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TNT Marketing Education Series: #2 – Dentistry’s Deadliest Marketing Mistake

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Are You Making Dentistry’s Deadliest Marketing Mistake?
Presented by The Scheduling Institute & TNT Dental

As you might remember in January, we kicked off our TNT Marketing Education Series with a talk about geofencing. We continued last month with the second installment in the series, “Dentistry’s Deadliest Marketing Mistake,” with Jacquelyn Mavrookas from the Scheduling Institute. Known as the world’s largest practice management company, they work with growth-minded doctors ready to learn about marketing and new dental patient generation.

In this series, Ms. Mavrookas walks us through the main components dentists need to focus on to grow their practice, but also helps us understand the biggest factor sabotaging their marketing efforts.

Top of Funnel Thinking

The first concept to grasp is “Top of Funnel Thinking.” So many times, dentists think the top factor in growing their practice is to get more money… but when you do that, you’ll never get it.

Instead, shift your focus to generating more new dental patients. The more new patients you bring in = more production = more collections. Your new patients directly drive the dollars!


dental patient

What is the first thing you have to do? Think about how much each patient is worth to your practice. It’s time to get out the calculators and start crunching some numbers.

  • First, think of your annual collections (in this example, we’ll say it’s $1,000,000)
  • Next, pull your number of new patients for all of that same year (example: 360)
  • When you divide “Annual Collections” by “Number of Annual New Patients,” you determine the “Average Revenue Per Patient” (in this example = $2,777)

The “Average Revenue Per Patient” is the key to understanding how your business grows. This number is how much is on the line to gain or lose. Now, you may wonder why you take the annual collections figure, which includes money from new and existing patients, and divide it only by the number of new patients. Don’t forget that every existing patient was a new patient at one time, so you are trying to determine how much they spend across a lifetime.


exchanging dental care for payment

Next up is another math problem, but instead of assessing a patient’s worth, you’re calculating how many patients you need to hit your goal. You know you start each year with a goal in mind of where you’ll be come December 31st, right?

  • Take your annual collections goal (in this example = $1,500,000)
  • Divide that by the average revenue per new patient (hop back to last example = $2,777)
  • That gives you the number of new patients needed to hit your goal (example: 540)
  • Divide that by 12 and you have a monthly number of new patients you need to meet your goal (example: 45 new patients each month)

Crossing the Threshold

dentist office

It’s up to you to help get the new patients in the door, but why is this so important?

  • If they come in, you’re getting that revenue generated in your previous calculations
  • BUT, if they don’t, you get $0 from them. In fact, you could be going into the red for each missed opportunity
  • Getting new patients in is the enabler for all other revenue producers
  • BUT, you need a plan to get them to cross the threshold

What is Marketing?

Just think, about 95% of new patients call an office first. But, you have to make sure your team is trained on how to capture new patients calling in. The biggest areas of opportunity are evident in what Ms. Mavrookas called the “Broken New Patient Pipeline.”new patient pipeline

But, before we start diving into that, you probably think you know the answer to “What is Marketing,” but do you really? Remember, marketing is buying phone calls. Remember that new patients call first? Here’s how you can put your marketing dollars to work!


new patient pipeline

About 40% of dental offices don’t answer their phones during normal business hours, so you need to plug that hole by answering the phone! Consider this: 90% of offices that answer the phone do not schedule appointments.

When you don’t schedule an appointment, you miss an opportunity for new patient revenue, in turn washing marketing dollars down the drain and possibly paying staff to lose you money.


The initial contact is the enabler for all other revenue-producing activities.

If that’s not enough to convince you, consider these numbers offered by the Scheduling Institute that put things into perspective:

calculating patient revenueWhat’s the Value of Losing One New Patient per Week?

  • Weekly: $2,777
  • Monthly: $11,108
  • 1 Year: $144,000
  • 5 Years: $720,000
  • 20 Years: $2,880,000


5 Steps to the Perfect Call

Consider these components to ensure your staff is doing what it takes to convert those phone callers into first time patients:


  1. Greeting: Staff should sound pleasant and professional on the phone.
  2. Listen To and Answer Questions: Provide concise answers that are easy to understand.
  3. Transition: Train your staff to take control of the call and move it to the next step.
  4. Close: Offer an appointment to someone that calls your office, especially for a new patient. Remember that someone is calling because they need something, so strike while the iron is hot!
  5. Data Capture: Your team needs to get the patient information on the call.

Ms. Mavrookas even tested this thinking with phone calls to various dentists’ offices to see how well they use the “Steps to a Perfect Call” without specific training.

Just think: most dentists don’t even realize these kinds of calls are happening and the missed opportunities. You are now committing the Deadliest Marketing Mistake: paying for the phone to ring and cannibalizing marketing efforts by not getting patients across the threshold.

5 starsYour goal should be to have 5-Star Certified team members always answering your phones. These new patient calls are a repetitive process and the cheapest thing you can do to drive new dental patients into your practice.

You may think you’re fully using your marketing dollars and doing great work on getting new patients across the threshold, but if you want to determine where you stand on reaching those goals, calculate your revenue per new patient, and re-evaluate your marketing efforts, give the team at TNT Dental a call today!

 About the Author

Jacquelyn Mavrookas is a Senior Certified Trainer with the Scheduling Institute. The Scheduling Institute trains doctors and teams with a proven system to grow private practices into thriving businesses. For more information on their business model and how you can work with them on coaching sessions, check out their website.

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