I’ve been practicing dentistry long enough to understand that not every patient who walks through my door is going to be my ideal patient. Some patients are going to reject everything I tell them they need to do for their health. Some patients are going to give me a hard time about the cost of the dentistry I provide. And some patients are going to leave their manners at home. It’s just part of the job.
Even though non-ideal patients are part of the package deal of being a dentist (or any healthcare provider, really), I still make it my goal to be a magnet for quality patients who will make my days as a dentist more enjoyable. If you think that your patient pool is something that is left to chance, let me convince you otherwise. Here are the four simple steps I take to attract the kind of patients that will make my practice of dentistry flourish.
I know my own worth.
When I first started as a dentist in a practice that needed to attract new patients to grow, my marketing manager suggested that we send out mailers with coupons for a discounted new patient exam, cleaning, and x-rays. It was about 75% off the value of those services, but I trusted it would drive new patients to our practice from all corners of town, allowing us to diagnose more treatment and boost our monthly production. I was right about one thing- we were flooded with new patients who travelled a great distance for a $49 new patient appointment. And while these patients had plenty of treatment that needed to be completed, they weren’t in my chair because they cared about taking care of massive decay or rampant periodontal disease. They were there to get their teeth cleaned for $49.
I don’t send out mailers with coupons anymore. I would rather have a selective patient family that is open to being educated about the treatment they need. I worked many years to acquire these skills and they are certainly worth more than $49. Know your worth and the decision to stand by your prices becomes a walk in the park.
I exemplify that type of patient I want to attract.
If my ideal patient is one who is on time for appointments, likes to have a little bit of fun in the dental chair, and wants to swap banana bread recipes with me, I’m going to follow those same set of behaviors as a dentist. If I am asking my patients to respect my time by not running late, I will do the same for them in return by running on schedule consistently. Your time is valuable and so is the patients. If I want my patients to relax and enjoy a little dentist-patient banter, then I’m going to be in a great mood and check my stress at the door. See where I’m going with this? It’s a little bit like dating- become more like the exact person you want to attract.
I ask for referrals directly.
In addition to creating the magical experiences that lead to referrals, I often come right out and ask for them directly. I will usually ask a patient that I really like and get along with at the end of an appointment. I tell this patient how much I enjoy talking to him or her and how I wish my practice was full of patients like them. I tell them to feel free to send over any friends that they have a lot in common with because I know that any friend of theirs would be a great addition to the practice. Patients love this compliment, and I love gaining awesome patients without the marketing gimmicks.
I thank the patient for their business.
It’s nice to thank a patient for coming in for their appointment, but you can blow them away by going one step further: “I know that there are a lot of dentists out there, and I want to thank you for choosing to do business with us. We don’t take this choice for granted and hope that we can continue to serve you for the next twenty years or more.” We have to remember that our patients are our customers too and that’s what keeps us in business.
While we can’t assume that every patient who comes to us will be our ideal patient, there are simple steps we can take to seek out the kind of patients we want to fill our practice with. I know you’ll come to the same realization that I have over the years: that our patients can either wear us out or inspire us to become better dentists. How will you go out of your way to attract your ideal patient today?
To your great success,