In 2019, Perth-based dental practice group, Advanced Dental Spa, launched its fourth location in the suburb of Thornlie just months before the pandemic arrived.
Dr Janet Woon, an owner and practising dentist, has been assisting to drive the growth of this newest practice location. Janet says Thornlie continues to grow quickly, benefiting from a range of strategies to build the practice’s appointment book, deliver a personal experience and build loyalty among patients, staff, and suppliers.
Around the same time, her Willetton practice doubled in size, expanding into the space next door and growing from two to four chairs, with a fifth chair being considered.
Janet says one key to the growth of the Willetton site, and the ongoing success of the other practice locations, is ensuring that a broad range of patient needs are addressed.
“Ours is a family-based practice, where we cater to just about every dentistry need, from a simple check-up to full mouth rehabilitation and cosmetic dentistry,” Janet says. “We also take that one step further, offering dermal beauty treatments such as HydraFacial, peels and Dermapen microneedling.”
Filling the patient book
Equipped with learnings from building up previous other practices, Janet has approached the growth of the new site differently. Janet says that ensuring the patient book is full remains top of the agenda.
“Our practices have a very stable patient base, given they are either longstanding or were purchased as operating businesses,” Janet says. “However, Thornlie was started from scratch just before the pandemic, so driving patient appointments needed careful attention.”
“Our biggest priority is still getting patients into the practice, which relies on effective marketing. We have engaged external experts to help us strengthen our social media presence and patient communications, with a website upgrade the next area of focus.”
Janet says that focusing on social media is important as patients respond positively to seeing the team in action. “Word of mouth is still the best way to attract new patients, but social media helps reaffirm it,” Janet adds. “It makes the practice look more real and friendly even before patients decide to book”.
The team at Advanced Dental Spa also use digital solutions to ensure they are responsive to patient enquiries and booking requests. Janet says the practice offers a live chat feature through their website that is constantly monitored.
“We use Podium Chat, so patients can engage with the practice when they need to. Online bookings are very popular now. We also use HealthEngine to give patients the flexibility to book appointments when they want to outside of normal business hours.”
Ensuring that the practice is operating at capacity also benefits from being organised, according to Janet. “During COVID, there was a lot of rescheduling, and we developed a system to review standby lists and bring appointments forward. This has carried over and helps us fill any gaps”.
A patient-centred approach
While generating patient demand is a focus, Janet says it’s the experience that keeps people returning and helps word of mouth referrals. Making that experience personal, convenient, and flexible is Janet’s goal, which she says starts with the team.
The four practices are fortunate to have very low staff turnover, with a third of their team being with the business for over 10 years. Janet attributes that in part to a supportive environment where the owners are hands-on and ensuring salaries are always very competitive.
Having a stable workforce is vital to delivering a personal service that patients appreciate, Janet explains. “Continuity of service and familiarity with our staff is crucial to make patients feel known and special and to help them avoid having to see someone new every time they come in”.
“Our partners and team across the practice locations also meet and discuss patient care and service to ensure that no matter where or when patients visit, they always receive a consistent experience to the same high standards.”
The objective to create strong relationships with staff extends to our labs and suppliers, which Janet says can positively impact the patient experience and overall operating costs.
“We have great relationships with our labs and suppliers, and we’re very loyal in supporting them. In return, they will go above and beyond for us and accelerate processing or delivery times. This means we can get back to patients more quickly and deliver an excellent service.”
For Janet, long-term relationships with patients come down to personal and proactive engagement at all stages of the patient journey. While she strives to make appointment bookings, practice interactions and access to services easy, Janet says that “engagement doesn’t stop when someone leaves the practice”.
“Placing post-treatment calls to patients, particularly if they need extra attention, is also very important to us. It’s a big part of ensuring that we always look after patients.”