25 Jul 2018  •  Practice Management  •  6min read By  • Tanya Rai

How to create the perfect open day

A successful open day needs careful planning, there’s a lot to do, but if you follow these top tips from Tanya Rai our Events Manager all will fall into place.

Be clear on why you’re having the open day

Is it because you want to attract new patients? Or maybe you want to maintain the loyalty of existing ones? Do you want to introduce a new owner or principal dentist? Are you offering new treatments as part of your service? Whatever the reason, this will determine your approach to the event and it’s important that you and the team are clear about the objectives.

Offer an incentive

How can you motivate people to take time out to come to your open day? You could offer a ‘Recommend a Friend’ scheme, giving the chance to have money off a treatment. Or you could do a raffle to win a teeth-whitening session with all proceeds going to a nominated charity. More and more people tend to shop with businesses who are seen to be actively helping causes and if it’s a local charity, even better! So, put yourself in the position of the people you’re inviting – why should they attend, what’s in it for them? You need to have a compelling and clear reason for people to come along.

Get everyone on side!

By everyone, I mean your team. They need to fully understand why you’re holding the open day and how it can benefit the practice, i.e. new customers means more money which can be invested back into the business and potentially their pay packets. You could motivate them with a ‘thank you’ shopping voucher or a team meal that’s paid for by the business. Get them engaged and the day will run much sweeter with smiles all round.

Set targets and measure results

An open event incurs time and cost and you’ll want to know whether you have achieved a return on your investment. So, where possible set a target for your event – X number of new patients signed up to your plan or X number of specific treatments booked into the diary. This will give your team something tangible to aim for at the event and afterwards you can work out how well things have gone and whether it’s an approach worth repeating in the future.

Be organised and delegate

You have to give yourself plenty of time to get all logistics ready for the day and to market it so that enough people actually turn up! Give around six months to make it stress free, four at a push. Nominate an ‘event lead’ who oversees the organisation of it all. Then set a budget, do a checklist of all the things that need to be organised, and think of how to use social media and other marketing material in the lead up, during and post event. Assign roles and responsibilities ensuring enough staff are available on the day. Finally, have regular team huddles to stay on schedule. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail!

Market and promote your open day

How you do this will depend on whether you want existing patients to come along or new ones. For existing patients, get their attention face-to-face when they’re in the practice by telling your front desk team to mention the open day and hand out flyers. Are your patients following you on social media platforms like Facebook? If so, create a Facebook event page and schedule a series of posts to go out in the lead up to the day. Make a noise about it in your newsletter or go the extra mile and send out a personalised invitation. To reach out to new patients, try advertising in local press or on local radio. Think of it as an investment rather than a spend. It could pay dividends in the long run. Again, make the best of social media to reach out to a new audience; you could run a competition to encourage people to like and share your post to be entered into a raffle to win a voucher towards the cost of their first treatment.

Don’t underestimate the power of marketing! As many people as possible need to know the day is going to happen so that you have a good amount of attendees, otherwise all your efforts could be wasted. Make it an experience When we have a great experience we tell everyone about it. Think about how you can make a lasting impression so that attendees tell their friends about the event. If your budget allows it, ‘dress’ your practice perhaps. Bring in fresh flowers to brighten the place up. You could provide a drink upon arrival and hire in some high stool bar tables with literature displayed on them, making it easier to have those important conversations. Healthy nibbles that are good for the teeth are a nice touch too. This can be a great conversation starter and as you’re giving attendees ideas for them to use back home, they’ll potentially tell guests at their own parties where they got the idea from. Making them feel special on the day will give them an insight into the excellent customer service they can expect from you and your team.

Follow up post event

Your efforts in organising the day will have been well worth it with existing patients upgrading their plan or booking in additional treatments or new patients signing up there and then. Some individuals may have needed a bit more time before committing. Either way, arrange a follow-up communication with everyone who attended. For those potential patients that didn’t sign up, you’ll have hopefully obtained their details in some other way – perhaps through one of your incentives. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that came into effect on 25th May 2018, do remember that those individuals must opt in and give explicit consent to receive any form of marketing communication. Your follow-up should be a ‘thank you for attending the day’ and you could also offer a free consultation. The time invested in that may reap big rewards and bring the cash flowing in.

So there you have it! A run-down of what it takes to hold the perfect open day. Plan ahead, get all the team involved and whilst organisation is key, do have some fun with it!

Good luck!

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