As if you don’t have enough competition from other orthodontists in your area, now companies are offering orthodontic treatment through the mail. You know this is a bad idea, and we know this is a bad idea, but patients who have grown up doing everything online and are looking to save a buck are flocking to this 21st century treatment option.
Teledentistry. Mail-order orthodontic treatment. Online braces. Whatever you want to call it, it’s most likely hurting your bottom line. The largest provider, which shall remain nameless, claims to have helped 250,000 people since they opened their doors in 2014. And this business that was founded on the premise of being more convenient because customers never had to set foot in an orthodontist’s office is now opening offices. Yep, brick-and-mortar stores down the street from established, licensed orthodontists like you. They have locations in 36 states and are showing no signs of stopping.
Good News and Bad News for Orthodontists
The good news? A lot of people are not happy about the treatment they are receiving and are making their concerns known through the internet, where they found their treatment in the first place. The Better Business Bureau has over 500 complaints on record for the last three years, including 338 of them related to the product itself. Online reviews include stories of waiting months to receive aligners, only to have them not fit. So not everyone is happy.
The bad news is many of the reviews are positive. Half of them may have been written by company employees, or people paid to say something nice, but no one can tell which ones are real and which ones are fake.
How Orthodontists Can Fight Against Mail-Order Orthodontics
First, DO NOT call out companies by name. More than one practice has been sued, and you do not want to fight these guys in court in addition to fighting them for patients.
Instead, appeal to your prospects’ sense of logic. Point out the differences between the level of treatment you offer and how much support they will receive from a company that seems to have been founded simply to make a profit. Emphasize the personal relationships you and your staff have with your patients and how having a live person to ask questions to is incredibly valuable. Explain how your experience and constant overseeing of the process will ensure the best possible outcome. And offer to fix issues that may have been caused by mail-order treatment.
Emulate What Works for Them
Obviously something is working for these mail-order companies, so why not take a few pointers from them? They market themselves heavily where they know their potential customers spend time. Do the same for your practice: survey your current patients and create buyer personas that include who makes the financial decisions in the household, where they get their information, who they talk to or where they go for reviews before making a big decision like getting braces or Invisalign. Then use this information to connect with people who need your services.
Everyone thinks orthodontic treatment is expensive, and to some extent they’re right. Explain the value of investing in oral health to your prospects. Make treatment as affordable as possible with discounts, insurance, and reasonable payment plans, and be sure people know about these options by making them easy to find on your website and advertising them through online ads and social media.
You became an orthodontist to help people achieve their perfect smiles. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.
If you’d like more information about or help with keeping mail-order orthodontics from cutting into your new starts, give Ortho Sales Engine a call at (843) 544-9744 to schedule a free consultation.