Retention vs. attrition is a KPI you should be monitoring consistently. The goal in this KPI should be boosting your retention and decreasing your attrition. There is no way to completely remove attrition but there are strategies to keeping your customers in your practice.
Before diving into this topic, think about what kind of practice you are. This will directly affect how you strategize your patient retention plan.
Navigating The Dental Industry
The dental industry is a bridge between the service industry and the healthcare industry. This is evidenced by the trend of Dental 'Spas'. Although the quality of living will be poor, a human being can live without teeth...and many see the dentist as a luxury, not a necessity. Again, the goal is not to be the dentist, the goal is to be their dentist and that can only happen if you build a relationship with each patient!
Building Trust = Building Patient Retention
Building a relationship with each patient is just like any other, it starts with a great first impression. When you get a new patient, your goal should be to keep them long-term and become their dentist. You can't build a relationship if they don't come back.
To keep your practice in business and reduce attrition, your focus should be the patient's health. If they need a treatment plan, building relationship and getting them excited are both vital to them committing to it...even if it's just keeping them coming in for their hygiene appointments. Build trust with your patients while showing them that you: 1) have their best interest in mind, and 2) that you can confidently guide them on their oral health journey.
Treatment planning helps your practice and your patients. Your patients oral health depends on your commitment to serving them with excellence; your practice's financial stability depends on retaining those patients.
Keys To A Good Dental Patient Experience
What ruins a patient's experience? Unfortunately, employees are the largest reason why customers aren't pleased with the service. As in any business, raving fans begin with raving employees.
Also, consider your goals. Are they too lofty for the amount of providers and operatories available? If patients are being treated as cattle, pushed and prodded along just for production, they will not be inclined to come back. There should be a well understood culture within the practice that dictates how a patient will be treated each and every time. You must treat every patient the same, not because of who they are and if they deserve it, but because of who you are and what you stand for.
When purchasing a dental practice, keep the practice transition smooth! Employee turnover can often occur during a practice acquisition, which can lead to patient attrition. If you can't retain quality team members, why do you think you will be able to retain patients? We understand that attrition takes a big hit to any dental practice, so it's important to have a well thought out plan when transitioning.
Keep things the same the first year and then gradually change them over time. There is a principle of design called the MADA principle (Most Advanced Design Acceptable). Apple does not radically change the iPhone year after year. They update the iPhone incrementally and eventually there is a completely redesigned phone. Do not change things so dramatically that it is immediately unrecognizable. Bring your patients and staff into the transition and make it easy and simple. This allows everyone to be eased into it and the goal is that you will retain your staff and patients.
Hire and retain employees that are hungry, humble, and people smart. A business should never hire with the expectation of motivating employees. Hire motivated individuals that take pride in their work and believe in your practice's core values. If they identify with the 'why' of your practice, they will be crusaders for the cause and ensure that patient experience is of the highest quality. They need to be hungry and have a drive for excellence and humble enough to play within your playbook. The greatest quarterback in the world is useless if he doesn't use the team playbook. Lastly, they need to be people smart. They need to be an employee that can relate to patients and understand their needs.
Consider marketing to your existing active patient base. Coca-cola does not stop marketing to you because you purchased 20 bottles of coke last year. They are constantly and consistently marketing to their existing client base, as well as new potential clients.
Keep sharing information to your patients that is pertinent to their stage of life. Perhaps a patient had their first child. Will you inform them of when they should come in? Your patients should be hooked on the way you serve them so much that they would never consider visiting another dentist because it is not their dentist. Be observant and look for ways to serve your patients!