Attracting new patients with an online deal sounds simple enough, but dentists don’t take the time to consider the consequences of offering daily deals like Groupon or Living Social.

Here are three of the biggest reasons not to Groupon:

Deal seekers don’t make long-term patients
Patients who take advantage of groupons are motivated by cheap bleaching or a severely discounted new patient exam.  They are not visiting your office because something is wrong or they think it’s time for a check-up, they are visiting your office to cash-in on their cheap treatment.  If your office provided them with a $99 Zoom treatment, what makes you think they are going to want to pay full price later?  Most Groupon users will claim their ridiculously discounted offer and move on to the next (cheaper) deal.

Many dentists offer these deals in hopes of finding additional work that needs to be done, giving them more work and a new patients.  That mentality is what convinces dentists to jump on the groupon bandwagon without fully considering the consequences.  What makes them think that a person who just paid $35 for an intro visit is going to pay thousands of dollars for crowns or even hundreds for fillings?  These “new patients” are going to want and expect discounts on those procedures as well.

It’s a race to the bottom
When you base your unique selling proposition on having the lowest price, your patients will begin to expect it from you.  The minute they find a better deal, they will leave.  If you set your fee for a new patient exam at $80, your competition will set theirs at $70.   In order to compete, you lower your deal to $60 and the cycle will continue until you can’t lower your prices anymore.  This race to the bottom is not a sustainable business method.  Groupon brings in patients that are more interested in the deal not your services.

Daily deals could cost you loyal patients
While there is a chance groupon can attract new patients, many dentists don’t consider how their offer affects current patients.  Most groupon offers are for new patients only.  Because of this, you have a deal seeker coming in for a $50 whitening when a loyal patient is sitting in the next room getting the same treatment for full price.  How do you handle the reactions of your long-term patients who learn of your groupon or are furious when they realize they cannot take advantage of this amazing offer?  By running a daily deals campaign, you run the risk of losing long-term patients who deserve to be receiving incentives for their loyalty.

Fight against the depreciation of dental care
Groupon-type offers seem like incredible deals for dentists.  They’re able to get free advertising and hopefully bring in new patients with their amazing deals.  But at the end of the day, daily deals are cheapening the profession.  They make people think dental care is a luxury, not a necessity.  Dentist offices are not spas.  Many people that come in because of a Groupon deal need actual work done and refuse to get it done because they have to pay full price.  A marketing plan that can’t convert patients who need serious work should not be deemed successful.  Instead of attracting the “one and done” deal-hoppers with ridiculously low offers, provide incentives to your patients who refer new patients or consistently come back.  This will build your credibility, customer base and, more importantly, remind your patients that dental care is a lifelong commitment.110117.groupon1

Photo via Marketoonist