Hey guys, welcome to this week's Monday Morning Marketing episode! Join us as we sit down with the brilliant Dr. Andrew Vallo to dive into the world of startups and the pivotal role of cultivating an abundance mindset. In this conversation, we explore why you may be searching too hard for the "right" type of patient, when patients in general are what you need. Dr. Vallo sheds light on the strategic importance of patient reviews in propelling you forward and advocates for the integration of shiny offers in your ads like free whitening or raffles. From the diversity of marketing on different social platforms to the art of optimization, Dr. Vallo offers actionable steps that will redefine your startup's marketing playbook.
To dive more into startups and the best practices for a successful future, listen in to my conversation with Dr. Andrew Vallo!
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Andrew: Hey, Andrew. So
Michael: talk to us about your startup. What advice, suggestions, or methods can you give us that will
Andrew: actually help us with our startup? Hey, Michael. Yeah, I'm a big fan of startups and so we were just talking about, I'm really excited to share some of the stuff that's worked well for me.
So, you know, just quick background. I've done two startups. I'm actually preparing to open two more simultaneously here. Uh, within the next month or two we're, we're hoping to open. So, uh, it's not my first rodeo with it. I've, definitely learned some things along the way and some things the hard way.
I would say the biggest thing for me, my biggest advice to the listeners as far as what can you do to help your startup grow as quickly as possible? Is to have an abundance mindset and to lower barriers for new patients. if you get on these Facebook groups and read a lot of these posts and you see docs that are saying, oh, you know, we don't offer specials, we don't offer free whitening.
I don't wanna offer dental membership plans 'cause I don't wanna discount my services. Fee for service is the only way to go. Uh, you can't make money with, with dental insurance. I mean, you, you see all this stuff throughout the groups. my response to that is, There's a time and a place for everything.
if you have an established practice that's been around for years, you've got a recall system that's, you know, hygiene's booked out for months, doctor's schedules booked out. You know, those are the times to be picky. Those are the times to look at, where am I not making money?
Or where am I, losing money? Where I can be making money? and that's maybe the time to start looking at maybe putting some barriers up. If you're a startup and you have zero patients and you have nothing filled on the hygiene schedule, nothing filled on the doctor's schedule. You don't wanna put barriers up for patients.
you want to be as readily available for people to come in the door as possible. And when I say that, you know, I don't necessarily mean be open seven days a week 'cause I know that there's some startups that do that. all my startups start at three days a week. As soon as we get busy we, we had a fourth day.
We've got a little bit of extended hours. We do like one evening a week, one early morning a week. So I think those are nice for patients. I don't really ever go in on the weekends. 99% of the time it's not a true emergency and the patient can wait until we're open the next week. So you know, when I say be available, I don't mean in that sense, but I mean, don't create barriers by.
Not offering specials, not accepting insurance, trying to go fee for service off the bat. You know, trying to be super selective with the type of patients that you're bringing in the door. 'cause when you're first opening a startup, if you want to grow quickly, you need people and, you know, may, maybe they're not the right long-term patient.
That's, That's everything I hear too. 'cause you know, I run a lot of ads for like free whitening for new patients and you know, we used to run a lot of $98 special ads. I'll be doing those at the new startups as well. I always hear people say, like, don't those bring in the wrong kinds of patients?
When you're a startup, there's no wrong kind of patients. They're all the right kind of patients because, they're patients they're people. They're keeping you busy. They're, They're adding production to your schedule. and as the practice grows, maybe they won't be long-term patients.
Maybe they won't stick around. Maybe they're looking for the best deal and they'll go to another office later. But for the time being, they helped you grow. They served the purpose, and if, you gave them a great experience. Then, you know, hopefully they're gonna refer other people who maybe are better fits for your practice as well.
So I, I think that's probably my biggest piece of advice. kind of going off of that is getting Google reviews. Google Reviews is like the best type of free marketing that's out there. When I say free, like I guess maybe you pay for the review software. I recommend it. I, I use Swell.
