Your inactive patients are a gold mine. Quite often, the only thing an inactive patient needs to return is a simple reminder. We all lead busy lives and for the cost of one postcard stamp, reaching out to those who have benefited from your services in the past is a no-brainer! How would your bottom line change if only 10% of your inactive patients returned for care?
A news report in Chiropractic Economics (Vol. 50, Issue 9) on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) stated that about 15 million people in the United States sought help from chiropractors during the prior 12 months, yet 40 million people reported having had chiropractic care sometime in their life.
This would suggest that 25 million chiropractic patients are currently inactive. Assuming about 60,000 chiropractors currently in practice, this translates into more than 400 inactive patients per chiropractor. Reactivating only a fraction of this number could represent a significant increase in practice volume for thousands of chiropractors.
Chiropractic consultants suggest that mailing a reactivation letter yields a 2 percent to 3 percent positive response. A follow-up phone call yields about 7 percent to 8 percent response.
My own research suggests a much higher return is possible with the right combination of tactics. Based on 720 phone calls to patients who had not visited the office in 6-24 months I found that, on average, 288 of those calls resulted in appointments.
Here are the action steps in deploying this successful reactivation strategy:
1. Write a letter with a strong reason why the patient should come back for a checkup, and use a special offer to make it risk free. Format a second sheet for the address. Use a two page self-mailer, a tri-fold with three panels. Both sides of one sheet are printed.
2. Decide if you want to mail first class yourself, or have a mailing service do it for you. If a mailing service does it for you, figure about .50 per piece, includes paper, printing, folding, postage, delivery, etc. EG, 1000 fliers about $500 with little staff time/interruption.
3. Get letter printed.
4. Before printing, make sure that pages are adjusted so that flap opens up when facing the address page when flier is folded. This requires just one fastener as opposed to two if it opens on the bottom. Your mailing house may have other suggestions.
5. Print labels for everyone who has not been in one year. Edit labels – pull off ones that are redundant, moved, etc.
6. Send mailing service data file for mailing or give them labels.
7. If you do it yourself, simply place the labels on the flier, affix stamp or run through postage meter, and get to post office.
8. 2 weeks after your mailing has been sent begin a phone follow up campaign. DO NOT ignore this step. This will easily increase your return by 20%-%30.
A simple but effective phone script would be:
CA: This is (name) calling from __(name of clinic). The reason I am calling is to see if you received the letter we sent you recently.
Patient: Yes I did, or, No I did not.
CA: Well, let me explain. Dr. (name) has set aside some time over the next few weeks to help his former patients make sure they are as healthy as possible. He asked me to call you to set up an appointment since it has been so long since we last saw you. Can I set up an appointment?
Patient: Yes (appointment made), or, No.
CA: (If patient says “no”) Fine. Would you mind me asking if there is any reason why you wouldn’t make an appointment at this time?
Patient: (gives reason)
CA: Thank you for telling me and I’d like to invite you to let us know if we can be of any help in the future. Good bye.
The research confirms what you already suspect: You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from implementing a well-planned reactivation program.
Consider your own reactivation research project and learn from the reasons given by patients for not making appointments. Then use this information to modify or improve your office procedures accordingly. Remember, there are 25 million people out there waiting to come back to chiropractic.