Dental Practice Success Depends on Team Contributions

During August through mid-October 2023, DentalPost conducted a combined dental practice and salary survey, receiving responses from:

  • 534 dentists
  • 1,802 registered dental hygienists
  • 547 dental assistants
  • 413 dental practice managers
  • 85 dental billing specialists employed by dental practices
  • 86 other front office team members

Dental practices utilizing a dental marketing agency or consultant still rely on the in-house team to build the practice brand, do some of the marketing, and support the overall marketing efforts. From converting new patient leads over the phone, to following up with patients to schedule their next procedure, to social media posts, to community outreach, to website content, to everyday proactive conversations with patients in the office, dental team members develop leads and customers for your services. The patient experience in your office is a big part of your brand and that experience is bolstered by the actions of your team.

In its 2024 dental career and salary survey (conducted August-October 2023), DentalPost included several questions to learn about dental practice marketing trends and the status of dental team members’ involvement in it. We learned several things that practice owners and managers will want to know and also that team members are highly engaged in both internal and external marketing of dental practices.

Dental teams do a lion’s share of practice marketing.

In this latest survey, a full 59% of dental practices rely on their front office team to market the practice, including advertising and SEO. 22.5% have a front office team member who is the marketing manager. 29.5% of dental practices use the services of a marketing agency or consultant alone or in concert with in-house team efforts. 20.3% have clinical team members assisting with marketing as well as front office team members.

Social media is the primary marketing tactic in use.

Responses from 711 dentists and practice managers indicate the marketing tactics in most use are social media, website SEO and referral programs. These are three tactics in which team members often showcase their prowess and contribute to the success of the business.

In communities where large corporate dental organizations have made multiple inroads, private practices are competing, not so much through advertising, but through word-of-mouth referrals, Google Business reviews, incentive referral programs that fuel referrals from patients, and a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and even TikTok. 

Dentists and Office Managers Reported Their Practices Use These Marketing Tactics:

Dentists reported referral programs promoted by front-desk and clinical team members are the 3rd most beneficial source of new patients.

Dentists and Office Managers Reported These Marketing Tactics Are the Most Beneficial to Their Practice:

Even the biggest practices rely on their in-house team.

In this survey, 40% of the dentists who have $3M or more in annual collections hire an external marketing agency but all of them also use in-house team members to do some of the marketing, and  34% of dental practices with $2M to $3M in collections hire an external marketing agency but all of them also use in-house team members. 

The dental practices that use external marketing expertise spend an average of 3.55% of their collections on marketing. Private practices that do not use a marketing agency or marketing consultant spend an average of 2.2% of their collections on marketing.

Only 12% of dentists are dissatisfied with the marketing success.

A graph of different levels of satisfaction

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

34.5% of practice owners reported they are at capacity and
do not need to spend more on marketing.

Incentivize team members to win new patients.

Dentists successfully incentivize their teams to bring in more new patients by setting goals, monitoring progress, and celebrating achievements. In conjunction with setting goals and monitoring new patient growth, they intentionally create a culture in which team members contribute to marketing campaigns and processes. 

You can start by establishing a goal slightly above your monthly average, schedule a brainstorming session, order in lunch, and start brainstorming. Just as with any changes you make collaboratively in your office, set priorities from among the generated ideas, assign specific tasks, and regularly follow up to measure progress. 

Provide your team with marketing growth opportunities. Perhaps, it’s time for a team meeting focused on how to answer billing and insurance questions, how to explain available financing, how to converse with callers about your implant or orthodontic services, how you can improve your patient experience, how to better optimize scheduling, how to better communicate your mission, or how to improve your referral program. 

When incentivized with proactive conversations, enthusiasm, and appreciation, your team will be more engaged with marketing and sales. By celebrating their marketing and conversion success, you will not only foster a passion for your brand but also come to know more about the strengths of individual team members.

Remember: gratitude generates practice growth.

Dentists, don’t forget to express your gratitude to your team for all they do to market your practice. As you foster a culture of appreciation by example, you increase team engagement. 

Team members, congratulate each other for the contributions you make to the practice your patients love. 

And, everyone, consistently thank your patients for their contributions as well. More new patients, greater case acceptance, and a sense of wellness will abound.

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