Ah yes… Autumn… the time of year when the leaves start to fall, the nights draw in, and the air has a decidedly chilly feel to it. However, for many dental practices, it’s a month where schedules start to thin-out and practice owners are quietly concerned.
So the question is… How do you stop this from happening – How do you avoid the dreaded September and October slump?
Let’s take a look…
Keep marketing – even during the busy times
We’re all guilty of it! When we’re busy, it’s easy to take our foot off the marketing pedal. The key is to carry-out effective marketing strategies that can be done even during the busiest periods, when time isn’t on your side. These may include:
- Running an appropriate overdue recall-report and sending those patients a quick reminder.
- Sending out thank-you letters to frequent referrers and offering them a time-sensitive, discounted treatment.
- Reconnecting with those patients that have a treatment plan but haven’t yet scheduled an appointment… AND…
- The short-term use of Google Ad-words.
These are all strategies which can be implemented relatively quickly and in the case of Google Ad-words campaigns, they can be set up fast and left to run.
Know your seasonal troughs and get prepared
You are not alone – nearly all dental practices experience seasonal peaks and troughs. While July and August bring many children – and often their parents ask for check-ups too – September is the start of a new school year and this causes a temporary slowdown.
The best way to avoid a periodic slump is to anticipate it. Let’s say for example that the last two weeks of September are quiet. In this case, you may want to ramp-up your marketing efforts at the beginning of the month. If necessary, have the staff in place during the busy periods to facilitate this extra role.
Consider extending your opening hours
While counter-intuitive, this can be a logical and effective response to the slowdown. When most people return to normal working activities and the kids are back at school, it isn’t always possible to squeeze in a dental appointment during standard practice hours. As such, it may be worth extending opening hours even longer than you currently do, especially during known quiet periods. Naturally, the decision to extend hours should be balanced against operating costs etc., but by creating a larger window of opportunity for busy members of the public, you give yourself a better chance of filling your schedule, rather than having it sit empty.
So, there you have it, 3 ways to (hopefully) avoid the seasonal slump!
It’s important not to neglect marketing. By pre-empting, pre-planning, and perfecting your on-going marketing, you should be better positioned to avoid any patient downturn, whatever the season.