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Patient Retention Strategies: Keeping Your Practice Thriving

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Patient Retention Strategies

Before we start off with retention strategies, I must say, many dentists and other health practitioners do not know how to crank up their deal flow. Retention is great when you have enough patients coming in. So before I show you how to retain your patients, you first have to get the patient.

Secrets to Cranking UP Your Deal Flow

Secrets to Cranking UP Your Deal Flow

Now there are two corollaries. One is that a lot of people, particularly in service businesses, get caught in the trap of securing a certain amount of business and then they have to go produce or service that business.

And they don't do any or very little marketing while they're doing that. And one day they wake up to discover that they've done a great job, but they've also put themselves out of business.

The solution to that is, you never turn off the marketing machine.

My rule is every day, every single day, we gotta do something to keep new blood flowing into the pipeline that is going to evolve and turn into business. And if you let a day go by because you're too busy doing this or too busy doing that, then it's easy to let two days go by and then let three days go by, and pretty soon you've established a new and different pattern that is not productive for you or your business.

So my rule is every day there's gotta be some mail going out, or I've gotta be on the phone with some person who is ready to do business.

Somehow we've gotta keep the pump running that puts new blood into the business.

In many service businesses, the choice you have is feast or famine. You either have too much, or you have too low. Better to have too much than it is to have too little. Confucius said many things, but one of the good things he said was, “dig the well before you thirst”.

So you keep your systems running that are bringing in new business, even when you don't need it. You don't turn that down. You just get pickier about what you take, but you keep the systems running.

The second corollary is diversity in the way you get business. A lot of people get lazy and rely on one or two or three productive ways.

When I first started to do consulting in chiropractic, I was working with a practice management guy and he had built three consecutive single-doctor, million-dollar-a-year practices in rapid periods. He would go into a town, build one, sell it, move someplace else, start another one, build it, move someplace else, start another. And he'd become kind of famous for having done this.

And he said the number one question that he always got from everybody, no matter who they were, was, “How did you do it?” His answer was 72 new patients a month.

So people would come to him and they would want to know, how do you do that?

What's the one thing you do to get 72 new patients a month?” And what they really want is what everybody wants - they want to be handed one magic pill that solves that problem.

And his answer was, “I don't know anything to do to get 72 new patients a month, but I know 72 things to do to get a new patient a month. And I do all 72 of them.”

Now that's some of the best marketing advice I ever heard. It’s all about having lots of open doors, lots of funnels, lots of methods, bringing you new business so that if they cycle and one's down and one's up, even if you get a slump in one place, it doesn't translate to all places. And you don't need to depend on one or two or three things to keep you alive. You don't need great results from any one thing, you just need okay results from a lot of eggs.

How to Retain These Customers:

Well one way is, and this is a very simple marketing tactic anybody and everybody can use.

I used to do it every once in a while with the No B.S. Marketing Letter – adding on a grabber (people tell me they kept and still have the little door hinge I glued onto an issue), sticking in a baggie of candy-corn at Halloween, a tiny American flag in July or a little “toy surprise” (obtained cheap from Oriental Trading). With sales letter packages for myself and for clients I’ve sent toy trucks, little stuffed bull dolls in farmer overalls, superhero buttons, a humor book (Dave Barry’s MONEY) to financial advisors.

This year, in stores, they sold “prank” gift boxes for phony, satire-on-Sharper-Image kitchen gadgets like the combo alarm clock and waffle maker or the in-shower coffee maker. I bought and used two, and think this is a great idea for a direct-mail campaign, maybe a “customer appreciation gift” promotion.

How to Retain These Customers

The idea is simple: Surprise, Delight (and, if selling, Disarm.)

Make them smile. Chuckle. Take something home and give it to their kid. Put something on their bookshelf. In an ongoing relationship, set up a pattern of non-pattern surprises, a little wondering about what you’ll do next. Go over to the nearest, big Dollar Tree, a Spencer’s Gift store, a Target store and prowl around. Shop for an idea. Play.

These days, personalization is easy and cheap. One Christmas, I got a suitable for framing 8x10 of George W. and Laura, with a personalized notation, using my name. I know it’s junk mail, but I still hesitated in throwing it out.

Personalized cartoons can be made with Mike Capuzzi’s CopyDoodles®, obtained from Stu Heinike, the New Yorker Cartoon Bank, commissioned from Vince Palko.

It’s cheap and easy to make your own little joke book or page of jokes – lawyer jokes, doctor jokes, golf jokes. Play.

If you want specific retention strategies, you can find more by joining my NO B.S. Newsletter which delivers every month and gets you new information on how to grow your business each and every month.

Now let’s move on more patient strategies, you need to have basic strategies such as personalized communication & educational content.

We live in a world where customization is king. Your patients don’t want to feel like just another name or a number on a chart. Personalized emails, birthday greetings, appointment reminders tailored to their needs – these are the tools that will set you apart.

Make each patient feel like they're your most important one, because guess what? They are.

Plus, you're not just a healthcare provider; you're a resource, an authority in your field. Share your knowledge. Write blogs, send out newsletters, and be active on social media. Educate your patients not just in the office, but outside it. You do this, and you’ll be the first person they think of when they have a health concern.

By the way, and I have to put this in here, if your patient experience is substandard, they are NOT coming back. It’s no different than going to a restaurant where the food was bad, or the waiter mistreated them. Customers who have a bad experience won’t return.

So, from the moment a patient steps into your office, every second counts. The ease of scheduling an appointment, the warmth of your reception, the comfort of your waiting room – it all adds up. Remember, a patient who feels valued and comfortable is a patient who comes back.

Happy Clients

You can add a follow-up care call. My clients always did. A quick call or a message after an appointment can make all the difference. It shows you care, that you're there not just as a doctor but as a partner in their health journey.

You can add community involvement – get out there and be visible. Sponsor local events, or participate in health drives. Show that you’re not just a practice, but a part of the community.

Your online presence matters a lot when doing all this. Make sure it's as welcoming and informative as your physical one. A good website, active social media, online appointment booking – these are no longer luxuries; they're necessities.

Embrace technology – from online scheduling to telemedicine, make it easy for your patients to access your services. Convenience is key in this fast-paced world.

And finally, regularly assess your strategies. What’s working? What’s not? Keep evolving, keep adapting. Your patients' needs will change, and so should your approach.

So my hope is you got something out of this, if you want to learn more, I wrote a book on customer retention, called: No B.S. Guide to Maximum Referrals and Customer Retention: The Ultimate No Holds Barred Plan to Securing New Customers and Maximum Profits or you can join my NO B.S. Newsletter to get more information on growing your practice/business at nobsletter.com

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