I was working with a client recently who was describing all the strategies he was going to use to attract new patients to his clinic. They were glitzy, flashy, and actually quite expensive. Once he was finished I asked him “So tell me how much you are going to invest to keep the patients you already have?” Needless to say all I got was silence.
The fact is that, on average, it costs six times more to attract a new patient to your clinic than it does to retain a current patient. However, most dentists are pressured by dental marketing companies to spend extraordinary amounts of money on advertising programs to capture new patients. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still critical to find new patients on an on-going basis. However if your central focus of all your marketing is towards new patients only, you could be losing patients out the back end and never know it. So what do you need to do to improve your patient retention? Let‘s take a look.
- Know your retention number: What percentage of patients stay with you over a 12 month or longer period? Knowing this figure is critical. If you are retaining over 90% of your patients, you’re doing great. If you’re below 70%, you’ve got a lot of work to do. Remember, you can never improve what you don’t measure.
- Doctor-Patient Communication: How do your patients feel about you when they are in the chair? Do you make them feel relaxed, or are you in so much of a hurry that you make them feel you can’t wait to move on to the next patient. Patients stay with Dentists who they like.
- Survey Your Patients: Do you have any idea how your patients feel about doing business with you? Find a way to capture that data. The results may be very interesting.
- Engage Your Patients Between Appointments: Do you have any form of ongoing communication with your patients between appointments beyond the usual postcard reminder? Are they friends of your Facebook Fan Page? Do you send them an e-mail newsletter?
- Are You Available When They Are: Have you developed off-hours times that patients can see you? Not everybody can break away for a dental appointment during normal business hours.
- Does Your Team Know How To Keep Patients: Is your team trained in patient retention strategies, or do they only focus on doing their jobs? Your team is the public face of your practice, so train them how to treat patients like they are the most important person in the world.
Look at what you are doing right now and dedicate yourself over the next 90 days to implement at least one new patient retention strategy. I guarantee you that your profits will soar.