Do you know this critical number?

Measuring and knowing the numbers in your practice is key, says Ashley Latter. But principals are often unaware of one key figure…

One area I think dentists could do better is to know their numbers. Lots of people, I hesitate to say ‘most’ people are not so good at the measurement, the numbers, the keeping-score. You can’t manage what you can’t measure! So the question is, do you know the cost of bringing in a new patient to your door?

Let me give you an example of a conversation I had recently with a dentist who is the owner of his practice. I have personally trained his whole team over the last 12 months, thankfully they have achieved incredible results, far better than even I expected. For example, they ran an open day/ evening recently where 19 people turned up for an implant consultation, 13 decided to go ahead with the treatment, which has resulted in treatment plans totalling £70,000 plus. Now the practice did some intensive advertising and marketing to get the clients to the practice, the cost of which was around £850.

Return on investment

I don’t know about you, but this is a tremendous return on their investment, I would love those figures in my own business. As yet, this does not include any referrals from the delighted patients, nor does it take into consideration that they may stay as long-term clients to the practice. In addition to that, some of the patients who did not buy the treatment now, may come back at a later date and take up treatment. It is vitally important that the practices keeps in touch with these potential clients, that is article on its own for a different day. There could be another £30-£40,000 yet to come.

Yes you need to factor in other costs, such as my training fees etc, but I am sure you will agree this is an incredible ROI. So when I spoke with the client and asked him if he was going to double, or even treble his marketing spend, he hadn’t a plan put in place yet.

Knowing this number and the potential, tells us how much we can spend on marketing. My client is getting an incredible return back on the investment he has made, the next step now, is to run with the campaign again, but next time, I would increase the spend. Why? Because with the last marketing campaign it only cost £65.00 to bring in a new client, each of these new clients is spending on average over £5000 – just think what might be possible if he increases this spend.


One question that we always ask new clients is how did you hear about us? What caused you to take our programmes now? This is very important information, because we can find out what works, what activities we are undertaking are paying off, when we do find this out, then we take massive action in increasing our effort in this particular area. I strongly suggest these are two very important questions that you need to be asking in your practice, especially the question how did you hear about us?

Going back to my dentist client, now although my client is now really busy, in fact his words not mine, ‘I am bombed out,’ in my opinion, he needs to make the investment straight away and get more campaigns off the ground.

There are three main reasons:
1. The message to the marketplace builds momentum, it will build the brand of the practice
2. If he doesn’t, someone else might and then profit from all the good work that my client has done
3. It is important that you continue this programme, if you don’t then you might have some quiet days in your book.

So my question is, do you know your numbers? Not knowing it leaves us in the dark – not a good place to be in business. Knowing them gives us an immediate advantage; it enables us to invest money in the right areas and significantly increases what we can spend in bringing in new clients. Then there is no such thing as a marketing budget.

Ashley Latter is a business coach specialising in helping dental practices and their teams improve their business through his two-day ‘Ethical Sales and Communication’ programme, which has been attended by over 9,500 dentists worldwide after the last 24 years. He is the author of two books, ‘Don’t wait for the tooth fairy’ and ‘You are worth it – How to discuss fees with self confidence and achieve the income your services deserve’. Website:

Become a Dentistry Online member

Become a member
Add to calendar