How to market a dental practice and retain clients with Chris Pistorius | PoP 690

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A photo of Chris Pistorius is captured. Chris Pistorius is the founder of KickStart Dental Marketing. Chris Pistorius is featured on Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

What is the defining skill that makes successful practices thrive? How do you maintain healthy and productive contact with a client after conversion? Are you looking at the numbers of your practice to help you develop effective marketing strategies?

In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Chris Pistorius about how to market a dental practice and retain clients.

Podcast Sponsor: Therapy Notes

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Meet Chris Pistorius

A photo of Chris Pistorius is captured. He is a digital marketing consultant and podcast host. Chris is featured on the Practice of the Practice, a therapist podcast.

Chris Pistorius is the founder of KickStart Dental Marketing. Chris has worked with countless local business owners in all industries across multiple facets of marketing, consulting, and coaching.  He shares his expertise by giving marketing seminars across the country and hosting a weekly marketing podcast, The Dental Marketing Podcast.
Chris is also the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Internet Marketing for Dentists.
Visit Kickstart Dental Marketing and connect with them on Facebook, and Twitter.
Connect with Chris on LinkedIn. FREEBIE: Schedule a free Strategy Session for therapists and dentists when you mention this podcast episode

In This Podcast

  • The important skill of handling phone calls
  • How to maintain a client after conversion
  • Chris’ top three marketing tips
  • Chris’ advice to private practitioners

The important skill of handling phone calls

When a new patient calls, how is that call handled? … if you are going to spend a lot of marketing getting new calls and patients, whoever is answering the phone, whether it is the owner or the front desk person, needs to have base training on how to show the value [of] your practice and how to get them scheduled. (Chris Pistorius)

One of the top skills that the most successful practices have is that they have a clean, clear, and crisp methodology of answering their calls.

They make their potential clients feel heard and taken care of.

Whoever is answering the phone needs to:

  • know how to listen to the client’s needs
  • schedule them accordingly with the appropriate clinician
  • filter out clients who might not be the best fits for the practice

How to maintain a client after conversion

It’s not a sales thing, it’s more of a, “Hey, you need this [for] your health”, type [of] thing. Presenting [this treatment plan] clearly and concisely certainly helps. (Chris Pistorius)

  1. Provide the client with a treatment plan that is tailored to their needs.
  2. Maintain contact with your client through social media. Post good quality content to remain top-of-mind and to encourage existing clients to refer your practice to their peers and community.
  3. If a client becomes inactive, market to them to get them back into the office for a checkup or follow-up.
  4. Train your staff to politely ask a client to leave a review of the practice in the appropriate places.  Or, have an active Google My Business account where clients can leave a review if they choose to.

Chris’ top three marketing tips

What gets measured gets done, so … you want to look at your numbers. Are you increasing, growing, staying where you want to. Where are you against your goals? That will drive the decision [if you] need help with marketing. (Chris Pistorius)

  1. Look at your numbers. What are your goals? What are your standard income brackets and expenses?
  2. Do your due diligence. Ask other counselors and referrals to find someone to work with that you trust.
  3. Based on the research that you do you can decide which marketing approach is best for you and your practice. Ask to see examples of the work that has been done before by an agency you are considering working with.

Chris’ advice to private practitioners

Pat yourself on the back for the hard work that you have put in. Remember that you have to work towards your goals, and do what you need to do to achieve those goals.

Books mentioned in this episode:

Useful Links mentioned in this episode:

Podcast Sponsors:

  • Blueprint helps clinicians enhance client outcomes through the power and promise of digital measurement-based care. Learn more and request your demo at:
  • Use promo code ‘JOE’ to get three free months to try out TherapyNotes, no strings attached!

Check out these additional resources:

Meet Joe Sanok

A photo of Joe Sanok is displayed. Joe, private practice consultant, offers helpful advice for group practice owners to grow their private practice. His therapist podcast, Practice of the Practice, offers this advice.

Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.

Thanks For Listening!

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Podcast Transcription

Measurement-based care has proven to improve patient outcomes, but it’s historically been time consuming and costly to implement. At Blueprint, they believe that nothing should get in the way of delivering the highest quality mental healthcare to your clients; not a lack of finances, clinicians, time or technology. That’s why they’ve developed an end to end solution that administer scores and charts, hundreds of symptom rating scales to give you deeper insights into how your clients are progressing. Learn more and request your demo at Again, that’s

This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 690.

