No matter how well you care for patients oral health needs, some of your patients will change dental practices. Some change jobs and lose or change dental insurance. Others move out of the area. Still others move on because of issues with billing, staff members, or treatment.

While some of these issues can’t be avoided, many can. Here are five ways to limit the number of patients move on from your practice.

1. Focus on the issues you can control.

You can’t control if a patient moves far from your office. You can’t control if a patient loses their dental insurance. And you can’t control if a patient gets married and their spouse asks them to use their dentist moving forward. In those cases and more, you’re unlikely to keep your patient.

That said, there are many things you can control that cause patients to switch practices. For example, if you treat your patients well and build deep relationships with them, your practice might be the one that someone asks their spouse to switch to. In this example, you still can’t control whether your patient asks their spouse to switch to your practice. But you can control how you treat your patients to improve the likelihood that your patient won’t want to move on.

Focusing on the things you can’t control is a recipe for frustration. But if you focus on improving the things you can control, patient retention will increase significantly.

2. Improve bedside manner.

How does the dentist at your practice treat patients? Do they show interest in them? Do they ask patients about themselves? How do they communicate with patients? When patients come to your practice, they don’t want to feel unimportant, rushed, or like they’re being spoken down to. When the doctor presents a treatment plan, patients don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to.

What about other members of your team? Are they friendly, patient, and caring? Are they professional? Do they work hard to help patients?

One of the biggest reasons patients switch practices is having issues with the doctor or staff members. Improve your entire team’s bedside manner and you will decrease how many patients leave your practice.

3. Invest in team member fulfillment and training.

If a doctor treats team members poorly, they won’t do their best work. They won’t be fulfilled. They won’t be happy at work. Eventually, the best team members will leave for a healthier culture. The ones who remain will feel stressed, overworked, and underappreciated.

On the other hand, a fulfilled team of people who feel appreciated and supported will do better work with a more positive attitude. They will continuously grow.

How team members are treated becomes how patients are treated. Invest in team member fulfillment and training and they will treat patients better.

4. Treat your patients’ money like you would your own.

Financial issues are some of the top reasons patients switch practices. Does your practice help patients maximize insurance coverage? Do you help your patients secure financing to be able to afford high-fee treatment? Do you advocate for your patients with insurance carriers?

The services we provide to patients are valuable. They improve their health. They change their lives. Our services are worth every penny we charge.

But that doesn’t mean every patient can afford their out-of-pocket expenses without help. Be the practice that helps your patients afford the care they need. Your patients will feel supported and become much less likely to move on.

5. Make sure your patients always feel important.

Other practices are marketing to your patients right now. They are courting them. They are telling them that their practice will treat them better than you do.

Will they listen? It depends. Do your patients feel special? When they interact with your practice, do they feel rushed? Do they feel like they are just a number? If so, it’s only a matter of time before someone else’s marketing gets their attention.

Think of your relationships with patients like you think of any relationship. If you only make your patients feel special is when you are marketing to them, your relationship with them will be shallow.

Are you frequently losing patients?

If your practice is frequently losing patients, a few small changes in the way you treat your patients could make a big difference. While you won’t be able to avoid having any patients leave your practice, focusing on and improving the things you can control can significantly decrease how many patients leave.

If you need more help keeping your patients from leaving your practice, get support and direction from thousands of your colleagues in the Nifty Thrifty DentistsTrapped in an Op, and the Dental Hub 360 Facebook groups.