For most of my clients, dental practice growth is one of their first priorities. However, they don’t realize that one of the top marketing strategies is literally sitting in their offices. Learning how to treat existing patients well is one of the top skills that a dentist should learn. First and foremost, it is important from an ethical standard. Beyond that, when we treat our patients well, it will bring in more people wanting our services, as finding healthcare providers who DO treat their patients well is getting harder to find! This strategy works far more effectively than the most brilliant marketing scheme ever could.
Establishing Relationships with Your Patients
Ok, here’s a little oxymoron. Even though this post is all about how good patient relationships can increase your business, your first job is to provide compassionate service, regardless of your own best interests. However, good service does not just mean clinical excellence. Although this is important, patients are looking for much more than that. They want someone who listens. Someone who cares. Someone who puts their needs and goals first. Someone who will take as long as needed to understand what the person is trying to tell them, or may have difficulty trying to tell them.
Your patients do not want to be ordered around, and they certainly do not want to be judged. Learn to ask the right questions. What do your patients really want from their dental care? Really take in their answers, and don’t ever try to push your goals on them. Yes, a full set of dental implants means more revenue for your practice (and they may be the best choice for your patient’s appearance and overall well-being). However, if Mr. Smith is happy with his removable dentures, and he does not have any underlying dental concerns, then those dentures are the right option.
Efficient scheduling is also essential to patient satisfaction. Establish scheduling blocks with time devoted to new patients, emergency care, high productivity appointments, etc. Do the same with your hygiene schedule. If possible, schedule families together. Stick to this schedule, and – above all – start your appointments on time! To see practice growth, you have to keep the ones you have. Few things drive patients away as fast as inefficient care. It’s simple to track. Do it for two weeks, then talk it over with your team. Address any areas that seem to be problematic or could be improved.
Happy Patients Mean New Patients
When you have a practice full of happy patients, those individuals will bring in new clients. Sometimes, they will do this on their own, recommending your practice to family and friends. Other times, they will need a little push, and that’s ok. When you provide consistently outstanding service, most patients are happy to recommend your business. They just need a little reminder. The plus side to this method is that you get to choose the kind of patients you want to treat! Does Mrs. Smith always come in with an upbeat attitude? Chances are, her friends share the same outlook. And those are the kind of patients you want to be around! (I hope)
At the same time, do not forget about the importance of online reviews. Unfortunately, satisfied patients often do not think about writing reviews. It is only when someone has a negative experience that they want to tell the world about it. Encourage your patients to write reviews (good and bad). When you have really developed your communication and listening skills, you are far more likely to have a slew of five star reviews that will lead to definite practice growth.