I’m Joe Sanok, your host and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am so glad that you are hanging out with us today. We are wrapping up the first quarter of 2022. How’s the first 25% going for you? Hopefully you are on track to have your taxes in and all that, you’re working with your accountant and maybe looking at did Q1 go really well for you? Are you checking those numbers out? Are you putting your head in the sand? Wherever you’re at, we’re here to support you from that moment that you first say to yourself, “I think I might want to start accounting private practice.”

We have so many resources. We’ve got our free email course over at We have Next Level Practice, which is our membership community that is all about helping support you in that first phase of practice till you’re ready to do your first hire. Then we have Group Practice Launch, which that community is kicking it right now. We kicked that off in February. That’s a six month program. We have another one starting in the fall for people adding their first clinician. Then we have Group Practice Boss, which if you’re a group practice owner, you can dive into that at any time.

We have all sorts of different consulting and mastermind groups going all the time. So if you’re ever stuck over at the website, Practice of the Practice in the bottom right, you’ll see a Chat With Us. Jess, who is a real person who lives in California, is hanging out there every day. We try to get her to take the weekend off, but sometimes it’s even late at night, she’s got it up and she’s chatting it up with people and pointing me in the right direction. If you’re ever confused, if you’re ever stuck, go chat with Jess and she’ll point you in the right direction.

I love interviewing people that are outside of our particular field because so often we get in our silos and we say to ourselves this is how we do it. This is how counselors and therapists and psychologists do it. There’s a lot of things that are just really awesome in regards to other fields. I remember a couple years ago a new dental clinic opened here in Traverse City. It’s just Northern Michigan Pediatric Dentistry they doubled down niching in to helping kids. I mean, they give them balloon animals, all of their dental hygienists know how to do balloon animals. Like how crazy awesome is that? They have all these cartoons on the wall. It is so kid friendly. It’s like walking into Disney World. They have niched in and owned that market locally.

I am so excited to have Chris Pistorius to be on the show today. Chris is the founder of Kickstart Dental Marketing, which has consistently been listed as one of the top dental marketing companies in the country by UpCity having over 15 years of experience in dental marketing. He’s worked with countless dentists across multiple facets of marketing, consulting and coaching. So Chris, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
Hey Joe, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
I feel like the dental world, because oftentimes people are paying privately or maybe their dental insurance doesn’t cover very much is really similar to how a lot of the counseling world used to be. There’s a lot of things that are now covered under insurance and the Affordable Care Act and all of that but even people that still have private pay practices and they’re thinking in that way, I feel like we have a lot to learn from you today. So I’m so excited to have you on the show.
Well, thanks. I think there’s going to be a lot of similarities for sure.
Well, let’s just start with, what’s your story? How did you get into dental marketing?
Everybody always asks me that and I wish I had some like really cool story like I figured it out during a bar fight or something, but it never quite, it’s not that exciting. But typically really what happened was about 12 years ago when I started an agency, we took on anybody that would pay us because we quit high paying jobs and we had little kids at the time and we needed income. So we’d take on auto mechanics, lawyers, dentists anybody that needed marketing help and it worked well but what we found out was that when we took on a new industry, we had to figure that industry out before we could get really good results for our clients. Sometimes it was just too long for our clients.

So we’re like we need to niche down. We really need to be specific and be an expert in our field and in whatever field that is. We just really looked at our books and we had five or six dentists at the time and we were doing really well for them. They were growing and they paid their bills, which was nice and they were pretty easy to work with. So we’re like, let’s just, let’s niche down and in dental. That was like 10 years ago and we haven’t really looked back.
Well, I think that, I mean it says something to the industries where if you help a new dentist be able to get a new client and if they actually understand the lifetime value of that client and can say, yes, I know the average person stays with me for five years and we make X number of thousands of dollars off of that average person, they refer two or three people to a good clinic, it’s a lot easier for them to justify hiring somebody to help with marketing. Then say an auto mechanic or a new bakery that’s in town. At least for me, I found that in regards to counseling and helping therapists that if they get new clients to just get one or two new clients could be a game changer financially for a lot of people.
I think you have to, and counselors would be the same way, I mean, you have to look at not just the new sale if you will, for that month. But what does that mean in terms of a lifetime? So like dentistry may be a little bit longer perhaps than counseling, maybe not, but what’s the lifetime value of a new patient for a dentist? It’s not just the $500 they spend with you in one month. It’s long term, how many more times are they going to come to you? Then plus you have to look at referrals. How many people are they going to refer to you over time? So we try to really make sure that they’re looking at the big picture in terms of what new patients mean for them.
Now when you think through maybe the top three or five core, maybe dashboard items or skills or things that a private practice, whether it’s dental or counseling, they have to be good at, they have to own it. They have to just be amazing. What are the handful of things that from a marketing standpoint, just separate the amazing practices that thrive from those that maybe limp along?
I think the biggest thing for us that we see really is when a new patient calls, how is that call handled? I think probably on the counseling side it may be by the counselor themselves or a bigger counselor. Maybe they have somebody actually answering the phones but for us it’s mostly a like a front desk type person that is the reception person. If you’re going to spend a lot of money in marketing and getting new calls and potential new patients, whoever’s answering the phone, whether it’s the owner or a front desk person really needs to at least have some sort of base training on how to show the value of your practice and how to actually get them scheduled and also how to filter out ones that may not be a good fit for you.

