Orthodontists: Don’t pour new patients into a leaky bucket

We spend a lot of time talking about how to increase patient flow to replace dwindling referral sources. A solid direct-to-market program that encompasses social media, targeted online advertising, and reputation management (Google reviews) can all work together to influence qualified patients to pick up the phone or email you to schedule a consultation. This is only half the battle. 

The other challenge is to convert potential patients into paying customers. It’s no use filling a bucket with patients if it’s full of holes. Below are five proven strategies we put to use after analyzing the stats of hundreds of client practices across the country.

Talk fees on the first visit

Many orthodontists were taught that they don’t speak to patients about finances on the first visit. Those days are over. People have less time (and patience). They want all the facts so they can make decisions quickly. On more involved cases it will still be necessary to take more time before planning out treatment and costs but for the routine case it’s more advantageous to do it all in one visit. Patients will appreciate the convenience and speed in which you work.

Lower you initial fee

Some orthodontists are still charging and initial fee of upwards of $1,800. This doesn’t fly anymore. Patients are stretched thin. You have to lower the barrier to entry, We found the sweet spot is a $500 down payment to help patients commit to treatment.

Make monthly payments affordable

Historically, patient delinquency rates in the orthodontic industry are low, around 3%. This means you can stretch the monthly payment beyond the planned treatment time by 6 to 8 months to make their monthly payments more affordable, which should be around $150 per month.

Accept insurance payments directly

An easy way to make braces more affordable for patients is to find out their insurance benefits before the initial consultation and then accept payment directly from the insurance company as a partial payment. Asking families to deal with insurance reimbursements for treatment runs counter to how most doctor’s offices run their business today. This will go a long way to making the decision easier for patients to start treatment at your practice.

Lighten up

Make you office a fun place to be. Offer extras for parents and younger siblings while they wait like a fun zone and free coffee (for the parents not the young siblings!) Make it a place that kids want to come back to. This will also help retain recall patients. Remember people will not remember what you told them but they will remember how you made them feel.

If you want to know more about how to supercharge your marketing and increase patient starts for your practice, contact People & Practice today for a free marketing analysis, at 888.866.DOCS, or by email at hello@pplpractice.com.