Dental Practices Can’t Upsell – Can They?

Not all Dental Practices are created equal and not all provide the same services. When most people think of going to the dentist, they think about getting their teeth cleaned, cavities filled, and when one is a little older, crowns and root canals come to mind as well. These are the basic preventative and restorative dental services that are usually covered by dental insurance. Then there are tooth extractions and gum surgeries which some dental offices do within their practice and some don’t requiring the patient to visit a specialist often recommended by their “regular” dentist.


Cosmetic dental services such as teeth whitening, veneers, and smile makeovers, are becoming very popular, often cost a pretty penny, and are usually not covered by dental insurance companies. I am not a dentist and have not checked into the prices of these kinds of cosmetic dentistry services, but if I were to venture a guess, I would assume they are quite costly and bring in nice revenue for the dentist providing the services.

Those dental practices that provide preventative, restorative, and cosmetic dental services have an opportunity to upsell the cosmetic services – an opportunity they might not even be aware of. Consider the following scenario:
Janice just moved into town and becomes friends with Alice next door. Alice recommends Doctor Smith for Janice and her family to use for their family dental needs because she really likes Doctor Smith. Janice takes her family to visit Doctor Smith and everyone is happy. One day Alice meets Janice in the supermarket and is pleased to show off her new veneers. Janice is impressed and decides she wants to get veneers too so she asks Alice where she got hers. Alice tells her that Doctor Armstrong in the next town over does a great job and is reasonably priced. Janice visits Doctor Armstrong, gets her veneers and everyone is happy, except Doctor Smith when he sees Janice and Alice at their next annual dental checkup.
You see, Doctor Smith also provides veneer services so why would two of his patients go elsewhere to get their veneers? Both Janice and Alice were surprised to hear that Doctor Smith provided these cosmetic dental services too. Doctor Smith explains that this information is readily available on his website. The problem of course is that neither Janice nor Alice had ever visited Doctor Smith’s website. Why should they have? Janice didn’t have a need because she chose Doctor Smith based on a personal recommendation from Alice and Alice chose Doctor Smith based on a personal recommendation from her sister-in-law.
Doctor Smith’s fatal flaw was that he assumed his current patients knew about all the services his dental practice provided. This assumption caused him to lose at least two, more than likely much more, sales. He did not realize that he had the option to upsell his services to current patients. It has been said that it costs 5 times as much to get a new customer (or in this case a patient) than it does to upsell a current one. This is especially true in this type of scenario where people learn to trust their dentists and develop a personal relationship with them. The dentists have a captive audience and a loyal patient-base to reach out to.
Doctor Smith would be doing himself a favor by sending out periodic email newsletters containing valuable information to his patients where he can also highlight some of his other services to make them aware of all of his offerings. Not everyone likes to receive emails but that issue is solved quickly because Doctor Smith will need to comply with the legal requirements of providing an opt-out clause. Assuming that current clients or patients know what all your offerings are because they are listed on your website can be the cause of many lost sales.

[The article has been contributed by Julie Weishaar. A Chief marketing officer, she is a creative and highly qualified marketing professional with a broad-based background encompassing exceptional work ethic, proven creative marketing techniques and commitment to corporate objectives. ]

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