There are three ways a new patient enters your practice:
- Through external means. This is the patient who arrives with no prior knowledge of you or your practice (although they probably arrive with a perceived need or with certain expectations). Maybe they saw your ad, or found you on 1-800-DENTIST. Maybe they are looking for same-day dentistry, or maybe they just moved into the neighborhood and you were the closest dentist. In any case, with this patient you are starting from scratch as far as creating value for what you do.
- By internal invitation. This is of course how most practices grow – when satisfied patients tell friends and colleagues about you. The patients who arrive by internal invitation obviously arrive with a better sense of who you are and what to expect than the external new arrival. The groundwork has been laid for establishing the right sense of trust. These are what I call “natural” internal invitations. But there is another kind of internal invitation that takes that trust to a higher level. That is the patient who arrives ...
- Because they are especially motivated. This is the patient who is coming to you with an “I want what she’s having” mindset. It’s not just that a friend said you were a good dentist (whatever that may mean to them). It’s more because they have heard about the extraordinary experience you offer, and have seen the results of your clinical expertise for themselves, in the rejuvenated smile and confidence of the person making the recommendation. These patients are arriving “mind-ready” for great dentistry.
Now of course every dentist would love to see as many new patients as possible that fit into that last category – patients who arrive wanting the best you have to offer – but the truth is that the way you get to see more of those kinds of patients is by putting the extra effort into how you welcome the first category of external referrals.
Those are the patients who arrive as blank slates, the ones who perhaps have never valued dentistry in the right way before. This is where the seeds of opportunity are sown. Get them started in the right way, establish the right expectations, earn their trust, their time, and their economic investment, and you can make a powerful difference in their lives. Inevitably, these “homegrown” patients will be the ones bringing in those motivated new patients. That’s how you make the external internal. That’s how you grow a devoted patient base in a pure and reliable way.
This is why you have to invest the time in mastering that all-important context-setting new patient experience. If you haven’t already seen it, you can get my free e-book on the new dental patient experience here. Or put aside some time with the staff to watch our online dental team meeting. Because that new “blank slate” patient you see today could well become tomorrow’s high-value ambassador for your practice.