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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Buying A Dental Practice? (Part 2)

Understanding your transition X-factor

The financing, accounting and legal aspects of opening a dental practice tend to be pretty black-and-white. But in my experience supporting the marketing of transitioning practices, there are things that are not so clear. I call these the “practice transition X-factors,” and these X-factors come in many shapes and sizes. You need to tailor your marketing game plan to meet your specific practice transition situation. There are endless scenarios, but here are two stories of transitioning dental practices I have worked with in recent months that demonstrate this point.

The retiring doctor

A dentist purchased a practice from an established dentist who was retiring. The two had a good rapport and both wanted to see the practice succeed. It was agreed that the retiring doctor would stay on to work as an associate for a while, supporting the transition of the patient file.

My advice was to really leverage this good relationship to maximize patient retention.

The existing patients, and staff, loved the retiring dentist and were concerned about how the practice would change. But when they saw clear signs that he endorsed the new dentist they were more willing to trust her. We helped with a game plan that got the word out quickly about the new practice while showing respect for the patients, the old dentist and his staff. We helped write a letter of introduction that included a “feel-good” photo of the two dentists together. We rebranded the practice with a fresh new name, colours and logo. We also carried this into the look of the website.

They also hosted a patient appreciation event where clients could wish the retiring dentist well in his retirement and the new dentist could introduce herself, her vision for the practice and new services she would be offering. Like many older dentists, the retiring dentist offered basic dental services. This event was an ideal way to introduce ways to increase the value of the new dentist’s patient file.

By focusing on marketing inside of the practice first, she can now confidently reach out to begin professionally introducing her new practice in the local community to attract new clients.

The bankrupt doctor

A dentist purchased a practice from a dentist who had gone bankrupt. He’d invested a good chunk of money and was itching to get going with things to grow his new practice.

He wanted to jump in right away and start contacting the list of approximately 400 patients who were wondering where to go for their next dental appointment. While calling the patients was definitely urgent, my advice was to first channel his energy into planning a clear strategy.

We quickly got to work helping him rebrand the practice. He needed to show patients he’s not just the new dentist, but that he’s different, positive and committed to the success of the practice. We helped him create a new logo, and suggested he update the office with artwork and accent pieces that reflected his brand. It was also important to get this message out right away on the Internet. We designed a simple yet visually appealing website splash page that included a photo of the new dentist, a short introductory paragraph and contact information. This splash page was created with the short term in mind as we were building a full website to promote his practice.

Before beginning to phone the patient file, we provided a proper script to introduce the dentist. The phone calls were going to be made by the office manager, who had been with the former dentist. She was the best person to ease any hesitation they may have about trusting a new dentist.

Armed with a clear vision of his brand and strategy, the new dentist can now move his business forward with introducing new services and advertising in the community to attract new patients.

Continue Reading: Buying A Dental Practice? (Part 3)

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