When the music band that I was performing with slowed down way back in 2006, I became good friends with Dr. Marek, an Implantologist, endodontist and cosmetic / restorative dentist based in Piestany, Slovakia. And after showing him the simple website that I had built for the band that I was in, he then asked me if I would be interested in building a simple website for his new dental practice in the town. And so it began…
I quickly followed up with some initial marketing research and competition analysis on the Internet concerning dentistry, and came across the concept of “medical tourism”. Surprisingly, it was the very first time that I had encountered the trend of UK patients travelling to countries such as Hungary and Poland for cheaper dentistry abroad.
So instead of a website for local patients, together we decided to build a website with the niche focus to attract UK dental patients, and the concept of “Dental Holiday” was born.
Initially we thought that our enthusiastic patients would want to enjoy Slovakia and Piestany spa, (hence calling the company “Dental Holiday”) but then quickly realised that most of them just wanted to have the dental treatment done as quickly as possible, for the best cost and so “saving time & money” then became on our our selling points instead of local tourism.
The journey from 1-700 customers:
We launched a full HTML website in mid 2006, with the first and only patient from the UK that year coming to see us in mid November, whom Dr. Marek and I picked up personally from the airport.
I continued to do off and on site search engine optimisation so that potential patients could find us among the many dental clinics in the UK and abroad. Since then, our site numbers rose rapidly, and over the past 5 years, I have kept the website in the top UK Google position for the keywords “dental treatment abroad” “dental holiday” and “dental implants abroad“, as well as top 10 ratings for other related dental keywords.
Today I can proudly say that we’ve helped over 700 UK patients realistically achieve the smile of their dreams, at a price they can afford, and gathered many social and review benefits for further online promotion, including 100+ patient testimonial videos for youtube, over 200 “ten out of ten” handwritten treatment questionnaires and over 70 independent online reviews around the web.
I’ve also learnt so much through running Dental Holiday, from all the forms of website creation, organic search engine optimisation, paid online ads and profiles, web analytics, a/b testing, customer relations, email marketing, video marketing, review marketing, social media marketing, staff management and a good deal of solid business sense – this being my first “serious” business project.
An offline business running almost completely through customers generated online:
Now lets have a look at some numbers:
- 2006: website created, one patient booked.
- 2007: 4247 website visitors, 302 inquiries, 68 new patients booked.
- 2008: 15,436 website visitors, 877 inquiries, 142 new patients booked.
- 2009: 22,690 website visitors, 817, inquiries, 127 new patients booked (the expected growth was hindered by the beginning of the financial crisis, and the fall of the airline skyeurope)
- 2010: 25,983 website visitors, 633 inquiries, 130 new patients booked (enquires began to fall due to the recession, but our ability to book patients and the number of patients who referred new patients to us kept on growing)
- 2011: 30,017 website visitors, 453 inquiries, 126 new patients booked.
- 2012: 35,749 website visitors, 805 inquiries, 121 new patients booked.
Through well-targeted online marketing supported by a solid service, Piešťany dental clinic has grown from just one dentist and a nurse, to over three times it’s size in terms of staff into a well-known, technologically advanced clinic with excellent online support.
It’s the model.
Have you ever read “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber? It’ll take you just a few hours and it’ll be well worth it. It describes how building successful systems around business can help them expand, and be transferred to other businesses too…
I’ve since took my Dental Holiday business model, and applied it to Smile Clinic, and more recently MedBeaver.com
Very encouraging post.