Groupon and Discount Dentistry: Why The Risk Isn’t Worth the Reward

In the ever-evolving world of dental marketing, the allure of attracting new patients through discounts, limited-time promotions, and online services like Groupon can be too tempting to pass up. Just one NCNS to ruin your schedule on a Monday morning can be all it takes to make you reconsider your entire annual marketing plan.

But just like social media, in our industry, the risk of discounted services will usually outweigh the reward. While discount offers shouldn’t be written off entirely, use caution, as one wrong choice and your practice’s reputation, case acceptance, and revenue could plummet. 

The Type of Patients Discount Dentistry Attracts

The primary issue with deep discounts is the type of patients they most often attract. Limited time promotions can work really well to get new faces in the door in industries related to luxury or leisure, but are less successful in the healthcare industry. 

In dentistry, where we focus on long-term relationships and an ethical standard of care, your practice may be at risk if you take on too many deal-seeking patients. Those who come into your practice looking for the discounted treatment and nothing more, diminish your ability to provide high-quality patient care to them and future patients.

For example, a new patient schedules an appointment for a $59 cleaning and exam. During their exam, you discover the patient has gum disease and needs a more extensive cleaning than what the discount covers. As a clinician, your duty is to provide excellent care. Telling the patient their diagnoses and recommending the best treatment is the proper step to take—but often, patients visiting for a discount want what they arrived for and will push back on a clinical diagnosis . This push back can result in negative Google reviews, poor community reputation, and money lost in wasted time and effort.

When patients are motivated by deep discounts, they will behave as though oral health services are a commodity. Instead of appreciating dental care as a valuable service that has long-lasting impacts on their quality of life, they ask for what they want, like we all do at a restaurant or nail salon. This mentality makes it challenging to provide a high standard of care because it often comes at the cost of upsetting a patient who doesn’t value your clinical ethics and expertise. 

Convert a One-Time Offer to Long-Term Success (It’s Trickier than You Think)

Despite the risks, there are times when discount dentistry may serve your marketing strategy well. If a practice has a new-patient-driven model, like many specialists or cosmetic dentists, its team will focus more on filling immediate availability, rather than chipping away at a treatment plan over time. With this approach, a practice will rarely see patients for routine maintenance, so they need a steady stream of new patients to generate revenue. Deep discounts can push that wave to a practice’s front door, but use caution, as the wave will eventually become a soft trickle. Without loyal patients and steady referrals, practices with this strategy for growth are more likely to struggle long-term. 

Additionally, if a practice or clinician is new, you may turn to discount dentistry to fill chairs with new patients. In this instance where Groupon style marketing seems reasonable, it’s critical to have a plan to ask each new patient for a referral.   That way, your practice builds long-term relationships, limits the risks associated with patients who may not appreciate your standard of care, and cultivates a steady stream of new patients who grow– independent of promotional offers.

One way to convert first-time patients who utilize a promotional offer to long-term patients, is by first offering an unbeatable experience. Then consider developing an in-house membership plan that encourages routine hygiene visits and reduced costs for needed treatment. Patients who seek discount dentistry don’t typically have dental insurance, so offering a monthly or annual membership plan that allows them to receive the care they need, can lead to a loyal patient base who appreciates your clinical authority. A word of caution: if you decide to implement an in-house membership plan, consider seeking professional counsel to ensure you follow all regulations related to running it. 

Creating a Foundation for Lasting Success 

Given the risks and difficult path to lasting success, deep discounts should not be an immediate or primary strategy. They’re not designed to help dentists build a practice legacy. For dental practices to experience longevity, they should prioritize long-term patient care instead. 

At Apex, our sole focus is to deliver an outstanding patient experience, so we position our family of practices as premium healthcare facilities. This model leads to multiple benefits, including: 

  • Higher Quality Patient Base: Patients who are attracted to a premium level of care value their oral health. They expect the best treatment plan and service, and are willing to invest in themselves to achieve a better quality of life. 
  • Greater Case Acceptance: Because our patients trust and appreciate the knowledge, skill, and excellence of their dentist, they are more likely to follow through with the treatment plan prescribed to them. 
  • Consistent Revenue: Patients who accept treatment intend to stay at a dental practice. This reliability can support your practice in driving a loyal patient base that consistently drives revenue. 
  • Long-term Patient Relationships: With loyal patients, dentists have an opportunity to develop deeper relationships. As you cultivate stronger bonds with your patients, your referral stream will grow, paving a healthy way to attract premium new patients. 

When your practice is positioned as a premium facility, you’ll naturally achieve consistent revenue, high case acceptance, and an excellent reputation within the community you serve. 

The Decision Makes a Difference

While discount offers can initially attract new patients, the risks associated with discount dentistry often outweigh the reward. By focusing instead on building long-term relationships and providing high-quality patient care, your practice can grow its reputation, case acceptance, and revenue. 

If you’re ready to position your practice as a premium healthcare facility with world-class support in marketing, technology, and the services that attract patients who value your clinical excellence, contact us today for a free practice appraisal.

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