I know there's different softwares, different people like, but I mean, it's like 149 bucks a month. That's basically all, all we pay for the Google reviews. And then, We just try to provide a five star experience. We, you know, ask for reviews. We have a whole system. I actually did a podcast episode all about Google reviews, where I dive in exactly how we go step by step to get all these reviews.
But my flagship office, we got 1500 Google reviews in our first two years. So that's been a huge part of our growth as well.
MMM Andrew Vallo (Startups) DRAFT-cm: Nice
Michael: man. So if we rewind a little bit. You mentioned when you're fully booked out, that's the time to make the barriers, right?
So a lot of the times we, I hear a lot of things, Andrew, sometimes people are like, you gotta start making your brand E right now, what you say no to. So make sure, you know, start off fee for service. 'cause eventually, and then I hear the opposite too, like what you're saying, right? Like, nah man, like you gotta be open and then I like your.
concept of where, be open, accept things, and then start making your berries and see what you don't like. And do, like, for example, the free whitening right, that you mentioned. How do you make that work? Like is it bleach trays or what do you do?
Andrew: so we do the opalescent go, um, like mini kits.
It costs about $20 per kit. So basically ev every new patient that comes in, they have to get a comp exam, X-rays, dental cleaning. if they get all those things, they get a free whitening kit that costs us about $20. and we're still doing that. So even, you know, we've been open over two years.
You know, this year we're on track to do like 2.75 million. we're a big practice. We're growing. We've got three full-time hygienists, hygiene recalls finally starting to kind of book out a little bit. but we still offer that as a gift to new patients. I, I think it's, it's nice to give patients a gift.
I think whitening is something that most people want. I. what we did is, you know, as the office got busier instead of getting rid of the free whitening, which has worked so well for us and is very easy to advertise, we just raised the price of our new patient special. we used to do a new patient special that included x-rays, comp exam, cleaning, and the free whitening for $98.
At that point in time, it was, pretty much a loss leader. When you think about payroll the cost of the whitening I, I use a call center, they're great, but I mean, it's $40 for every new patient that actually shows up for an appointment. So if that patient called to book the appointment, $40, they did the whitening, $20 whatever you're paying your hygienist, you add all that stuff up, I probably spent more than $98 for that patient to come in the door.
So at that point in time, it was a lost leader. But you know, the way that you're profitable is by that patient actually doing treatment, coming back for other appointments, signing up for your membership plan leaving Google reviews, what, whatever it might be, referring patients. at this point in time, we've gotten rid of our $98 special at the flagship office.
'cause that one's grown so much. we almost doubled it. And, you know, this was at the uh, advice of Dr. Chris Phelps, but, you know, I had talked to him about kind of where I was at and he said, you know, at this point in time I, think you need to increase the new patient special.
So we did. So our new patient specialist now, $188 instead of 98.
Michael: Okay. And you haven't seen any dipped 'cause of the increase or No, it's
Andrew: still the same. mean, I would say it dipped, but at the same time, we don't need as many new patients. So, you know, for a while we were seeing 250 new patients a month.
that's that point where I'm saying, Hey, barriers were as low as possible, free consultations, $98 specials, free whitening tons of ad dollars. I mean, I, I would spend up to like 20 grand a month in ad spend to get 250 new patients a month. So we were spending a lot of money to do that.
We were also, you know, a new startup practice that had months where we were doing well over $200,000 a month. So at that point in time it, it made sense to do it. at this point we only need about a hundred new patients a month to continue to grow at the pace that we're at because of our established patient base.
So I was able to cut our marketing budget down significantly, and we increased the cost of the new patient special. So we are attracting a different type of patient at this point in time. but if, I still needed 250 new patients or if things change and all of a sudden I, I needed more new patients, I would be happy to go back to that $98 special uh, to fill the schedule if we needed to.
