach their clients to measure activities.

“It’s a very common problem. You have all these marketing ideas but no idea how to execute. Even then, practices don’t always know how to measure the success of a marketing campaign when they do execute.”

Limiting the ability to measure means you can’t invest further or improve upon campaigns. By bringing more procedure to marketing, Carolyn says “it’s simplified. A lot of the clients I work with comment that after reading my book, they say they can understand marketing. Marketing doesn’t have to be hard.”

Convenience is king

Consumers are driving markets in new ways and in dental Carolyn says “Millennials and Gen X attribute high value to convenience. They want to be able to book online and be reminded of appointments via SMS. Convenience is a really big priority. As far as industry disrupters go, I can see potential for health hubs to change the way patients choose a practitioner.”

Could ‘health hubs’ be the next disrupter in the dental industry?

A ‘health hub’ is where dentists and general practitioners, as well as an array of other health care professionals, operate under a single roof and refer patients to each other.

“I have worked with a number of clients who own both a GP and dental practice, or work together in partnership, and that seems to have the potential to be quite a successful model,” says Carolyn. “The ability to firstly give patients convenience, is important. Secondary, but also very valuable, is the fact that patients see the partnership as indication that they can trust both the doctor and the dentist.”

The industry is quickly changing and a number of factors are contributing, “from health insurance to dental corporates, it’s all moving quite quickly. I really see our role, for myself and my team at My Dental Marketing, as future proofing practices. The point of difference we have is that we really listen to dentists, practice managers and owners. We hear their concerns and challenges and address them. More than making them feel heard, we are also true to our word and that’s so important.”

To read Carolyn S Dean’s book, click here:

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