Increasing your Patient Base

Increasing Your Patient Base

April 19, 2016

Continuing our series on dental practice improvement, below is an extract from our ‘best practice’ marketing manual, available on request. Alternatively, make an appointment with one of our marketing consultants:

Dental practices are in an enviable position, as are most service practices. The main reason for this is that they have a readily accessible database of clients. These people have visited your surgery regularly and you have a wide variety of detailed information on them.

These clients are your best source of new business and I’ll give you the best ways to get new clients from them shortly.

Other sources of new clients for your practice come from advertising, social media, using direct mail and running referral programmes. An often overlooked source of new clients comes from educating the public – running seminars and special events so that you can capture names and addresses.

Actively use public relations as a promotional tool. Look to increase the perceived value in your services and then tell the public what you have done. There are sections on Advertising and Direct Mail in earlier sections of your Manual.

Check this section again for information on developing your Unique Service Proposition – something that should be central to all your marketing and client contact. Setting yourself apart from other Dental practices in your area is very important in terms of differentiating your service.

Studies show that a 5% increase in client retention can result in up to 100% increase in profitability.

Clients move from practice to practice – not because you’re charging more, and not because you don’t offer the right services. In the majority of cases (around 65%), clients move from one business to another for reasons of ‘perceived indifference’ they received the impression that the business just didn’t care.

Every practice has a large part of its database wrapped up in inactive clients. These are clients that have not visited for over 18 months. Therefore, they don’t contribute much to the income of the practice.

Here’s a great source of ‘new’ clients. If you can reactivate them by sending them letters encouraging them to use your clinic again (by sending them a good offer), then you’ve tapped into a good source of income.

Because these inactive clients have used you before, they’re much more likely to use you again. The costs involved in getting these clients to spend at your practice again are much less than those associated with trying to get a new client to come in.

It’s a well-known marketing principle that clients respond to communications from businesses they trust. If you communicate frequently with your clients you nurture them and provide for their needs. When you do this you increase the retention rate of your clients – they will stay with the practice longer and provide you with long term profitability.

Another way of increasing client retention is by delivering much higher than expected levels of service to your clients. They are much less likely to go elsewhere if the level of service they receive is higher than their expectation and better than they would receive elsewhere.

An often overlooked opportunity in Dental practices is dealing with prospects. In other words by increasing the rate of conversion of people that come in for emergency work or a quick clean, to clients who will bring their family to you.

How many prospects come into your practice only once? Do you have methods to convert them? Are your staff trained to capture names and addresses so that you can write to them straight away? If they’ve been into the practice and spoken to some of your Team, then they will be responsive to any offer or marketing promotion you send to them.

Any offer you send has to be irresistible and you need to use the opportunity to educate those people by giving them reasons why they should try your practice.

If you send them a letter within 2 days of their visit, it will create an impression. A ‘WOW’ impression. I bet they will have never received a letter from any other business, let alone from a Dental Clinic, that they have previously visited. Then, when they need to make their next dental appointment, it will be your practice they think of first.

Here is an example:

Mr. Client


Suburb Postcode

Hello ‘Name’

My staff told me that you visited the practice today for the first time. Because clients are so important to me, I wanted to write to you personally and thank you for your visit.

I also wanted to invite you to return again soon and take advantage of some special offers we have. (Here’s where you list special promotions, discount deals on stock products etc – don’t forget to spell out your USP and aspects of your service that differentiate you from other Dental practices.)

There’s no time limit on these specials. I simply want you to experience the quality of work we do, how quickly we can respond to your queries and health needs, and how we guarantee the service level we provide.

I know that if you experience our service level again, you’ll think of (practice name) whenever you need Dental services.

Have a good day.

You can lift your response to promotional activities and direct mail promotions, not necessarily by spending more. All you need to do is test … new advertisements … new offers … and new headlines. You can try new media, new products, new services and new markets. Social media is the fastest growing method of reaching out to new customers by far. How do you utilise Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to bring more patients to your practice?

That 10% – 20% increase is there, waiting for you to take it. But that’s where most people stop. They still have this pre-occupation with getting ‘new business’, when there’s still plenty of life and income from the existing client base that you already have!