How to Attract (And Keep!) the Best Patients
It seems like practice growth has stalled. Sure, you have a fair number of new patients visiting your practice each month (though of course you could see more), but very few of them become loyal patients. Retention rates are nowhere near the 95% benchmark, and patients cancel at the last minute or don’t show up at all just about every day.
These costly problems are a huge source of stress and frustration, keeping your practice from meeting its full potential. How can you overcome them? Start by focusing on attracting (and keeping) the best patients – you know, the ones who show up to appointments on time, accept the treatment you recommend, and refer.
Not sure how to make that happen? Here are my tips:
Invest in marketing. Most dentists don’t want to be bothered with marketing. They convince themselves word-of-mouth referrals are all they need to grow their practice and reach their goals. Sorry, but they’re not. Neither is putting together one-off promotions a few times a year. While you’ll get patients to come to your practice to take advantage of the deals, you’ll never hear from most of them again.
For the best results, you really should develop a brand and a targeted marketing strategy. Put together a cohesive, consistent and continual message that’s designed to attract the type of patients you want to treat. Understand the demographics of your market and target your efforts accordingly.
Of course, marketing isn’t just about attracting new patients. It’s also about keeping the ones you already have. Make sure current patients are aware of any new services you provide and how those services can benefit their oral health. Simply put, give them a reason to come back.
Focus on creating an exceptional patient experience. Unfortunately, most patients don’t enjoy going to the dentist. There’s a million things they’d rather do, which is why it’s so vital to create an outstanding patient experience that makes them actually want to come back to your practice. This starts with offering top-notch customer service. Train team members to greet each patient with a smile and provide refreshments as they wait. Create a comfortable environment in the reception area and have team members offer to help them complete paperwork. These small touches go a long way in creating the kind of connections that will keep patients loyal to your practice.
An added benefit? If patients are happy with their experience, there’s a good chance they’ll tell family and friends. They might even write a positive online review or share information about your practice on social media – which could lead to more new patients and increased practice productivity.
Make patient education a priority. If patients don’t value the care you provide, they have no real reason to keep their appointments or even return to your practice. During every appointment, take the time to educate. In fact, I suggest you look at every patient interaction as an opportunity to educate.
While chairside, talk with patients about their condition and how you can help improve it. Show videos that explain the recommended treatment, as well as intraoral camera images and their x-rays. This will help patients see exactly what’s going on in their mouth, and why treatment is necessary. From there, ask about their concerns and address them.
I also recommend you consider hiring a Treatment Coordinator. Once you give an overview of treatment recommendations, this team member can sit down with patients for as long as necessary to go over the procedure. Patients will have the chance to ask questions in a comfortable, relaxed environment. If patients don’t commit before they leave, then the coordinator should follow up in the next two days to address any lingering concerns and perceived barriers to care. Not only will patients appreciate the extra time your practice spent with them, they’ll be more likely to call your practice their dental home and accept the treatment you recommend.
Add new procedures to your list of services. When patients are looking for a new dentist, they often have certain requirements. Maybe they want a dentist who offers implants, or they might be interested in clear aligner therapy. Offering a variety of services will help attract new patients to your practice, as well as retain current patients. And as an added bonus, continually updating your skills will also help you stay passionate about dentistry.
Finding ways to attract and keep loyal patients can be challenging, but it’s vital to your practice’s success. Following these tips will help you get more new patients in the chair and ultimately raise your patient retention numbers.
For additional information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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