Create a Retention Plan NOW to Ensure You have Patients in the Chair Once You're Open

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

Your practice might be closed now, but it won’t be long before you’re able to open your doors and start treating patients again. Yes, that will be a great day, but realize patients might be slow to call and schedule on their own, leading to lackluster production numbers that you still can’t really afford.

Having a steady flow of patients scheduled right away is crucial to bringing in much needed revenue. How can you ensure that happens? I suggest you use this time to create and execute a patient retention plan. This is critical to your practice’s success moving forward. Seem overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. Follow these tips to get a patient retention plan in place before your practice reopens:

Communicate with patients about your response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You likely made contact with your patients when you decided to close, explaining why and letting them know when you planned to reopen. That’s great, but have you communicated with your patients since? Keep patients updated on how you’re handling the crisis and the steps you’ve taken to ensure their safety once the practice reopens.

It’s also important to keep patients posted as your reopening date changes. I suggest you take that a step further and encourage patients to get on the schedule so you can see them as soon as possible. Let them know how many weeks or months past due they are so they understand the urgency of coming in for dental care. With every communication, educate them about the importance of maintaining their oral health and your commitment to making their safety your top priority.

Encourage patients to take their home care up a notch. Many of your patients are past due for crucial preventative care, which could take a toll on their oral health. Talk with patients about actions they can take at home to help keep their mouths healthy, whether it’s via phone call or an email.

If they brush twice a day, for example, suggest they start brushing three times a day instead. Remind them of the importance of flossing, especially now. And let’s face it. Sitting at home with not much to do leads to boredom and extra snacking. Remind patients to avoid sugary and sticky snacks as much as possible and to brush their teeth afterwards when they do enjoy such treats.

These gestures might seem small but talking with patients about ways they can stay healthy shows them you care. Let them know you understand they’re going through a tough time too, and that you’re there to help if you can. Exuding empathy will help you build trust and patient loyalty, which you need now more than ever.

Be available. If you’re seeing emergency patients and those in need of urgent care, make sure patients know that. Explain what an emergency is and how they can get in contact with you if they need an appointment. Even if you’re not treating emergencies, I suggest you offer patients your email and your cell phone number. Let them know you’re available if they have any dental-related questions.

Reach out. Everyone wants to feel connected during these challenging times. Why not send emails to patients to check on them? Text messages and hand-written notes work too. Remind them you’re happy to talk if they need dental advice, then offer well wishes and encouragement. We all can use a little human connection right now and reaching out in this way will help your practice stand out.

Take advantage of social media. Patients are turning to social media now more than ever. It’s a great way to connect with family, friends and businesses. That’s why you should be posting more often. Use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to engage and interact with patients. Evaluate which types of posts work best and focus on those. Upping your social media game will help you reach patients and market your practice, both of which are vital right now.

Keep marketing. Develop a marketing campaign that will help get patients back in the chair once your practice reopens. Think about promotions you can offer as part of this campaign. Remember, many patients will have been out of work for weeks or months, so getting dental work done might not be a top priority. Special offers can help ease some of the financial burden, making patients more comfortable scheduling treatment.

Offer flexible payment options. If you’re not already, consider offering third party payment options from companies like CareCredit™. Knowing they can pay in small monthly amounts will make it easier for patients to accept treatment.

As you prepare to go back into the office, patient retention is critical. Creating a plan now will help ensure you have a productive schedule right away, so you can start growing your bottom line as soon as possible.

Need more guidance? I’m offering Virtual Video Coaching to help you strengthen your practice so you’re poised for success when it’s time to reopen. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like to get started.

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