The hygienist’s blog – coming back bigger and better

hygienist opening dental practiceNow is a great opportunity to spread awareness and come back bigger and better than before, Claire Berry says.

It’s a worrying time for everyone, including dental hygienists and therapists at the moment. You don’t need me to tell you that being self-employed and unable to work is a worst nightmare come true. I am hoping the government comes up with an initiative to help everyone in our position. I am searching for ways I can utilise my skills for the greater good. In the meantime, is there something we can do to keep our minds active and allow us to feel like we are keeping our scaler free ‘hands in it’?

Now’s a good time to contemplate how to move forward in the career you are desperate to get back into. Many of us are going to be trying to re-fill our diaries and get the work flowing again. I see this as an opportunity to spread awareness. When the time comes to work again, I want to come back bigger and better than ever before. Here is how I am going to do it, so I thought I would share my tips with you:

Get social media savvy

Shaz Memon wrote a top selling book on Amazon titled ‘Instagram for Dentists’, which is worth reading. Social media at the minute is the way that people are staying in touch with the outside world. With not much else to do, visitors to these platforms will sky rocket.

If you don’t have a business Facebook or Instagram account, you could set one up. Have fun giving your advice and tips to the world to help you feel like you still have an element of being able to create behaviour change in people and improve oral health across the nation.

I plan to do Instagram and Facebook live sessions with other clinicians to help keep motivation and morale up. Come join me @clairelouiseonline on Instagram, or Claire Louise Aesthetics on Facebook.

Use this time to create a brand

You could be you, or you could create a brand image with a logo and the whole works.

Having a brand means that you separate yourself from work and this makes it easier to visualise yourself as a business. This may also help you if moving forward you want to approach your career differently and work more autonomously.

When I separated my hygiene career from being myself and into a brand, it changed the way I approached my work in a very positive way. More about that and creating a brand another time though, watch this space!

Attract new patients

How are you going to attract new patients by way of direct access? And how are you going to attract patients to come to you from within the practice? Within the practice I have photos of me, my skills and services within the waiting room. My business cards and service list fliers are on the reception desk where people book and pay. I have made them and my website colours bright and eye catching so people cannot miss them.

In the past when I first wanted to build my patient list from scratch (I started at a practice that had never had a hygienist), I carried out leaflet drops within the whole community. I also went on local radio after contacting them and asking for some time to explain my role in the dental centre. Following on from that even the radio station team became my patients. I was featured in local newspapers that were put through the community letter boxes. In my free time I visited local schools and teachers became patients.

If you ask about, you can often get free publicity if you’re trying to get more patients and tell people about your services. Word of mouth then builds momentum and then your initial hard work pays off.

Practise photography

Practise photography while you are off work. This may seem strange for me to suggest, but good quality before and after images of your work, with explicit consent, showcases your skills and gives your audience something tangible to see. They help explain what you do and why you do it.

This is especially good if you carry out GBT, as this really does paint a picture (literally)!

New patients

When you are finally back at work, plan to get non regular patients asking about what you do. An easy way to do this is by getting the reception staff to ask if people want to book a hygienist appointment for the same time as their exam when they are booking. Remember, there is going to be a lot of patients getting booked in for their missed exams over this period. So there’s lots of opportunity for the front of house to talk about you and how wonderful you are.

The patient may say yes and they may say no. But it may also get the patient to ask: ‘What is a hygienist and what does it entail?’ if they don’t know who you are or what you do.

When such a high percentage of the population have gum disease, arguably everyone can benefit from seeing a hygienist regularly. This forces the opportunity to tell people why it is so good to see you. But in a way that doesn’t feel like you are selling to them, because the patient asked you what you do.

If you are a private hygienist and it is an NHS patient then obviously this needs to be mentioned at that point. But it is surprising how many NHS patients take the reception team up on it. Anyone in your chair has access to improving their oral health and once they see your worth they will come back to see you regularly.

This is just a few ways I will be working in this forced down time to ensure I come back fighting. I’ll keep posting regularly on this hygienist blog with more. Stay healthy, stay safe and stay at home.

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