Michael: So, real quick, how many startups do you, or how many practices do you have
Andrew: right now? two active they've both been open two years, a little bit over two years. And then I've got two more that we're simultaneously getting ready to open here in the, in the next month or two. Gotcha. And
Michael: you're doing the same type of content, like the free whitening, all that stuff in
Andrew: those I.
So I, I've got like a general dentistry brand dental boutique brand, and then I've got a dental implant brand, which is best valued dentures and implants. So they're like two totally different models. You know, obviously for patients that need dental implants, the whitenings not really a, a gimmick, so we offer free consultations, free C B C T.
We actually offer a best price guarantee. So if someone brings in uh, pricing for implants in the area, that's better, you know, we'll beat it. and we do offer, we run specials sometimes, like I'll do like $500 in implant credit if you come in for a free consultation during this time period.
And then, you know, there's stipulations. It has to be, you know, so many dollars in implant services in order to spend that $500 credit and things like that. But you need something like, like a shiny toaster in the advertise. You need something that's gonna catch the attention. That's gonna get people to actually take action to, you know, to click on that button.
And most of our advertising has been Facebook. we do a lot of Facebook Messenger ads. That's been by far the best. R o i, those ads work the best. When you do have something that you're giving, like the free whitening or the $500 in implant credit or whatever it is, we do some Google ads.
Google ads are great too. It's just it's different. the cost per new patient acquisition on Google is much higher than Facebook. but you can run different types of ads. You know, you don't have to necessarily do the specials as much with Google as you do for Facebook. So it's just, it's two totally different things.
Um, and then even I use like Instagram for like our Invisalign parties, so we do those like once every six months and, we'll sometimes close 15 to 20 cases in one afternoon of Invisalign from these Invisalign parties. and I just have found that Instagram seemed to be the best avenue for that.
So we, we advertise on different mediums for different purposes, for different offices, but yeah. What's
Michael: an Instagram party like? Break that down for me. How do you run that? The
Andrew: Invisalign parties? Yeah. Invisalign party. Yeah. basically we hype it up like it's a big event. We have like champagne and mimosas and all that.
It's free Invisalign consultation, free panoramic, X-ray, free iTero scan. And then the big way that we're bringing people in is that I actually give away a free Invisalign case every time we have a party. So basically I, you know, we attract people, we say, Hey, come to the party, have a chance to win free Invisalign treatment.
Um, and then everyone who doesn't win the Invisalign treatment gets a draw from the raffle. Um, and if they don't win that, then they're winning, like discounts on Invisalign and things like that. So we're like, Hey, you're here. You wanna do Invisalign? You just won $1,500 off Invisalign.
You wanna get started? That type of a thing. And so, it's all a, a volume game, a numbers game. So like I will typically schedule over a hundred. Invisalign consulta and we'll actually schedule 'em like real appointments. We don't just say, Hey, come between this time and this time.
Like we set them up as consultations, we'll be open like six to seven hours that day. Um, and we'll just run all of our treatment rooms. I got all hands on deck. A lot of times I'll even hire like a temp or two to help us out. We've got, you know, two or three iTeros running back and forth. but we schedule over a hundred people.
We typically have like 50 to 60 show up. 'cause even when you offer free Invisalign, people just don't show up for stuff. And then from those 50 to 60 people, you know, we've been typically closing 15 to 20 cases. So, you know, for giving away one case, some advertising dollars, payroll.
but typically our, our best day of the year is when we do these Invisalign parties as far as production goes. So how do you market
Michael: the Invisalign party? So you say you decided you want to do all this stuff now, how do you get that people to
Andrew: come on in? Yeah, so, uh, basically I, I use Canva for a lot of my advertisements, so, I, I do some of my own ads.
I, I use marketing company, they do some of their own ads, so it's a little bit I'm probably more hands-on client that I like to do some stuff myself too. Um, but like I get on Canva, I make just this quick little ad. It's usually got like, just a picture of like someone holding an Invisalign tray or something like that.
