There’s an old salesman’s adage – that you begin losing your customer on the very first day they buy from you.

Good patients move, pass away, change insurance or just drop off the map.

But the breakdown on why people leave might surprise you.

According to Dr. Donna Galante, an orthodontist, author and advisor, here are the numbers on why patients leave:

1% die
3% move away
5% leave and do business with another company because of a recommendation from a friend or relative
9% leave and do business with another company because they think the other company has better products, services or prices.
14% leave because they are dissatisfied with the product or service.

So that leaves a whopping 69% of departed patients unaccounted for…

Now, there are always new patients to be had.

And when you ask Google “how can I find more dental patients?” you get lots of ideas.

Almost every piece of advice includes, “have a good website, use effective SEO, and participate in community outreach.”

That’s like saying if you want to make a cake you need flour, sugar, and baking soda. It’s true, but not particularly helpful.

The fact is, no single blog post, magazine article, or cocktail party anecdote can tell you the best place to find new patients.

Every practice is different. What works for someone in Boston might not work for a dentist in Texas. In fact, carte-blanche advice could waste your time and money.

While you’re focused on sponsoring a fun-run (which could be a great idea!) maybe your time would be better spent auditing your phone system to prevent dropped calls.

Reading a blog post (present company included) in and of itself can’t give you the answer.

That’s because the answer likely already hides within your practice.

It begins with understanding WHY those 69% leave.

You might be saying to yourself, “my turnover rate isn’t THAT bad…”

That might be true, but it IS likely that unaccounted for prior patients add up to a pretty substantial number.

The key words here are “unaccounted for.”

Imagine finding a hole in your practice where even 5% of high-value, high-profit patients are leaking out of.

What if that number was 10%? Or 20%?

Instead of having to find new patients to fill your office (which can be expensive if not difficult), wouldn’t it be better to keep the good ones you already have?

If you can’t effectively measure, audit and ultimately improve your patient experience and sales efforts through every point of contact, you could be missing out on lots of revenue.

I realize that’s a big pill to swallow – but knowing your practice, its strengths, weaknesses and your patient life-cycle can help.

Next week, I’ll be discussing some ways to find those patients who can best improve your bottom line and help keep them in-house.