Inside Dental Technology
May 2013
Volume 4, Issue 5

Build Lasting Client Relationships
How to maximize profits by retaining existing customers

By Bill Neal

Most companies want to enjoy long-term relationships with all of their customers, and there are great CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools available to help them achieve this goal. However, if we look at our dentist customers, there are key considerations to understand in building solid long-term relationships. The most basic elements of dental technology and the provision of these services are the true keys to successful dentist-laboratory relations.

The average dentist uses three to four dental laboratories. One might wonder why a dentist would leave a particular laboratory in light of how hard it is to establish good rapport and dialogue to get what they need and want for their patients.

Over the years there have been many articles, surveys, and reports on why dentists stay with a particular laboratory. But to develop true and lasting relationships, we need to take a hard look at why dentists decide to move on. Think about how many new customers you would need if you never lost one. Many owners only look at how many new customers they acquired in a given year and how much new business they provided the laboratory. However, they often do not take the time to compare the amount of business they have gained to the amount of business they have lost.

What many laboratory owners are missing is an in-depth review of the lost customers and sales over the same period. Add up all of the new business, and then deduct how much you lost for the same period—this is the net gain. Many laboratories might see that the lost business offsets the gain by a large percentage. Think of how expensive it is to acquire a new customer. Then think about how you might change procedures to reduce the number of lost clients over a year. You will be surprised how using the staff you already have can help build better relationships with all of your customers, and make a difference.

To illustrate how one might perform an account analysis, the author has included data from an actual analysis of an unnamed laboratory and their sales activity for the first nine months of sales for two years. The included graphs demonstrate how important it is to maintain good customer relationships.

It is extremely important to track new client business. However, you should also compare your new business to that which you have lost. This will help define where problems may exist and what you need to address to ensure you are maintaining good customer relationships.

Five Reasons Dentists Leave Laboratories

• Late cases
• Inconsistent quality
• Poor communication
• Rx or Dr. preferences not followed
• Price

Develop Excellence in the Following Five Areas

• Provide excellent customer service
• Be a technical resource
• Provide collaboration on cases
• Make sure your laboratory is dependable and predictable
• Above all, be honest and ethical

If you address the reasons dentists leave laboratories and make sure you do not fall into those categories, you will have a better relationship with all of your clients. Better yet, if you fine tune your organization’s skills in developing excellence in the areas mentioned, then you can be sure you will have successful and long lasting client relationships.

Bill Neal, CDT is the founder of AMG Creative, Inc. in Fort Collins, CO.

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