Location, location, location. Every dentist knows the site of their practice is one of the most important considerations when opening to the public. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a rural area, a city or a metropolis, where you are and what you’re near can massively impact the success of your practice.
Considering you already know this vital factor to your success, let’s move onto the patients’ perspective. The majority of patients admit to location influencing the dentist they choose and stay with.
If there was ever a feature in our Data Driven Dentistry series that tried to hit home the concept of connecting and making relationships with your patients, it’s this one. If you’re in a space now that starts to become less convenient for your patients, then you have to rely on patient loyalty. While most patients consider location vital in staying at a practice, only 11% would truly look to leave if it became out of their way.
Of course, in most instances, the final decision if out of your hands — you can’t possibly pick up and go every time a patient is moving further away or starting a new job on the other side of town. But you can implement some office strategies that help ensure you’re the practice they want to stay at, regardless of these other roadblocks.
Patients are busy, and if your location becomes an issue then there needs to be reasonable flexibility to keep them coming to you on their schedule. Maybe they’re stuck in traffic, or have to pick up their child from daycare across town — whatever it is, make sure there is an attempt to accommodate them. We’re not suggesting you cut cancellation policies and allow your schedule to become affected, but one-offs happen and being able to work around that will go a long way to a busy patient.
If someone is looking for your practice online, make sure you’re there. If someone searches your address, make sure it’s appearing on Google Maps to make their directions simple. Taking the time to input your information online can add so much ease for a patient trying to figure out the quickest way to get to your practice. An added bonus: include notes about inexpensive (or free) and convenient parking to prevent the frustration of circling the block for 20 minutes.
This is going to ultimately decide if you keep patients or lose them. Regardless of location, décor, front desk staff… it all boils down to you. Good chairside manner is the number one factor in running a successful practice; you (the dentist) said it yourself in our 2018 survey. Keep that in the front of your mind every day, with every patient. At the end of each visit, your patient shouldn’t still be fuming about their commute to the practice, but happy with the time spent being cared about and listened to.
There’s only so much you can do to please your patients, so when something like location ranks so high in importance, but is so difficult to alter, keep in mind the ways you can ensure YOU are the essential part of your practice and the PATIENT is the essential part of their visit.
*Between February and March 2018, RKI, a third party independent research house, conducted a 10-minute online survey of active, practicing non-hospital affiliated dentists and dental specialists on behalf of Oral Health. Using Oral Health’s subscription list, a total of 398 dentists participated in the study (with 219 completing the survey to the end). Assuming a total of 20,000 dentists in Canada (and 398 total completes) the margin of error for the survey is +/- 4.86, 95% CI.