The Brilliance of Unlimited Free Refills

I recently bought a pair of sunglasses at a Sunglass Hut, and when she was ringing me out the clerk asked if I was interested in a sunglass cleaning kit, which included a microfiber cloth and a can of spray cleaner.  She mentioned that it was alcohol-based, and excellent for removing skin oil and sun block, and then also pointed out that they offer unlimited free refills.  Now, being a marketing guy, my ears perked up.  Unlimited free refills?  Why would they do such a thing?!?

The answer, of course, is simple:  To get my butt back in the Hut.  Chances are I’m going to browse the various sunglasses and eventually covet a new pair. I marveled at the simple brilliance of it.

So how could you make this work in a dental practice?  Or first, why would you?  The “why” is because more visits more often means dentistry moves up in your patients’ consciousness as a priority in their lives.  More production, happier patients, more word of mouth, bigger practice. Nothing arcane here.

So what could you do?

How about unlimited toothpaste?  Not just little travel sizes, but full size tubes–Crest ProHealth, Colgate Total, Sensodyne–whatever you recommend, or be agnostic and have them all on hand.  And say, “As long as you’re a regular patient of ours, you’ll never have to buy toothpaste.  Of course, if you don’t come in, you can’t get your refill, so make sure you keep up on your recall visits.”  Tightening recall–how can that be a bad thing?  Obviously you don’t give them ten tubes, even if they ask, just one big fat one.  People love free stuff, and will come back to get it.  Maybe go nuts and make it unlimited floss too.  The patients may even tell other patients, or talk about it online.

Or I’ll go you one better.  If they buy a Sonicare or other high end electric toothbrush, they get free refills if they make their prophy visits on a consistent basis.  Sure, it’s more expensive than toothpaste, but that’s what makes it more appealing.  The reason I suggest this is I know some of you will actually be bold enough to try it for a year or so, and it will work.  And then everyone else who told me I was crazy for suggesting it would have to look at the results and say, “Gee, maybe investing in marketing has an upside to it, like Fred says.”  And then I can die happy.

I welcome any other suggestions on how you could apply this clever idea to a dental office.


8 thoughts on “The Brilliance of Unlimited Free Refills

  1. Looking good with those new shades!

    We give a goody bag with each hygiene visit. Free toothpaste, floss and hygiene aids of all sorts depending on their specific needs… But we never market that as toothpaste for life.

    Good thinking Fred.

  2. Are you setting a limit per patient or family members per month? I could see some of my patients who have 4 or 5 family members coming in every month for their 4 or 5 free tubes of toothpaste. You know people don’t go thru that much toothpaste. so how do you handle that?

    • Tyna, regarding giving free toothpaste to patients, I would simply do two per family. They’ll let you know if they’re running out or over-supplied, I suspect.

  3. Bought in Melbourne they don’t honour it in tassie sunglasses hut should same company the lady selling the glasses and the cleaner said anywhere apparently not

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