Karl Lagerfeld said, “Dieting is the only game where you win when you lose!” We all hate to lose good dental patients; patients we’ve worked hard to attract, nurture, and care for. Unfortunately every one of you is losing patients all the time. We’re all aware that, on average, a dental practice will lose somewhere between 15-20% of their patients each year due to naturally occurring attrition. That means that the best case scenario is keeping 85% of your patient base. If you have 2,000 patients, that’s 300 patients you are losing right now … at an average spend of $653/year … that’s going to cost your practice somewhere around $200,000 off your topline revenue. At that rate, if you’re not adding 25 new patients each month, you may not realize it but you’re probably barely maintaining existing revenues, you’re nowhere near growth, and you may be closer to losing more if you don’t take action.

As a dentist, it’s likely you’ve got additional things playing against you such as:

  • Increasing competition > perhaps a new corporate opening up
  • Patient avoidance of dentistry > lapsing patients > cancellations > no shows
  • Inconvenient hours or location > add this to an untrained front desk staff that can’t convert > ugly

The fact is, adult dentistry is in decline and, if you’ve got a slow, chatty, or rough hygienist, you’re making it worse. People do business with people they know and like, and dentistry is in decline because people “think” they’re healthy and that they “can’t afford” it. Here is what you can do to improve your retention rates.

1. Amp up patient communication. If you’re not already sending a patient newsletter to your patients-of-record every other month, then you’re easily allowing competitor dentists to lure your patients away.
a. You’re just not top of mind
b. You’re not helping patients know and like you by sharing updates about your team.

2. Survey your patients. You don’t know what you don’t know.
a. Patient needs and wants are changing and you don’t know how they perceive their experience with you and your team
b. How many of your active patients plan on coming back.

3. Amp up your referral system. Consumers want to reinforce their decision-making process by luring friends to make a similar purchase decision, and dental patients in particular want a referral from a friend or colleague.
a. You’ll reward loyal patients and get more people talking about you
b. You’ll increase that all important new-patient flow.

As always “perceived indifference” is one of the key reasons that patients don’t return. You can show patients you care with better communications both in and out of your practice and with a properly trained team who uses only the best customer service and patient-care techniques. And don’t forget to have a system in place to ALWAYS “book the next appointment” before any patient leaves your office.

Your Account Manager can help you with all aspects of patient retention. A first-year patient newsletter program will generate at least a three-to-one return on investment. A patient newsletter is simply a no-brainer for every dental office. You will increase patient loyalty and satisfaction and increase recare and elective procedures. We can easily help you implement a patient referral system so you’re generating more than enough word-of-mouth referrals to maintain and help grow your practice. Your Account Manager would be happy to assist you with a patient survey and a market area competitive analysis so you can better predict the future security and profitability of your practice.

So yes, winning does matter. Don’t lose another patient to a competitor. Call your Account Manager today.