I wrote part one of How To Grow Your NHS Dental Practice a few weeks ago, the reason that there has been a little delay is that I have been putting into place a new product to help solve this problem.
So let's have a look at the issues for most NHS dental practices. Unless you can get the local PCT to give you some more UDA's you simply can't grow your NHS dental practice revenues and because staff costs, and inflation continue to grow this in effect means your revenues fall every year.
Add to that the growing uncertainty about the new contract, it puts practices that are wholly or mainly dependent on an NHS contract in a difficult position.
So what is the solution? Well of course there really only is one solution to grow your NHS dental practice and that is to sell private treatment, which I assume doesn't come as any surprise whatsoever, in fact it is blindingly obvious.
But here's the catch, just how do you grow your NHS dental practice with private work, because there are some very difficult obstacles to overcome when trying to sell private treatment when you depend on your NHS patients and that contract.
Let me put one myth to bed straight away, it doesn't matter where your practice is or what the demographics are, there are people out there who will find the money for private treatment, however deprived your area is, please believe me on this one. despite what your associates may tell you.
However there is one practical problem to growing your NHS dental practice you will have to overcome and that is this. Can you actually deliver the private treatment e.g. straightening, whitening, implants, smile makeovers. If you can't deliver then you need to find a way to do this. But I am going to assume that you can deliver private treatment in some form or other.
So we know what the problems of how to grow your NHS dental practice are, how are you going to overcome them. The biggest problem you have to solve is letting your patients know what you can offer them.
So how are you going to sell private treatment, let's just remind ourselves of the issues again:
It's not often I plug my products or services in these blogs but I now have the perfect solution, it is our "Reception Information Centre", this comprises of three elements.
In order to grow your NHS Dental Practice you need time to tell your story and you simply don't have it in an NHS practice so this system does exactly that for you, it will encourage your patients to ask what you can do because they are now informed, even asking for a white filling rather than a standard one. All the above is bespoke to you with your logo, colours and even YOU in it. It is the perfect solution to the age long problem of how do you sell private treatment to NHS patients.
I will have examples of the above in a couple of weeks with pricing to match.
There are other options for informing your patients what you can do and I'll cover these in a couple of weeks, but they all involve much more expense and time and effort on your part.
I’m sure when you think of Facebook Advertising you probably think of having to post all the time and interact with your friends or the people who have liked your Facebook page, which by and large it is, but there is another way to manage Facebook Advertising.
As I mentioned in a recent blog, Facebook recently became a publicly listed company, which means that is now has to answer to its share holders, and they are interested in just two things (a) increasing their share value and/or (b) getting a regular dividend.
In order to satisfy this requirement, Facebook has suddenly become very business minded and they now offer a wide range of advertising opportunities for the likes of you and I and Facebook Advertising has become a very good and relatively cheap way to get your message out there.
To advertise on Facebook you have to have a Facebook page and of course be the administrator of it, but you don’t have to post regularly on it, the advert will do the job for you. Facebook Advertising works very similarly to Google PPC (per per click). This means that whenever someone clicks on your advert and is taken either to your website or to your Facebook page you are charged a fee.
Compared to Google this fee is very reasonable (usually about a quarter of the price), however it has to be said, it will never be as targeted as Google is simply because there is nothing that is as targeted as Google Adwords.
However if you are trying to reach a particular group of people with a particular profile, Facebook advertising (PPC) is very, very good.
With Facebook advertising you can not only decide which area you want to aim at e.g. your postcode but you can also target whether the person who sees your advert is female or male, what age group they are, what is their marital status (even if they are engaged). You can specify particular interests they may have.
So for instance you could run an advert that will only be shown to someone who is female, who is between 25 and 35, who is engaged, who likes dogs, who likes going on holiday etc. etc.
There are no other platforms that will let you get down to this level of detail for display advertising (Google is search advertising). You can set up a Facebook Advertising campaign for just a couple of pounds per day and so long as you get your targeting correct it will almost certainly pay for its self.
Facebook advertising is also the quickest way to get people to like your Facebook page and the best part is that you will only be getting likes from the people you are directly targeting, as opposed to buying likes from disreputable sources (don’t touch them).
The best thing about Facebook advertising is that you can send traffic from Social Media to your website with is where you ideally want people to go.
Search Engine Optimisation has changed dramatically over the last five years as you may have read in my two previous articles (read part one), (read part two). But there are still ways that you can improve your rankings as I highlighted in part two.
But even if you are really successful with your ethical and correct search engine optimisation efforts, you are still likely to be fairly well down the list of the front page, assuming your site has made it to the front.
The main reason for this is that Google now gives the top three slots to its paid for offerings, which are called Google Adwords.
Google is effectively now an ads engine rather than a search engine, let me tell you why. They announced their third quarter results a few weeks ago and revenues for that quarter were $14.89 billion, which makes them one of the largest and most profitable company's on the planet.
Of that £14.89 billion 96% comes from advertising!! Only 4% of their revenues comes from the likes of their Android operating systems or their Nexus tablets. So where do you think Google are going to concentrate their efforts over the coming years?
You might delude yourselves into thinking that surely they won't give advertisers all the front page, surely Google is about search. Well just think back a couple of years when Yellow Pages was the search tool of choice. Did you really care that all the entries which stood out were paid for adverts (still are actually), of course not.
So don't think for a minute that Google won't dedicate more and more space on its front page of a search to advertising, because I fully believe that this is what is going to happen, and sooner rather than later.
And to really hammer home that point just think about this. At present 20-25% of all searches are done on smart phones (tablets are fast catching up). Just go to your smart phone and do any search you like.
Unlike a desk top computer, there isn't lots of space on a mobile or tablet, so you don't see lots of entries below the bottom of the screen. Strangely enough you normally see the top three results. Yes you've got it, they are the paid for adverts, not organic search.
So you may do all the search engine optimisation you like (ethical or otherwise) to improve you natural organic listings, but they still won't show on a smart phone or tablet, unless you scroll down the page and most people don't do this they simply click on what comes out top.
So let me state again Search Engine Optimisation is dead, or definitely dying. Google is now a publicly listed company producing massive revenues and profits for its investors, do you really think that it is going to let you or your search engine optimisation company or person out smart them?
If you want to be at the top of the Google rankings the best thing you can now do is to use Google Adwords, which is the modern Yellow Pages. But even then you have to be good at this.
simply paying more for your ads will not guarantee that you will be at the top of the rankings, far from it, you have to ensure that the page you are sending your audience to is good, that the advert is relevant, that your keywords are correct and that you are regularly checking and updating your ads.
If there is such a thing, this is now the modern day Search Engine Optimisation, e.g. keeping your advert above that of your competitors and that is another skill you are going to have to learn or employ somebody to do for you!