5 Ways Thinking Like a Brand Pays Dividends
By Dr. Greg Grillo
When we step into the operatory, lower our loupes, and pick up a handpiece, we become focused clinicians. During a typical week, we treat dozens of patients and analyze margins and line angles. It takes a toll. At the end of the week, our neck hurts, and we need a change of scenery. With the amplified demands of the past year, we only have so much fuel to burn.
At the same time, getting stuck in our clinical gown can smother more than our core temperature. If our creativity and perspective get trapped as business owners, we may provide less clinical care. Or we may just end up doing less of the care we love to do. Frustration grows as we see no-show rates at 15% and the unscheduled treatment report climbing into the high six-figures.
That’s a recipe for burnout.
The antidote means returning to a tried-and-true piece of wisdom: spend time working on your practice, not just in your practice. Sometimes we don’t know where to focus or what that even means. Turning to efforts that define, communicate, and strengthen our brand may be the most effective place to start.
Isn’t a Brand a Logo and Tagline?
Ann Miltenburg, founder of The Brandling , states, “Branding is the act of directing how people think and feel about you.” It’s not a logo, slogan, or ad campaign, although each of those carry our brand message. It’s a complex blend of everything we do, say, and publish, and it dramatically affects what we ultimately spend our days doing in our operatories.
Consider these five ways branding deserves our attention, and how we can weave each aspect into our story:
Branding Brings Personality to Our Practice
Contrary to popular opinion, consumers don’t spend a lot of time browsing dental practice websites on the weekend. But if they’re looking for a new dentist, what do they find when they jump on yours? Images and words create a story that reflect the personality of your brand. Your unique practice personality bounces off everything you put out, and different techniques may appeal to different generations more than others.
Exercise: Ask three friends from three different generations to review your website and provide an honest description of your practice based on what they see. Consider people from outside your community who aren’t patients, and ask them to tell you their perceptions based on what they see online.
Branding Gives Direction to Our Teams
Dentistry gives employees a reason to be part of something bigger than a paycheck. And when they hear patients say, “This is the most amazing practice I’ve ever been to,” they respond with purpose and enhanced dedication. After all, employees are our first customers. But have we created brands that give our teams pride? When we do, they serve at a higher level than someone watching the clock. Patients notice the difference and strengthen our brand with referrals and reviews.
Exercise: Dedicate a staff meeting to a transparent conversation about your mission and values. Ask each employee to share what makes them proud to serve your patients in the practice. Ask them what tools they need to serve better. Use the feedback to discuss your vision and bring new tools into place that help your team. This helps everyone own a piece of the brand and row in the same direction.
Branding Helps Us Stand Out
You may live in a community where you’re the only dentist in town. But it’s more likely patients enjoy multiple choices within a mile or two. With 190,000 dentists in the U.S. and more dentists expected per capita through 2037 , blending into the scene isn’t the best strategy. Plus, Millennials will soon replace Baby Boomers as the largest demographic, and they’re spending 211 minutes a day on their mobile devices. Your brand can’t afford to get lost in the noise.
Exercise: Do a Google search on your phone with “Find a dentist near me” and see who comes up. If you’re not at the top of Google Maps, you’re missing out. And getting there isn’t as tough as it seems when you have the support of digital advertisement experts . Wherever you are, see if your reviews support the image of a strong brand. Legwork Reviews can help with that, too.
Branding Builds Trust and Loyalty
We seat crowns and deliver implant-supported dentures, but we’re really in the relationship business. We rely on patients entering our practice, staying with us for years, and sending referrals along the way. The average practice loses 17% of its patient base every year. We can’t stop people from moving, passing away, or losing their jobs, but we can shore up loyalty and deepen trust. Gen X patients express the strongest brand loyalty, and they’re most likely to send us their children and their parents. What are we doing to give patients every reason to love our brand?
Exercise: There’s not a perfect formula to measure loyalty, but we have a few tools to help us out. It starts with delivering on the promises we make, and we need insights to do so. Legwork Comfort cements trust by gathering pre-appointment insights to each patient’s preference. Then we need to measure how well we’ve come through. Use a single-question survey to ask patients how likely they are to refer family or friends. Legwork NPS gives you an automated solution on-par with the biggest companies in the world.
Branding Increases Profitability
We serve our patients for all the right reasons, but we won’t be here to take care of them if we’re not profitable and healthy. As dentists, we get into trouble when we overlook overhead costs and our ROI on technology purchases. As the cost of a box of gloves jumped from $5 to $15 or more and patient volumes struggled to get past 80% again in 2020, we’re acutely aware that cash flow is king. Is our brand driving a healthy, viable business that will be there to take care of the next generation?
Exercise: We need to keep our eyes on KPI’s to regularly check the pulse of our practices. But ultimately, the way to drive cash flow is to move patients from diagnosis to treatment. Our unscheduled treatment reports suggest we don’t do that as well as we think. Run one in your PMS and see what you think. Legwork Treatment Opportunities helps us uncover treatment that walked out the door unfinished. Then, it provides branded content that educates and calls patients to act while communicating the look and feel of our practice. This process is critical to fiscal soundness.
Keep Your Brand Alive and Become Everyone’s Favorite Story
Our profession isn’t getting easier, but we don’t want to make it harder on ourselves than it needs to be. Our brand is our story, so let’s make it vibrant.
Patients have been through a lot this past year, and they want that more than ever.
Millennials demand authenticity, Gen Xers want to give their loyalty, and Baby Boomers look for brands that add to the quality of their lives. Regardless of the demographic we’re aiming to serve, a strong, proactive approach will give us a brand worth talking about. Learn how you can leverage a strong brand to market your practice by following the steps in Come Up Smiling: The Legwork Guide to Your Online Brand .