ROI is dead! Long live The Pathway to The Practice!

Return on Investment

Do you remember the days when we would ask “what’s the ROI on this?”

We invested some money in an advertising or marketing activity and then asked either an external agency, our team or ourselves to calculate how much money went in, how many new business enquiries were obtained as a result and/or how much business was sold – thus performing an ROI calculation to justify the expense.

The accuracy of that data was easier when calculating initial enquiries attracted – web site visits and telephone/email enquiries.

Less accurate when we measured actual new business, as that depended on identification by team members, who asked the new patient where they had come from (a.k.a. human error).

That’s why I advise clients to be very careful which question they ask a recently recruited new patient:

Question 1 (the wrong question) – “how did you find us?”

Answer – “a Google search” – oh great – that’s an internet lead. Tick.

Question 2 (the right one) – “could you please tell me how you heard about us?”

Answer – “I met a good friend in the pub last week and noticed she had a new smile. I asked her where she had been for the work and she mentioned the name of the practice. I looked you up on Google and found your web site, where I had a quick look around and viewed some of your patient videos. I then looked at your Facebook Page and read all the lovely reviews you have there. That convinced me to pick up the phone.”

Source of lead – word of mouth referral.

The pathway to the practice – referral, search, web site, Facebook.

So how is the ROI measurable in that?

Without the referral in the pub, nothing would have happened (and, by the way, the referral was given by a patient who was delighted with her clinical outcome and her customer service experience).

So, as far as I am concerned, the pathway to the practice was:

  • Good dentistry;
  • Good customer service;
  • A well executed End of Treatment Review;
  • A patient trained to refer family and friends and reminded through newsletters that the practice is looking to recruit;
  • The ability to be easily found in organic search;
  • A sticky web site that earns its keep;
  • Excellent patient video testimonials;
  • A well maintained Facebook Page;
  • Lots of lovely reviews.

Add all of that together and stir in a polished onboarding experience – we complete the circle and welcome a new patient to the practice.

It is now frequently impossible to identify one single step in that journey as being responsible for a measurable ROI – these are stepping stones that a potential new patient must take in their discovery process (and some will take a different route).

Your job now is to

  • train your existing patients to refer:
  • make sure that there are enough marketing stepping stones in the pond to make it easy for new patients to find you and complete their discovery process.

Old fashioned ROI is dead.

Replaced by a comprehensive new patient discovery process.

The pathway to the practice.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.

One thought on “ROI is dead! Long live The Pathway to The Practice!”

Comments are closed.