You've probably noticed that inflation is rising quickly. Inflation is at the highest level it's been in 13 years and is continuing to rise at the fastest pace in 30 years. You've seen this with increased grocery and gas prices, but these aren't the only challenges that we are seeing.
Inflation also affects your practice. Wages, equipment costs, and more are increasing. The costs to run your practice are higher than they used to be, and you may need to make some changes to ensure your practice remains profitable.
Fortunately, dentistry is a resilient industry. When patients understand the importance of dental care, they are more likely to pay for treatments and exams regardless of inflation. As the economy changes and inflation increases, you don't have to add gimmicks to attract patients.
The tried-and-true methods to improve practice efficiency and attract patients are the best way to stay profitable as inflation continues to rise. Here are four things you can do to keep your practice profitable even as inflation rises.
1. Use technology.
Investing in technology can reduce costs by improving practice efficiency. You shouldn't waste money and resources on things that can be done with technology.
Automating certain tasks gives your team members more time to focus on the most important thing: patient care. Practice automation adds value, improves patient engagement, provides consistent quality, and reduces overhead.
One aspect of your practice that can be automated involves patient communication. Automated patient communication systems can send appointment reminders, follow-up treatment information, and recall messages. Automated messaging can eliminate no-shows and last-minute cancellations, keeping your schedule full while eliminating unnecessary work.
2. Communicate with patients.
Patient communication plays a much bigger role in practice profits than you may realize. Communicate with patients often and early when you have to make changes due to inflation -- especially if you have to raise prices.
Giving your patients advance notice with a message stating why you have to raise prices helps them prepare. Patients are also more willing to continue to support your practice when they feel included. Ninety percent of consumers say transparency and adhering to values are key factors in deciding which businesses to support.
Communicating the importance of your services is also helpful. When patients understand the importance of proactive dental care, they are more likely to spend money on it, even when other expenses rise.
Social media, email, and text messages are all important communication tools. Combining each of these channels in your communication methods is the best way to stay in contact with your patients. Using a company for social media management can also help you stay in touch with your patients and ensure you get in front of new patients while you stay focused on patient care.
3. Market your practice.
Marketing is a crucial part of attracting the new patients you need to keep your practice profitable. Using social media, review management, search engine optimization, and more can help your practice get new patients.
Here are three marketing strategies that can help you get new patients and build loyalty with your current patients:
- Use promotions. Using promotions can be a good way to get and keep more price-sensitive patients. However, you don't want to offer too many discounts, as this can reduce profits. Offer discounts on the products and services that have the highest margins for your practice. And target the patients who are the most price-conscious. This way, you can attract and keep some patients who may not pay full price for certain services while still making a profit from these procedures.
- Bundle certain services. A good way to discount some services is to bundle them. If booking a hygiene and whitening appointment gives your patients a better deal on both services, they are more likely to book more than one service. Bundling services can help you increase your per-patient profitability.
- Try influencer marketing. Influencer marketing can help attract new patients. A recent survey found that 92% of social media users trust a recommendation from influencers. You do not have to get a celebrity endorsement. Micro and macro influencers (individuals on social media with 5,000 to 20,000 followers) are often more persuasive than celebrities. Their followers trust these influencers more due to their smaller following. Find a micro or macro influencer in your area to partner with who can help market your services.
4. Change your pricing and payment options.
Employing these tips is essential to keep profits up as inflation rises, but despite these efforts, you may still need to raise prices. If you are nervous about raising prices and how patients might react, you can raise them a little each quarter until you get to the final price points you need.
If you find that many patients are concerned about price increases, you may need to consider offering new payment options. Using a buy now, pay later service can help patients who struggle with price increases. Nearly one-third of consumers have used these services, with 81% saying they would use them again. Offering these payment options allows patients who cannot afford treatment upfront more options, allowing you to increase your patient base.
It can be scary when changes threaten your business, and inflation is certainly frightening. Adapting to change is key when we experience challenging times. Now is the time to evaluate your practice's policies. Using technology, communicating transparently with patients, employing multiple marketing strategies, and adjusting your pricing and payment options can help keep your practice's schedule full and help your practice stay profitable, even as your costs increase.
Jayden Klippel has been helping dentists grow their practices since 2020. She is a content marketing manager for ProSites. Klippel studies marketing at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.