What Makes You So Special?
To most people, dentists are dentists. I know you have loyal patients who have been with you a long time, and wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. However, for a patient looking for a new dentist, there is a common baseline for what to expect from a practice, and you all look the same from a distance. That’s why so many prospective patients call in to ask about fees or whether you accept their insurance plan. If a dentist is a dentist, may as well shop by price
The challenge is that with all things being equal, how do you get patients to see your unique value? Let’s face it, most of them can’t distinguish clinical differences, as long as it doesn’t hurt and the results look good. So with nothing else to go on, they make their judgments based on personal preferences: “I like a young doctor who knows the latest techniques.” “I like an older doctor who has lots of experience.” “I want to go to a practice that’s close to my hair stylist so I can plan appointments together.” When we don’t see a lot of difference between alternatives, our choices tend to become arbitrary.
There are two ways to overcome this mindset and set yourself apart. The first is by creating the right physical environment. You’re asking people to spend discretionary dollars with you, which puts you in competition not with other dentists but with other service experiences.
You need to think the way high-end retailers do. You need to have a facility that instantly communicates an accurate reflection of your personality and a powerful indicator of your value.
The second way you get patients to understand your unique value is through the interactions you and your team have with them. Great practices are built on great relationships; not just friendly, “knowing” relationships, but relationships based on genuine trust and appreciation.
If patients are truly going to value your relationship as something special, you can’t just rely on them picking up the right cues from the environment you’ve created. You also have to communicate your value explicitly, in the things you say and do. You have to coach them, early and often, that comprehensive clinical and esthetic care is a lifelong need for any value-conscious person—and that your practice is the place to get it.
But wait a minute. If a patient is judging from afar, how do you get this opportunity to show them your environment and to have these conversations? How do you get them to come in the door for a closer look? That’s what I’ll discuss tomorrow.
For more articles about practice management and daily life in dentistry, visit Everything Imtiaz.