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Tips to Attract and Keep Loyal Patients
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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You spend a lot of time thinking about how to attract new patients to your practice. You work with team members to create one-time marketing campaigns, but they never seem to give you the results you’re after. Sure, one-off promotions might help get new patients through the door, but more often than not these patients never come back, resulting in a lot of frustration, wasted time, money and energy.

Not only are you struggling to attract new patients, your practice’s patient retention numbers aren’t anywhere near where they should be. Broken appointments are up and collections are down. Not exactly a recipe for a successful, profitable dental practice. This is a frustrating scenario, but one many dental offices face. They just can’t figure out how to attract and keep patients who understand the value of the dentistry they provide. The patients they do have struggle to make it to their appointments on time, or simply don’t see the value in going forward with treatment.

The good news is, I can help you turn this around. With a few changes, you can start attracting loyal patients to your practice, patients who trust your recommendations and who want to say yes to treatment. Here’s how.

1. Focus your Marketing
If you’re like most dentists, you don’t want to be bothered with marketing. You put together a special promotion or two every year and think that’s enough. I hate to break it to you, doctor, but it isn’t. One-time campaigns aren’t going to get you loyal patients. If you want to attract new patients who actually stick around, you must have a cohesive, consistent and continual marketing message.

You also need to understand the demographics of your market, and target your marketing efforts accordingly. You can’t just put together a bunch of random ads and expect new patients to start lining up at your door. Develop a brand, understand your market and deliver a consistent message. 

But marketing isn’t just about attracting new patients; it’s about keeping current patients as well. Continual marketing keeps your patients interested in the services you provide, which will keep them coming back to your practice.

When you make marketing a priority, you’ll notice an increase in new patients as well as loyal patients who are ready to go forward with treatment. This will boost patient retention numbers, production and your bottom line. If you’d like more advice on marketing and building a successful practice in 2015, please download my special report.

2. Improve Patient Education
When you educate patients about the services you provide and the value of maintaining their oral health, they’ll be more likely to trust you with their dental care. Not only that, they’ll be less likely to skip out on appointments or put off needed treatment. Use tools such as an intraoral camera or hand mirror to let patients see what’s going on in their mouths. Show them educational videos that explain recommended procedures, and ask them if they have any questions.

Rather than taking it on yourself, designate a Treatment Coordinator to go over treatment options with every patient before they leave. This person should then follow up with patients to provide more education about the importance of going forward with treatment, and address any concerns they still have.

You can also reinforce chairside education with educational materials in the waiting room and at the appointment desk. When you send a patient a statement, or any piece of mail for that matter, include educational materials such as a pamphlet about the signs of periodontal disease. Sending an email? Use it as an opportunity to educate patients about the importance of prevention, the latest news on the oral systemic link or any other oral health related topic.

Becoming a more education-focused practice will not only help patients see the value of dental care and what your practice provides, it will also show them you care about their well-being, making them much more likely to become loyal patients who sing your praises to family and friends.

3. Revamp your Recall System
Recall is one of the most important systems in your practice, yet it’s also one of the most neglected. If you’re ignoring your recall system, I can guarantee your patient retention rates are abysmal, and that’s hurting your bottom line. You have to make recall a priority if you want to grow your practice. The first step? Hire a Patient Coordinator who is accountable for the recall system.

Your Patient Coordinator should reach out to a specific number of past due patients each day, armed with all the necessary information needed to ensure these phone calls lead to appointments. Make sure your Patient Coordinator has access to the most accurate recall information and can update the system in real time. This person should be accountable for scheduling a certain number of appointments each day and expected to report progress at monthly meetings. 

Investing in recall will help you get inactive patients back in the chair, which will help you develop loyal patients who understand the value of the care you provide. And that, of course, will mean a boost to your bottom line.

Finding and keeping patients who value dental care can be challenging, but trust me, it’s well worth the effort. Following these tips will help you get there. If you need more advice, give me a call or send me an email. I’m here to help.

For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having McKenzie Management Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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