Dental care is one of the unmet needs of children today. Even before the pandemic, not all children had access to dental care. This has been exacerbated by restrictions and fears brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. As dental practitioners, it is your duty to advocate for dental health, especially in these times.
One of the ways to expand your dental practice is by partnering with institutions and organizations that care for children. These include daycare centers, private schools, pediatric medical offices, tutoring centers, kids’ gyms, and other places that cater to children’s needs. However, this is easier said than done. Establishing a partnership with children’s centers also comes with challenges and requires specific strategies.
How to Partner Up with Pediatric Offices and Children’s Centers
- Start with community research
Ground marketing typically starts with community research. Look around the community, get to know the people, and find establishments you can partner up with. To optimize the use of your time and minimize effort, start your community research in the most convenient place—your favorite search engine.
Simply use Google to search for daycare centers near you, children’s learning facilities, tutoring centers, schools, and districts, among others. Look at the places of interest that show up on your search, and check their reviews. Go beyond the numbers and skim through what people actually say about them. Places that have great positive feedback for cool events are your best bets.
- Categorize your list and plan your engagement strategy
Your research should have resulted in a substantial list of prospects. Organize your list into categories. You can categorize them into daycares, pediatric offices, elementary schools, preschools, learning facilities, and so on. This will help you plan your engagement strategy for each category.
For ground marketing, take note of the location of each establishment. You may want to group those that are in the same area together to maximize your trip when you do your visits. Include about three to five establishments in a group, and jot down their contact numbers. Block out 10 minutes of your work time each day to call a group of numbers.
- Prepare a script for your calls
Your first phone call starts your engagement, so you’d want to make a good impression. Prepare a script you can follow, but practice it so that it comes out naturally. The last thing you want to happen is to sound like an automated recording or a salesman reading a boring pitch.
Your script will vary depending on the institution you’re trying to connect with, but it should include the basics. Start by briefly introducing yourself and your dental office. Try to be less formal but still sound professional. Then quickly follow this with an offer for a free dental kit or goodies for the kids. Something like, “Hello, I’m Jasmine from the dental office down the street from (name of center). I wanted to see if it was ok if we could give the children some free take-home kits and talk to them about the importance of taking care of their teeth?” (full script and strategy can be found in the course)
Most will accept your offer. When they do, ask if you can set up a small booth near their entrance around the time the parents come to pick up their kids. This is crucial for your ground marketing efforts because one of your goals is to engage with the parents and caregivers.
- Make the most out of rejections
In a perfect world, every establishment you reach out to will accept your offer and be your partner in a snap. But that isn’t always the case, so expect some of your prospects to decline. Don’t be discouraged though. Make the most out of these rejections by asking them politely why they have declined your offer. This will help you adjust and adapt your marketing strategy.
Some establishments may already have a dentist who comes by on a regular basis. But you don’t have to completely cross off those places from your list. Tell them you’d be able to pitch in if their dentist is unable to come and you’d love to participate if they have health and wellness activities in the future.
- Connect with nearby establishments through quick visits
Phone calls are convenient, but physically going to your prospect makes for better connections. This is especially true for pediatric offices where phone calls won’t be as effective. You can visit nearby establishments near break time, so it seems that you just happened to be in that place.
When you walk in, be casual instead of too business-like. Prepare a slightly different script than the one you have for voice calls, but use the same casual and genial tone. Start by asking for more information about their services. Then segue into something like, “Yeah, I’m actually with the dental clinic right down the street from here. We have lots of families and parents who inquire about services like yours… so I just wanted to have your information on hand and in our office, ready to give to the parents.” Most establishments will agree with this, as it helps their marketing efforts too. Turn this into a partnership by asking if you could leave your information with them as well. You can bring your brochures and flyers later in the day or within the week at the most.
- Start a referral program for employees
The dental care industry is built on trust. Most people choose a dentist based on the recommendation of friends and family. You’d want to be among those that people would talk about and refer to others. Starting a referral program can help you accomplish this. When you offer your pitch to pediatric offices and children’s centers, include discounts for their institution and referral bonuses for recommendations. You can also give employees an exclusive reason to sign up with offers for free cleaning, whitening, or other dental services.
- Go district to widen your reach
A great way to gain access to multiple schools is to head to the school district. Staff working at school districts have vast connections in all the schools under them.
Build a relationship with people from the district office. Offer them free dental services, exclusive discounts, or referral points. Whenever you visit, bring some treats to make them feel valued. Establishing rapport with them helps you stay updated on school events that you could participate in.
- Keep your ground marketing well-organized
Your ground marketing efforts will only be successful if they are well-planned and organized. Use a workbook, calendar, and other efficiency tools to manage your leads and confirm appointments. Although your target is to establish a partnership with as many institutions in your area as you can, you would want to focus on just two or three at a time. You do not want to spread yourself too thin and be too caught up in marketing that you hardly have time and energy for your actual practice. Also, this gives you more opportunity to form a connection with each institution and build a long-term relationship with them.
Bring value to their organization
One of your primary goals in forming partnerships may be to find new patients and generate leads directly to your practice. However, don’t make it all about expanding your dental practice. Focus more on delivering value to the community, and everything else will follow. When you offer daycare centers, schools, and pediatric offices to partner up with you, put something on the table that will bring value to them. You can offer free dental services for children from low-income families, conduct seminars for parents and caregivers, or work with educators on integrating dental health education into their curriculum.
Be an Advocate, not a Merchant
Let advocating for dental health be your goal in partnering with institutions involved in childcare. Implementing sound ground marketing strategies can help you establish your reputation as a reliable dental practitioner in your community. For more ideas and advice on how to enhance your ground marketing initiatives, feel free to check out the pediatric dental marketing course today.