Chris talks with the Co-founder and CEO of SmileSnap, Greg Pellegrom. Listen in as they discuss how dental practices are using SmileSnap’s technology to increase new patient numbers and profit.
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Chris Pistorius (00:04):
Hi, everybody. This is Chris Pistorius with another episode of the Dental and Orthodontic Marketing podcast. We are here today with Greg Pellegrom. He is the CEO, and I’m sorry, co-founder and CEO of SmileSnap. Guys, this is a cool technology that I’m going to let Greg talk about, but I personally looked at it. My agency is going to get involved with this because this is the future, I believe, of dentistry. And there’s a lot of exciting stuff here if you’re looking to really grow your practice. So Greg, thanks so much for taking the time to be on the show today.
Greg Pellegrom (00:41):
Absolutely, Chris. Thanks for the opportunity to be here. I’m excited to talk a little bit about what we do here at SmileSnap.
Chris Pistorius (00:48):
Yeah. In doing research for finding people to come on the podcast, I was surprised that I hadn’t ran into you guys before, because this is technology, I think, that you’ve come out with that is exciting and is exactly the kind of stuff that we try to keep our clients on the cutting edge of. So why don’t you tell us about SmileSnap? What is it? What does it do? How did you get started with it? Just a little background, too.
Greg Pellegrom (01:15):
Yeah. Happy to. I’ll tell you a little bit about myself and then the company because I think it’s important to know who’s behind the platform. I started as an orthodontic sales rep with 3M Unitek back in 2003. So I really cut my teeth, getting to know the industry, and I immediately fell in love with orthodontics and what it provides for patients in creating that self-confidence. And I did that for about 15 years with a few different companies and got to the point where I really wanted to try my hand at some entrepreneurship. And I felt like I had the right idea and product market fit because what I was hearing from a lot of my customers, we weren’t talking products much anymore. We were talking more about changes in the industry. In particular, challenges around new patient acquisition.
Greg Pellegrom (02:06):
Orthodontists were benefactors of the GP referral system that has existed for decades. And that was changing, where they were either doing the treatment in house themselves or maybe bringing in an orthodontist to do that. And so they knew that they had to look at other ways and they didn’t quite really understand the world of digital marketing. A lot of them were having their in-office team member, because she’s on Facebook all the time, do that. We were seeing changes in the industry around Invisalign and opening retail stores. Obviously, the direct to consumer market by Smile Direct Club was a major wake up call to them. And a lot of corporate or DSOs were popping up.
Greg Pellegrom (02:57):
And so they weren’t quite sure where to turn. And so the idea really came to me of, there’s a lot of people who want to know more about orthodontics, meaning am I a candidate? What does it cost? How long does it take? And the traditional way was for you to call the office, schedule a consult, take time off of work, or pull your kid out of school. Go in just to find out some of this basic information. And that’s a major hurdle for a lot of people who are busy today.
Greg Pellegrom (03:30):
So really, the simple way to boil down my idea or concept was, why aren’t we using these things, the most powerful tool on the planet to just begin that engagement, that sort of a pre-consultation. Send me some pictures, answer some questions, and we’ll let you know some basic information around treatment. And then if it makes sense and it’s something you want to take to the next step, then we can jump into either a live video consultation or come on into the office and give that person a choice of which one works for them.
Greg Pellegrom (04:10):
And so we built SmileSnap. We’d launched it in April of 2019. So we’re just over two years out there. It was myself, my partner, who’s built the platform, the other co-founder, Jamison Stafford. And we had one full-time employee for about 11 months. And so from April of 19 to March of 20, we were doing everything we could really get our name, our brand, our concept out there. And it was well received, but a lot of the response was, “This is great. We’re going to do this someday.”
Greg Pellegrom (04:46):
And then when COVID hit, obviously, that was the precipice for virtual consultations and virtual visits. And we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. And we grew substantially over three months. We were very blessed and fortunate. The team grew, the platform grew, the awareness grew. And most importantly, we started to learn that people will use this platform. If you have this on your website and it’s built and designed as a widget, it’s fully customizable to the practice. It can work in general dentist’s office, pedo, perio, ortho, oral surgery. There’s all kinds of applications to use our platform.
Greg Pellegrom (05:35):
But we learned that people will use this. And we see patients flowing through our system, 24/7, 365. It doesn’t matter. Chris, we just had July 4th, a couple of days ago, and we had a couple of hundred patients come through the platform on July 4th. Why? Because this is where and when and how you meet today’s consumers.
Chris Pistorius (06:03):
Because they can, that’s why.
