Generating New Patients by Using Surveys

How do you market for new patients in a cost efficient and effective manner? Starting with internal marketing is always the best approach­, as it produces the most cost effective return, which is of utmost importance in managing a practice. Surveys are one method of internal marketing. But how do you go about generating new patients by using surveys?

Here’s the first tip that you can use to more effectively market: do a simple survey with all new patients who come in, in order to find out what brought them to your practice. This can be done as part of their new-patient intake forms, or the receptionist or any other designated staff member can ask the questions verbally.

We have a variety of prepared surveys for our clients to use. Here are examples of some questions you can use to create your own survey:

  • If you were referred, who referred you and what did that person say to interest you in our office?
  • If you responded to an ad, which one did you see? What about it attracted you?
  • If you responded to our website, how did you locate it and what about it interested you?

A second tip is to use surveys on your existing patient base. Start by going through your existing patient records and find about 50 of your “A-list” patients/clients. Do a demographic search of where your best patients/clients are from. Then write a survey for those patients/clients to find out:

  • what attracted them to your practice,
  • what keeps them coming back to your practice,
  • what they like the most about your practice and
  • which services, if any, they would like to receive from you that you don’t currently offer.

You can then use this information to target the greatest demographic area of your A-list patients/clients and use their survey answers as “hot buttons” in a marketing campaign targeted to generate more patients/clients who are similar to those A-list patients/clients.

This is called targeted marketing. It’s all about generating quality patients and clients, not just getting people to walk through the door. Quality patients keep their appointments, follow your treatment programs, pay their bills, spend more than their insurance allotment, etc. These are the kinds of patients/clients you want to generate for your practice.

If you can determine in which area your best patients/clients reside and what brought them to you in the first place, you can then design a marketing campaign to generate more of those types of patients and clients.

Don’t just guess at what you think will bring new patients/clients in the door. Find out what got your best patients/clients there and use that information to your advantage. “Know before you go” is the motto of all good marketing. You find out the “know” by surveying.

If you are an owner and would like free help on collecting past due accounts or any other management topic, fill out the form to your right, and we will be more than happy to assist you. Scroll to top


If you are an owner and would like free help on collecting past due accounts or any other management topic, fill out the form below, and we will be more than happy to assist you.

12 Steps to Collect Past Due Accounts

Collecting on past due accounts is a function that the Accounts Manager will find herself/himself having to do. Any contact with a patient/client, even under these circumstances, should be kept on a friendly, professional and dignified basis. This will promote respect for the office and its business practices.

Always remember the following points with regard to your patients/clients:

  • Most people have good intentions and want to cooperate with agreements that they have made.
  • Although a person’s account may be overdue, most people still have a good intention to take care of it.
  • Most people prioritize their bills and will first pay those that they feel are most pressing.
  • Most people with past due accounts will pay those bills where someone is actively requesting them to pay.

Bearing in mind the above, your role is to arrange to be one of the creditors that your patients/clients will not delay paying. The following points may be helpful in this regard:

  1. Bill promptly every month.
  2. Ensure that your bills are accurate.
  3. Ensure that you have the original signed financial agreement from your patient/client.
  4. Contact the patient/client as soon as you realize the account has become delinquent.
  5. When you speak with the patient/client, let them know that you believe that they are able to make payment.
  6. Let the patient/client know that you expect to be paid, and refresh their memory on the signed agreement.
  7. Allow the patient/client their self-respect; never back them into a corner, insult or badger the patient/client.
  8. Explain to the patient/client that you want to help him/her work it out so that they can maintain the agreement that they made with your office.
  9. Be prepared to offer some options to the patient/client that they may not have considered.
  10. Be willing to really communicate with the patient/client so that a true understanding and agreement can be reached.
  11. If absolutely necessary, utilize the credit reporting associations. Let the patient/client know that you are planning to do so and that this will go on their credit rating.
  12. As a last resort, utilize the services of a collection agency, and let the patient/client know that you plan to do so.

If you are an owner and would like free help on collecting past due accounts or any other management topic, fill out the form to your right, and we will be more than happy to assist you. Scroll to top


If you are an owner and would like free help on collecting past due accounts or any other management topic, fill out the form below, and we will be more than happy to assist you.

