The post-lockdown opportunities
RS: Do you think facial aesthetics still represents a good opportunity for growth?
HS: Absolutely. During lockdown I was busier than I had been before because so many dentists were approaching me about facial aesthetics and property investment.
Dentists, as we know, generally work quite long hours and there’s not always time for reflecting on your own life, work/life balance, family relationships, and so on. One of the positives of lockdown is that it gave people the perfect opportunity to take the time, without feeling guilty that they weren’t doing something else, to reflect about their life.
I think a lot of dentists who have been reflecting have found that they want to add different income streams to their business because they know dentistry is not going to go back to normal straight away. However, if you’re restricted to only doing emergency treatments, you can supplement your income by also offering facial aesthetic services.
RS: What would be your advice for practices looking to introduce these kinds of services after they’ve reopened following lockdown?
HS: I use a formula based on three V’s: visible, valuable, and vulnerable. So, you want to be visible to your patients in terms of communicating that you’re offering these services. You need to consider how you create a sense of your services being valuable, for example – do you want to have a VIP waiting list? Lastly, you don’t want to be vulnerable, so you make sure you offer education-based marketing material for your patients so that they can access the services that are right for them.
I predict that we’re going to have a big boom in facial aesthetics. We lost 50 patients during lockdown but with the creation of our VIP list we had over 200 patients waiting to get booked in when we reopened.
Patients will always find the money for what they want. They want that look good-feel good factor because it’s been quite a tough period for a lot of us in terms of isolation, so a lot of people are looking for ways to treat themselves.
Because there is minimal contact with patients in these kinds of services, which is of course becoming increasingly important, we’re finding more people are willing to have them. Patients are very clued up about what it involves, they know it’s a syringe rather than a spray and they’re comfortable with that. My own experience with patients is that they seem more willing to go ahead with facial aesthetics than dentistry at the moment.
Of course, if you don’t offer these services already, you’ll need to have some training. We offer online training in terms of theory, which might be of particular interest for anyone who’s not back to full-time work. Then once we do go back to normal, we can also move onto the hands-on element.
RS: What are your thoughts on how a practice should market these kinds of services, given the circumstances we’re in?
HS: If you’re doing newsletters, emails, social media posts or blogs, keep doing them because patients have currently got more time to read them. I’m a big believer in education-based marketing materials, for example, “how to look after your skin this summer”, “how to have a home skincare regime”, and so on. That creates value in your marketing.
You should also then do the selling, such as “you want to be on our VIP waiting list and this is what we offer…”
What I’ve found really works well, once you can actually go back to seeing patients in person, is to sit the patient up at the end of the appointment and say, “Mrs Jones, I’m introducing this new service, facial aesthetics. I know you won’t be interested yourself, but if you do know anyone who is here’s a couple of our cards.”
A lot of dental professionals can feel reluctant to ask patients about facial aesthetics because they worry they’ll⇐ ⇔make the patient feel embarrassed or they lack self-confidence themselves. The above approach works so well because if they are interested, they will usually interrupt and tell you so, and if they’re not, you haven’t embarrassed them because you foreshadowed it with “I know you won’t be interested.”
It’s not going to cost you any money and you’ll be surprised how many patients are actually interested or will tell their friends and family.
RS: Overall, do you think there are reasons that dentists should feel positive about the future?
HS: Definitely. There’s no doubt the economy is going to be tough but it’s a fact that more millionaires are made during a recession than any other period of time. There are going to be opportunities, but you need to be adaptable and open to changing things.
During this time, patients have realised how important dentistry is to their overall health and well-being because it hasn’t been available to them. Also, consider that people have become more concerned about their overall health and immune system, so you might find patients are more receptive to hearing about dental issues like gingivitis and how this can affect the rest of the body.
If you also offer the cosmetic dental and facial aesthetic services, you have two ways to approach patients – the health benefits as well as the aesthetic. It’s a double whammy.