Dental Practices Should Consider New Patient Specials. Here’s Why
As more and more practices become established in your city, it’s only growing more difficult to attract new patients to your practice.
As we’ve partnered with dentists across the country, one strategy has worked gangbusters to help incentivize desirable new patients to schedule appointments. This strategy? Offering dental office discounts such as new patient specials.
Dental patient specials offer new patients a discounted first appointment. While generally most practices take a financial hit on this first appointment, the cost is worth it as it often leads to long-term patients who will come back for years.
Why offer a new patient special?
The biggest reason to offer a new patient special is simple — it gets people in the door. There are lots of ways to entice potential patients to schedule an appointment, such as referrals from current patients, a stellar community reputation, or offering unique services or expertise. But for new practices or those trying to achieve rapid growth, it can be hard to find a way to close the deal and differentiate.
If you’re looking to grow your patient base quickly and reliably, a new patient special is a great way to get the ball rolling.
New patient specials lower the risk for a patient to try out a new dentist
By lowering the price of a first appointment, you are lowering the risk a patient has to make when booking an appointment. This allows you an opportunity to WOW them with your patient experience at the first appointment, compelling them to trust you and make further appointments.
Think about this scenario. Sam is a 35-year-old patient without dental insurance who just moved to a new city. He’s settled in and is now looking for a new dentist, as his old provider is located 4 hours away.
Sam logs onto his computer and is now viewing 5 dental websites. 2 of the 5 websites look outdated, have no Google reviews, and little information about the patient experience. Those are immediately disqualified from the search and forgotten about forever.
The next 3 have modern websites, lots of 5-star reviews, and clearly lay out what to expect when working with them. But one practice is focused on cosmetic dentistry and high-tech treatments, which Sam feels he does not need. The other 2 seem to offer similar levels of general dentistry treatments and patient experience.
Bingo! Sam has found 2 viable practice’s that he feels comfortable choosing from. As he browses the websites further, he notices that one offers a new patient special that includes a cleaning, exam, x-rays, and a new patient consultation for $99. The other offers no such deal, meaning that the cost for the same services will be closer to $300 or $400.
So what do you think Sam does next? To him, these 2 practices are close to identical. Of course, he chooses the one that offers less risk: the practice offering a new patient special.
How much is Sam worth to you?
How much you’re willing to pay to acquire Sam as a patient depends on a lot of factors, but determining the lifetime value (LTV) of a new patient is crucial to deciding if you will offer a new patient special. It is also a good number to determine when planning your dental marketing strategy.
A survey of nearly 13,000 practices determined that gross production per patient averages around $4,200. This can actually be much, much higher if your practice specializes in high-value treatments such as dental implants, Invisalign, or cosmetic treatments. (In fact, the general dentists :Delmain works with have reported average patient LTV of $5,500 to $7,500.)
Dental practices that offer new patient specials believe that it’s worth taking a short-term financial hit to realize big profits down the road. In other words, if Sam will spend $5k+ over the next 3 years on a variety of treatments, it’s worth taking the $200 loss by offering a discounted first appointment.
Step-by-step guide to offering a new patient special
#1 Determine your dental patient LTV
Before making any analysis on whether a new patient special is right for you, we recommend calculating your LTV.
Doing this is simple. First, determine the following figures:
- The average amount you make per appointment
- The amount of appointments the average patient makes at your office throughout their lifetime as a patient
Let’s say that the average amount you make per appointment is $400 and that the average patient attends 10 appointments before they move or switch practices. To calculate your LTV, follow the following formula: Dental Patient LTV = Average Value/Visit * Average # of Visits/Patient.
That would make the Dental LTV for your practice $4,000 a patient.
For some practices, dental patient specials can be rocket fuel to bring your practice to the next level. But not all practices need rocket fuel to get to where they need to be.
We’ve found that dental patient specials are perfect for the following situations:
- Start-up offices without an existing patient base
- Practices seeking to grow quickly
- Practices who are seeing a sudden decrease in new patients
- When the patients you are hoping to attract don’t typically have dental insurance
Some scenarios when offering a new patient special may be unnecessary include if…
- You are no longer accepting new patients
- Patient flow is consistent and you’re at or near capacity
- You want to focus on specific high-value services vs hygiene appointments
In general, if you need more new patients coming through your door, a new patient special can be just what the doctor ordered. For practice’s that are happy with their growth and have no problem sustaining patient flow, there is no real reason to offer a discount.
#3 Select what to include in your special
Every patient has different needs. Your new patient special will depend on what you are hoping to achieve with your new patient special and how much you are willing to spend to acquire a new patient.
According to our research, most new patient specials included an exam, cleaning, and consultation. Others occasionally included x-rays and teeth whitening.
There is no right or wrong answer to this question. We recommend using your practice’s patient LTV and how many new patients you’d like to book a month when deciding what to include.
#4 Calculate the cost
Our research shows us that…
- Roughly 44% of new patient specials fall between $75-$100, with most of the remaining being between $25-$75
- Only 16% of practices advertised a special over $100
- $99 is the most popular price for a new patient special
How much you charge will depend on the economics of your practice, how aggressive you’d like to be on costs, and what you include.
#5 Get that deal out there
Finally, once you’ve locked in the details of your new patient special, make sure potential patients know about it.
Most importantly, this includes adding it throughout your website. It can also be helpful to add the information to advertising such as your Google My Business profile, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and any sort of physical advertising you have deployed.
Need help getting new patients in the door? We have a strategy for that.
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