Marketing: Why are Surveys Important to Your Practice?

Are you as confident in your ability to get a steady flow of new patients into your practice as you are in your ability to provide high quality technical care?

You should know that successful marketing has a technology that, when applied correctly, will get results with the same predictability that you get clinical results on your patients. This technology, whether applied to internal or external marketing, will help you generate a steady flow of new patients. This article contains a brief overview of some of these key marketing techniques used to bring about these results.

Patient Records

By examining your current patient base, you’ll be able to approach and execute your marketing projects with increased confidence. You will find out who uses your services most often and you’ll gain an understanding of their health needs.
Look over the records of patients you’ve seen over the past several months. Collect and tabulate information from the files such as age, occupation, gender, income and location. Doing this will give you an excellent picture of who your patients are, and you can profile your typical patient. Having this information on hand will allow you to tailor your promotion and public relations events to your majority audience.

As you’re collecting information from the patient files, also count and categorize the types of services you deliver to the different groups. This provides you with a deeper understanding of what people in the various demographic categories need and want from you. It will help you decide which services to emphasize in your promotion.


The information learned from surveys is your road map to successful marketing and promotion – both internal and external. National surveys provided by trade publications and other agencies can be helpful, but there is no substitute for finding out what the people in your own area are thinking and what would motivate them to walk into your practice.

Read Part II of this article to understand, whom to survey, how to survey, and the different types of surveys to be done. Request “Marketing: How are Surveys Important to Your Practice? – Part II” (highly recommended).

Read Part II of this article to understand, whom to survey, how to survey, and the different types of surveys to be done. Request “Marketing: How are Surveys Important to Your Practice? – Part II” (highly recommended) Scroll to top


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Presenting Treatment Plans – The Do’s and Don’ts

Are you advocating for the patient’s health or his wallet?

How should a treatment plan be presented?

What can a doctor and staff do to ensure a high acceptance rate?

What does all this have to do with sales?

These questions, left unanswered, could potentially cost a practice untold sums, quality of care can suffer, new and repeat business can drop off, office morale can be low and practicing can lose it’s entire purpose if patients are not receiving the care that they need.

Confusion About “Sales” Will Cost Practices a Fortune.

A sale is simply an exchange where all parties involved receive something of value. In healthcare professions, a patient receives care to fix a health problem and/or maintain good health. In exchange for the work done, the staff and doctor are paid.

A successful practice includes doctors and staff who care enough to sell patients exactly what they need. Each doctor is key in the sales cycle because without the doctor diagnosing and planning treatment for the correct care, there would be nothing to sell.

Most confusions stem from the false ideas that people have about sales. High-pressure techniques used by some people can leave a bad impression and make patients/clients want to shy away from buying at all. These techniques are not true sales techniques. In fact, using them can set a doctor up for failure. So to does going out of your way to avoid using any sales techniques at all.

Convincing vs. Selling

Convincing a person that they need to buy something is a different activity than selling them on an idea, service or product. Selling is really nothing more than obtaining agreement. A patient who understands the treatment needed and agrees that it needs to be done — and they are going to do it — is a result of a successful treatment plan presentation. In an attempt to convince a patient to accept a plan, a doctor often talks too much, which in most cases works against him. Good communication, then, becomes a key factor. A doctor using communication skills that serve to enlighten and educate will bring a patient to a point of understanding and agreement.

The Patient vs. The Wallet

Doctors can become so worried about whether or not the patient is going to consider a plan too expensive that they actually neglect giving the patient the true treatment plan. We have not met a doctor who does not consider him/herself a good technician. Yet, when it comes to passing treatment information along to a patient, a doctor can get in a habit of making the presentation more palatable by reducing the plan. Concerns about what the patient might think can get in the way. The wallet, then, becomes the center of attention rather than the exact treatment that the patient needs. Doctors do know what patients need, and this should be clearly expressed to the patient or the likelihood of primarily doing “patch-up” work will enter into the practice.

Plan A or Plan B or Plan C?

