So, you’ve decided, that the time has come to sell your dental practice. Assuming this has been planned your efforts should now start to focus on making sure the practice deserves the highest offers. You can liken it to an Olympic athlete needing to be in the peak of fitness at the exact time they are scheduled to perform at the games. Part of that review must be to consider your marketing strategy.
“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” – Henry Ford
As a first step, taking time to consider your marketing strategy will make a massive difference to the sale value.
How and why you are selling your practice will determine how relevant your marketing is. For instance, if a quick sale is needed due to bereavement or health concerns, then time is of the essence and additional marketing will be of little value. However, if the time is of your choosing and you are implementing a proper exit strategy, an effective marketing strategy will pay dividends.
What do we mean by Marketing?
Marketing covers a whole array of items and concepts. At its most basic level it includes any way in which you and your practice communicate with existing and potential patients. A prospective buyer will find a practice that regularly communicates with its patients more attractive. It shows that the ‘list’ is more up-to-date, that new patients are always being prospected for and that existing patients are more engaged with the practice.
Marketing can mean any of the following (the list is not exhaustive):
- Practice Décor
- Team Welcome
- Telephone Manner
- Patient Journey
- Patient Welcome materials
- External Signage
- Email and Text Communication
- Online e.g. website and social media
- Magazine advertising and PR
Whenever you are trying to sell something always look at what you want to sell through the eyes of buyer who knows little about you or your business, but who is poised to hand you a substantial amount of money. What would they want to see in order to justify the asking price?
If you wish to maximise your sale value, you should put in place an exit strategy that covers 2-3 years. This will give you the maximum opportunity to improve and take advantage of more effective marketing and the difference it can make to your top and bottom line.
Firstly, carry out a marketing audit. This will give you all the information that you will need to see where the opportunities to ensure you maximise the sale value of your dental business.
I would start by looking at some of your marketing KPI (key performance indicators).
- number of ‘active’ patients (visited in last three years)
- number of ‘inactive’ patients (visited in last seven but not last three)
- number of email addresses on your patient list.
- copies of all internal marketing materials e.g. Welcome packs, newsletters, emails, stationery, appointment cards
- copies of all external marketing materials e.g. Newspaper advertisements, fliers, attendance at events
- online audit – website, social media and so on
- numbers of new patient enquiries every month
- conversion rates of new enquiries
If there are figures you do not have or gaps in your marketing strategy, then simply start to put it in place now so that you have a good 2-3 years to deliver the improvements. Once you have this information at your fingertips, you can make more informed decisions about your marketing. What does your typical patient look like? What type of patients would you like to attract to sustain and grow the business?
Once you have taken the time to consider these questions, a plan is needed. Decide upon a budget. Marketing men would say you should be budgeting 5-10% of your total revenue. Consider the type of media to reach your target market. Print, online or a combination of the two. What about social media? We use social media, print, online & attend exhibitions. This is because our target market is dental professionals of all ages. Once you have a marketing plan, stick with it and monitor the results. Allow your marketing plan time to deliver results. It is not an instant fix and the temptation can often be to pull the plug on something too early. There is a lot to consider when you consider your marketing strategy but just make a list and go through the topics in order.
Next, you need to consider what outcome you want from your marketing campaign. More patients is a good one. But then be sure your dental practice and your team are set up to convert all the new enquiries. You’d be surprised – many aren’t and that is what we will concentrate on in our next blog.