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.