Take a moment and think about your loyal patients. It probably brings a nice smile to your face to reflect on those who have stayed with your practice since the first day they visited the office.

You probably see this as one of the many benefits of being a dentist, and it's a reward that never loses importance. With that in mind, it's good to think about the reasons those patients stay with you and what new visitors could value about your practice. Here are some reflection points to consider:

Take time to think like a patient

Everyone has reasons for making decisions about goods and services. This includes you. If someone asked you why you go to one person for a service and not someone else, you could definitely explain why.

So, when it comes to what a patient could value about your practice, you just have to step out of your dentist shoes and into the patient's mindset.

Think about what would make you stick with a dental practice. What would inspire you to recommend someone to a close family member? Thinking like that could enhance your relationship with your loyal patients and help you attract new ones.

Prove that not all dentists are the same

Let's take the patient mindset concept even further and jump to a pretty reliable conclusion: Most patients think the same things about dentists.

For all intents and purposes, most will tell you that going to one dentist office is just like going to another one. Or they may say if you've been to one, you've been to them all. It is here where you can truly make a difference.

As Douglas Sligting points out in Sidekick magazine, you can show them how the experience at your office is different.

"Creating a message based on the experiences and strengths unique to your practice allows potential patients to more quickly relate to you, understand why you're different, and decide if you are the right type of practice for them," said Sligting, president of Dental Branding.

Take your patient strategies beyond the visits

Once you've developed effective ways to make that great impression on new visitors, make sure that reputation and persona represent you in ways that can attract new patients.

Tyson Downs of the Titan Web Agency identified 13 ways dentists can attract patients who pay, stay and refer. In it, he identifies ways you can take advantage of a web presence through:

  • an engaging website (with SEO, blog, testimonials, pictures, etc.)
  • social media strategies (with engagement and hashtags)
  • pay per click advertising and directory listings
  • testimonial strategies

Online reviews can make a major difference. These days when people are searching for dental offices, they're going to want to see what other people say about them.

The internet is a consumer-driven space, and people are likely going to find out what people say about you before they even learn about the practice itself. When a new patients contact you, they've probably found out everything they can about your office through online information and patient opinion.

Another key highlight from Downs' list is sponsoring local events. Having your logo and practice seen at a charity or community event can be a powerful strategy. Beyond that, making personal appearances at these events (either as an attendee or sponsor) can help you make some great impressions on the people in your area.

In other words, it's a good idea to give existing and prospective patients the chance to see you outside of the office. It makes you seem a little more human and not just a tooth worker.

You can turn all of this into a simple multi-step process — help people find you, make a great impression, gain loyalty, have people share their experience and gain new patients.