I was recently thinking about a moment before I published my book, RETENTION! How to Plug the #1 Profit Leak in Your Dental Practice. I wrote it to help fellow dentists understand how to create an ever-expanding list of happy, satisfied patients.

I gave the manuscript to a friend of mine to read. He came back and said to me, “So Jesse, what you’re telling me is this is essentially a relationship book?”

I said, “Absolutely. It’s absolutely a relationship book because we’re in a people-to-people business.”

I’ve said this over and over again, but at its core, dentistry is built on a foundation of trust. It’s an intimate experience putting your hands in someone’s mouth. If the first exam isn’t going to be the last exam, building a relationship with that patient for future trust and mutual respect is critical.

But how do you create relationships? How do you sustain relationships? How do you do that in a professional manner?

1. Be intentional about intentionality.

Intentionality is a profound asset and should be cultivated mindfully and with discipline. In layman’s terms, intentionality means, “I meant to do it that way.”

If you look at any person’s life, especially your own, assess the percentage of intentionality in it, you will find that your success corresponds accordingly. That is, the more you are intentional about your day-to-day experiences, the more likely you are to be steering it in a purposeful direction. The direction you want.

Music legend John Denver was famous amongst musicians as he used to arrive at his venues very early. He would meet with the parking lot attendants to tell them how important they are. He believed they set the mood for the audience. He was intentional about ensuring that his audience had a smooth arrival and good experience right up until they sat in their seats and he came on stage.

Take your practice for example. Look at it, where it is. How much of your patients’ experience are you intentionally cultivating? Can you be more intentional about guiding people to good parking? Can you be more intentional about what the front entrance looks like?

Can you be more intentional about the experience a new patient has at your practice? Do you control what they see, smell, hear? Can you?

Can you be more intentional about the way you deliver bad news or a the high cost of important treatment?

Just like with your clinical skills, the way you hold instruments, the advice you give is intentional, every other aspect of your practice can be too.

If you’re not intentional, what is the result? You get what somebody else was intentional about or what chaos brings as a result of a lack of intentionality.

2. Don’t be afraid to follow up.

Sales is one of my favourite topics. I’ve noticed that other dentists can get a bit squeamish about the word ‘sales’, but sales is a necessary component of any successful business, a dental practice included.

One of my mentors in the marketing space used to always tell me that the real money was in the follow up.

It’s modern-day life that everyone is so busy. The result is that hardly anyone takes the time to follow up. If you think about your own life, how many times have you talked to someone when you were ready to buy but they didn’t follow up and you ended up purchasing from someone else?

The great thing about following up is that it’s easy. You don’t have to be a marketing genius or a smooth salesperson. You simply have to be professional, respectful, and proactive.

Don’t leave money on the table by missing a chance to remind someone that your practice exists and wants to meet their needs.

3. Offer patient loyalty – don’t seek it.

What is a relationship? As Jim Cathcart put it so succinctly, it is a direct connection between people in which value is exchanged. You can’t have a relationship with a business. You can have a relationship with individuals within a business, but not the business itself.

The key to this definition is value. Value can only be determined by the recipient.

For you, as a dentist, the value is in having a happy, patient that trusts your medical advice and continues to return to you. You want to get to the point where you are their trusted dentist and they come to you. You are no longer simply A Dentist but Their Dentist.

What you control is what you give in return when they do come back to you. Back to the concept of intentionality, you can be intentional about your patient relationships. You can ask questions like, “How can we give more value to this patient without costing ourselves a cent? How can we make him or her leave happier? How can we make his or her patient experience better? Smoother? Less fearful?”

Patient loyalty, and therefore patient retention, is something to be given by the dentist, not something to be sought.

A relationship with your patient should never be a one-sided endeavour. They must trust you with their health so you must earn that trust. If you are continually loyal to your patients as a guardian of their wellbeing, they will be responsive to that.

In turn, you will see your patient retention rates skyrocket. But it is important to remember that the only thing you can control as a dentist is your loyalty.

Final Words…

Intentionality is a powerful concept that can be applied not just to your dental practice, but to every aspect of your life. Be intentional about your continued medical training. Be intentional about the books you read and the people you spend time.

Be intentional about the loyalty you show your patients and you might be amazed by what you see in return.

P.S. Whenever you’re ready …. here are 4 ways I can help you grow your dental practice:

    1. Grab a free chapter from my book “Retention – How to Plug the #1 Profit Leak in Your Dental Practice”

    The book is the definitive guide to patient retention and how to use internal marketing to grow your practice – Click Here

    1. Join the Savvy Dentist community and connect with dentists who are scaling their practice too

    It’s our Facebook group where clever dentists learn to become commercially smart so that they have more patients, more profit and less stress. – Click Here

    1. Attend a Practice Max Intensive live event

    Our 2 day immersive events provide access to the latest entrepreneurial thinking and actionable strategies to drive your practice forward. You’ll leave with a game plan to take your results to the next level. If you’d like to join us, just send me a message with the word “Event and I’ll get you all the details!  – Click here

    1. Work with me and my team privately

    If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take your profit from 6 figures to 7 figures …. just send me a message with the word “Private”… tell me a little about your practice and what you would like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here