Other avenues an office can take provide more hands-on involvement in meeting and greeting members of the community.
Say the following word five times, as fast as you can: Sell, sell, sell, sell, sell. It's OK; lightning will not strike. Your hygiene halo will not turn into the devil's horns. It is acceptable to use the word in reference to the hygiene profession.
We sell every day! We sell our kids on keeping their rooms clean. We sell our partners on the fact that we are the best companions in the universe. We sell fellow hygienists on the merits of the ADHA. We sell the other car-pooling parents on picking up the kids two days in a row.
We sell ... and it's OK. As producers in a dental office, we should consider that our clients actually pay our salaries. No client, no money. So we should be willing to get over using the "S" word. We should be thinking about working hard to attract new clients, especially as our world chimes of uncertainty and many offices are experiencing a downturn. As motivated and valuable team members, hygienists should broach the topic of creating community outreach marketing (selling) programs.
Many offices hire a publicist or a marketing firm to coordinate radio, television, newspaper, magazine, and/or direct-mail marketing. These options can create a high profile for the office within the community. Other avenues an office can take provide more hands-on involvement in meeting and greeting members of the community (selling your services and your practice!).
For example, find out from your local chamber of commerce about upcoming business expos, bridal fairs, mall events, and/or health fairs. Or arrange a "smiles and health" theme at local meetings for parent/teacher organizations, senior centers, library groups, schools, colleges, etc.
In addition, how about combining community programs and a worthy cause? For example, the Smiles Against Hate Program™ is a nonprofit, community- and school-based outreach program that was established by Ultradent Products, Inc. (www.ultradent .com). This progressive outreach program is committed to preventing hate crimes and intolerance.
Smiles Against Hate teams up with dental offices and organizations such as genR8Ting Smiles, the exclusive fund-raising branch of genR8Tnext. During the genR8Tnext program, for example, participating dentists and teams donate the time they spend on tooth-whitening treatments for clients. They do it for a pre-established time of year (the month of September, for example), or they arrange it to occur during a day the office is normally closed. Doctors and team members unite and donate their time for both marketing the "whitening day" and the clinical procedures. During the day of fund-raising, staff members take impressions, fabricate trays, distribute whitening materials, and follow-up information. All client fees generated from the tooth-whitening treatments will be contributed directly to the national Smiles Against Hate program or to other previously designated causes.
Incidentally, Ultradent recently launched "Smiles Against Hate, For Hope." This is a new fund raising program based on the company's sealant product. Ultradent will donate UltraSeal XT Sealant, the oral health team provides the in-office service, and the funds generated will be dedicated to the 10,000 children and other victims of the tragic September 11th events. Call (800) 552-5512 for more details and an information packet.
When corporations partner with private practices for community outreach fundraisers, they usually donate the kits and materials that will be used by staff members participating in a fund-raising program.
So how do you start a fund-raiser? Consider the following steps:
- Add an item to your next team meeting and open discussions about community programs. Let them know that you are willing to organize or help kick off a fund-raiser.
- Have flyers made at a local printing shop; some might be happy to donate the printing costs.
- Pass the flyers around to the local stores, beauty shops, restaurants, cosmetic surgeons, and fire and police departments.
- Contact local newspapers or television stations, or alert your office's publicist to help get the word out.
Some steps to remember in regard to setting up at health fairs include the following:
- Provide information or fact sheets on smoking cessation, periodontal disease and systemic disease, proper use of antibiotics, benefits and ease of whitening, etc.
- Create a beautiful corner in the exhibit hall or on the fair table. Move the table (should be covered with a cloth) to the back, avoiding a barrier between you and passersby. Use your intraoral camera, imaging, and pictures of beautiful smiles.
- Create a list of visitors to your booth, collect their e-mail addresses, and ask permission to contact them after the fair.
- Move around and walk the "floor" — meet and greet.
- Sponsor a giveaway or prizes.
- Nonverbal messages are strong communicators, so wear distinctive shirts/clothes. Make sure all team members and doctors who "work the show" look their best — smiles, hair, makeup, nails, etc.
- Remember your nastiest exhibit hall experience from a dental meeting and do the opposite.
- Finally, have fun and sell!
Kristine A. Hodsdon, RDH, BS, presents seminars nationally about esthetic hygiene. She also has developed Pre-D Systems, a pre-diagnostic computerized clinical checklist for oral health professionals. She can be contacted through www.pre-d.com.