Repeat Business Is Even More Important than You Think

Unless your surgical calendar is packed to the margins, you probably spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to generate new business. (Truth is, we spend a lot of time at trying to help you generate new business too but that’s another story.)

That’s a good thing, of course, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of what is probably a far more valuable line of business: your existing patients. According to ASPS, 50% of patients last year were repeat patients, an increase of 4% over the year before. And while it should go without saying that a bird in the hand is, indeed, worth two in the bush, some of the reasons might surprise you:

Repeat patients are less price sensitive

Imagine a patient contemplating weight-loss surgery, which can easily run $10,000 or more, a figure that’s bound to give most patients pause. Now imagine that patient post-procedure as she considers a tummy tuck to remove excess skin. Cost may still be a factor but it’s also likely that she’ll have a better understanding of what’s involved, more appropriate expectations about outcomes and more confidence in her provider. Focused on value, price becomes less of a concern.

Repeat patients lower marketing costs

Research has shown that it costs 6-7 times more to land a new customer than to retain an existing one (Bain & Co.) while the probability of getting an existing customer to buy again is 60-70% vs. 5-20% for attracting a new one (Marketing Metrics). Whether such numbers hold true for our hypothetical patient is unknown but the fact remains that having an existing relationship means doctors can forgo top-of-the-funnel marketing expenses while maximizing lifetime customer value.

Repeat patients make the best brand advocates

If the 5.5 million monthly visitors to RealSelf have proven anything, it’s that the aesthetic community is driven by a pay-it-forward mentality: Time and time again, those who have already gone under the knife or needle share their thoughts, feelings and experiences with newer community members. As we’ve said before, it’s a virtuous circle and your repeat patients can help get it rolling in the right direction.

Doctor Takeaway

A repeat patient can be a doctor’s best friend

Don’t get us wrong — acquiring new patients is important but working to retain existing ones is likely to have a larger long-term payoff. The key is to truly know who your existing patients are, understand their aesthetic needs and concerns and implement follow-up programs (emails, newsletters, etc.) that remind them that your practice is, as always, ready to help them accomplish their aesthetic goals.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including, and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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