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Do You Have a Retention Department?

administration business dental coach healthy smiles patient reputation teamwork Jun 11, 2024

I was recently at a corporate event in Aruba with a friend of mine (non-dental). The attendees were all part of their company’s President’s Club, celebrating outstanding numbers of growth and success. Each department took turns congratulating their winners, but one department, in particular, stood out to me: the Retention Department.

The Importance of Retention

This company’s Retention Department boasted an impressive 87% retention rate. *gasp* This of course resulted in applause and cheers from around the room. It got me thinking about our industry. In dentistry, we don’t talk nearly enough about patient retention. Every dentist I speak to mentions the need for new patients. “I just need more new patients” is a phrase I hear over and over. But what about retaining the patients we already have?

The Reality of Retention in Dental Practices

So, what are we doing with our current patients? Many might say that they schedule everyone for their next hygiene appointment before they leave, but as a consultant, I see the numbers daily, and I know this isn’t always the case. We don’t have a formal “retention department” in our practices, so how can we ensure patients don’t slip through the cracks?

I understand how busy a dental office can be. It’s challenging to call all the patients who didn’t reschedule, but it’s crucial for patient health that we keep them on track. We need a system to manage this daily.

Shocking Reappointment Rates

Even with various programs to track patient follow-ups, the reappointment rates can still be shocking. Here are some statistics:

  • Top 10% of Practices: 93% reappointment rate in both 2022 and 2023.
  • Average Practices: 85% reappointment rate in 2023.
  • Bottom 10% of Practices: 39% reappointment rate in 2023.

Are you tracking your retention rate to know where your practice stands?

The Cost of Losing Patients

Let’s break it down:

  • If you bring in 100 new patients each month but lose 15, you’re losing 180 patients annually.
  • Acquisition costs for new patients range from $300 to $500 each.
  • This equates to a loss of $54,000 to $90,000 annually, excluding potential treatment revenue.

How many patients are missing out on your exceptional care each year? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to retain these patients rather than constantly seeking new ones?

Building a Thriving Practice

To ensure our practices thrive and serve more patients year after year, we must implement a robust system to track and improve patient retention. This area often lacks the attention it deserves but is vital for sustained growth.

Steps to Create a Retention Department

  • Track Patient Retention: Regularly monitor your retention rates to understand where your practice stands.
  • Implement Follow-Up Systems: Use programs and systems to track patient follow-ups and ensure no one slips through the cracks.
  • Train Your Team: Turn your team into a “retention department” that actively works on retaining patients.

If you need support in establishing or improving your “retention department,” we’re here to help you and your team succeed. Let’s work together to ensure your practice not only grows but thrives year after year.

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