Greg Pellegrom (06:07):
The word I use over and over and over, because I apply it to my own life. It’s convenience. It’s convenience. Make it simple, let them inquire on their time. So maybe it’s after they put the kids to bed, or on the weekend, or on holiday. But it really expands access to your practice without expanding the physical footprint, adding more hours or days or columns or a treatment coordinator. So it’s a way to scale your practice, even geographically. We’ve had customers tell us because of SmileSnap, I have a greater geographic reach where people will find my website because I offer a virtual consult and I give them meaningful information. They drive past all kinds of competitors to come to me. So there’s a lot of advantages to offering this.
Chris Pistorius (07:02):
Yeah. I’ve got so many questions here, Greg. But first of all, you just hit something that’s interesting, because in our business, we do marketing for dental practices. So we’re always looking for … We talk to our clients a lot about USPs, unique selling propositions. So why should somebody choose your orthodontic practice or your general practice or whatever it may be over the maybe 50 others that are within 10 square miles or whatever? And this type of technology, I think, could definitely be part of that. [crosstalk 00:07:34]
Greg Pellegrom (07:33):
A hundred percent, Chris. There’s nothing more frustrating than if I’m looking for something online and I get to a website and I can’t get the meaningful information that I need to know to move through that buying process. I go to another website. And if I don’t find it there, I go to another website until I find the one that is giving me the information that I’m looking for.
Greg Pellegrom (07:55):
Now, what is that in dentistry? Traditionally, it was almost taboo to even market or advertise your dental or specialty practice. Well, those days have come and gone, all right. We got to get past that. Everybody needs to have a marketing budget and they should be working with an agency like yours that understands how to properly do this for a dental practice. But if they get to a website where they can do a virtual consultation and know that, “Hey, we have people that will respond to patients within hours or minutes.”
Greg Pellegrom (08:37):
We always say give them a heads up and say, “We’ll respond within 48 hours or two business days,” whatever that might be, because you want to set their expectations. Speed is also very important with these folks. You can’t go four or five days because they now mentally have moved on, but we’ve made this so simple where you can respond. You don’t have to be sitting in front of your computer. We’ve got a mobile app for both Apple and Android. So you can respond anytime, anywhere to these patients. And the most powerful way to do it is we have an asynchronous video capability built right into the platform. So all you need to do after you reviewed their photos and answers to your questions is simply hit record in about 30 to 40 seconds, tell them the things they want to hear.
Greg Pellegrom (09:28):
You want to let them know, I understand what your concerns are. Here’s what my recommendation is. We’ve got flexible payment options to fit your budget. The next step would be, whatever that is. My office manager, treatment coordinator or scheduling coordinator will reach out to you tomorrow. And we can either then do a live video chat like this, or come on in.
Greg Pellegrom (09:58):
But the beauty and the thing that people appreciate the most, that practices appreciate the most about SmileSnap, This will filter out those price shoppers, those tire kickers, the looky-loos, whatever you want to call them, so that when they do jump into this video chat or their next step is to come in for live consult, they’re very much committed because you’ve given a meaningful information around some fees, how invasive the process is. If there’s someone that’s scared of the dentist, you’ve eased their fears. So they’re highly convertible type patients.
Chris Pistorius (10:35):
Yeah. And something that I’ve found is that the younger we get as terms of potential patients, everybody’s wired a little differently. Millennials don’t necessarily want to pick up the phone and call and do a traditional phone call to set up an appointment. And what I’ve found in dentistry is that people, not just in dentistry, but anywhere, want things now. Right this second. And they’re used to being able to get that with their phones. They want food, they order it and it’s there within a few minutes.
Chris Pistorius (11:07):
Dentistry, traditionally, hasn’t been like that. And to me, it seems like this as a platform to allow people to get almost some immediate type feedback. So what I want to get into first though, is let’s talk about the platform itself. So let’s say, how does this work if I’m a dental practice owner, this widget goes on to my website? What happens? Do they have to sign up first? Do I have to gather insurance information first? What’s the first step. Second step, third step. How does this work, I guess?
Greg Pellegrom (11:38):
So the one thing I always like to point out at first is, before you go live with SmileSnap, you definitely want to have a full strategy around your new patient acquisition with this. How are we going to use this? And that starts with marketing, which is where you come in, Chris. Okay. And they’ll work hand-in-hand with you on how are we going to promote and market and advertise to our demographic that we’re offering virtual consults? And a great place to start is to let every single existing patient know you’re now offering this. So have that marketing strategy work with you to design that. This is great for social media ads, email campaigns, there’s lots of ways whether it’s new patients or existing ones. So you get more people in the door, butts in seats, and getting new services.
Greg Pellegrom (12:34):
Secondly, is that they don’t have to do everything all at once. So what we like to say is, start off by choosing one or two or maybe three services that you really want to focus in on. And you can expand later. So pick some cosmetic services. Implants, veneers, whitening, Invisalign. Those are great for this because when the user gets to the website and they go to do the virtual consultation, the widget’s going to be coming clearly branded to the practice. So it lives in your environment. We don’t take them to another website or landing page. It’s completely branded to the practice. So we want their logo on there, we want a picture of the doctor, because this is not AI driven. This is not a bot. We want the colors of the practice. So the look and feel is there. And then you can create questions. And depending on what questions you ask, it’ll take them down a different path.
Greg Pellegrom (13:39):
The other thing that we just recently launched is you have the ability to select what photos those you want to capture. In the past, we always did the five intra oral photos that you usually see. Upper, lower occlusal, right and left side. But you don’t always need all five. Or some people want more than that. So now you can create which photos do we want to capture. And right through our widget, and we’ve got the easiest way to capture good quality photos. They take these pictures. If they don’t look good, they can simply hit try again until they get it right. So it’s a real intuitive process we take them through to get good photos.
Greg Pellegrom (14:23):
Once they’re done, a series of texts alerts will go out to the patient, to the practice, along with emails, and you can set up those alerts however you want to which team members get them. But basically, now the ball is in the core of the practice. That person can go back to their life, whatever it is. They’re probably not going to keep searching dental websites. They found the one they’re interested in, because they’re motivated if they’re willing to go through this process.
Greg Pellegrom (14:56):
And really from there, someone in the practice needs to follow up. And this is where somebody in the practice needs to own this process, be held accountable. Yeah, you might respond in the evening or on a weekend, but you know what, again, we’ve built that mobile app. And if you just take three minutes, you don’t have to be in the office to record that video and send it. That person is so impressed. They’re like, “Man, Dr. Pistorius, I think the guy’s golfing.” Okay. “He took time out of his golf round to tell me these things. He’s pretty cool. I like this guy.” It humanizes that.
Chris Pistorius (15:39):
[crosstalk 00:15:39] their information, this app allows them to almost immediately just do a quick video after you’ve looked at some things and respond to them pretty quickly, huh?
Greg Pellegrom (15:52):
Absolutely. It’s all about speed and ease with the platform. Again, we try to make it convenient for both sides. We don’t want this to be disruptive to the practice and their daily flow. But depending on how many requests you’re getting in a day. And look, there’s some people that might get one, maybe two a day, and we have some that really push this, and they give this option to all new patients and they might get four or five, six in a day, because they have the confidence that they know they’re going to deliver a high touch quality experience, even though it’s digital, that they feel confident that they’re able to convert these consumers into patients.
Chris Pistorius (16:40):
That’s awesome. Wow. Okay. So tell me about who uses this? Do you have any demographics on what age range, or have you gotten in any of that yet in terms of what type of patients are really using this technology?
Greg Pellegrom (16:58):
Yeah, absolutely have that. Let me take a step back and talk about what our customer base looks like. And the majority, probably 90% of users on our platform today are orthodontists. And that’s not because this is built for orthodontists, it’s because that’s where my network, my background resided for so many years. So from a sales and marketing perspective for our company, that was our initial focus. It works, like I mentioned before, for GPs, and pedo, and so on and so forth. And we’re trying to get our name and our brand out there, which is why I’m grateful for this opportunity today.
Greg Pellegrom (17:45):
So it can be used in all these different areas. Who do we see using it? It is a lot of young adult all the way on up to 50, 60, 70 year old people who are interested in orthodontic treatment, is primarily what we see. And a lot of that is Invisalign.
Greg Pellegrom (18:13):
But it’s so easy and people are getting more and more comfortable all the time using platforms like ours. Doing things digital. The average person in the US today taps, types or swipes their phone 2,600 times a day.
Chris Pistorius (18:30):
Greg Pellegrom (18:31):
Yeah. Look it up. And I can only imagine that number continues to grow as we go forward. What we see, Chris, is people inquiring 24/7, 365. It doesn’t matter. I was really curious to see on Christmas this past year, if anybody was going to submit requests, and we had three people. It wasn’t a ton, but we had three. We had a lot during the Super Bowl game, and we just celebrated 4th of July here a couple of days ago and we had a couple of hundred come to the platform.
Greg Pellegrom (19:05):
So, people will use this if you give them access to your practice. And it’s a great way to scale and expand. You and I were talking before this started, traditionally, how do you expand a practice? Well, do I bring in an associate? Do I add a satellite location? Do we open up more hours, work another day, work evenings, weekends? These are things that are either expensive or nobody wants to do. If you put a widget that offers virtual consultations not just for new patients, but also for your existing patients. It’s great for them. You can also use it for virtual visits. Not every patient needs to be seen in the office every single time. And if you offer that convenience, people will brag about you like you [inaudible 00:20:08].
Chris Pistorius (20:08):
Yeah. I could see this working well on a marketing side of things, when we do Google ad campaigns, Facebook ad campaigns. I mean, we could put language in there, like submit your photos today, or speak with somebody now or language like that. And that goes a long way, especially to people that are … Google ads, we find these are people that have their credit card in hand, they’re ready to buy. They’re just trying to figure out who it is to buy from. So language like that really appeals to those people that do have their credit cards in hand and are ready to buy. So I could see this working well on a lot of different aspects.
Chris Pistorius (20:44):
So, Greg, tell me, obviously, you’re to get a lot of interest from our viewers here. What’s the best way to check you guys out and what’s the signup process look like? And does it take a lot of work for them to get your product on the website? Or how does all that work?
Greg Pellegrom (21:04):
So the best way is to go to our website, which is smilesnap.com. There’s a couple of ways that you can look at the product. You can request a recorded version of a demo, which you can then watch on your own time. Or the other way, which I think is more effective, is to schedule a demo with one of our account executives. Because then you can ask questions on the fly, you can have your whole team there and walk through a personalized demo of the platform.
Greg Pellegrom (21:38):
Once you see it, it’s really easy to sign up. Click the button, fill out the form. That gives you access to the platform. And at this point, you can go in there and you can check it out and play with it and do some things before we even collect payment. So, we really want you to get in there and make sure that this is something for you.
Greg Pellegrom (22:00):
Once you’re ready to go, all they need to do is enter their credit card. That’ll give them access to the code that they need to give you. And then you guys put it on their website. It’s really, it’s just a snippet of code that gets put into the header. And the widget is live.
Greg Pellegrom (22:21):
We are big on education and training, not just in the beginning, but ongoing. So this is very important, and I don’t want to overlook this part. This is new to most practices, and we want to hold your hand until you’re ready to fly. So we have a three-step process. Step one is what we call our foundational onboarding. This is where we’re going to work with you to get your widget ready to go. Meaning, we’re going to set it up, we’re going to get all your verbiage in there for the emails, for the text messages, how to use the patient portal, which really helps me everything that we do, HIPAA compliant. And then you go live.
Greg Pellegrom (23:11):
Once you go live, we have two success sessions, and this is really where we want to take you through that, what are best practices for workflow in the practice? How do we implement this? Tell us, how do we do this? And then we let you go for a couple of weeks and experience it. And then we do an additional success session with you, because there will be questions.
Greg Pellegrom (23:37):
And then after that, as part of your monthly or annual subscription to SmileSnap, additional training sessions are included. So we don’t nickel and dime you if you need additional training, new team members, whatever that might be. That’s really important.
Chris Pistorius (23:53):
Yeah. It sounds like a pretty simple, straightforward process. I can’t tell you how many softwares I’ve signed up for and just didn’t use because I didn’t fully understand it and I didn’t really want to take the time to fully understand it. And so I think that handhold process of making sure it’s set up correctly, making sure that they understand what’s going on will certainly help, and we’re not just buying stuff that we wind up getting charged for six months and don’t ever use it.
Greg Pellegrom (24:23):
Right, right. Yeah. We’re here. You got to take advantage and we’re going to push you and remind you to do that. So take advantage, for sure.
Chris Pistorius (24:32):
Well, Greg, thanks so much for being on today. I want to follow up with you in a few months, if that’s okay and just see what direction this is going and talk about your success. Because I think this is exciting stuff that is here to stay. This isn’t just a COVID special where people’s minds have changed now. And we talked off air about there’s so many companies now that since COVID, they aren’t going back to real offices. They’re getting rid of their office leases. And because COVID has permanently changed the way they think, and I think that we’re seeing the same for teledentistry type stuff where people now realize that they can go to the dentist using a camera sometimes. And dentists are realizing, “Hey, this is a valid option.” And I don’t see that changing just because of that convenience feature.
Chris Pistorius (25:21):
But I want to thank you so much for being on. All of the information about how to reach out to you guys and get signed up for a demo, get signed up initially, will be in this information. Thanks again so much for taking the time today.
Greg Pellegrom (25:36):
Absolutely, Chris. Glad to do it. And again, appreciate you having me on.
Chris Pistorius (25:40):
Absolutely. Thanks, Greg. And thank you all for another viewing of our latest episode of the Dental and Orthodontic Marketing podcast. Be sure to check out our next episode, coming in about a week. Thanks, and we’ll talk to you soon.