Patients leaving could be a bigger problem than patients signing up.
I think businesses of all types, large and small, focus way too much on customer acquisition vs customer retention.
Dental practices seem to struggle with this issue as well. Everything you read about dental marketing suggests “everything you need to do to acquire more patients.” Well how about the patients you currently serve. Are they leaving or staying?
You need to get a handle on your patient turnover and the reasons your patients are leaving, if they are in fact leaving. Marketing is as much about managing your internal relationships as it is about managing external promotions.
If you are bleeding patients, then you are bleeding revenue. If you are not monitoring it, than you have no idea if you are contributing to your patient attrition. If you have no idea, than you cant take corrective action. Some things, like patients moving, are out of your control. But there are other factors that are totally in your grasp.
Additionally, if you take corrective action, not only will you lose less patients, you will also likely tap into a much more productive referral stream.
What are the things you can do to avoid a high patient turnover rate?
Let’s answer this question by examining why patients leave. If the reason a patient is leaving is something you can change, then you need to investigate how to change immediately.
There really isn’t much you can do to control this. The most important thing here is staying on top of this number. If you think you are losing patients due to moving, then you need to focus on a acquiring more patients to fill the void left by the moving patient.
Patients Don’t Want What You Offer
Every business has to manage what they want to offer and what their market wants to buy. Obviously, what the market actually wants to buy can sometimes trump what you want to offer. However, in the case of a dental practice, you also have to balance good dentistry with good business.
When you create your dental marketing strategy, your first step is to create your ideal patient profile. This profile is a picture of the patient you want to attract to your practice AND who wants to be your patient. In some cases, you have to add to your offering to attract your ideal patient. In other cases, if your offering isn’t good enough, than you benefit greatly if those patients leave.
Patients Are Unaware that You Offer A Particular Service
In this day and age, where you have so many channels to communicate through, your patients MUST know what you do. Don’t ever be that dentist who has a patient show up for a cleaning with a full set of veneers done by another dentist. There are a million ways to consistently tell your patients that you offer the services that they need.
Your Fees Are Too High
Again, communication is key here. You need to enlighten patients as to why they need your service and why the cost is what it is. More importantly, you don’t want to fill your patient files with coupon junkies. What is a coupon junkie? Anyone who needs a bargain no matter what they are buying.
You provide first class dental care. If you identify your ideal patient profile, those that value your service, they will actually pay a premium for what you offer and never complain about it.
You Make Your Patients Feel Stupid
Lots of people take care of their teeth. Lots of people don’t. The ones that don’t do not want to feel stupid because their teeth are messy. Reassure them before you make them feel judged. After all, you are there to fix a problem. Absent the problem, you don’t have a purpose.
You Give the Impression that You Don’t Care
This is really an easy fix. CARE!!! Let your patients know at every single turn that you are their for them. I had a primary care doctor long ago that actually kept a mini journal on my life. Every time I went to his office he would ask me what was happening with me. He would enter every word into my patient file. Very simple yet effective way of making me feel like he cared.
Don’t lose patients over the care factor. You and your staff need to come together often and discuss how your entire practice is going to demonstrate care.
At a minimum, if you are indeed a dentist that wants to spend a ton of money on marketing your practice, then you know how tough it is to get patients to choose you. That being the case, don’t make the mistake of not doing everything in your power to keep them. The first step is to monitor your patient turnover and make sure that you are doing everything you can to keep that number low.
Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like to learn more about marketing your dental practice.
A dental practice blog is a great way to communicate more effectively with your current patients.