Building your patient list; slow and steady wins

When building a list of patients, slow and steady always wins in the long run. It takes time for your patients to build trust in you as a dentist. It cannot be done overnight. You have to put the time in; get to know your patients and let them get to know you.

It may be tempting, especially as a young dentist, to go into a practice all guns blazing. You want to get everyone signed up for short term ortho on day one. You want to be Mr (or Ms) Fancypants, new dentist on the block with all the chat to get patients spending thousands on your state-of-the-art treatments. The problem with this is that you’re building your castle on sand. The foundations that you need for a patient list (the trust and faith of your patients) do not exist. You might be Billy Big-bollocks today but when something goes wrong (a treatment, a breakdown in communication, it could be anything) you don’t have those foundations to fall back on.

Because you were selling to patients that you didn’t have a relationship with, you did not gain adequate consent and you did not set their expectations at an appropriate level. You may have sold them the latest five month smile ortho solution but you neglected to tell them that, in actual fact, that twisted canine is never going to rotate in less than a year. You couldn’t say that to them because you were worried that they wouldn’t want the treatment. Certainly, the patient wouldn’t have agreed to have the treatment with you, a stranger, if they had known the limitations. Now you’re in the situation where the patient has been wearing braces for half a year longer than they expected and they wish they’d never started. You fancied making a few extra quid but now you’re in a pickle.

Slow and steady

This is why slow and steady always wins when it comes to building your list. Get to know your patients gradually. Earn their trust. This doesn’t happen over night but once you’ve done this, the rewards for your graft start to appear. If your patient wants something doing, they will trust no-one else. They are coming to you.

This means that you are able to set their expectations. You can have a full and frank discussion about the limitations of any treatment. They will accept the risk of an imperfect result. And you will be comfortable explaining that there are limitations to the treatment without doing something radical and destructive.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t offer complex treatments from the start of a new practice job. I’m just saying that if you use techniques advocated by some courses on patients that you have no relationship with, you will very quickly get yourself into hot water. You may pick up a reputation that is hard to shake off.

If you intend to build a list of patients that trust and value you, there are no shortcuts. Value your patients. Take the time to get to know them. Earn their trust. Once you have done this, you will reap the benefits for years. These benefits far outweigh any short term gains you can make from being the latest dental sales master.

Follow Andrew via email

Enter your email address to hear about Andrew's latest posts by email.