Three Reasons Your Practice is at a Standstill

Posted October 5, 2017 by Natalie L.

One of the very first things you learn about the rhythm of a dental practice is how certain days are super busy, and others are a bit slower. There are frequently shifts that follow the change in seasons, weather, the economy and school holidays.

When there is a sudden production downshift in the practice though, it’s only natural for a wave of panic to come over an otherwise cheery group of team members. How does this happen? And, what are the best ways to weather the storm?

Office systems and processes

Inadequate or absent systems is a leading cause of stagnant practices. Establishing a process for every part of your practice, with clearly defined duties and responsibilities, helps it run like a well-oiled machine, and in turn provides greater patient satisfaction, stronger referral Sample of Dental Practice SOPrates and higher recall retention. A bit of data gathering and analysis will tell you where the gaps are, and suggest ways to create structure, or eliminate extraneous steps in the process. A well-documented process or SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) will be especially beneficial when bringing on a new team member or when review current processes for improvement. We understand the importance of establishing processes, so the XLDent new client experience includes a set of SOP templates to get the practice started.

New Patient Growth

Does your practice participate in Social Media? There’s no escaping the pervasiveness of social media and its ever-expanding reach into our lives. Your business will be missing out on the current word-of-mouth that brings in new patients every day, and helps you retain the ones you already have. How does it do that? By building your online presence, 24/7! Today’s consumer is more likely to choose your office if they can easily find you on social media, and get a sense of your style and see the reviews your current patients have posted.

Have you stopped taking certain insurance plans or are considering participating in new ones? One study showed that 42% of people would leave their current dentist if they were no longer in network with their insurance plan. In fact, 59% said that was the number one factor in whether or not they would make an appointment at a new dentist! The number two factor was the physical location/proximity to where they live and work.1 Be sure that everyone knows how close and convenient your office is for their needs.

Integration of new technologies

Don’t underestimate the importance of being on the cutting-edge! Especially to the millennial or younger group of patients, your first “technology” impression can make all the difference. Are you sending automated reminders to your patients? Do you have an online portal so that your patients can login anytime, anywhere, and verify appointments or make payments on their account? Go paperless as soon as possible (if you are not already). Do you still present needed treatment on paper, or can you show treatment right on a TV or Tablet PC, then email a copy to the patient? All these ideas add to your image as a modern, tech-savvy office, that meets their patients’ needs.

If you have more downtime right now, you can use it wisely by updating your software, attending educational courses, and allowing time for staff to become fully trained on your computer software, so they are ready to go when business rebounds and the schedule overflows again.

These may seem like minor changes, but in a practice facing sluggish times, they could make the difference between two or twenty new patients next month. When you see a few blanks in your schedule, look at them as opportunities to prepare for the next big wave.



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Social Media and Your Practice

Posted September 7, 2017 by Alexa S.

Social Media is everywhere, and the best part is it’s free! But before you dive into these powerful platforms, it is important to determine your objective. It’s too easy to get lost in the sea of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others. Some reasons to start up a social media strategy include:Social Media Smartphone

  • Search engine optimization (SEO) so new patients can find your practice.
  • Patient education (to boost treatment case acceptance).
  • Improve referral business.

There are a variety of social media tools or platforms you can use depending on your strategy. It’s easy to start small and add additional platforms as time allows, or you can try all at once to get your name out there quickly.

To start, the most common or perhaps frequently used, is Facebook. Facebook has become a platform for all types of individuals to connect both on a personal and professional basis. This social media tool makes it easy for a business to share photos and videos, post updates, and keep customers (patients) up to date on the latest news with the office. Facebook is also a great tool for prospective new patients to see a more personal side of your office, and can help them start thinking about becoming a patient. This is a chance for you to show some personality while still keeping your Facebook business page professional.

But, wait – you don’t have an audience yet. In order for a Facebook page to be successful in helping you grow your practice, people have to see it. Start by building your audience on Facebook, this can be done by simply asking people to “like” your page. When checking out patients, have your front desk team remind patients that you’re on Facebook and to give you a “like”. You could also add your social media links to your appointment reminders. If you are not getting “likes” fast enough, try doing a simple contest to boost awareness. This could be a guessing game like how many packs of dental floss are in a jar, to make it interesting for your patients and prospective ones.

