Patient Retention Matters as Much as Patient Acquisition

Steve Klinghoffer


We applaud dentists who are proactive in marketing their practices. These professionals acknowledge that the only way to build, grow, and sustain a dental practice is by being intentional and strategic. However, there is a common mistake many dentists make when it comes to marketing their practices. Sometimes even the savviest dentists lose track of important fundamentals.

The mistake is focusing all your marketing efforts on attracting new patients. Of course, new patients are critical, but beware of concentrating too much on them. You cannot build your ideal practice if you aren’t also carefully implementing a solid patient loyalty program. After all, with each patient you lose, you must spend fresh marketing dollars in hopes of attracting a new one.

Working hard to acquire new patients but failing to put programs in place to retain existing ones is like trying to fill a pool with a hole in it. If you don’t work to permanently fix the hole, the water, like your existing patients, will trickle away. You’ll be left wondering why you must work harder and harder for a schedule that’s not as full as it should be, despite all your efforts.

The less you focus on reaching that existing patient base, the larger the hole becomes.

For successful practices, patient retention is not enough. They work toward and succeed at creating and benefiting from a culture of patient loyalty. There are three ways to establish this culture. 

Show Patients You Care

You know that you care about your patients, but do they? It is essential for the health of your practice that your patients believe they are a priority for you.

We fervently advocate the use of dental patient newsletters because they are arguably the single best tool to remind your patients between office visits that you care about them and their dental health.

Patient loyalty begins with knowing you care. What do you do to go the extra step to show your patients that they matter to you?

Create Opportunities for Your Patients to Tell Others 

If your patients believe that you care about them, they’ll be inclined to tell others about you. 

When patients are particularly pleased with a treatment, ask them to write a testimonial on Google, Angie’s List, or any review site you favor. Or, ask them to post a comment on Facebook. Better yet, ask if they’re willing to show off their beautiful smile in a photo with you so you can post it on Instagram and your website and use it in your patient newsletter.

Loyalty is a powerful tool for dentists. Think of your loyal patients as sources of ongoing revenue for your practice. Your most ecstatic patients will want to tell their friends, relatives, and coworkers about you. Let them!

Do you make it a point to tell your patients about your personal life? Examples include how you spend your spare time, your favorite vacation spot, the great new restaurant you found, and what college you attended. 

Don’t underestimate ways you can connect to your patients’ friends and families. Give them reasons to inject their favorite dentist into a conversation. Even a good clean joke that they heard at your office can point back to you and start a conversation about why they are so loyal to you.

With just a little creative thinking, you can create opportunities for your patients to tell others about you. 

Say “Thank You” 

One of the best ways to show patients that you care about them and their health is to remember a basic lesson your mother taught you—say “thank you.” When patients refer you or say nice things about you to their friends or families, be sure to be very quick to show your appreciation.

Thank you notes, e-mails, and personal phone calls never go out of style. A public “thank you” in your newsletter and on your website is also recommended, but only with your patients’ approval to mention them by name. Whenever possible, show a little personality, and include their photo. By tagging patients on social media in your “thank you,” you benefit from increased exposure. 

Of course, not all patients are your most loyal patients. Regardless of the bond you share, a quality patient newsletter has the potential to build patient relationships and create new referrals based on them.

Keep adding those new patients, but recognize the value of your existing patient base. Never overlook opportunities to reach out to existing patients and build loyalty.

Mr. Klinghoffer is the president and publisher of WPI Communications. He founded WPI Communications with his wife, Lori, in 1984. WPI Communications is a renowned leader in newsletter marketing for dentists and other professional practices. He has helped hundreds of dentists build their practices with newsletters. To learn how newsletter marketing can help grow your dental practice, contact WPI Communications at (800) 323-4995 or for a free, no-obligation consultation, or visit

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