Every practice’s success hinges on name recognition within the community. A prospective patient/parent needs to have your practice’s name on the tip of their tongue when it comes time for a straight smile. For Laurie Gerber, ensuring that Illinois-based Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics has that name recognition is all in a day’s work.

When Gerber initially joined up with Jodi Hentscher-Johnson, DMD, MS, 4 years ago, it was as a private practice consultant with over a decade of experience gained through treatment coordinator and practice administrator positions in the dental field. Although she only came on to coach Hentscher-Johnson and her staff on patient communications and revenue building for the practice’s two locations, a year later Gerber found herself taking a more dedicated interest in the practice, joining the staff as treatment coordinator and practice administrator.

In her time at the practice, Gerber’s collaboration with Hentscher-Johnson has focused on a number of initiatives aimed at expanding the practice’s client base and increasing that all-important name recognition within the community. One of the fruits of this collaboration has been the implementation of the Great Grades program in the local community.

The program, which was developed by local chambers of commerce, rewards children in grades 3 through 5 quarterly for maintaining A’s and B’s. Great Grades allows practices like Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics to both recognize local students for their achievements and connect with children (and parents) who are at that age where orthodontic treatment may be of interest.

“[The program] is something we push pretty hard in Dr Jodi’s office,” says Gerber. “We actually turned it into something that the chamber of commerce embraced, and now there are multiple businesses in the community that are participating in the program.”

Participating businesses donate products or services for a prize gift bag for those students who have achieved good grades. The practice contributes anything from putty to color changing pencils or water bottles as well as a certificate for a free consultation. In addition, the practice takes advantage of its involvement with the school to provide educational demonstrations on topics ranging from brushing to orthodontic treatment during the school year. Whether it’s the rewards program or the educational opportunities,  Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics is able to get its name out to potential patients and be an active part of the community.

“Most schools welcome the program,” says Gerber, who recommends that practices interested in starting a similar program reach out to local schools.

With an eye to implementing programs that build name recognition in the community without breaking the marketing budget, Gerber praises the effectiveness of programs like Great Grades. By its design, she points out, Great Grades is “a low cost way to get in front of potential patients while we support our local schools.” Another way around pricey marketing efforts is a program called Good Deeds. For that one, the practice chooses three community events/projects per year to participate in and wear their “HJ Orthodontics” gear, allowing the practice to be seen in the community.

Being seen is a key theme for the practice, and appreciating those community members who make sure Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics is seen in the community is just as important. According to Gerber, Hentscher-Johnson makes a point of keeping an eye out for cars sporting the practice’s bumper sticker. When she spots one, she leaves a card for the vehicle’s owner to come to the office for a restaurant gift card.

While these outreach efforts provide the practice with a good low-cost way to raise its visibility in the community it serves, Gerber is quick to point out that social media is just as important. While social media efforts can be time consuming and become a liability if not maintained appropriately, they can also be a great referral source for any orthodontic practice.

To manage Hentscher-Johnson Orthodontics’ social media campaign, Gerber uses Patient Rewards Hub from PracticeGenius to streamline the process, praising it for its ability to work out the kinks in social media and SEO management. In addition, the practice utilizes the tool to manage its patient rewards program and prize fulfillment needs. Gerber  likes that Patient Rewards Hub takes the liability off the practice when it comes to maintaining a rewards program. The practice doesn’t have to dedicate space for a prize closet or worry about inventorying expensive prizes. Patient Rewards Hub handles this.

When not managing the practice’s outreach efforts, Gerber can be found keeping an eye on production, collection, income reports, and the practice’s general health overall, as well as consulting with Hentscher-Johnson to coordinate every new patient’s care. In addition, in her spare time, Gerber still consults with five other orthodontic practices and works part-time as a practice integration specialist for OrthoAccel Technology Inc. All of this requires Gerber to practice what she preaches—time management and delegation.

But Gerber welcomes the heavy workload. In fact, she loves it. “Ortho is really where my heart settled and what I’m most passionate about,” she says. “I learn something new every day. I feel that I am very lucky to have a job I love. The smiles make everything we go through worth it.” OP

Brittan West is a freelance writer for Orthodontic Products. She can be reached at [email protected].