Richard Scarborough talks to Ash Parmar about the number of cosmetic treatment enquiries during lockdown and whether that’s here to stay.
Many practices have reported having a larger than expected number of enquiries for cosmetic treatments, such as Invisalign, during lockdown.
Amidst all the news of a recession and the challenging times dentists have faced – and still face – this has been a beacon of positivity. To find out more about the opportunities for dentists in this area, I spoke to Ash Parmar from Smile Design by Ash.
Does the idea that enquiries and treatment uptake for cosmetic dentistry are on the rise during lockdown, resonate with you?
Ash: Certainly. At our practice, Smile Design by Ash, we’ve been really busy clearing the backlog of patients and dealing with new patient enquiries. We’ve also seen a lot of interest in cosmetic dentistry.
One of the reasons I think we’re in such a good position is because we planned properly for the return. This made us feel more confident going back into the practice. Preparation was really important during lockdown. Those who did that properly will have been in a better position to move on and start doing treatments.
As a private practice and due to the lockdown, we are now booked two months ahead. This proves there are good opportunities for cosmetic dentistry at the moment.
The opportunities are certainly there because services aren’t readily available on the NHS. This may be due to PPE, fallow time and other reasons. So, we may well see more dentists keen to do private work, and cosmetic work is part of that.
Are these enquiries about cosmetic services converting into patients attending for treatment?
Ash: Before lockdown, we were offering virtual consultations. But not as much as we have done since. Virtual consultations are great because it gives the patient the opportunity to talk to someone in the practice, as well as learn about the options, information on treatment plans and fees, and an idea of the kind of practice and people we are.
If they have a very positive initial consultation online, they like your website etc, you can be confident that when they come into the practice, they are serious about moving forward with treatment.
For example, if someone wants Invisalign and they know from the virtual consultation how much it’s going to cost, they understand what’s involved. They like your friendly service, and put a deposit down; you can be 95% sure they will go through with everything else.
So, from a financial point of view, I don’t think it’s necessarily all doom and gloom. But to have a positive outcome, you need to have a positive mindset.
People have been in lockdown. They’re maybe feeling a bit down and are looking for something to make them feel good. People’s spending habits have changed; they haven’t been going out much or commuting to work if they have been working from home or furloughed. So those who really want cosmetic dentistry might actually be in a better position to go ahead with it now.
What do you think should be the priority when it comes to marketing to patients at this time?
Ash: Right now, one of the strongest marketing points is about reassuring patients from a safety point of view. We created a new safety section on our website, to do just that.
Any patient who wants high-end dentistry also wants to see that their chosen practice is geared up to work safely under the new COVID-19 measures, so we have been marketing along those lines on Instagram and our website.
If you’ve not done any marketing for a few months, your main marketing message should first be about safety. Then, start talking about the treatments you can now offer.
On a personal level, we have done some positive marketing about my academy, The Academy by Ash, because it’s really important that dentists invest in themselves when it comes to cosmetic dentistry. This is so that they can maximise the opportunities available.
I postponed my training courses during COVID-19, but we now have some coming up; a three-day Live Smile Makeover Course in Andover on 16-18 October 2020. Additionally, an eight-day aesthetic, restorative and occlusion course running from November 2020 to March 2021, which is fully booked for hands-on places – although you can still attend as an observer.
I think the fact that these courses are so well attended is a positive sign for our profession and shows that switched-on dentists are happy to invest in themselves and their future.
This investment in ourselves is so important and should be supported by our colleagues. So, I’m more than happy for anyone who feels they need some advice or guidance, whether it’s a young dentist thinking of buying a practice or someone who wants to do more cosmetic or private dentistry, to contact me directly.
I’ll be whatever help I can. They can contact me via my Instagram: @ashparmardentist or via WhatsApp: 07971 291180.
Do you think the opportunities we’ve seen in cosmetic dentistry during lockdown are here to stay?
Ash: Yes, I think this boom period we’re seeing in cosmetic dentistry is for the long term. Looking good and feeling good – that’s what a lot of people want right now. Look at how eager people were to get back to the hairdressers after lockdown? It’s a similar situation with cosmetic dentistry.
Those who live in affluent areas with disposable income will always want to spend money. If people have been on furlough, they might actually find they have more time and money right now to get what they want.
If someone is embarrassed by their smile or struggling with self-confidence because of their teeth, that will still be in the back of their mind with or without COVID-19. With positive marketing messages, you can bring that back to the front of the mind.
Opportunities are there right now, especially with the NHS service still offering restricted services. You can definitely thrive if you have a positive mindset.
Richard: Thanks for talking to me once again Ash. It’s great to hear things are going well and there are reasons to be positive!
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