Another social media tool is adding a blog to your website. A blog is an excellent outlet to share information about your practice whether it be news, events, or new employee photos. Keeping a regularly updated blog is a great way to promote your brand and share some of your expertise with patients and for others to learn more about you and your practice.

Twitter! We have seen a lot of mention of Twitter in recent weeks and it is a powerful tool if used properly. This is a much shorter way to get your message out since you are limited to 140 characters per post. However, it is relatively quick and easy to post which makes it a great option for quick or on the go messages or updates, when you may not have time to write a full blog. Similar to Facebook, this is a great tool for your patients to see more of your personality. Keep an eye on your newsfeed and follow your industry peers and even other local businesses so you can retweet as desired.

YouTube is a social media tool that will take a little more time and effort if you want to be sure you are posting quality and fun video content. However, don’t give up on it yet! You can use YouTube to post a video tour of your office, do regular “meet our staff” videos, and even film patients or procedures to share on your social media platforms listed above. You don’t need to make a movie masterpiece to have fun and post on YouTube. Give it a shot and see if it is a hit with your patients.

Now that you have your strategy, and a quick snapshot of the tools available for you to develop your social media strategy – here are a few tips for how to get off on the right foot.

  • Make sure this is a mix of topics and interest. Try to keep your content industry specific, but don’t be afraid to share local events or information, weather, or even an update on your favorite sports team. Don’t forget people love pictures of family, even your fur family – who doesn’t love a puppy picture?
  • Referral focus. Work to build your audience in hopes of boosting your visibility which will ultimately lead to more referrals. When a patient interacts on your page, that activity will show up in their friends’ feed. This is free advertising! Keep your practice top of mind for your patients, and their friends and family will be able to see that. This is another reason to keep your content industry-specific while throwing in fun, personal, and local posts.
  • Contests and campaigns. If you feel like your audience isn’t growing the way you’d like, generate buzz by starting a contest. You can also look into campaigns to target specific patients, while this isn’t free, it could give your page a boost and be money well-spent.
  • Keep an eye on your metrics. Facebook has a great insights tool that gives you a snapshot of how effective your social media strategy is, including your reach and engagement. This can help you see what posts are getting the most traction so you can focus your efforts on delivering more of that content.

If you aren’t already following XLDent on the social front, start now by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, connecting with us on Google+ and LinkedIn, and watching us on YouTube. Happy sharing!

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Technology Can Make It Grow!

Posted August 31, 2017 by Natalie L.

There are thousands of articles written about how to grow your practice, expanding your patient base further into your community. Referrals are your best source of new patients, but when they walk into your office, will they feel that your care is top-notch and state-of-the-art?

The modern dental practice has seen remarkable advances in technology in recent years, but which ones make the most difference to your patients? And how much can new technology add value to your business?

Here are the technologies where you can expect the biggest bang for your money:

  1. Digital X-Rays
  2. Intra-Oral Cameras
  3. On Hold Marketing
  4. Online Access
  5. Tablet Computers

Digital x-rays have probably been the biggest game changer for offices in the past 10 years. X-rays have become portable, enhanced images that are easy to duplicate, and eliminate the handling of chemicals during maintenance. Of course, patients are getting up to 80% less radiation in the process, which is always a great selling point! ImageXL provides a seamless view of digital images from the patient chart. ImageXL includes enhancement tools to view images in a variety of ways and the ability to integrate most any digital technology. Cone beam x-rays have changed overall case management, taking a 3D approach to the teeth and jaws’ relation to the rest of the skull, though they are still a hefty investment for a practice.

Along with x-rays, intraoral photos have had a tremendous impact on both insurance approvals and patient case acceptance. “A picture is worth a thousand words” holds true here, and showing the patient the crack in their molar is so much more powerful than telling them it’s there, especially when it’s not hurting at the time. Patient education is the best tool we have toward fewer dental caries overall and raising awareness of the critical role that dental health plays overall.

