11 Top Tips to Grow an Orthodontic Practice

practice growth man


1. Share your Knowledge & Expertise

Offer patients specific treatment-based literature that is nicely designed as well as comprehensive information on your website, including graphic animations and photos if possible. It’s the least you should do if you are asking someone to spend £2,000 or £4,000. 

For a considered purchase like braces (because for most adults, it’s a lifestyle choice) always ask patients if they need extra info.  Also, brief your team on common FAQs. Be known for being helpful and your patients will have more confidence in your service. Consequently they’ll recommend you to friends and family, increasing your patient list for free.


2. Be Child-Friendly

Offer a ‘brand experience’ that is different than that for adults. Why not a patient journey involving interaction such as touch screens, characters, fun quizzes or goodie bags to take away. Special uniforms based on characters or practice theme can work really bring your brand to life.  If certain members of your team love working with kids, give them the responsibility. When a child enjoys coming to the dentist their parents are thrilled and more likely to return time and time again.


3. Build Patient Relationships

Even before they visit your practice, patients will have a first impression of your practice. Invariably, they will have visited your website and this is where an engaging on-line presence is important.  Include a photo and interesting information about each team member and include a video of your practice. If a patient feels that they know you before their visit then they’ll feel reassured that your team is friendly, approachable and accessible.


4. Don’t Sell On Price, Sell on Your Service

The dentist offering aligners down-the-road may be less expensive than you but if you feel that your service is superior then don’t reduce fees to their level in an attempt to win patients. Be confident that you are worth your fees, especially if you have Specialists in your clinical team. Most patients don’t buy solely on price so focus on maintaining your standards and word will get around that your service offers better value-for-money.


5. Get Your Team Noticed

PR isn’t just about your building media relations and profile for your practice, it’s about your people, not only your specialist clinicians but also the support team that help to achieve a memorable patient experience.  Get business cards and profile sheets for all your specialists so they can be offered in your referral packs. 

If your referrals need a big boost then send a personalised letter to send to referring dentists and better still, arrange an appointment. It’s all about relationship building and showing gratitude for referrals that do come your way.


6. Be Part of the Community

Your patients are mainly going to be based in the local area, so it’s good sense to make yourselves a part of that community. Get involved in charity events, sports events or town centre events and make sure you get some PR coverage for your efforts! But don’t forget that, as a Specialist practice, your catchment area is bigger than you think. Patients will travel one or two hours if they feel your practice is the one for them.


7. Attract New Residents

New housing estates mean new potential patients in your area.  Keep an eye out and make sure you’re the first practice they hear about. If there is family housing from first time buyer properties to larger family homes, the will be children and right in the age bracket you are targeting! Use door drops or strategically placed posters in the community and make sure your website ranks well on Google for local searches.


8. Don’t Rely on Word of Mouth

Referral marketing is one of the best ways to find new patients and it costs next to nothing.  Don’t rely on Word of Mouth as you don’t have control over that.  Hopefully all your patients are happy ones, so why not make the most of that and ask them for a testimonial, either written or a spoken one for your practice video? 

Referral marketing can include specific incentive schemes, recommend-a-friend promos or simply handing your patients a card with your practice, web and Social (Facebook & Twitter) details on. 


9. Be Flexible

Make it easy for patients to say “Yes”. As well as different aesthetic choices for both adults and children, some patients respond well to interest free credit payment options. Others simply need to be informed of the full range of orthodontic options available. For example, whilst Invisalign is a well-known brand, many patients may not be aware of other highly discreet options such as SureSmile and other lingual brace alternatives or ceramic braces. For children ineligible for braces on the NHS if not meeting IOTN criteria, make it easier for parents to afford private. Ensure they know the options available to them.


10. Use Video to Promote Ortho

Video marketing can really help you build both patient interest and conversion to fee paying patient. Video in your waiting areas as well as on your website helps to engage prospective patients and introduces them to the practice team ‘in person’, breaking down any barriers.  Include some nice footage of the practice itself, introduction from one of your Ortho practitioners as well as friendly team clips and patient testimonials if you can. Some patients will happily spend the time with you to sort this out.


11. Dispense with your Marketing Budget

If you consider marketing as an investment rather than a cost, your whole mind-set for finding new patients changes. Think about how much you are prepared to pay for each new case, whether Damon Clear, Clear Aligners or Invisalign. Think about ‘buying’ patients - the key question is: “how much am I prepared to pay for a new patient?” Look to spend 5% to 10% of fee income on each new case but this does depend on your location, local competition, your practice proposition and treatments on offer. 

If an Ortho case is worth say £2,500, are you prepared to pay £150 for that patient, or £200 or £250? The point of this is that once you have worked out those numbers, it’s easier to determine the best strategies for finding those patients and the return on investment to plan for. As new patients or referrals come into your practice, you can decide whether to increase or decrease the numbers of patients you would like.


Click here to open this report as a PDF document for printing.