With over 200,000 registered dentists in the U.S., your patients have plenty of choices for their oral care needs. The fact that they’ve chosen you out of all those dental professionals is fantastic—after all, it’s not always easy to attract prospective patients.
But once you have a steady stream of clients, how do you keep them coming back?
It’s a question with many potential answers. There are several tried-and-true dental patient retention strategies at your disposal. Let’s look at some of the best.
#1 Book Follow-Up Appointments Immediately
After an appointment, most patients need to stop by reception to either deal with payment or insurance forms. This moment is the perfect time to proactively book another visit.
Even if there’s no additional work to be done, you can still schedule their next routine cleaning six months in advance. Let them know that they can always reschedule closer to the date—plans change, of course—but that it’s best to have a future visit locked in before the calendar fills up.
#2 Offer a Referral Program
Incentivizing return visits is an excellent way to all but guarantee them. When it comes to how to attract new patients to your dental practice, offering a referral program is a great place to start. For example, you could try a referral program such as, “Refer a new patient and earn a $50 gift card for your next visit.” For anyone on the fence about coming back for another cleaning, offers like these might seal the deal.
Best of all, this marketing strategy can help boost your dental business in two ways:
- Your existing patient will want to return to your dental practice to take advantage of their gift card.
- At the same time, they’ll help you attract new patients to your practice. Once these new patients experience your professionalism, they can participate in the referral scheme, and the snowball effect continues.
#3 Update Your Tech
Everyone wants their healthcare providers to have the most up-to-date information available. Why shouldn’t that also extend to the technology they use?
Incorporating new dental technology into your practice shows you want nothing but the best for your patients. For example, when you move from slower, traditional processes like physical impression-taking to lightning-fast digital oral scans, you show your patients how much you value their time and comfort.
Overall, high-tech advancements in dentistry like digital workflows and intraoral scanners can help with retention by:
- Allowing you to provide a higher standard of care
- Freeing up a patient’s time by reducing chair time
- Obtaining finished orders much sooner
#4 Develop a Personal Relationship
In marketing and customer retention, building a personal relationship is everything. You can easily apply this patient retention strategy to your dentistry business.
You may only see a patient two or three times a year, but that doesn’t mean you have to go radio silent in between visits. To show them you care, consider sending birthday or holiday messages. Since you already have your patients’ birthdays on file, setting up an automated greeting card every year is easy enough.
When your patients are in the office, be sure to take an interest in their personal lives. Ask questions about their summer plans, then follow up during their winter visit. If you struggle with remembering all that information, try making a quick note in their file that you can consult before the follow-up appointment. When you learn how to grow your dental practice, you’ll find that positive patient engagement can be a valuable connection due to the power of word-of-mouth.
#5 Solicit Feedback from Current Patients
You can’t address your patients’ needs if you don’t know what they are. If some part of your medical practice is causing a customer to consider switching dentists, you need to know immediately so you can better serve them.
To elicit patient feedback, you could try:
- Installing a tablet in the waiting room with a short survey
- Texting out a post-appointment patient satisfaction survey along with a “thank you” message
- Having admin staff ask a few questions during re-booking
- Working with a third-party survey company to email patients
Once you know what your current patients are looking for, you can take the appropriate steps to improve their experiences.
#6 Explore Membership Possibilities
Surveys show that one of the primary reasons patients leave one dentist for another is cost. If another dental office can offer a better rate, your current clients may have no choice but to save their money and move on—no matter how much they like you as a dentist.
To that end, offering competitive rates is paramount to retaining patients and obtaining a high patient retention rate. A membership strategy can help you provide discounts to loyal patients without having to slash your prices for all patients.
Here’s how a membership plan could work: Instead of charging patients for each service separately, you charge an annual fee that covers the essentials for a year. For instance, you might offer a $400 membership plan that includes the year’s cleanings, x-rays, and exams (that might normally cost $500). You could also give members a percentage off of any other service.
When your patients are members, they have a direct incentive to come to you for all their oral care needs.
#7 Get It Right the First Time
If your patient needs a crown, nightguard, or new set of dentures, they usually need it sooner rather than later. But inaccuracies with traditional impression-taking processes often mean that the first order doesn’t fit perfectly, delaying the overall process.
Digital dentistry solutions can help to ensure a perfect fit the first time. For example, practices that use Dandy’s digital solutions see an 89% reduction in remakes. Delivering such a seamless patient experience can increase patient satisfaction, and, therefore, the odds that your patient will return the next time they need an oral appliance.
#8 Adjust Your Office Hours
Between work and school, some patients may struggle to find time to see a dentist. These scheduling concerns might cause your patients to look for other options.
To maintain your relationship with these clients, consider opening earlier or closing later—even if it’s only one day a week. When you make it easy for your patients to come back, they probably will.
#9 Provide An Efficient, High-Quality Patient Experience
Perhaps this should go without saying, but one of the best patient retention strategies is going the extra mile to guarantee a five-star patient experience. Clients who have a positive patient experience are more likely to return—and they’ll probably tell their friends and family about your dental practice, too.
With that in mind, every aspect of your practice should be professional and efficient. The following tactics can improve the overall customer experience:
- Create an online portal for bookings and modifications
- Leverage digital dentistry for a quicker, more accurate approach to taking impressions
- Keep wait times and chair time to a minimum
- Offer only high-quality materials, such as zirconia crowns
Keep Patients Coming Back with Dandy
Attracting potential patients can help you grow your business, but maintaining your customer base is the true measurement of success. The best way to retain patients is to keep them happy—and the best way to keep them happy is to make their visits as quick, simple, and affordable as possible.
For all of that, there’s Dandy.
With a streamlined approach to modern dentistry, our all-in-one digital lab makes providing a seamless experience easier than ever. Orders arrive at your office quicker and more accurately when compared to your traditional dental lab. And when your patients’ dental appliances come back on time, your patients will, too.
American Dental Association. The dentist workforce. https://www.ada.org/resources/research/health-policy-institute/dentist-workforce
Forbes. Want To Retain Your Customers? Make It Personal. https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2019/06/02/want-to-retain-your-customers-make-it-personal/?sh=28c7a8d95dbb
DentalInsurance.com. Nationwide Survey Explores Why Consumers Change Dentists. https://www.dentalinsurance.com/resources/dental-survey/
Dandy. Go Digital. https://www.meetdandy.com/go-digital/