Instead of sitting on hold with dull, muzak versions of old songs, your patients should be hearing about your services and approach to caring for their oral health. XLHold is a customizable solution that is designed to allow your style of dentistry to shine, while at the same time educating patients about the importance of their dental health. A simple piece of equipment that plugs right in to your existing phone system can get your practice started. A very small investment and a little technology with huge rewards!

The largest population group in this country, the “Millennials”, have come to expect 24/7 access to all the services they need for their busy lives. Add to that the challenges of starting their families and the need for an interactive presence; online becomes critical. XLPortal gives patients access to make payments, review their statements and treatment plans, and verify their next appointment, anytime, day or night. Almost all (93%) of Millennials in a recent poll said they preferred to work with the latest technologies, businesses with a strong mission statement, and great word-of-mouth referrals, which are also shared online.

Technology-Tablet-XLChartTablets are becoming ubiquitous in medical and dental practices these days, and with good reason. Simple to use, and so much easier than managing all the paper files of previous years. Information is at the ready, and the Microsoft Surface Pro offers your dental office multitudes of information at your fingertips, while allowing a paperless practice the ability to capture digital forms, a patient’s handwritten signature, and treatment plan acceptance, all chairside!

What technologies have you already invested in? With just a few short months to finish off 2017, if you haven’t taken advantage of any or all of these technologies, consider making the leap to grow your practice and set the stage for a running start to 2018.

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Energize Your Reactivations

Posted July 25, 2017 by Natalie L.

One of the best ways to grow your active patient base is to create a plan for reactivating your inactive patients. These are patients who have already visited your practice and, for various reasons, have not scheduled their next preventative or treatment appointment. How can you let your patients know that you care about their dental healthcare needs and show them you understand how busy life can be?

Reactivations fill empty chairs1.  Creating a plan for Reactivation is key to making sure there is a consistent designation of “who is doing what” in this process. It’s a good idea to assign someone the task of making sure that the process is being followed, and the calls are steadily completed and communications are being generated and sent regularly. Part of this planning must include gathering accurate data to show where the practice is at, and what goals can be laid out for the next several months. XLDent Reports like the Scheduled Recall, Recall Due, and the Production Analysis Report can make this simple and quick.

75% of the practices’ treatment plans are created from a patient’s hygiene visit

2.  Automation simplifies all aspects of Reactivation. Lighthouse 360 helps reduce the amount of time office staff is spending on calling patients by 94% on average, with 90% of offices seeing an increase in reactivations of 25% or more. Lighthouse is fully integrated with XLDent, and can be customized with your message preferences, style, and frequency.

3.  Make it a team effort! Get everyone involved in making sure every patient is pre-appointed for their next visit, whether that is hygiene recall or for necessary treatment. Have a goal of making a certain number of calls per day, and let everyone know about progress toward that number. Offer a team reward, such as having lunch brought in once per quarter (or sooner), or closing a couple hours early one day, if the reactivation/recall goals are met.

4.  Social Media goes hand in hand with Reactivation! Social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have been called a “Loyalty Platform”, and for good reason. For the most part, advertisers on these sites are “preaching to the choir”, in that people generally “Like” or “Follow” pages for products they themselves are currently using. The Lighthouse solution can help simplify the task of getting patient reviews and helps get those great ones published to all the top social media sites, attracting new patients to your office.

5.  Focus on your mission of caring and make it personal. Have the doctor hand-sign reactivation letters and use words like “The doctor asked me to call you…” when making phone calls, especially those calls meant to re-engage an inactive patient.

Start energizing your reactivations today! Check out how XLDent and Lighthouse can boost your active patient numbers.

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Referrals, Reviews and Growing Your Practice

Posted July 17, 2017 by Alexa S.

When it comes to growing your practice, there is next to nothing as effective as a word-of-mouth referral. A recommendation could be the reason why a patient chooses your dental practice over another. So, how do you increase your word-of-mouth referrals, and boost your practice to trusted sources such as google reviews?

