When was the last time you flossed your teeth?

Yesterday? Last week? Longer?

If you are like me, you can always count on your dentist to tell you two things at the end of every visit. First, you should be flossing more. Second, you should go see the team at the desk to set your next appointment.

Why does your dentist always ask you to predict what your calendar will look like 6 months in the future?

Well for one thing, he knows you really don’t floss enough.

And he also knows a secret.

Attraction vs. Retention

To make sure he’s got plenty of appointments on the books, your dentist has two options.

Option 1: he can get a new patient through the process of ‘attraction’. To do this, he first needs to work out the type of new patient he wants to attract. Then he needs to get their attention, pique their interest, convince them he’s the right dentist for them and, finally, get them to set their first appointment. All this work requires a fair bit of time and money, especially if he is using paid advertising.

Or…

Option 2: he can take 10 seconds to tell you to set your next appointment.

That suggestion to book your next appointment is actually your dentist selling to you. That 10 seconds is a key part of his retention strategy.

Retention is really just the art of turning your current clients into your future clients.

With all the energy it takes to attract and win a new client, it seems crazy not to have a solid plan for turning current clients into a source of future business. Yet, retention is a major weakness for many companies.

But not your dentist.

The not-so-secret secret to retention

All your dentist is doing is telling you to come back in 6 months. Then he’s making it easy for you to do that by having the reception team ready to book you in right then and there. If he’s smart, he also takes it a step further by having the team get in touch with you a few days before your next appointment to remind you. The whole thing is simple, but effective.

So what is the ‘secret’ of the dentist’s retention strategy?

This isn’t just communication.

It’s strategic communication.

Infusing communication efforts with an agenda which is linked to a master plan can turn your interactions with your clients into valuable opportunities.

Your dentist’s retention strategy isn’t actually that special, but he is a bit lucky. The nature of his service lends itself to a very natural moment for retention communication, so his strategic communications plan comes easily. For most businesses, a strategic communication strategy needs a bit more planning to be effective, but the basic principle is the same.

So steal your dentist’s secret.

Oh.

And go floss.

Image credit: Irina Patrascu Gheorghita (CC 2.0)

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