The doctor may give the patient too many choices. The patient is not a physician and, therefore, does not know what’s best for him. Patients rely on the doctor to tell them what they need. If the doctor doesn’t do that but gives them a choice between Plan A, Plan B or Plan C, the patient will naturally ask the cost of the different plans and select the least expensive one. Asking a patient to make a choice between a $600 plan, a $350 plan and a $195 plan will cause suspicion. One of the most common misconceptions about doctors is that they’re all rich. A patient may wonder why you would do a $600 plan if a $195 plan will suffice.

Read Part II of this article to see how “Maybe vs. You Need,” “Hesitancy vs. Help,” “Integrity” and much more, coincides with presenting the best treatment plan.” Request “Presenting Treatment Plans: The Do’s and Don’ts – Part II” (highly recommended) Scroll to top


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Profile: Dr. Nancy Summer Lerch, DDS

Dentistry and Women’s Advocacy

Practice: Center for Esthetic Dentistry

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Dr. Nancy Summer Lerch is an evangelist for women in dentistry. “Being a woman in dentistry is a very great asset. Like any asset it’s something to be shared. It’s a very, very good thing,” she said.

Dr. Lerch explained, “Dentistry is a great career for women because we can arrange our career and work time any we want. It is set up to be very beneficial for women in juggling family in terms of managing time and resources. There are a lot more serious, seasoned male dentists looking for female associates to augment their practices. New female dentists can write their tickets any way they want. The opportunities are abundant.”

Dr. Lerch is very familiar with how those opportunities can be utilized. “I rented space from a dentist friend in his off hours and saw my own patients on a $10,000 loan from a bank in 1982,” she said.

From that modest loan, she built a thriving practice and today she has one of the most acclaimed dental practices in New Haven, Connecticut.

Her practice has received the “Best of New Haven County” award by the regional Advocate newspaper for eight years running.

She has had articles featuring her practice and cosmetic dentistry in the New Haven Register and has been consulted by national magazines like Vogue and Redbook, for articles they were writing about cosmetic dentistry.

Even given her excellence and her accolades, Dr. Lerch knew something needed to change in her practice to boost it to the next level. She wanted her practice to become more organized and productive than it was. She wanted to grow but didn’t know what was stopping her.

“My production had flatlined. I wanted to know how to handle that…what to do to expand my practice to the next level,” she said. With that in mind, Dr. Lerch hired a practice management consulting firm to help her achieve these new goals.

“The biggest difference consulting has made is the change in my staff. They got properly trained and grew in competency. I also moved my hygienist into the practice manager position so now I don’t have to sweat the small stuff. The management consultant saw that she knew how to run the office and train the staff. Now I have someone to handle the day to day management of the practice and staff for me,” she declared confidently.

Dr. Lerch has now been in practice for 22 years after graduating from the University of Washington School of Dentistry in 1982 and spending two years at the University of Connecticut School of Dentistry in Family Dentistry Residency. Her undergraduate degree was obtained from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

She is also very active in and dedicated to ensuring the future of ethical dentistry in Connecticut. She is the immediate Past President of the New England Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and attained her Accreditation in Cosmetic Dentistry in 1990, given by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). She is the fourth woman to ever do so. She now serves as an official Examiner and mentor for the Accreditation process. She also served as editor of the AACD Journal from 1992 through 1994.

She loves reading and swimming and being with people. She is also a wine and food enthusiast. She has a son and daughter, ages 10 and 18 respectively. She, along with her husband and children, ski as a family and her son recently came in 8th in the state of Connecticut for children 10 and under at a major skiing tournament. Her family has a camp in the Adirondacks that they’ve owned for nearly 100 years. Her time with her family, enjoying the fruits of her labor, has undergone a nice change since implementing the systems provided by her consultant. Increased quality of life went hand in hand with increased production.

She advises women dentists to “Get into the community and mingle. It is totally possible for any woman to do this. Being gentle and nurturing can help a woman start any practice she wants. It’s still a bit of a novelty. People are surprised at the difference between a male and a female dentist.”

You can learn more about Dr. Lerch and her practice at