Building lifetime relationships with your patients

It’s true for all businesses, including those in dental and medical…it is easier to keep an existing patient and nurture them for future work than it is to market and then “sell” your services to a new customer. It generally takes fewer resources, less budget and can actually be achieved by implementing just a few simple steps within your practice.

The value of good patients

Many doctors and dentists don’t appreciate the value of “good” patients. Some don’t actually know who their “good patients” are and even if they may have an idea, they don’t have the means to extract a list of their “top” patients and look for common traits.

Read more: Using your patient list for more profit

This is often because doctors and dentists fail to look at their practice like any other income-generating, commercial business. Many prefer to consider themselves as service providers of healthcare, although they happen to be fortunate enough to make a good living from their skills and study. Yet, your practice can be both. A service provider AND a highly profitable business enterprise. How to achieve this begins with knowing who your good patients are.

A three-fold strategy

Once you have determined who your good patients are, then you need to work on a three-fold strategy:
  • How to keep these patients
  • How to gain referrals from these patients – introductions to other like minded patients
  • How to “sell” additional services to your good, profitable patients

Offer a remarkable service

The key reason most patients will stay loyal to your practice, make recommendations to their friends and family to join your practice and trust you enough to take further services from you, is, to offer a remarkable service. It sounds simple and it is, in theory, however, a good proportion of business owners think they are offering a good service, when really they are not doing anything different for their patients than the rest of the practices in town.

What else can you be doing to improve your service?

Have you considered any of these?
  • Make a note in your database of the patients birthday and send a card from the practice
  • Stock fresh juices and bottled water for the waiting room
  • Note holidays and personal bits of information about your patient on your database so when they return you can show an interest
  • Send reminder text messages prior to an appointment
  • Send reminder emails if they haven’t visited the practice in a while
  • Ensure all calls are returned within the day, or say 24 hours – have a standard procedure which the whole team sticks too
  • Make follow up calls following serious treatment – just to find out how the patient is doing
These are just a few ideas – there are many, many little things that can be done to add quality to your service. Allocate an hour to thinking about your practice. Perhaps involve your team in this exercise as well.

Use testimonials and case studies

With good patients on your side and a remarkable service it shouldn’t be too difficult to obtain some advocates who can promote your service for you. Testimonials and Case Studies are a great way to do this. Just make sure you get a name and preferably a photo, so it gives the messages credibility and you can then use this in your marketing material, your website and your communications.

Continually inform and remind patients

There is a fine line with how often to contact patients who have gone quiet and remind new patients that you are here and waiting to help them. Strike a balance by sending something generic once a month, say, like a newsletter that gives your patients something informative to read with the aim to subtly spur them into action to make contact with you. Special offers can be included if appropriate as well as perhaps invites to any events you may be running; open evenings, discussions etc. In between, work out a Contact Schedule for your patients and potential patients. Some may need more contact than others or a different approach so try to be flexible in your strategy. The main thing is though to maintain regular contact with everyone on your database so you really start to build lifetime relationships.

The financial impact of retaining good patients

Losing good patients has a negative effect on your profit and loss account. Your business will lose the income but it also has to then spend money on advertising and marketing to attract a new one who can replace that lost income. Also, the time it will take you to engage with a new patient, discuss their options, call a few times to follow up and then start again building the relationship from scratch, is likely to far outweigh the time it takes each month to make one ten minute phone call to a patient to find out how they are feeling following treatment, for example. Similarly, if every “good” patient of yours recommended to you just one more patient, just like them, you would have your hands full with a regular stream of new, great, profitable business – how’s that for something to think about? Figurit offer business advice alongside regular tax planning and financial accounting. We can help you determine your good patients and suggest ways you can become more profitable using good systems and analysing real data. Call today to discuss. T: 020 7376 9333 E:

Related Articles

– Use your patient list to maximise profit – Make sure you are keeping score – Great communication creates a great team

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