As a dental practice owner, it is easy to get caught up in the need to constantly bring new patients to your door to grow your practice. The truth is that many business experts and coaches have had it right – it is easier to grow from within than it is to generate perpetual interest from outside. As you focus on how to grow your patient base, the question must be asked – how well are you RETAINING your current patients?
There are three areas to focus on to enhance and ensure your overall patient retention: Effective Patient Education, Effective Scheduling, and a Consistent Hygiene Retention Program.
- Effective Patient Education – You want to be communicating clearly and building value with every opportunity you have to interact with a patient. Repetition is the key to learning. It can often take repeating information three to five times for your patients to fully retain what is said. This includes the value of and what to expect at the next appointment. Do you have a variety of outlets to stay in communication with your patients even when they aren’t in your practice? More importantly, do you have clear systems and skills when checking a patient out or when scheduling a patient for their appointments? These are times for proving the value, the need and the importance of their continued relationship with you and your practice.
Your ability to utilize patient communication software for continuous patient contact and education through newsletters truly helps a patient connect more with you and commit more firmly to your practice. Are you truly maximizing your systems and software that already exist to help build this foundation with your patients?
- Effective Scheduling – A patient shouldn’t leave your practice without having their next appointment scheduled. This is one of the primary ways of building stronger patient retention. “I’ll call you” is a dangerous comment from anyone. Create processes, verbal skills and systems that help each team member do more within their role to keep your patients active and help them to understand the importance of their appointments. One of the best ways to do this is through keeping them scheduled for their next continuous care appointment with your hygiene team. This leads us to developing your consistent hygiene retention program.
- A Consistent Hygiene Retention Program – Identify a team member to lead the charge when it comes to hygiene retention. Reach out by email, text, and phone to schedule past due patients. Also strengthen your skills at scheduling appointments while patients are at their current hygiene appointment to create a healthy habit. This also helps make sure that more of your patient family are coming through your doors on a regular basis. It is through these committed patients that you not only create that strong patient-base foundation, but they will also be your advocates. This leads to your patients referring friends and family members that will also appreciate your commitment to care. This is a healthy way for any practice to grow and a tried and true approach to keeping more of your patients in your practice for years to come.
Remember, retention is the key to healthy growth. And it is through effective communication skills and solid, consistent processes and systems that you will begin to see the fruits of your labor. Your ideal patients will come, they will stay and they will invite others to join your patient family. Don’t take retention for granted. Give it the attention it deserves and you will reap the rewards of work well done.
Carrie Webber is Chief Communications Officer and owner of Jameson, a dental management, marketing and hygiene coaching firm that helps dentists and teams become more productive, more profitable and ultimately more fulfilled in their practicing lives. Carrie works with dentists and teams on business building concepts to improve team performance, case acceptance and practice growth while also spearheading creative initiatives on behalf of Jameson for the dental community. Webber is a contributing author to several publications and blogs on the topics of marketing, customer service and business development as well as a presenter on these topics to dental professionals. For more information on Carrie and Jameson’s comprehensive management and marketing services, visit www.jamesonmanagement.com or call 877.369.5558.