Proactive V Reactive approach to getting new patients

Most practice owners complain about not getting enough new enquiries. Yet, more often than not they just sit back and wait for people to walk through the door…when often, they don’t.  Typically it’s a marketing issue, as in there is either no marketing being carried out or the little marketing efforts are ineffective. Without actively spreading the word about your services, how do you expect people to find you let alone join you? Are you guilty of it? Regularly complaining about the lack of new patient enquiries but at the same time not doing anything to change the situation.

No effort. No new patients.

You are not the only one. Many doctors and dentists are also “guilty as charged”. Often the day-to-day running of the practice means little or no time is left by either the practice owner, practice manager or support team to focus efforts and attention on the essential task of recruiting new patients. Unless you are one of the rare few business owners who perhaps have all the new patients you could ever dream of either from word of mouth or from perhaps passing foot fall, then if you want to grow your patient list, you will need to take proactive measures to see a real difference to the numbers.

The Proactive attitude

Not only does being proactive take time and effort but it also requires a change in attitude. It takes a conscious decision to adapt your behaviour and most likely step outside your comfort zone. Many practice owners and practice managers are fantastic at dealing with a new patient when they present themselves. They welcome them to the practice, explain how the treatment process works, make them feel comfortable and reassured and get their initial treatment booked in promptly. All of these are honorable qualities that certainly help the sales process and then patient retention in future years. What is then required though is to extend this attitude to potential customers who do not present themselves quite so easily, by thinking of compelling ways to communicate what it is that you do. It’s essential too that the proactive attitude runs throughout your entire team, so you are able to delegate responsibilities to others and share the task in hand.

Marketing for marketing’s sake – pretending to be proactive

 Marketing is simply a term to sum up all the work you do relating to communicating your service offering to the public. Marketing activity can be varied from asking your neighbour if they know anyone in need of treatment to buying an email mailing list for your entire town and sending a weekly e-newsletter. It is a common misconception that doing any marketing is being “proactive”. For example, you send out leaflets to 1000 local addresses then sit back and wait for the phone to ring off the hook. When it doesn’t you scratch your head and say, “well, I sent leaflets, I was being proactive” then think of no further marketing initiatives, hence falling back into a state of “re-activeness”. Sure, it is better than no marketing, however, being completely proactive requires a continual pipeline of ideas and new initiatives to be effective.

Being highly proactive and strategic

When a business owner is being highly proactive they will have a range of marketing activities on the go at any one time. As results come in from one campaign they will already be in the planning stages of another one. Some campaigns work whilst others fail and this is where you can start to be strategic about how to invest both time and budget in the future.

Strike whilst the iron is hot – the importance of the follow up

Time and time again new patients are lost by the practice’s inability to follow up within a reasonable timeframe on new patients that have enquired. It is fundamental in being proactive that the attitude doesn’t stop at stage one. Often a new lead requires several points of contact before they will become a customer. It is therefore vital to keep a strict track of who has enquired and at what point of the sales process they are, i.e. new lead, first call, cold lead and continue to think ahead and plan your approach not just sit back and wait for the potential patient to call again. They often won’t.

Don’t delay. Start today.

Start today by actively and consciously seeking new patients rather than waiting for them to appear. You will find number will increase significantly as ultimately “it’s a numbers game”. The more people you tell about your practice and services the more chance you will have of them saying “yes” to becoming a patient.

And remember

  • New patient generation takes time and effort
  • New patient generation takes a forward thinking, proactive attitude to be effective
  • Have a pipeline of ideas and test different initiatives to see what works and what doesn’t – strictly document results
  • Always follow up any new patient enquiries at the earliest opportunity
  To speak to a business consultant with experience dealing with dental and medical professionals, call us on: 020 7376 9333.