Keeping Good Dental Patients for Life

Studies show that up to 45% of the patients who contact you, will purchase the dental services that you provide within a year. Will they purchase from you or another dentist?

The answer lies in how well your dental office is following up with those prospective patients.

Experienced dentists know that effective follow-up represents the cornerstone of a vital dental practice. Yet, too many dentists are still using stone-age tools in a microchip world. Research shows that it takes a minimum of five to seven contacts before a patient decides to do business with you.

Traditional marketing tools such as mailing lists and the occasional phone call no longer get the job done. Bringing patients back into the fold requires a solid follow-up system, one with robust contact capabilities that allow you to deliver your message to selected patients without a lot of fuss and bother.

What is a solid follow-up system? Contrary to the popular misconception, it’s not just numerous phone calls to the same person. Much broader in scope, a nice follow-up system involves an organized system of information that allows you to communicate with patients on an ongoing basis and in a variety of ways.

When properly utilized, a follow-up system allows you to:

  • Send personalized messages to your selected patients.
  • Retain current patients and motivate them to come in for treatment on a more frequent basis.
  • Attract new patients by explaining how your dental practice fits their unique dental needs.
  • Grow your practice in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

To the uninformed, a strong follow-up system may sound like a complex process that only large corporations with huge marketing budgets can successfully employ.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Armed with only a personal computer, the right software program and a little knowledge, you can use this tool to grow your dental practice like never before.

Overcoming the “Treatment Resistors”

Here’s one example of how a good follow-up system can have a tremendous impact on a dental practice. Do you recognize any of these stereotypical dental patients?

Polly Procrastinator. She knows she needs a certain procedure but puts off scheduling the appointment for as long as possible. She doesn’t have a good reason, she just never seems to get around to it.

Alan Avoider. He avoids the treatment with statements such as, “I’m not sure my dental plan covers that,” or “I just don’t have the money this month.”

Betty Busybody. She never seems to have time to come back for the proscribed treatment. “I’d love to get that taken care of but I don’t know when I can squeeze it in. I’ll have to check my calendar and get back to you.”

Peter Pretender. He believes the problem will go away by pretending it doesn’t exist. When you recommend a treatment, he typically responds with something like, “No thanks, I just came in for a cleaning today.”

If you’re like most dentists, you probably have more than your share of these stereotypical patients. Not only are they frustrating to deal with, they also represent a significant source of potential income that usually ends up walking out the door. And once they decline the treatment and leave, the majority of them never return.

However, if you could bring back even a small percentage of these patients, think of the impact it would have on your practice!

Contact Management Software: Follow-up Made Easy

At the heart of every good follow-up system lies a powerful contact management software program. Why is that so important? Because you can’t afford to spend half your day on management activities. A good contact management program dramatically reduces the time it takes to send customized messages to patients and prospects. This helps to build your practice and frees you up to focus on what you do best — caring for your patients.

Contact management software allows you to:

  • Set up an organized system of follow-up contacts.
  • Generate targeted lists of patients and prospective patients.
  • Send the right letters to the right patients at the right time, based on your criteria, not the software’s.
  • Easily and effectively incorporate a variety of customized letters, scripts for phone calls and other types of contacts.
  • Reduce the time it takes to contact patients while significantly increasing their response rate.

Warning: Do you think you don’t need a contact management software because you already have a dental software program? Herein lies another misconception that stunts the growth of many a dental practice. Most dental software programs focus primarily on the billing process. While some offer a few basic mailing list features, they tend to have very limited capabilities when it comes to contact management.

Obviously, no business can survive for very long if it can’t collect on its accounts receivable. But, that involves a separate function that has nothing to do with the marketing activities needed to grow your practice.

Follow-up is the key to a successful dental practice, and nothing makes it easier than a good system that incorporates a powerful contact management program. Without these 21st century marketing tools, you’re doomed to labor with Stone Age technology, which inevitably yields Stone Age results.


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