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Clinic Owners: How to Know When to Dump Your Marketing Company (or Your Front Desk)

Posted by Rick Lau on Jun 25, 2019 7:00:00 AM
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Marketing Metrics for Dental Offices

1st Clue: Are They Showing You Marketing Metrics that Actually Mean Something?

Which marketing metrics should you pay attention to, and which ones can you ignore?

I had a talk recently with a clinic owner in my #clinicboss community that shines a light on all the ‘dead numbers’ marketing companies like to boast about.

Here’s his story:

He’s been operating his clinic for about five years, and has been crushing it, hitting almost $1 million in sales last year. But in terms of revenue, he noticed he has been starting to plateau (if you are growing less than 15% a year, you have plateaued in my world). Have you ever experienced this? When your revenue flattens, you have a few choices for what to do:

1) Nothing – just be content with whatever profits you’re making, and hope nothing changes for the worse

2) Make changes to your clinic business – including monitoring marketing metrics like call tracking

3) Jump down the rabbit hole of online marketing

You can guess which one this clinic owner chose (the same one you probably think you need to do more of, because it’s what everyone is obsessed with these days).

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That would be #3 – the classic mistake of believing online marketing can fix all your revenue problems.

He noted that all the new clinics starting up seem to be on Instagram and Facebook (aka Wastebook), and so he felt compelled to do the same. If they’re all doing it, it must be working, right?

So, for the past three months, he’s been spending $1000 per month on Google and Facebook marketing. In that time, he’s seen no measurable increase in new patients, and his revenue still clings to the same plateau line. No growth. No change.

But his marketing company sure is excited!

They’ve got all these next-gen marketing metrics like site impressions, unique visitor counts, click through rates, likes and followers. And look – they’re going up! Isn’t it exciting? Your marketing is “working,” they tell him.

But is it?

The very reason I was having this conversation was because his revenue was still flat.

The Marketing Metrics that Matter

Here are some marketing metrics that actually matter. If your marketing company can’t show you these numbers, you might want to dump them and find someone who can.

Cost per Assessment 

If I spend $1000 on online marketing, and I book 20 new patients that month through that marketing, then my Cost per Assessment is $50. If your average patient spends $500 in lifetime revenue at your clinic, then you’re making $450 in revenue for each new patient acquired through that marketing channel.

That’s a good deal.

Can online marketing produce that kind of result? Maybe. The point of this story is – if you aren’t looking at the right marketing metrics – you’ll never know. If you’re not tracking the right metrics, how will you know if that marketing is the source of your 20 new patients?

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If click-throughs and page visits don’t correlate to revenue, then why are we looking at those marketing metrics?

With any marketing company, you must insist on knowing how many new and/or returning patients their work is generating, and at what cost, so you can calculate your Cost per Assessment. If that marketing strategy is working (“working” now means – generating revenue above the cost per patient) – then keep doing it.

You can apply this same standard to all your marketing, be it doctor marketing, direct mail, community marketing, convention booths, email marketing – doesn’t matter. All of them, when tracked with the right metrics, can be measured in terms of Cost per Assessment.

Here’s a Youtube clip from my recent webinar I led comparing two ways of running a clinic business




Answer Rate – Call Tracking Metric

How many calls does your clinic receive every month? How many of those get answered by a real, live person?

We’ve measured call tracking metrics like the Answer Rate for over thousands of clinics in North America. Believe it or not (and many don’t believe it until they measure their own clinic) – the average Answer Rate is about 70%.  

Below is  call funnel simply describes the journey from a new caller through to a booked new patient in your schedule.  

For the dental office, here are the funnel based on 1000 phone calls each month: 

Call Tracking Metrics for Dental Offices

That means you’re missing 30% of your calls or 300 calls every month. Either they don’t get answered at all and the caller hangs up, or it goes to voicemail (but who leaves voicemails anymore?), or they get put on hold and hang up before talking to anyone.

30% of potential business, gone before you even speak to them.

Now, combine this with the Cost per Assessment metric from earlier. Suppose you have a functioning marketing channel. Even an online one. And suppose it’s delivering 20 new patients every month who call your clinic.

If your Answer Rate is languishing down in the dumps around 70% (or worse – we’ve seen them below 50%!), then you’re only talking to 14 of those 20 potential new patients.

Now, because of a dysfunctional patient experience operation, your Cost per Assessment has gone from $50 (assuming $1000 spent for the month, as before) up to $71. That’s an increase in costs of over 40%, caused by the simple failure to answer the phone.

Because remember – these are real patients calling because of your costly marketing, and you’re just not getting them on the phone when they call. That’s a tragedy of bankrupting proportions.


Booking Rate - Call Tracking Metric

The Booking Rate measures the number of new patients booked compared to the number of callers. For typical clinics we’ve measured, average booking rates hover around a dismal 60%.

