Why hold a dental open house event
In my opinion, there is really no more friendly way to say thank you to your existing patients and hello to your future patients than to open your doors up wide and invite them in. This is a wonderful opportunity to reach unlimited members of the dental community.
Your open house gives you the opportunity to make connections in a casual and relaxed atmosphere, when you and your staff are not on the job.
Planning your open house
When planning your open house think about the following elements:
Determining the target audience for your open house should be your first priority. Is it all of your patient base or just a specific section (e.g. parents and families or people over a certain age who may be interested in implants)?
- Community (local businesses/non-patients)
You may also wish to invite referring specialists, local businesses, and well-known people in your area. Through word of mouth, your practice may benefit from impressing community figures as well as local families.
2. Date and time
Every open house should offer guests a window of time to drop in and visit. A two to three hour window enables patients to visit your office at their leisure. Weekends, late afternoons, and early evenings after normal business hours are good times to choose for an open house because fewer people will have conflicts with work.
Once you set the date for your open house, you need to think about how you are going to get people there.
You should also post signs in your office to draw patients’ interest. Let them know they are welcome to bring family and friends.
Think about what services you plan to highlight at your open house and you can add them to your invitations.
Think about promoting a patient special for that day and schedule patients during the event. Think about your ideal patient and what services you are trying to promote and grow within your practice.
5. On-site health seminars
You may wish to hold free seminars on the day that demonstrate the importance of oral health, e.g. a tutorial on proper brushing for small children, a healthy snacks seminar talking about what foods are good for your teeth, a talk on implants, etc. Link these seminars to the services you are promoting.
6. Cross-marketing opportunities
An open house is a perfect opportunity to team up with local businesses such as hair or beauty salons, specialist practices, restaurants, etc. Ask them to advertise your event at their place of business and in return display a thank you and provide an area where they can display their business information at your practice on the day. They may also wish to contribute a prize for a giveaway.
Everybody loves to leave with a giveaway. Give all attendees a gift bag with branded promotional items, practice information, and a welcome letter or flyer. Remember to include information about your practice, services offered, special offers, and a thank you for coming in.
8. Draw / raffle for prizes
Having a draw or raffle allows you to collect the names and contact information of the guests. Be sure to gather names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers.
Remember that any competition is subject to your individual state’s laws. Speak to your marketing consultant to ensure that your draw fits with your state laws and legislation.
Have some children’s activities available. Great ideas are face painting, balloon twisting, craft table and a lucky dip.
10. Food and drink
Have a selection of drinks, finger food, and snacks available. You may even wish to get a local restaurant, business, or caterer to donate food and beverages in return for being able to promote their business at the event and on advertising.
11. Call to action / community support
By adding a charitable element, patients will not only see your practice but also what you stand for and care about. Identify a local charity to support and see what they need and how you could help.
Collecting people’s information
When having an open house it is critical that you gather the information from everyone who steps through your door. With this information you can then contact them and continue to promote your practice. Without this information you have missed the greatest opportunity – that is to build your marketing database
In order to gather people’s information you need to offer something they value for their name and contact information. Examples of this could to run a competition to win a meal for four a local family restaurant or to win a family pass to a local family attraction.
Open house follow up
After the event
What you do after the event is critical. You have spent a significant amount of time, money, and energy, and now it’s time to follow up.
It is inconceivable to spend money on an open day and not have an effective follow-up system in place. Prompt response to the prospective patients you met at your open house is critical. Have the campaign designed and ready to launch right after the open house. A prompt, professional, tailored response is a great way to make your practice stand out and look professional.
Follow up process
Have a specific, tailored process and plan for ongoing nurturing prepared before you hold your open house. Don’t just dump open house leads into your marketing database or sign them up for your monthly newsletter indiscriminately.
Use a variety of contact methods
I recommend that you use a variety of means to follow up when you are planning you follow up process.
Prepare your follow up materials
I also recommend you prepare follow-up material and scripts for your team well in advance. This will enable the follow-up to happen within a day or two after the event when your practice is still fresh in the minds of the people you met.
Why you need to track
It is incredibly important to have a system in place to track your referrals. You need to have a monitoring system in place to know if your marketing dollars effectively spent. If your administrative team isn’t tracking referral sources, then you can’t make smart decisions about future marketing spend, and you won’t know if you are on track to hit your targets.
Carolyn Dean is the author of ‘Fully booked – Dental marketing secrets for a full appointment book’ and is the managing director at My Dental Marketing. Carolyn is a widely known seminar speaker and dental marketing consultant working with over twenty-five years’ experience in sales and marketing, working with some of the largest global IT organisations.