I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by Dr. Michael Sernik who built his dental practice with no advertising. Sernik, a pioneer in his field, had some incredibly valuable insights and I wanted to share three brief lessons I learned from the presentation.
Lesson 1: Your best patients are referred patients
The problems with using advertising to reach new patients are the rising cost and the reduced return. When everyone is trying to get onto the first page of a Google search, the costs skyrocket. Some search categories cost $50 per click.
It’s easy to get excited by the increased phone calls, but how many inquiries turn into loyal patients? It’s something that requires consistent measurement. Dentists are going broke because they kept throwing money at Google and don’t take the time to measure and assess their ROI.
Patient referrals are virtually free, and those new patients usually more receptive to the services you provide. They also tend to refer more people too.
Lesson 2: Information-deficient patients result in poorer treatment decisions and fewer referrals
Dentists have so many messages to give to their patients but very little time to say what needs to be said.
It’s difficult for the team to walk into the waiting room and just start telling the patients what’s new. But the waiting room is the ideal place to deliver new information. They are sitting in the waiting room; we have so much to say, and we just let them sit there playing with their phones. That’s a wasted opportunity.
So, Dr. Sernik has come up with a completely fresh way of using videos for the waiting room.
Instead of boring, long details about how a treatment is done, these videos are often funny, they are very short, so they aren’t boring at all. They deliver just 1 key message and they are silent because listening to a repetitive voice-over track is very intrusive.
What is very exciting is that the videos often feature the dentist and the team and now all the patients find themselves looking and smiling and learning.
Lesson 3: Train your team so they know what to say
All of your team members know at least two aspects of each treatment you provide, the price and the process. But what is usually lacking, is their ability to discuss the treatment in a way that makes it both interesting and even desirable. They’ve never been trained on these discussion topics, so they don’t know what to say.
During his presentation, Dr. Sernik advocated a specific system for a 2-hour weekly meeting. During this meeting, the team uses Channel D videos as a starting point because the videos often evoke patient comments, and the team needs to know exactly what to say and how to say it.
I was thoroughly impressed with the presentation. The beauty of Dr. Sernik’s training is that it’s a total solution to a serious problem that is likely to get worse over time. And in essence, he shares:
- When your patients know more they make better decisions for their own treatment and refer more friends because you’ve given them more to talk about.
- Dr. Sernik’s videos are designed to start conversations. If your team can continue the conversation, they’ll end up saving you time in the long run and help grow the practice.