So in counseling, I can certainly see that with specialties, making sure you’re not bringing somebody in that maybe you’re not qualified to help. And dental practices are the same way. Some doctors do root canals and some don’t. So you’ve got to make sure that you really quantify who the person is that’s coming in. So really for me, I think those two things are probably the biggest things that you can do in terms of bringing in new patients
In the world of dentistry, how important is it to have a specialty to really hone in, to say we are a pediatric dentistry or we help in, I don’t know how important is that to have a specific niche versus to just be a general dentist?
Well, usually a pediatric dentist or an orthodontist or a prosthodontist or whatever it may be in terms of specialty, they’ve figured that out because they’ve gone to school prior to opening up their practice and their school really dictates their specialty. But what we find is that what’s interesting is that there’s more general dentists now trying to do the specialty type services. So like there’s a lot of dentists now that also do braces like Invisalign and things like that whereas in the past almost a hundred percent of those were referred onto an orthodontist.

So that change in the marketplace has really made us with the specialties, start competing more against the general dentists. So I think that when you niche down like that, and certainly when we did it as an agency it cleared our focus. We’re good at one or two really, one or two things. I think deep driving down to that specialty helps dental practices. It helps pretty much anybody in a business environment.
That’s so interesting. When you think about after clients come in, the practices that get more referrals internally, or they continue to thrive and maybe they do a big marketing push for a while, but then they get enough clients that they can just keep going, what are they doing after that initial phone call?
In terms of scheduling the patient you mean?
Yes, just in regards to being able to, I guess from a marketing standpoint, continue to thrive beyond just getting that first visit in.
Oh, right. So in dentistry it’s called case acceptance rate. So what that means is that you go in and you get a checkup or whatever it may be and then perhaps they find something that’s a little more pressing that they need to do like a crown or a root canal or a fill cavity, whatever it may be. So they suggest a treatment plan for that. So having a doctor or an associate, whatever it may be that presents that plan to them and having them skilled in, it’s not really a sales thing. It’s more of a, “Hey, you need this. It’s your health type thing.” Being able to present that in a clear and concise manner it certainly helps for acceptance plans but then after that, we call it the patient advocate stage where they become a new patient that’s great. You can’t just ignore them though.

So that you’ve got to complete, you’ve got to continue to communicate with your patients and you can do that with social media. If they’re following your page on Facebook, for instance post good quality content to keep you top of mind to those patients that are potentially not just going to return you, but refer you to other people. There’s when a patient goes inactive maybe after six months in dentistry and it’s time for them for another checkup. Well, if they haven’t scheduled that after say seven months, we put them into an inactive status and then we market to them to get them back into the office.

Then we do things like with current patients and other good practices getting them to leave a review for you. It’s not everybody wants to do it in healthcare because maybe they don’t want to know, they don’t want people to know they go to the dentist or a specific dentist, but there are ways to ask for reviews and just to be trained on that and how to ask and where to have those reviews posted are all things that you can do to, after somebody has become a patient really help you grow your practice.
For most of us in our ethics with counseling, we’re not allowed to ask for reviews, but I think that even just having an active Google Business or things like that, people can then choose to do it, even if we’re not asking them. So that’s great. When we’re thinking about especially trends in marketing, because I feel like things change over time and things that worked a couple years ago, maybe don’t work as well. What are you seeing in healthcare in regards to trends or other things that maybe set apart the successful practices from those that maybe aren’t doing as well?
Yes, we’re seeing something in dentistry where some of the, some practices in healthcare don’t see themselves as salespeople. I totally get that. It shouldn’t be like a used car type sales situation, but you know what, everybody’s selling something and in dentistry you’re selling a solution to a problem very similar to counseling. You’re in dentistry, you’re selling get out of pain or make your smile, look better, be more confident, things like that. But it doesn’t have to come across as sale-sy. So what we’re seeing is a trend of the older guard, if you will, we’ve been anti advertising anti-marketing because they’re a doctor and they don’t believe that you should have to market your practice because it looks like a sales process.

