What I learned at Chicago Midwinter
A dental office manager’s perspective
Here are the rest of the ideas I picked up at the show:
- CareCredit updates – Always nice to meet with these reps who show us our applications and credit used in our practice last year, plus, when you spend the time to review this information, they give you a special gift. This year it was a pillow pet – which we took home & gave to our pediatric dentist, of course!
- Colgate rules change – We used to buy our toothbrushes, floss and paste from Colgate but they had a category purchase requirement that ended up driving us away because we just didn’t need the products in the third category. After chatting with a rep at the show, she told us Colgate did away with this category requirement! So – we’re going to re-evaluate our toothbrush purchase. Plus, a group sales rep was also at the show and he said he could get us better pricing because we’re a large group! Without the face-to-face discussions at the booth, we never would have known.
- SEO vendor – I’m working on updating our practice website now and our next marketing decision is to choose an SEO vendor. The fellows at Everyday Health spent a great deal of time with me showing me their dashboard and services. The refresher was helpful and their report showing me how many directories our practice isn’t listed in properly was revealing.
- Dear Doctor purchase – We rarely buy at the show because we want cooler heads to prevail, but this was such a good deal we couldn’t turn it down. This product provides dental articles and videos that can be inserted into your website by using a widget – the idea is to educate your patients on your own website and keep them from googling ‘dental implants’ and ending up somewhere else. Since our group is big into video marketing, having professional videos available to us that can be placed on procedure pages in our site – and used on our blog, this is super valuable. My goal has been to post one video each month on our blog to increase our SEO – with this investment, I can almost assuredly meet that goal.
- Likeable Dentists Facebook expertise – I almost walked by this booth because I handle our Facebook posts and with the scoop from DemandForce, I don’t need to pay someone else to post on my FB page. However, I’m so glad I stopped! This NYC group is super knowledgeable on all things Facebook – we talked about the new Facebook Graph and running ads. Within the last few weeks, one of my dentists mentioned that yet another dentist was retiring from a small town nearby – and we realized that left only one dentist still practicing in that area! We agreed that would be a perfect target market for us – but how to let that community know about our group? Not enough people read the newspaper, tv and radio are expensive and hit or miss – and the town is so small, I don’t think they would use their own city name in a Google search for a dentist! Enter a Facebook ad. I can target this small town in particular for our ads – and the Likeable Dentists company said they would manage this ad for me and we can track the results. If this works, I finally know how to target specific areas for our marketing – and could increase patient volume in a specific geographic region. Good thing I went to the Chicago Midwinter!
- Afdent franchise – This is new. I read an article about Afdent last month in DentalTown, I believe – and in the last row at Chicago, I recognized the owner standing in their booth! On Saturday no less when most top dogs have long returned home. Dr. Pecina was a super nice fellow and invited me to have a seat and chat (after 3 days of standing/walking, just sitting down was a treat) – he shared that he has an approach to dentistry that gains his one location, gigantic group practice over 500 new patients each month! He ended up inviting myself and the owner of our group to come visit him to see for ourselves how he provides high quality care to such a large patient volume. We’re definitely planning this trip.
Beyond these specific ideas, I also walked the aisles with the dentist owner of our group. As he chatted with the clinical product vendors about zirconia crowns or stronger composites, I am listening in, picking up the language and understanding the value of the new products. Since I have no clinical background, this is helpful when vendors come to visit the practice – I know who to gather for lunch & learns – and I can help compare pricing as well. Thanks to the investment my practice made in sending me to the Chicago Midwinter, I will improve our online marketing, get the dentists a free handpiece, avoid technical support problems in the future, begin the redesign of our pediatric practice, perhaps switch back to the toothbrushes we really liked and visit a practice adding 500 new patients a month. Do you think it will be worth sending me to visit the Afdent franchise? What ideas could I bring back from that experience? Another major benefit to the dentist owner for sending me to the Chicago Midwinter – he didn’t have to tackle any of these topics. He could focus on the clinical products that he enjoys, knowing that I’ve got all the marketing, software, business-side handled. So, if you’re thinking about inviting your dental office manager to attend a dental conference, have her read this article. She can visit similar vendors and bring back ideas to improve your practice. Enjoy your next meeting!
For more ideas to manage your dental practice: