Marketing Strategies for Attracting New Partners, Engaging New and Existing Patients

Frontline CMO Ryan Torresan discusses their specialty partnership model and improving communication with patients.

DSOPro: What is your background and what got you involved in dentistry?

I started my career in marketing/advertising many years ago. I worked in research and analytics for the first few years in ad agencies and marketing departments for various companies, doing different marketing functions. That experience gave me a good understanding of things like true impact, ROI, how to measure performance, etc.

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Eventually, I transitioned to traditional marketing where I was able to apply more strategy and value proposition to my marketing approaches for a large coupon book company. Then, Great Expressions Dental Centers had a job posting, a recruiter found me, and that’s how I got into dental. I started their marketing department from scratch, built their website, devised their value proposition, launched their digital marketing and social media, and planned how the company was going to attract new patients and retain current patients. I started as Director of Marketing and was then Vice President of Marketing for roughly 6 years, during which time we were sold twice. Next, I went to Benevis, previously branded as Kool Smiles, for a couple of years. They’re primarily kid-focused and did a lot in the Medicaid space.

During that time, Leigh Feenburg, one of the Operations leaders I worked with at Great Expressions, contacted me. He was joining Frontline as CEO and said, “Hey, let’s talk about what we want to build here.” That’s how I became Chief Marketing Officer at Frontline Dental Implant Specialists in September 2022.

Frontline is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and has locations all over the country. It was started by our financial partners, Leon Partners. They got the first few practices involved, then recruited the CEO, Leigh, and a CFO, Matt Niebuhr. Frontline is really “the company behind the scenes” for their offices, whereas other organizations may all be branded the same across the country. We’re like a House of Brands, if you will. We partner with premier dental implant offices, such as Golpa G4, which is in Dallas, Washington, and Las Vegas, FastNewSmiles in Dallas and the Fort Worth area, New Teeth Now in Florida and San Diego, and many more practices across the country.

DSOPro: Describe what your day-to-day is like, and your involvement with the practices.

Each week starts the same—I make a priority list one page long and focus on what needs to get done that week. Step one in my day-to-day is telling the world what Frontline is. Frontline partners with practices. We focus on how the business development team can find and reach the best dental implant practices. That could include exhibiting at trade shows, digitally targeting the right practices, and creating tools to help the business development team present the Frontline story. We’re building their tool kits with videos, digital materials, holograms, podcast clips, and some traditional media, so they have a marketing arsenal.

We take a little different approach with our individual practices. Frontline offers a true partnership model, whereas a traditional DSO typically takes nearly everything over. We partner with the “best of the best.” They are really strong businesses, and there’s a reason for that—usually their marketing is pretty good. My job is to audit their marketing and identify what’s going well or not so well, and make recommendations where necessary to make their business stronger. We ensure our partner practices are getting the biggest bang for their buck and their marketing is as efficient as possible.

Every office has different needs. For some, it may be just a matter of moving them onto some of our systems for reporting purposes. Others may ask for help with rebranding or improving their digital marketing or their customer relationship management (CRM). Some may need help driving their referral network. We give them an honest review and help with whatever they need, whether we start doing the marketing ourselves or refer them to any of our preferred vendors. They don’t have to worry about getting a bad deal, or somebody charging them a ridiculous management fee. Every dental practice has been burned by a digital marketer at this point and spent tons of money and saw no return. They don’t want to get burned again. We can help them avoid that and get it set up the right way.

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DSOPro: What types of things do the vendors help with?

Basically, anything to do with marketing, from digital marketing to social media, videos, branding, website builds, creative, lead qualification, call centers, etc. We help the practices do what they’ve always done better. If they need their marketing to make a bigger impact, that’s where we jump in.

For example, when we reveal the marketing audit to them, they often did not realize they were paying exorbitant management fees for their digital marketing or for SEO. They often say, “I’m not getting what I need out of the website. How can you help?” The select pool of vendors I have vetted can help move the needle. We also partner with ad agencies to help with branding, creating videos that standout, etc. We have social media and CRM team vendors as well. The CRM vendors send email and text message follow ups to potential and current patients, like someone who recently had a procedure done or who requested information via the website.

We make sure our offices are staying in touch with patients via these technologies to show that we care by answering questions, advising them based on their situation how to make their life better, explaining how to prepare for an upcoming surgery, etc. There are many ways to keep in touch and let patients know that this practice really is here to help them and be a resource for the community.

It is very important to help patients feel comfortable that they have all the information they need when they are having a full-arch dental implant procedure. They need to feel that they are making the right decision for themselves, and they are getting a true solution to something that changes their lives. It’s major surgery, and that can be scary for a lot of people. Educating them helps with their fears. This procedure will probably have one of the biggest impacts on their life ever. When patients walk out of surgery and see the new smile they’ve wanted for their whole lives, it’s a very emotional experience for them.

DSOPro: Are you marketing to both patients and future partners?

Yes, it’s about half and half. Frontline is always marketing to practices that we might want to partner with, as well as to people who are looking for a job in our space, whether that be a dentist, oral surgeon, assistants, front desk people, even businesspeople like myself at Frontline HQ.

When Leigh hired me, we analyzed the company, asking “What is Frontline? What does it really mean in the dental space? If I was a doctor, why would I care?” We both worked at other DSOs, so we know the pros and cons from both the patient and team member standpoint.

We were really the first dental implant specialist network out there. That’s unique in the space. Secondly, the doctors have 100% clinical autonomy. There is no senior doctor telling all the offices what to do. We offer business support in a variety of areas like a DSO does, including IT, HR, and marketing support. But this partnership model is a collaborative relationship. Our interest is in seeing their businesses grow because it benefits everybody involved.

We give potential partners a “peek behind the curtain” or the insider’s view. When you visit our website or engage with our business development or HR team, we want you to realize this isn’t like the other places telling you to sell your practice. We’re very direct, very upfront, and answer any questions on people’s minds.

Maybe a doctor doesn’t totally understand EBITDA or the multiples on the sale, etc., when they’re wondering, “Who should I sell to?”. Maybe they are concerned about scaling their business and the culture impact. Our approach is talking to you like we’re friends. We want you to walk away with all the knowledge you could possibly need to make this big decision. We understand you have a lot of choices out there and try to be as transparent as possible.

We also have a mentorship program and are creating podcasts featuring business people like me, our patients, and most importantly our doctors. Our team of doctors discuss procedures, provide dental implant knowledge, and share latest techniques. Our Chief Growth Officer, Angus McLean, talks about business development and the types of questions practice owners might have about our vision, where they want to go, what stage of the growth cycle they are in, etc. We also created the Frontline Institute, a program that mentors the clinicians and team members who join the Frontline family.

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DSOPro: What are some the other benefits to joining Frontline?

It is a true partnership with the dentist who owns the practice and they have a bench of talent and experience they can tap into. We align to their future growth goals upfront or if they were thinking about retiring, that’s all figured out in advance before we sign an agreement.

A good partnership must work for both parties. Of course, the doctors are interested in how the financials will work, but they also want to take care of their teams, invest in the newest technology, make the patient experience better, expand their current footprint, or open additional locations. That’s what Frontline brings to the table—the ability to do things in their business model they couldn’t do before.

We can renegotiate with their technology or lab vendors to get more favorable terms. Those savings can open the door to giving team members a raise, hiring more team members, or making expansion more feasible. We make it more efficient for them to accomplish their goals.

We always ask, “What’s your vision?” because we want to be on the same page. Some doctors say, “I don’t want to open any more practices.” We ensure we’re aligned on that mission right from the start.

DSOPro: How many practices are you partnered with now?

We’re up to about 20 brands, with 30 practices throughout the country, and we’re adding about two brands a month.

DSOPro: Are other groups like yours helping specialty practices expand and function more like DSOs?

We carefully developed Frontline as a partnership—from that standpoint, it’s different. I am not aware of any other true partnership models out there.

DSOPro: What kind of trends are you seeing and expect to see in the future?

We’re seeing more groups starting to get a sudden interest in the implant space. And we’re seeing groups emerging dedicated to only a certain type of implant procedure. Other groups are diversifying their business a little bit, maybe they’re combining orthodontics or general dentistry and full arches. We know that a lot of practices are looking for help to grow, become more efficient, and take the leap to the next level.

