Most general dental offices are surrounded by a fair amount of competition. My current office is within walking distance of four other general dentists, as well as an Orthodontist and Oral Surgeon. A dental marketing company can help you stand out online. And a Dental Consultant can help you get organized with great systems and communication. But there are a lot of other simple ways to make your dental office stand out. Easy, everyday things that give you a unique edge, and make your office the kind of place that patients actually look forward to visiting.
Smells are a really big deal. Eugenol, tooth dust, and loads of other materials contribute to what is known as ‘dental office smell’. In some offices it’s so potent that it attaches itself to your scrubs, hair and skin. And if we employees notice it then the patients sure do too! The worst part is that dental office smell is a huge trigger for dental anxiety. But don’t worry, it’s super simple to fix.
Create some strategic areas to place wax warmers. Fill them with high quality soy wax melts and keep them going all day long. It’s important to use soy as it will last the longest and give the strongest scent throw. Choose fragrances that are warm and welcoming and keep up with seasonal scents to make it fun! Check out some popular wax warmers and get more information on the benefits of soy wax melts.
If there are areas where you don’t have counter space for a full size wax warmer, get yourself the outlet plug-in kind. They work great for smaller areas like operatories and bathrooms.
If you have a bit more space and a bigger budget, get a cookie oven for your office. Then you can offer fresh baked cookies to your patients every day! I worked in an office that did this and the patient’s LOVED it! There’s nothing more soothing than the smell of something baking! You might be able to use a toaster oven. But you can see here that they also make actual cookie ovens which is what we used. (Be careful though to put the finished cookies out of the reach of children as food allergies are always a concern.)
Seems simple right? Every dental and medical office has magazines. But you’re trying to stand out. So don’t just have magazines. Have THE BEST selection of magazines that anyone has ever seen! Think about all of the possible categories and have something to offer in each; cooking, celebrity gossip, finances, politics, crafts, family etc. It’s important to have a huge variety and keep them current! Our selection is so great that patients consistently tell us that they come in early for their appointments just so they can ‘catch up on their reading’. It’s Amazing! Most offices can’t get their patients to show up on time and ours are arriving early!
Another cool idea is to get yourself a book exchange box. People still love reading actual books, and second hand book stores are so popular now. Having a library box in your reception room will not only add a cozy feel to your office. But it will also encourage patients to think about you when they don’t even have an appointment. They might even stop by and bring a friend. And they’ll definitely talk about you to all of their book buddies!
I can’t begin to express how much people LOVE free stuff! A toothbrush and floss after a cleaning is just the beginning. If you want to stand out, you have to really step up your free stuff!
The key is to have a free something in every area of the office.
Reception Area: Find a space to install a self-service beverage station. It should be self-serve because people don’t like to have to ask for things. If it’s out there for them to help themselves, they’ll be more likely to partake and enjoy the experience. You’ll need a small refrigerator filled with water bottles. Then get a Keurig Coffee Machine with a nice variety of pods. Be sure it’s not just coffee. Get tea, cocoa, and cider so there’s something for everyone. Make sure you offer sugar, honey and flavored creamers. Set the whole thing up with to-go cups and napkins that are printed with your office logo. They’re convenient while also giving you some free advertising when patients leave the office. Don’t just think ‘coffee station’. Think of how you can make yours different and better than anyone else’s!
Front Desk and consultation areas: Everything should include your office logo and contact information. People love pens! Especially the kind with a stylus on the top. Large plastic paper clips are colorful, re-usable and useful for your patients to keep their financial and treatment paperwork together. Refrigerator magnets are fun, and a great way for patients to keep your office information handy.
Operatories: Hygiene rooms should always have the standard ‘goody bag’ items for after a teeth cleaning. But every room should also have a small basket that includes simple things like sugar free gum and mints, and coupons for dental related items like mouthwash, toothpaste, electric toothbrush replacement heads, etc.
Bathroom: Have toothbrushes and samples of toothpaste, mouthwash and floss in there for patient’s to use/take. Add a couple of baskets filled with lip balm and small bottles of hand sanitizer, that of course include your office logo and contact information.
These are all very simple, doable ideas that will make a huge difference to your patients. They are also just the beginning. Once you get started making these small changes and adding this fun stuff to your practice, you’ll be surprised how easily you come up with even more ways to be distinctive.
You don’t just keep and attract patients by doing great dentistry. People need to know you appreciate them. They don’t want to be just another mouth to you. They want to feel like they are a part of something, while also getting the best value. So don’t look at any of this as just time and money out the window. Look at it as an investment in your ‘family of patients’.
‘Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.’