Let’s combine that with the previous two call tracking and marketing metrics. You spent $1000 on marketing. 20 people called your clinic. You only answered 14 of those calls. With a 60% Booking Rate, only 8 of those 14 get booked for an actual appointment.

Now, your Cost per Assessment has risen to $125. That’s 150% higher than it would have been if all 20 new patients calling your clinic got answered and booked for appointments.

Admittedly, it’s unlikely you’ll answer and book 100% of your callers. But you should most certainly be able to achieve an Answer Rate of 95% and a Booking Rate of 80%. I say that because we’ve helped so many clinic owners get there. Such as Jamie – see how he uses call metrics in this Youtube video.




Let’s summarize everything we just talked about: 

What NOT to Do:

Spend $1000 on a marketing channel

Get 20 phone calls from NEW patients

Answer 14 of them – 70%

Book 8 of them – 60%

Cost per Patient - $125/new patient


What to Do Instead:

Spend $1000 on a marketing channel

Get 20 phone calls from NEW patients

Answer 19 of them – 95%

Book 15 of them – 80%

Cost per Patient - $67/new patient

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  • Convert More Calls


Same marketing expense. Half the Cost per Assessment. 

This is the profit potential waiting at your clinic’s doorstep if you just improve your key call tracking metrics – the Answer Rate and the Booking Rate.

What the Clinic Owner Said After Seeing These Marketing Metrics

After I showed the clinic owners I introduced to you at the outset all these marketing and call tracking metrics, his response was predictable and true: “I don’t know my metrics.”

He’s spending money on marketing. He doesn’t know his Cost per Assessment. But even if he did, that’s not his true Cost per Assessment. That’s really his Cost per Lead. The marketing produces leads, not patients. But with unknown Answer and Booking Rates, he has no idea how many of the leads his marketing is producing turn into actual patients.

That’s where the real money is made in marketing. It’s not in the leads. It’s in the conversions.

But how can you convert a lead you never talk to?

You don’t have a leads problem. You have a people and a process problem.

Rick Lau

Without marketing metrics, without knowing your numbers, you’re essentially holding your business together with Bandaids and bubble gum.

By implementing targeted patient experience operational changes (and front desk training) in your clinic to improve your call metrics, you’ll start to see real growth. By making tiny gains each week, your clinic will grow exponentially each year.


How Do You Improve Your Call Metrics?

Begin with your front desk, not your marketing. Before spending more on marketing, you need to increase the effectiveness of what you’re already doing. That means front desk training, call tracking, and ongoing improvement. 

Here is my latest Instagram post talking about this with Jerry Durham 

marketing metrics for physical therapy Jerry Durham


There is a big trend occurring right now where smart clinic owners are hiring patient experience managers (with sales experience) at their front desk. This is a big shift and I am definitely a big proponent of it.  

Think about the front desk for a sec… If you want that job to do one thing, it’s to get patients to love  your clinic and to book more patients, either at the clinic or over the phone.

You can also check out this video about Why Your Front Desks are not Receptionist:

And of course, that has a direct correlation with revenue and new patients at your clinic.

Call recording produces higher staff accountability, and that leads to happier patients and customers.

But even before you start training, you have to ask yourself a few questions, and get honest. For example, you might think:

“I Got This…”

Do you think your clinic does a good job on the phones? Do you think they’re already answering over 90% of your incoming calls? How do you really know if you haven’t measured it? Clinic after clinic, owner after owner, the ones who actually measure it using our Free Call Grader Test tool are shocked at the number of calls they’re missing.

We’ve found the same trend in call metric data for dentists, chiropractors, physiotherapists – doesn’t matter what the specialty. The same deficits show up over and over again.

When I first started my clinic years ago, nothing like this even existed. We had to struggle through the unknown. We didn’t know our numbers, and there was no easy way to get them. Today, you can start measuring your numbers a very short time from now.

“I Love My Team”

You might be worried about how your team would respond if they learned you were tracking and measuring their calls. You don’t want to upset anyone or risk driving a wedge between you and them, so you might decide you’d rather not know the numbers.

After all, what if the nicest lady on your team turns out to have the worst numbers? What would you do? How would that affect your relationship?

Here’s the good news: When approached properly, measuring your call center metrics can actually improve and strengthen the relationships within your team. Now, you’re in this together, you’re working toward a measurable goal, and you have a plan to make it happen.

If you frame it right, your team won’t be put off by the idea of monitoring their work on the phone. They’ll be motivated by it. People naturally want to improve and get better at what they’re doing. They just need to be shown how.

You can do this.

It begins by testing your Answer Rates.

You can do that using Free Mystery Caller Audita FREE tool from CallHero.

Get Free Mystery Caller Audit today. Start measuring the marketing metrics that matter.

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Topics: Marketing


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