Running a successful dental practice that is exceptional in oral health treatments, boasts an extensive knowledge of new and existing procedures, and uses high quality technologies is a mammoth task. Whilst you have medical insight and experience in abundance, balancing the everyday elements of your business in addition to this can be a real challenge.
Part of growing your practice is using your business acumen to attract new patients. This is often discussed and is a key focus for all practices. However, how much emphasis is placed on looking after your current patients and maintaining a consistent and ever-increasing patient retention rate? Do your patients feel comfortable, confident and sufficiently cared for to continue to use your service? A personalised and professional experience can go a long way in helping you to achieve this.
Values, expectations and presentation
Before clients can invest their trust in you as practitioners, you must have strong values as a dental practice and know what it is that makes you the best in the industry; what makes you stand out? Identifying your specialist area and promoting this to staff will allow them to market your business accurately and consistently to attract the right patients for you.
Having a greater understanding of what sets you apart from the rest will enable you to create a personality and style for your practice. Using your environment to project these ideas and create a positive, comfortable and trusting place for your patients will ensure that they want to return to you, and you alone.
Market, market, market!
Having outlined your values, you will have an idea as to which market in particular you are targeting. This target market may be determined by your location, your competitors or your staff expertise. Either way, once you have identified your market, it is crucial to implement a variety of methods to communicate, thereby reaching as many people as possible. Remember, your patients will use a range of social media in addition to everyday marketing literature – utilise this to promote your business, specialism and success stories. The more they see of you, the more they will realise how pleased they are to be a part of such a thriving practice.
Building and maintaining positive relationships
Knowing your patients’ needs and being empathetic towards them is a great start to building a successful, long-lasting relationship. Although simple, remember these key things when dealing with patients:
- Listen to their concerns patiently
- Explain their treatment carefully and the impact it may have on them
- Provide a variety of finance options to pay for treatment such as insurance coverage, debit card, credit card, special financing and any possible incentives.
The relationship between your practice and your patient begins as soon as they make an appointment on the telephone through to them leaving your practice post treatment. Therefore, numerous staff will play an important role in their experience of your service. Presenting a caring and professional persona throughout this will be crucial in leaving a positive, long-lasting impression of your practice, gaining their trust and loyalty in return.
Organisation is the key!
Your patients are busy people who need to know that their appointment is confirmed and will go ahead as planned. An error, change of dentist or long delay can leave a negative impression and could ruin their plans for the day. Excellent organisation is therefore imperative. Ensure booking systems and procedures are securely in place and communicate openly with patients to prevent them from feeling frustrated. They will appreciate the transparency of information provided.
Invest in your staff
Your staff are the heart of your practice – without them, you would not have a business. Acknowledging just how important they are and considering how you can support them through their own professional development will in turn strengthen their loyalty to you and motivate them to promote the values and achievements of your practice. Having well trained staff at all levels will lead to your patients being well looked after from the moment they walk through the door to the courtesy call following their treatment. A happy workforce can make a huge difference to the perception of your practice and enhance the positive reputation you desire.
Retaining patients can be a tricky business. Creating a personal yet professional atmosphere within your practice will ensure your patients feel safe and secure in the notion that they are with the best of the best and that is where they want to stay.