There are some very interesting trends on the patient side. Many people think the only people who can afford extensive procedures are the ultra-wealthy, those top five percenters. Myth-buster number one is that’s not true. People of all income levels are having this procedure done.

For a general dentistry practice, usually 80% or more of their patient base is located within 8 to 10 miles of the office. Our partner practices are doing a very specialized procedure and serving a much larger community. Our doctors find that about half their patients are willing to drive about a 100 miles for this procedure. The other half are willing to travel 200 miles. Our doctors are the best at what they do.

We also know that the consumer does tons of research on this procedure before they even contact a doctor. One of the things I tell our practices is, they’re looking on your website to see how you do the procedure, but they’re also looking at your knowledge, expertise, compassion, and what other patients are saying. They may spend days, weeks, or months researching this before they reach out to an office.

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DSOPro: How do you incentivize patients who might be afraid of the cost? How do you make it more attractive, accessible, and understandable?

I think anybody doing marketing in the dental arch space will tell you there are two keys to connecting with the patient. One, this is a life-changing procedure, and something they’ve thought about their whole lives. You want to connect with your consumer emotionally. You do that with your patient stories, showing real-life examples of how patient’s lives have improved. We post videos of patients’ different reactions on our websites. The stories of how their lives improved are just amazing.

The other aspect you always want to promote is educating your consumer on why your doctor is really the most qualified to do this procedure. What these consumers are planning to do is a big deal. The consumer understands this is a large investment and they’re probably going to finance part of it, so we also want to educate them on the financing options we offer.

Realistically, it’s not about finding the cheapest doctor in town, it’s about knowing who’s offering the best level of service and care possible. Patients should know if they will receive sedation or be awake during this surgery, the quality of the materials being used, and whether the cost includes a post-surgery cleaning program. We partner with premier practices because they offer the best services. The consumer needs to feel a high level of comfort with the doctor and a high level of affordability in terms of their monthly payments and financing options.

DSOPro: Do you think offering that level of support to clinicians will attract more people to consider going into dentistry?

I believe if you build a good thing, people will want to be a part of it. I think we’re building a really good thing here in terms of the partnership model. The executive team alone leading Frontline have over 150 years’ experience in dental and the DSO space. They understand the pros and cons of the traditional DSO set up. It’s the old Field of Dreams, right? If you build it, they will come.

I think we have a chance to change the industry a little bit. The reason for that is because we are true to our mission statement—we partner with people who want to make that life changing thing occur for patients.

DSOs have been around for a while. At this point, dentists have already formed their opinions on whether they like DSOs or not. They’re hearing the same pitch repeatedly. Dentists are no different than anyone else. They’re going to work because they want to do what they believe in. But they also want to provide for their family and have a life outside of the office. They don’t want to work 80 hours a week, or work in a place where someone is telling them what they can and can’t do. Having 100% clinical autonomy is attractive to dentists in this space.

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About Ryan Torresan

Ryan_PS1Considered one of the leading minds in the industry, Frontline Dental Implant Specialists Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Torresan knows how to position a dental and healthcare brand for optimal success through impactful, measurable marketing that truly connects with patients and practices.

With more than 20 years of dental, healthcare, and advertising experience, Ryan has shown his prowess throughout his career, delivering exceptional results and rising through the ranks to reach the executive level at three of the largest healthcare and DSOs in the United States.


Frontline Dental Implant Specialists (FDIS) is the first national Dental Implant Partnership Network (DIPN) of it’s kind. Frontline values your autonomy and understands that it’s your name on the door, so your legacy comes first. No renaming your practice. No broken promises – just a focus on growth and supporting your high-quality patient care. Partnering with Frontline provides you with expert support and guidance, giving you more control over your destiny and allowing you to elevate your growth.

By bringing together the best thought leaders, doctors, technology, and ideas in the business, Frontline seeks to advance “how it’s always been done” to optimize the full-arch patient experience, build stronger teams, and provide patients with the improved quality of life that comes with a new smile.

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