Low prices. Quality service. Every day since 1945.

My Account
shopping cart0
Safco Logo
Free shipping on orders over $250

Interview with Dr. James Willis

Interview with Dr. James Willis

By way of introduction, my name is Adam Smith. I am currently the part owner of a dental practice called Oxford Dental Care. However, I got my start in the dental industry several years ago with a company called Dental Intel. I was their original data analyst tasked with analyzing the financials and the data of a few hundred different dental practices. It was during that time where I realized the power of using data to make informed decisions to achieve desired results. A few months ago I had the idea to interview some of the most successful dentists that I could find when it comes to attracting new patients. Now remember, I am a huge number geek, so when I say successful I am looking at ROI and not just patients in the door. I don’t care how many patients you get in the door if you spend all of your income doing it!

As I discussed this idea with several colleagues, many of them expressed interest in seeing the results. I reached out to Safco to see if they would be interested in running some articles that would provide in-depth marketing strategies from dentists who are getting phenomenal results. So here we are! Now let’s get to the value!

I recently had the chance to interview Dr. James Willis who is the owner of Burke Dental in Burke, Virginia. Dr. Willis has owned his practice for about four years now. If you ask Dr. Willis, he will be the first to admit that he struggled getting new patients initially. I was aware of his frustration early on, so when I heard that things had really turned around for him, I obviously wanted to find out more.

Adam Smith: What are some things that you were trying early on in your practice that didn’t provide the ROI you expected?

Dr. Willis: When I first purchased my practice, we put a lot of focus into print marketing. I sent out post cards on a monthly basis for about three years. I invested $149 per month into these with only a few new patients coming in off of them in total. I will say that I let these run longer than I probably should have, but I was really hopeful that they would work. I am not saying that these don’t work. I am sure they work for some people, but for us, with our offer and our market, they were very unfruitful.

Adam Smith: What is working now? Can you provide details of how long you have done it for, how long it took to start working, how much it cost, which companies you used and how many patients you got from it?

Dr. Willis: I am getting a majority of my new patients through online marketing and patient referrals. Patient referrals come because we work really hard to take great care of our patients. When they give us a compliment we ask them to refer their friends, and then we send them a thank you gift when they do. Our digital marketing is something that took me a long time to get going with, but has been a great tool for attracting new patients.

I had a friend who reached out to me to tell me about a company he had started using to help him with his online presence. He was seeing great results and gave me the contact information. I had been looking at digital marketing options and gathering as much information as I could. I had one phone call with the owner of that company and he blew away all of the knowledge that I had gained in my research. We are only a few months into the campaign and we are already seeing awesome new patient flow coming from online.

Adam Smith: Can you give me some ROI details?

Dr. Willis: We are still very early in the process, but let’s just say that I have seen more new patients on a weekly basis coming from online than I saw for my ENTIRE post card campaign. I can’t give the exact ROI at this point because the number of new patients is still increasing month over month, but it is well over 500% per month if I am just counting the initial visit.

Adam Smith: What advice would you give a new dentist when it comes to marketing?

Dr. Willis: When planning your marketing strategy, ask yourself several questions and take adequate time to carefully consider your responses.

  1. What kind of practice do you want to build?
  2. What are the practice areas that you want to focus on? What type of dentistry do you enjoy providing?
  3. Are you primarily interested in treating children, young adults, the elderly?
  4. Are you in a densely populated area or in a more sparsely populated area?
  5. Will your ideal new patient be likely to use the internet to find a dentist, or should you focus more on printed media?
  6. What is the average level of education of the population you hope to attract?
  7. What is the average income of the population likely to come to your location? Income levels may have a direct impact on the types of procedures you want to feature in your marketing campaigns.

Practicing the type of dentistry you want to provide to the demographic of your ideal patient directly impacts your day-to-day enjoyment of your job.

A new patient told me today, “you really do love what you do, don’t you. It shows, and that makes me feel happy about my decision to come here”. Regarding the type of marketing you use, you need to know the type of person you are targeting. But above all, build yourself a strong reputation by treating every single patients with respect and provide the best dentistry you are capable of providing. Word-of-mouth marketing is powerful. Your strongest marketing team is your patient family who will recommend you to their family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.

Remember, and this was difficult for me to figure out, build a marketing strategy with multiple pieces, don’t just look for a silver bullet.

Adam Smith
Oxford Dental Care

Leave a Reply