I’m slowly coming to a realization. In most ‘metro’ markets there is an abundance of dentists and we are all going after the same patients. This means that growing our practice through new patients will be more and more difficult. Instead, we should be relying more heavily on our existing patient base.
So why do we often focus so much attention on our attracting new patients? Because we simply aren’t properly leveraging our patient base. We don’t retain and reappoint enough of our existing patients for recall visits.
Half the battle of having a productive office is keeping that hygiene engine running.
So how do you fill your hygiene schedule?
There are many ways and no single approach is going to work alone. But let me share with you one aspect we are doing that requires minimal effort. And I love minimal effort!
It’s what I call being “Top of Mind” with your patient base. The easiest way to do this is to consistently (not necessarily constantly) remind your patients that you still exist and that you still love and care for them.
Look, life is busy. You’re busy with family, work, kids, friends, and whatever else is going on. Our patients are no different. How many times have you intended to make an appointment for something, but life got in the way and that task simply got delayed? Way more often than we would like.
As much as it hurts our feelings, dental visits isn’t the #1 priority for 99% of our patient base. So we need to keep providing our patients with gentle reminders to make that appointment. More importantly, we need to make that requesting appointment process easy for them.
We live in an electronic world that is open 24/7. Yet our offices aren’t open 24/7. Even worse, our practices are just horrible (mine included) at actually answering the phones. Make it easy for your patients to communicate with you electronically.
Think about it. How many times do you get home, have some family time, eat dinner, put the kids to bed, watch a little TV, and then get on your phone/computer (more and more likely on a smart phone) and then get your ‘business of life’ done. This is the most convenient time for your patients to make their appointments. But hardly anyone is answering phone calls at 9pm. Besides, patients don’t want to actually call anyone. They simply want to click a button.
In our office we utilize a service called Revenue Well. Over the next few months I will share with you some of the ways we are utilizing Revenue Well to stay “Top of Mind” with our patient base. But right now I want to just focus on hygiene recall.
Our automated recall system will ‘drip’ messages to our patients that are overdue for recall visits. This system is totally customized. We choose what interval to send out reminders and how to send out the reminders. We can communicate via text, email, or even postcard/letter. The entire thing is automated. Like the old late night infomercial – “Set It and Forget It!”
The first message goes out 9 months after their last hygiene visit. This means they are 3 months overdue. Another campaign gets them 1 day and 1 week after they are due. But this is just the reactivation campaign.
The next message goes out the 12 month since last visit or 6 months overdue.
The last message goes out at the 15 month mark or 9 months overdue.
Honestly, I didn’t appreciate how well this works until this past week. The team member who handles this on a daily basis was on an extended vacation (who in the world takes 3 weeks off at once, and what kind of employer let’s that happen!). I got a friendly email from the folks at Revenue Well that my appointment request box was piling up. Here’s what it looked like.
In a roughly 2.5 week span our automated reactivation system generated…
- 87 patients asking for us to call them for various reasons.
- 43 patients directly requesting an appointment.
- 2 patients making online payments on their balance.
It’s the utilization of services like Revenue Well that helps maintain and grow your dental practice.