While patient referrals and search engine results can encourage new patients to visit your dental practice, engaging in community outreach can also help you build your patient list. When you and staff participate in or organize local events, you demonstrate a commitment to the communities you serve, which can have a positive impact on individuals who are searching for a new dental practice.
They may remember your participation in an event and feel that your investment in the community is exactly the type of practice they want to do business with. Not sure how to get involved in your community? Here are 8 ideas:
Method #1: Offer free dental screenings
Offer free dental screenings for individuals in your community who are unemployed, who receive income assistance, or who are experiencing other kinds of financial hardship. You might consider visiting nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, homeless shelters, and domestic violence shelters and administering exams.
Afterward, write a blog post or social posts describing your experience with the public. You could interview your participating staff and get quotes about their impressions of the experience. People who follow your social media accounts will see that you are committed to serving their communities and may share the posts.
Method #2: Participate in the ADA Foundation’s Give Kids A Smile program
Since the program’s launch in 2003, more than 5.5 million underserved children have received free dental services. If you work in a community with an underserved child population, consider joining one of the approximately 10,000 dentists who participate annually in the Give Kids A Smile program. The ADA Foundation’s website has all of the resources that you need to plan an event.
Method #3: Visit elementary schools
Take the opportunity to get to know some of the children in your community by speaking at elementary schools about the importance of good brushing habits and teeth-friendly foods. You can also introduce them to the basics of dental anatomy, and perhaps allay some of their fears about going to the dentist and answer questions about what to expect when they visit. Distribute “goodie bags” of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss.
When the children share with their parents what they learned from your visit, parents may be inclined to bring them to a dentist who is familiar, and with whom they’ve had a positive interaction.
Method #4: Work with other businesses
Consider partnering with another business in your community whose goals complement those of your practice. Perhaps you team with doctors from a local medical practice and discuss at a school’s parents’ night the importance of regular wellness visits and dental exams. Perhaps you can leave fliers at a local gym or wellness store in exchange for sharing their fliers in your office.
Method #5: Participate in clothing and food drives
While these drives are often held during the fall and winter months, clothing and food are necessities year-round. Check with the staff at your city hall to see whether the town organizes collection drives of any kind, and offer to set up collection boxes in your offices, which can then be advertised as collection points, or partner with a local charity and do this on your own.
Ask if you can put flyers in nearby businesses alerting their clients to the drive and your location. Advertise on your social media accounts. When people come to drop off their donations, they will know your name and have firsthand acquaintance with your staff. They are also likely to post about the drive and your participation on social media, which will alert more people to your practice.
Method #6: Make charitable donations
Find a local charitable organization in your community, and donate a portion of a day’s payments to it. Advertise on social media, and ask the charitable organization to alert their patrons. Patients may appreciate knowing that some of the cost of their treatment is serving as aid for a local organization.
You can have “Donation Days” monthly, quarterly, or on whatever schedule you prefer. If there are a number of charitable organizations in your community, maybe allow patients to choose where they wish part of their costs to be donated. You can also change the charitable organization each time that you choose to hold a “Donation Day.”
It is possible that some of your patients or potential patients could benefit directly from the services offered by this organization as well, and so the donation would be particularly meaningful. This can help to encourage more customer loyalty and create new patients in the process.
Method #7: Participate in community clean-ups
If your community is organizing an event to clean up a local park, roadway, river, lake, or other public area, consider organizing your team so the practice can participate. These events are often covered by local news outlets, so make sure your team wears hats and shirts that represent the practice’s brand.
These events can also serve as team-building exercises for your staff. They are opportunities for the team to work together outside the office, helping to create a strong company culture.
Method #8: Have booths at community events
Communities hold free events for residents at various points throughout the year. Participating in these events is a way to meet potential new patients. Offer a free giveaway of an item with your practice’s logo on it. Pens, stressballs, magnets, plastic clips used to close snack bags, and frisbees are common.
Hold a raffle of a larger item at the end of the day; people can enter by leaving their name and email address on a sign-up sheet. Add these new contacts to your mailing list, and send out periodic newsletters to these potential patients. Your community’s local government should have a list of all such upcoming events; here are some possibilities:
- Fourth of July celebration
- Farmer’s market
- Christmas in July
- Summer concert series
- Local business fair
- Fall/spring festivals
Our ebook, “Proven Methods to Growing Your Dental Practice Patient List,” offers an array of ideas to assist dental practices grow their patient list. Treloar & Heisel has helped dentists with their insurance needs for many years; we’d love to assist you with yours. Click here if you’d like to discuss your insurance requirements with a specialist today.
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