Why Patient Retention Matters for Cosmetic Practices

Cosmetic surgery is more popular and more accessible these days than in years past. Practices are buzzing with patients; and not just the stereotypical “ladies who lunch.” According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery’s (ASAPS) 2016 Cosmetic National Data Bank Statistics, the number of cosmetic procedures (surgical and non-surgical) has jumped from 1,641,684 annual cases in 1997 to a staggering 13,654,349 cases in 2016.

While it’s a tempting thought to focus on new leads when marketing and branding your practice, doing so should not be the sole focus of your efforts.

Why? New patient leads could result in consultations, single visits or a series of visits that can strengthen your bottom line in the short run, but not necessarily in the long haul.

Patient retention, on the other hand, helps to solidify your cosmetic surgery practice on multiple fronts.

Trust is key. Once you’ve established a care cycle for your existing patients and they’re happy with their outcomes, this translates into a relationship that’s based on trust. If a patient first visits you to have a chemical peel and is happy with her results, the chances are good that she’ll return for other touch-ups and procedures.

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If she originally came in for one procedure and sees the successful results that other patients are gleaning from you, she might opt to have one or more of them; or she may ask for your expertise in explaining what procedures she could benefit from. Established patients will likely spend more than a new patient, whose new relationship with you might only be for one issue.

Your marketing costs will drop. It costs five times more to draw in new customers (patients) than it does to retain existing ones. Your existing patients don’t need to be convinced to visit your practice – they already know you and trust you.

Acquiring new patients involves marketing and practice branding that involves your website, social media, print, and media materials and traditional advertising. You may even have an in-house staff member that’s dedicated to all things marketing, and all those costs add up. Established patients act as direct referrals to their family members, friends, and co-workers.

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They are, in effect, walking billboards-24-hour living advertisements and examples of your work and represent free “word-of-mouth” advertising.

Focusing more on your existing patient base doesn’t mean you should abandon efforts to attract new patients, but it is a balancing act. Track your numbers over a few quarters and adjust your marketing and retention tactics as you see fit, and you’ll ensure a healthier bottom line as a result.

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