You don’t need a lot of patients. You just need happy patients…that come back.
The entire basis of growing your practice consistently (without having to be in this “hustle” mode forever) is to build your patient base.
The larger your patient base the more bookings you’ll see, the more referrals you’ll get and the less you’ll have to work for any of it.
IF (and this is the important part)
That patient still thinks of themselves as part of your patient base.
As someone who has been to A LOT of practitioners over the years I know the ones where I feel a part of their patient base. I know they think of me outside our appointment times (or at least I feel like they do), they stay in touch, they follow-up. We’ve built a relationship and they CARE about how I’m doing.
I also know the ones where I’m not. I’m just someone else who came in a bunch of times and it’s up to me when and how I to re-book.
Guess which practitioners I actually re-book with? The ones I see regularly? As in weekly, monthly or quarterly. Some practitioners I’ve been seeing for years and yes, it’s because they help but also because we’ve built a relationship where there’s some joint loyalty.
The relationship you build with a patient is a bit like dating. The more you nurture it, the more it’ll grow and trust, loyalty and commitment will build.
I know for a lot of practitioners this idea of “nurturing the relationship” is where things get fuzzy.
How do I stay in touch or re-invigorate a past patient?
Below are 3 strategies to do that including exactly what you say. You’ll notice a common thread in each. They’re consistent, ongoing strategies. THIS is one of the most important factors in maintaining your patient base so you can grow your practice. Make staying in touch a part of your regular routine so none of them feel ghosted again!
This strategy is simple and pretty much as it sounds. You personally connect with past patients/clients whether by phone, email, text or social (I only recommend the last 2 if that’s generally how you communicated with them when they were an active patient) to spark conversation again. This is actually part of an ongoing referral/re-invigoration strategy that maintains a personal connection with past patients 3-4 times per year. You can grab the whole strategy here.
To spark conversation and let them know you’re thinking of them. You can do this a couple ways:
1) Provide something valuable – either an update on you/your practice or useful content that pertains to them
2) To check in and see how they’re feeling.
You can also incorporate both although I wouldn’t “check in on them” if it’s been longer than 8-12 months since you last connected as it really doesn’t come across as genuine. If it’s been a LONG time and you really want to re-kindle the connection I suggest focusing on #1.
Why it Works:
If you haven’t been in touch with someone for a long time, they’re “cold”. You’ve lost a lot of the relationship (or “heat”) you had developed when actively working together. People don’t generally work with practitioners in this cold state. They need to be warmed up, the relationship nurtured a bit before they feel ready and excited to book. A purely nurturing email like this where you’re offering something to them without asking for anything in return helps to rekindle that old flame and spark conversation. For some it’s instant, others it might be a slower build.
What to say:
You can grab the exact scripts and email templates for that HERE.
Here’s a very simple script as well:
Hope all is well!
I came across this _________(an article, supplement, new modality that would be VERY helpful to them and their condition) the other day and it made me think of you.
How are you feeling lately?
You can substitute any open-ended question here you think works best (can’t be answered with yes/no):
– How are you feeling?
– How is your XYZ condition/injury/body part?
– How has your exercises/supplements/special diet been going?
Open-ended questions are more likely to elicit a response and spark a conversation that can lead to a re-booking even though you’re not outright suggesting they book another appointment in the very first email.
REGULAR EMAIL NURTURING
Like the last strategy this is an on-going, long term strategy that should really be a part of your regular practice. This strategy ensures your past patients and clients don’t need to be RE-invigorated because they never leave your world. You maintain that connection.
It’s again quite simple. You build an email list and consistently email them 1-4x per month (choose a frequency you can maintain). Ideally people are automatically being added to an email list as soon as they book an appointment so you’re growing your list on autopilot. You can usually do this easily by connecting an email service provider like Mailchimp to your booking software.
If you want to get started with this strategy but don’t have an existing list, in Canada, you’re allowed to add current and past clients to an email list up to 24 months since you last worked with them. (Please make sure if you’re outside of Canada you adhere to your own anti-spam legislation). In your first email you may want to point out that they can unsubscribe below OR gain their express consent by asking them to reply if they want to continue receiving your emails so you can continue to email them after 24 months is up.
