On a recent industry blog, an analysis of 10,000 dental patient calls presented some numbers you should know. 32% of patients who had not been to the practice in the past year, had found another practice. Not people who had moved but people who purposely found another dentist. In addition to that there were another 5% who hadn’t found another dentist – yet – but were not satisfied with the practice. Plus another 14% who had moved away. Yikes!

As a business owner you are likely all over your numbers.  Production values, hygiene hours, scheduling, collections, gross, expenses, monthly new patients, marketing leads … but are you all over your attrition rates?

Do you know where your total active patient count is today?

Less than one third of people who found another dentist did so due to a change in insurance.  What impacts all this? According to Mike Abernathy (Super General Practice), it’s pretty straightforward:

Convenience. When a client tells us their hours are 9-4, we know the practice is going to suffer. This is a killer. People want 7am-9am + 4pm-6pm & Saturdays. Consumers also want a practice close to home… Abernathy says, be where the women are. I love this because it’s statistically proven that more than 80% of all healthcare buying decisions are made by women.

And … do make sure you answer the phone live during hours when people expect their calls answered. Alternate lunch hours and add enough staff to cover your incoming calls from 8am-6pm. If you’re advertising for new patients … have schedule openings within two days. We have a client in our area. I received their newsletter and decided to change practices. They can’t book me or my daughter until January 8th! I’m waiting because this is our client, but if I was a consumer searching for a new dentist, I’d probably call someone else.

Caring & Compassionate staff.  Poor attitudes don’t just affect your team; they impact your patient experience. If YOU hear staff huffing about patients, patients will hear it to. If you can’t stand one of your team, the tension will be palpable. You need to suck it up and cull.

Poor service and lack-luster attitudes will reflect directly impact the dentist’s reputation and the bottom line. Make sure everyone knows that each patient has a value of $5,000 PLUS referrals to the practice. The more satisfied patients you have, the more job security everyone has, and the less stress you will have.

Hygiene of staff.  Clean white teeth (with good dentistry), fresh breath, crisp clothing, no body art, piercings, or weird color hair. Even sloppy hair that falls forward during treatment is a negative. People said they don’t think that staff with tongue, nose, or eye piercings are clean enough to work in a dental office.

Comparable fees & insurance. 70% of people have some insurance. Remove barriers, crazy policies, and make it easy for patients. Collect all the other dental marketing in your area. Know what’s out there and how to compete.  Go the extra mile to help patients feel like they are receiving good value from you. When patients don’t accept treatment, you haven’t presented enough value before they saw the price tag. It’s often not really about price.

Cleanliness. Smells, bugs in lights, carpet smudges … View your office as a newbie. Use your guest restroom. We visited a client last week and the rim under the sink was covered in black mold. High end cosmetic office. Yuck!

The fact is consumers will shop.  Those are your patients and they have a lot of choice. We can help you build and strengthen patient relationships to minimize the drift. You will lose roughly 15-20% of patients due to natural causes; it’s the other 35% you can prevent. Your Account Manager would love to help you retain existing patients longer with initiatives that show you do go the extra mile …

  • Patient referral program & patient newsletter to educate & inform
  • Monthly e-newsletter to keep your name visible & highlight special products
  • Fantastic new Facebook page with spectacular posts for the entire year
  • New Patient Gift Card insert to active & reactivate patients & increase elective services
  • Website Article Library so patients find value with they visit your site
  • Phone Power team training for improved customer service & call handling

We’re available from 9:00am – 5:30pm EST. Call us any time for free unlimited support. We’ve been providing research-based results-driving dental marketing for more than 20 years, and we’re here to add real value to your practice.