If you step back to look at it, teeth whitening isn’t really a procedure – it’s more like a dopamine trigger with staying power. Think about it. When your patient leaves your office, what’s the very first thing they’re going to do when they get to their car? Turn the ignition? Nope. They’re going to re-direct their rear-view mirror to themselves … crack a smile, laugh in delight and say out loud … “Wow, I look great!” And they’re going to maintain that feeling for months on end – because of you.
A new smile helps people feel more confident in their own skin – it’s an immediate boost to the soul. And it’s a gift that you, their dentist, gave to them. Once you’ve done that, you will have earned a customer for life. Want this to happen more often? First, you’ve got to understand the appeal.
Talk benefits, not features (Sales 101)
Our smiles create an immediate, subconscious, visual impact on the people we meet. In fact, according to an American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry survey, 99.7% of all adults believe a smile is an important social asset, with 96% of adults stating an attractive smile makes a person more appealing to members of the opposite sex, and 74% believing an unattractive smile can interfere with career success. When respondents were asked, “What would you like to improve most about your smile?” the most common response was whiter and brighter teeth. So, there’s your opening to talk benefits; go for it.
Ask your patients about what’s going on in their lives. “Heading back to college in the fall?” “Getting married soon?” “New job?” Each of these conversations lends themselves to a discussion about whitening. With practice and a plan for how you would personally like your staff to weave whitening into these conversations, you’ll have some great talking points in no time. Your goal in these conversations should be to allow your patients to see themselves as a good candidate for whitening because of how it can affect the way they feel about themselves, and are perceived by others. And, while this might not seem like the easiest thing in the world to accomplish, there are ways to warm up the crowd.
Make whitening real
Orthodontists have been doing this exceedingly well for decades. What’s the first thing every person sees when they enter the office of an orthodontic professional?
Pictures of little Sally, and football player Tommy, Aunt Jean, Mom, Dad and even grandpa Joe. There are so many darn before-and-after pictures of successful ortho treatments, it’s literally impossible for prospective patients to say no to treatment. For current patients, these pictures are a constant reminder of how awesome you are going to make them look at the end of the journey. That, my friends, is superior salesmanship, and you’re going to want that.
To get there, use photos and testimonials throughout your office to capture the attention and curiosity of patients coming in for their regular appointments. Also, make it known the patients are your own – this matters. In the “old days,” the walls of ortho offices were covered in Polaroids the patients themselves signed on the bottom with their age. People want to know this is work you have done. So, develop a system that works for you, and show off a bit!
And, while you’re at it, are you a whitening patient yourself? Why not put pictures of yourself and your staff up on the wall too? The typical consumer is going to wonder if you’re taking your own medicine, so don’t hold back.
Help patients visualize the benefits
Have the shade guide handy, understand how to use it properly, and place it where a patient can actually see it while they’re in the chair. Since it’s difficult for us to imagine ourselves looking “different,” the shade guide cuts through this mental clutter and allows us to see our future selves with ease. And, keeping it visible will help encourage questions from your patients. Every hygienist should have access to it in every operatory, and everyone should know how to use it.
Communicate to your broader patient base
The advent of social media and patient communication tools like RevenueWell can allow you to communicate about the procedure and the benefits of teeth whitening to your entire patient base, not just to patients you’re seeing this week. Many of them don’t know you offer the service, how quick, easy and safe it is, or how affordable it can be. Reaching them via social media, an email newsletter or even a seasonal postcard promotion can be a great and cost-effective way to stimulate demand. In many instances, a whitening offer can even help you reactivate patients who haven’t been responsive to your recall efforts.
Consider an ongoing offer
Okay, so maybe you’re not the kind of dentist who likes to discount. How about this idea, which comes to us from Gary Takacs: lifetime whitening. Here’s how it works: for a one-time fee, patients are given custom trays and free touch-up gel to either take home or use in-chair as long as they keep their future scheduled appointments. A brilliant, easy-to-use idea that helps patients maintain clean, white teeth and keeps them coming back to your office for appointments.
It’s almost silly how something as simple as enhancing the color-shade of a patient’s teeth can add so much to your bottom line, and so much to a patient’s life – embrace it, and keep patients coming back – and to you alone!