And then it says like, whatever, second annual, third annual Invisalign party chance to win free Invisalign treatment. And then it says like, all the stuff about the event. It has like the date, the, you know, the time. And then we usually put some kind of, you know, scarcity thing on there where it's like, Hey, we only have 15 guest spots left or something like that, hurry and sign up now. It's free to sign up or whatever. So we just, you know, I make like a little template, post it on Instagram and then I'll, I'll do like an Instagram, like boost post thing. I'll usually start advertising the misalign party about six weeks before.
we're doing one in late October, so pretty soon here. We'll start getting ads up for that. Start filling the schedule for it. Nice. I
Michael: like this man. So you, have you ever gotten, so when you offer free whitening and things like that, have you ever gotten people who come on in and they're like, oh, I thought this was free.
I have to do an exam and X-ray and nevermind, right. Kind of thing,
Andrew: or No. I mean, once in a while you know, at that point in time they've heard from either the call center or you know, the agent that's booking them on Facebook or whatever it is, they've talked to somebody who's explained to them, Hey, Are you planning to use insurance?
No. We've got these options. You know, right now it's $188 new patient special, or. We've got our dental membership program. It's only a dollar a day 365 per the year, and it covers you for the full year of services like cleanings, x-rays, exams, emergency visits you get discounts on treatment, things like that.
So, if someone comes in and they say, oh, I thought everything was free. They just really weren't listening, or, you know, they were trying to pull fast one or whatever it is. Over like two years of doing this free whitening, maybe a handful of times. It's like people have come in and gotten mad about it.
And then there's other times where, you know, people come in and that's like literally all they want. they don't care about anything that we find they don't want to come back for any other treatment. They just want their free whitening and, and that's it. so again, you know, to people's points, is it a perfect system?
No. But does it bring in a lot of new patients for, Pretty reasonable. R o i. Yeah, it absolutely does. So, yeah.
Michael: Yeah. And so when I ground market, that's one of the main things we utilize the free whitening. some people kind of always combat that, where they're like, well, we, to me, I'm like, you're focusing too much on that one person compared to all the other,
Andrew: you know what I mean?
People that you're bringing in. So, I like it. I talk to my team about that all the time. So, you know, I feel like if any system you do, It's never gonna have a hundred percent success. There's, There's always gonna be, you know, certain instances where something doesn't work out that way. and I think people get too hung up on those outliers, you know, like, hey if we did this free whitening, and like every other patient who came in was like, thrown a fit because they thought it was in office whitening, or, you know, they just basically came in, got the whitening left, never came back, never referred anybody.
At that point in time, it's probably not a good system, but if 90% of the time they're coming in, they're actually, you know, being a good patient, joining our practice, sticking around, doing treatment those 10% of the time it's, not worth getting hung up on that,
Michael: Awesome. Andrew, I appreciate your time and if anyone has further questions, you can definitely find 'em on the Dental Market Society Facebook group, or where can they reach out to you
Andrew: directly? Yeah. So you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Dr. Andrew Vallow. feel free to send me an email, doc vallow email@example.com.
And I am actually, we are releasing my own podcast here in just a week or two. It's called Dental Unfiltered, so feel free to check that out as well.
Michael: Nice. Well guys, that's all gonna be in the show notes below. Definitely check out his podcast. Much more information In that podcast, you gonna be talking about
Andrew: the reviews.
Oh yeah. Yeah. So we've recorded the first three episodes. The first one is just all about my story, you know, zero to four startups in just over two years. Second episode is all about how I got 1500 Google reviews in two years. And the third episode is all about our Invisalign party and exactly like step-by-step, how we do that stuff.
Michael: Okay. Yeah, so we look forward to that, man. Awesome. So Andrew, thank you so much for being with me on this Monday morning marketing episode. Thanks, Michael.