So what we’re seeing a trend in is that there’s so much competition now in dentistry, I don’t know about counseling, but there are more dentists now than there ever have been. I mean, any small town now has multiple dentists in a town of 50,000 people and there’s like 75 dentists. So the only way to really market yourself and make yourself different is doing marketing and doing quality marketing. So I think the trend that I’m seeing is that we’re getting more out of the traditional well, I’m a dentist, people will just find me more to, hey, we need to make sure that we’re out in front of people and people know that we’re an option because it’s not just word of mouth anymore. It’s people are going out on their own doing Google searches, going on Facebook, reading reviews, things like that to find a new dentist. So I think the trend is yes, we’ve got to get out there more and get a little bit more aggressive when it comes to marketing our business.
Now for you and for your business, are you guys doing your own marketing directly to dentists? Is it mostly things like this where it’s more content, are you cold calling? I’m just interested because we have so many supports for therapists and it’s always interesting to hear how folks that support other industries think through their sales funnel.
It’s a great question. Dentistry’s tough to sell to first of all, because everybody, it seems like they want to sell to a dentist for whatever reasons. You don’t really cold call because in you’ve got so many gatekeepers, it’s not like the doctor themselves usually answer the phones. So we do, we’ve been lucky enough that a lot of our new clients come to us organically. Other dentists may hear about it and from other dentists, they find us on Google a lot. We have pretty good SEO presence that’s a big part of our marketing campaign. These podcasts that I do help us tremendously. I have my own podcast that I do, it’s called the Dental Marketing Podcast. We do a lot of business through that. So we practice more of do a lot of activity, do a lot of stuff to drive inbound leads. So in dentistry really, it’s not about us cold calling and we don’t even really do a lot of paid advertising. It’s mostly just stuff like this to drive inbound leads.
And then —
Sorry, just to follow up on that, Joe, I think, it’s important to be authoritative. So when you do things like this, like I’m doing now or my own podcast, talking about real issues for dental practices, I think you build some authority with them. They can see that you’re ingrained in the community, the dental community and that helps a lot too.
Yes, I think that the more that you can have those things that maybe the average marketers are not doing. I mean, even for us, we last year decided to do three episodes a week instead of the two a week that we were doing of this show and to just continue to raise that bar where it’s so hard to keep up with Practice of the Practice, because we’re putting out so much free content on a regular basis that the average consultant, just if it’s a side gig, they’re not able to keep up. So not that, that means that we’re going to be guaranteed to stay top dog, but it definitely makes it easier when you really drill into the things that are working for you already.
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So when you are, the actual process, when you’re working with a dental clinic, are you creating a whole marketing plan with them? Are you just taking it over? Because I can see how it would be nice to just hand it off to an agency versus having to use your time to do it. Take us through that process because I think that a lot of people don’t even know where to start when they’re thinking through their own marketing plan and direction.
I probably 75% of our clients use us as basically their outsource marketing department, if you will. So we do mostly digital marketing. We don’t do traditional like outbound marketing, postcards and things like that. So typically when we take on a client, our package, if you will include anything from like website design and hosting all the way through to getting more reviews for our clients, to setting up text messaging opportunities on the website. We do SEO, which is search engine optimization, getting our doctors to rank really well on Google organically. We also do paid advertising for practices on next door Facebook, Google. We’re even testing out TikTok right now for some of our practices. So it’s really, and obviously consultation too. So strategy, we have to drive an entire strategy for our clients. So most of the time we’re the whole package for them versus just all a cart type, hey, we need a website or we need more reviews.
Yes. I imagine that’s nice for them to have that all be integrated and to have the website design and SEO and content marketing, all be in one agency so that there’s not all these different people having to talk to each other.
It keeps it simple. I don’t know about you, but you’ve got a password for everything now and so online. So one of the nice things is that we take all of their profiles out there, because there’s a hundred different sites that they’re listed on. We put like usernames and passwords all in one place, which seems like a little thing but our clients love that because they’ve got it all their logins in one spot, they can log into their website or Yelp or whatever it may be. It just makes their lives a little simpler.
If somebody’s listening right now and they’re saying I want to learn some things from the dental community, what are my first three steps with my practice that I really should evaluate, take action on? What are the first say, three things that someone listening should do to increase their marketing presence?
I think the first thing is something you mentioned earlier, and I was impressed by is look at your numbers. You’d be shocked by, I don’t know about counselors, but with dentistry, how many owners just don’t know their numbers? They don’t know their projected revenue. They don’t have goals in terms of what they want to do for that year. I think you’ve got to have those goals because what gets measured gets done. So the first thing you want to look at are your numbers. I mean, are you increasing, are you growing, are you staying where you want to, or where are you against your goals? Then that will really drive a decision of, do I need help with marketing? So that would be the first thing.