PS. DO NOT call this a newsletter. No one wants to read or receive newsletters. Newsletters tend to focus much more on the clinic/practitioner (or content from their perspective) than emails focused on helping your patients and clients.
Similar to the last strategy this type of communication is about them and providing your past clients with something valuable (as it relates to their health journey and how you help them).
This can be valuable content you create (even quick tips or reminders), an article that may be of interest, some type of ongoing series, challenge, workshop or offering that is useful or interesting to them.
Why it Works:
Like the last strategy you are nurturing the relationship. When you do this in a consistent, ongoing way you can develop really strong relationships that build committed patients and incredible referral sources. You also avoid the awkward “sorry I haven’t been in touch” conversation because you maintain contact regularly.
What to Say:
You can use the email templates again here or get creative and write something based on what you’re sending them.
A few things to keep in mind: even though it’s a “mass” email you want to keep it feeling casual and personal. Just like you would write a regular email. You also want to keep the email to ONE main takeaway. Don’t bombard them with information because that’s not valuable to them…value is first and foremost.
MAINTENANCE VISIT REMINDER:
This is actually taken directly from the Booked Up Blueprint Program. I love this strategy because long term it benefits your patients by providing better overall care and maintained results and you create more consistency in re-bookings. Win-win scenario.
The reality is, in most cases, the rate of re-injury or recurrence of the condition is pretty high. People commonly fall back into old patterns whether it’s movement (or lack thereof), dietary or lifestyle habits and their chief complaint returns.
But imagine if they came in every few months (every 3-6 months) just 1, or maybe a couple times, for a “tune-up” to make sure they were on track, maintaining the benefits and outcomes you helped them see the first time around. This is exactly what these maintenance visits do.
(side note: I recommend sleuthing around to see if you can find some stats on recurrence rates for your particular area of focus)
Purpose of Communication:
The first time around the purpose is to introduce this idea of maintenance visits. Let them know it’s now part of your practice as well as why (this is where stats and facts come in very handy).
As time goes on, these maintenance visits should be something you talk about with patients IN-clinic so they’re aware this is part of how you operate.
Then when you email them it’s simply to remind them of their upcoming visit.
Why this Works:
This isn’t a new concept and it’s not new to most people. Dentists suggest you come in for a cleaning twice a year so people do. (There’s actually no real data that shows that 2x per year is optimal but it doesn’t hurt and works to maintain the benefits of regular cleanings for longer term success).
Even hair stylists suggest you come in for a trim ever 6-8 weeks to maintain healthy hair and reduce split ends. So we do! Because when the authority makes a recommendation that benefits us long term…we listen.
What to Say:
FIRST TIME INTRODUCING THE CONCEPT:
Hope all is well!
I’ve initiated a new program in my practice that is really going to help you maintain long term results with your ___________________ (problem/condition).
I’ve been reading (studies/articles) about reducing recurrence of _____________ issue and maintaining long term outcomes. I’ve seen that ____________________ (ideally you want to find some facts or stats demonstrating high recurrence rates for a particular issue OR good long term outcomes with regular, on-going treatment. Even stats on cost reduction of treatment needed with ongoing care).
I’ve also seen that my patients/clients who stay __________-free the longest are the ones who come in semi-regularly.
I don’t want you to wait until __________________ (your issues returns/you’re back in pain – be specific about their condition) because it ends up costing you more in time and money to heal. My main mission is to make sure you ____________________ (make it outcome/results based) long term so I am implementing maintenance visits for all my patients/clients. By coming in once every ________ (3-6 months – you decide on a rate you think will help them maintain best results for less cost) we can maintain your _______________.
It’s been _____________ since you’ve been in last so I recommend we do your first _________. You can schedule it here: (link or button to booking page).
Don’t hesitate if you have any questions and look forward to seeing you soon!
Here’s to your health!
Hope all is well!
Just a reminder, it’s been __________ months since your last visit and we’re coming up to your next maintenance appointment (or check-up/tune-up/wellness visit – however you want to refer to them) in a couple weeks.
When you’re ready to book your appointment, you can schedule it here: (link or button to booking page).
Let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.
See you soon!
If you have any questions about this or how you can work these scripts into your practice, feel free to shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.