Marketing for patients is so 2019. Right now, building a bench of great team members is your practice’s biggest marketing challenge—and opportunity.

MEDIOCRE patient
experiences will undermine your best marketing efforts every time. Even if your practice is fully staffed with A-players today, what about tomorrow? The unstable economy and strong labor market will continue to make it hard to hire great impression makers. Plus, high wages for unskilled positions are causing people to forgo or postpone job training, while current students are prioritizing work over school due to soaring prices. That could mean a dwindling pool of young talent over the next several years.

It’s tough to market confidently for growth when you’re unsure whether your practice will have sufficient bandwidth to accommodate new patients in six months or a year. Worse, unexpectedly losing one or two top performers could plunge your practice into immediate chaos if you’re unprepared. I recently spent two and a half hours at my dentist’s office because she’s down from three hygienists to one. That’s enough to make patients shop for a new provider.

The good news? Any practice that really commits to marketing for employees is better-placed than practices that don’t. Here are some ways to get started.

Put everyone in charge of finding new team members. Your office manager is the natural point person for this effort. Kick things off by instituting a referral program that rewards your team for finding top-top-tier talent. Incentivizing them helps ensure that everyone is always on the lookout for candidates and motivated to reconnect with their network of past colleagues. At the same time, though, it’s important to ensure the hire is valuable. Create a 90-day (or longer) trial period before paying any bonuses or rewards. After all, training isn’t any less expensive or time-consuming just because the job market is in flux.

Hire for where you want your practice to be, not where it is today. This may mean upgrading some of your talent, or empowering team members to grow. We call this building your bench. It’s common practice with rock-star leaders. Look at the big picture and be ready to scale by creating relationships. Another best practice is developing relationships with quality candidates who might not be exactly what you need at the time of interview but who could be a good fit down the road. Always be recruiting.

Ask team members to review your practice online. If they’re genuinely happy and excited about working with you, they’ll want to share that passion with others. Today’s job seekers are in the position to be highly selective, so they’re reading reviews more often. Positive ones make it more likely that candidates will seek you out, rather than you having to chase them.

Be strategic. Develop action items and stick with them. Constantly evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. Is social media a good source for candidates? Searching LinkedIn? Get back to your mindset when your practice was new and needed patients. Brainstorm ideas and try them all out—but be quick to cut any that aren’t producing results.

Seek, don’t hide. People don’t join LinkedIn for no reason; they want to be noticed. So learn to use the search function! Just because they’re not looking for you shouldn’t stop you from looking for them. Worried about being mistaken for a creepy stalker? Send a simple but clear note explaining why you want to connect when you zero in on interesting candidates.

The faster you build your bench, the faster you can get back to marketing for growth. While your competitors are still struggling
with day-to-day issues, you’ll be getting ahead of the game.

KRISTEN JORDAN is Benco Dental’s Coaching & Education Manager, specializing in revenue analysis. She has been an office manager, regional manager and operations executive for several large practices. Contact her at