The second thing would be do your due diligence. Anybody with a laptop now and internet connection can be what they call themselves as a marketing expert. So you have to be a little bit careful because the waters are a little bit muddy. So really do your due diligence, ask other doctors, ask other counselors who they use, ask for referrals, things like that. Then really try to decide on what marketing’s going to be right for you based on those conversations. I think those are two or three of the top things that you can do.
I want to drill into that last one of what marketing’s right for you. What are some questions people can ask themselves to really help determine that answer to that last question?
I always like to show clients and I think clients should always ask about what specific work an agency has done before. So you can get a flavor for how they write content. A lot of what we do is we write a ton of content for SEO purposes, put it on their website. We write blogs, we do press releases, even get samples of that for other clients and see if the way that they’re marketing other counselors really fits with the way that your business is set up. Because I think that’s the number one, everybody’s a little different. There are some professionals out there that want to be super aggressive. They don’t care if they come across as salesy, they want to grow their business. That’s fine. That’s one way to do it. There’s others that want to be more conservative and be more laid back in terms of their marketing. So you want to see samples of what this is going to look like in real life once you spend the money to do it.
Such great advice. Well the last question I always ask guests, the last question I ask is if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
I would want them to know that give yourself a pat on the back because you’ve done something to create your own business and you’ve done something to create your own opportunity. You haven’t just sat back and worked for somebody else and waited for the opportunity to come to you. I believe that you have to create your own opportunity. So first of all congratulations on that. Secondly, I’m going to say it again, is plan, make goals to grow your business, whatever it may be. Maybe you want to grow up to 50,000, a hundred thousand, a million. Have a goal in mind because that’s just going to help you grow your business and be more efficient. Then probably lastly is do what you need to do to get to those goals. If it’s marketing, do it. If it’s not marketing, that’s fine too, but don’t bury your head in the sand and do nothing because there is competition out there. You do want to hit your goals. You typically do want to grow, do something. Take action, I guess is what I’m saying.
So awesome. Chris, if people want to connect with you, learn from you, what’s the best way for them to connect?
Whether you’re a counselor or a dentist I’ll be more than happy to take a look at your current website marketing setup. I won’t charge you a dime, just mention that you heard me on this podcast. I do all of our own, all of our initial conversations and strategies. So we offer a free strategy session for dentists. I’d be willing to do that for any counselor as well and just at least point you in the right direction. The best way is just to go to my website, and you’ll see a free strategy session button right at the top. It’s a pretty easy process and actually schedule on my calendar and off to the races.
So, awesome. Well, thank you so much, Chris, for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
Thank you. I appreciate it.
I love when we end talking about action because we can consume, consume, consume, but just like in our health world, if we consume food and never move our bodies and just sit around we’re not going to be our healthiest. So in the same way, yes, you’re consuming this podcast. You’re probably reading books, listening to audio books and other podcasts. Awesome. But go take some action. Don’t just sit around. Don’t just think that by listening, you’re doing it. Sure, learning’s listening. Or of course learning is listening. It’s a dumb statement that just came out of my mouth and sounds dumb. Learning is listening. Listening is not doing. So go out there and take some action, get some things done, implement what Chris was talking about. Come up with your marketing plan. There’s so many different ways to think through that. Take some of those questions that Chris posed to you and turn them into action. Let me know how it goes. I love when people take action from the podcast and tag me on social media with a picture of their notes or what they’ve done. Would love to add that to my stories on Instagram if you tag me on that. So please do that.

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Thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an awesome week. I’ll talk to you soon.

Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music. We really like it. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical, or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.