If we only had more leads… Let\’s all chant the mantra of the elective medical practice.

\”It\’s not an in-office problem, it\’s just getting them to the office that\’s the problem!”

If this really were the case, then shouldn\’t keeping customers you already have be the easiest marketing of all? Yet most practices focus the vast majority (90% or more) of their marketing resources on attracting NEW patients – taking for granted the purchase power of the loyal customer. It\’s a catch-22, because many elective medical practices provide what could be deemed as one-off services (such as LASIK). So it\’s natural to fall into the trap of Leads! Leads! Leads! But do you really understand the true value of your best customers?

According to Entrepreneur.com, businesses with a 40% repeat customer base generated nearly 50% more revenue than similar businesses with only a 10% repeat customer base. And there\’s little reason NOT to believe the same holds true for our industry.

Yes the lifetime value of a patient is difficult to measure, because every medical practice is unique in their service scope. But every one of you would say that keeping a patient is much easier than gaining a new patient.

Know what else about repeat customers?
• They spend more than first-time customers
• They are less price-sensitive
• They are your most loyal brand advocates
• They lower your overall marketing spend

When we stumble upon someone or something that we like, it\’s human nature to become loyal users and ambassadors. In the case of elective medicine, these patients have put their trust in your hands, often times for a life-changing event. Their attachment to your brand is deeply personal. They will listen to what you have to say, and open their wallets upon command.

Let\’s stop neglecting these champions of our business. Instead, start developing efforts to maximize their profitability.

Introduce new verticals

This is especially important for the cash-only LASIK practice. What other services can you easily integrate into your office? Aesthetics? Vitamins? Nutrition? Products? In our industry, there are hundreds of willing partners and no shortage of opportunities. Do some research to discover the profit centers that best align with your practice ideals.

Push for the second sale

Customers are 25% more likely to purchase an additional service at the time of initial purchase. Develop sales strategies and promotional incentives around packaging your secondary product and service offerings. Devote 25% of your marketing budget to repeat patients – enhance your base of repeat business through preferential attention – personalized emails, phone calls, gifts, VIP designations, exclusive events and various purchase incentives will make your best patients feel appreciated – and more likely to buy.

Reward referrals

Your ambassadors are your best marketing, and not all repeat business needs to be direct pay. Show them your gratitude monetarily – consider it your own rewards program – and watch the referrals pour in.

As marketers, we routinely focus our attention on new customers and their acquisition costs while overlooking the needs and value of returning customers, and it\’s even more prevalent in elective medicine to take the existing patient for granted. But the truth is, the loyalty a patient has to a care provider far outweighs any loyalty to a commercial brand. That\’s hard to come by in this day and age, and something that should be nurtured. Because they are the real people who will help us build profits.