Why not ask patients what they want? That’s what Dental Economics and Officite did to find out from over 100 dental patientsReferrals Blog graphic 1 how they decide on a dentist, and the methods they use to conduct their searches. “The branding-free survey was conducted through Facebook, e-mail, and other channels, and none of the respondents were dentists, hygienists, clinicians, or in any way affiliated with dentistry, aside from receiving care.”1

Based on their results, word-of-mouth/referral from friends dominated in the tools used to make a decision on a new dentist. Respondents also noted that when using search engines, 89% prefer to use Google. The respondents were also asked, “Do you take referrals from friends/word-of-mouth at face value, or do you do additional online research?”; 57% indicated they take it at face value, and 43% indicated that they do additional online research.1

While word-of-mouth is a noticeable step above the rest for being an effective tool, it is important to take note that 43% of theReferrals Blog graphic 2 surveyed still do additional online research even after a referral from a friend. Your practice will want to have a website that meets the content features that people look for when searching for additional information outside of their referral. Unsure what features people look for when searching for a new dentist online? Here’s a few of the responses from the Dental Economics survey.

When building your website with these important features keep in mind to have your hours clearly posted on your home page. Also, the images on your site ideally will be of you, your staff, and your office; keep stock images off your site, people want to see you and your beautiful office!

So, you have your website in “tip-top” shape and have patients who spread the word for you. What about online reviews? If you feel like your practice is lacking in your online review category, here are some tips put together by Dental Economics on how to get more 5-star online patient reviews, without nagging your patients.2 (see full article at link at the bottom of this blog).

  1. Organic method — Make sure your practice is listed on as many third-party sites as possible. This ensures patients can find you if they feel like writing reviews spontaneously.
  2. Links or clickable images on your site — Have something that patients who return to your site can click to write reviews.
  3. Single-page handouts — Prepare a sheet of instructions you can simply hand to patients that walks them through how to post a review.
  4. Personal e-mail — A simple e-mail with a polite request and a link can be effective. But personalize it—none of that “Dear Valued Patient” garbage. Also, consider a review link in your e-mail signature.
  5. Autoresponder e-mail — If you have your patients on an e-mail list through a service such as Demandforce or Solutionreach, you can have an e-mail request that goes out automatically.
  6. Snail-mail request — Although it involves a bit more work, people generally pay more attention to snail mail, especially if it’s personalized and from a practice they know and like.
  7. Video — A short walk-through video showing how to leave a review can be effective.
  8. Social media — Patients can write CitySearch reviews using their Facebook usernames, making it that much easier for everyone.
  9. QR code on a postcard — Hand out or send patients a postcard that asks them to review you by scanning a QR code. The code is linked to your Google Places or InsiderPages page.
  10. QR code as a sticker or decal — The sticker or decal can be placed anywhere in your office or store. Patients can scan it with their smartphones to review you on the spot.
  11. Phone call — It’s kind of old-fashioned, but effective with the right kind of patient.
  12. Part of a little gift you send patients — For example, you give out a pad of paper or fridge magnet with your logo and phone number…plus a request to leave you a quick review. The gift has to be something people see daily and actually use, making it a subtle but persistent reminder.

XLDent, with Lighthouse 360, gives you the ability to easily collect and post reviews from happy patients directly to all the top sites including your social media pages. It also includes utilization of RateABiz, which helps you showcase reviews and boost your practice’s rank in search results.

Once you have built a solid foundation of referrals/word-of-mouth and online reviews, you can use your XLDent software to track how your hard work is paying off. XLDent easily lets you be as specific as you want about where your referrals come from. There are reports to tell you the number of referrals you are seeing each month, such as:

  • Referral Source Listing
  • Referral Source Detail Listing Report
  • Referral Source Summary Listing Report

All of these reports have different features and views, we suggest looking at each and finding what works best for your practice. If you find that these reports are not showing exactly what you want, give us a call and we can create a custom report for you.

We hope these tips will help you build your patient referrals and online reviews! Stay tuned for more tips on growing your practice in our upcoming blogs.


1Dental Economics, “How to attract new patients (according to new patients)”, By: Kevin Rach, April 19, 2016

2Dental Economics, “Get more 5-star online patient reviews without bugging or nagging your patients”, By: Graig Presti, February 8, 2017

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