Dental Employee Turnover Can Cost You BIG Bucks!

Sally has been sitting at the front for 8 years. You rely on her to keep the books full. She is friendly on the phone and in person. Patients love her. Beyond that, she is great at collecting money. In short, Sally is a keeper. But Sally is leaving. She isn’t the first team member to leave, and she won’t be the last. 

Every dentist has, or will, lose a Sally or two in their career, but when it comes to employee turnover rates, what is normal? 

Most experts will tell you that an employee retention rate of 90% would be considered successful. In reality, it’s lower than that for most dental practices, and we know that in the current climate, the turnover rate is much higher than 10% for most dental teams.

Maybe you’re still telling yourself.  “So what, it doesn’t cost me much to replace my team members. and it isn’t that big of a deal.”

You will lose people, that is the reality of owning a business. Yet have you analyzed the true cost of that turnover? 

A recent study at Gallup has shown that employee turnover cost US businesses 1 trillion dollars annually. Yes, you read that correctly... 1 trillion. Gallup further reports that “The cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee's annual salary -- and that's a conservative estimate”

So what does that look like for your dental practice? Let’s stick with the lost administrative team member. According to Zip Recruiter, the average annual salary for a dental receptionist is $35,319. So on average, replacing your administrative team member is going to cost you anywhere from $17,659 to a staggering $70,638. Sound preposterous? Unfortunately, it is true, because in reality, you are not just looking at the cost to hire, you must also account for the loss in productivity that is inevitable with any employee turnover.


Let’s take a quick minute to break down the direct and indirect costs that we face as business owners when losing a team member.

Direct Costs:

  • Paying out accrued vacation time
  • Recruitment costs (job postings, career event participation, etc)
  • Background checks
  • Drug screenings
  • Skills or personality testing fees
  • New FUTA employee taxes
  • Temporary worker fees
  • Overtime fees for remaining team members

Indirect Costs:

  • Manager (or your ) time to review applications and perform interviews
  • Lost production during the recruiting and hiring process
  • Lost production during the onboarding and training process
  • Lost knowledge 
  • Decreased customer service
  • Low morale

So do you still think losing another team member isn’t that big of a deal? Do you want to throw away all of that money over and over?

Of course, you don’t. When you truly think about these costs, when you think about paying them over and over again, it stands to reason that the dentists with the highest earning potential are those who have the ability to keep team members on board and engaged, and the practice continues to grow for the longest time.

Where do you go from here?

Here at ACT Dental, we’ve identified two key items that our most successful dental teams have in place: a culture of communication and growth that encourages long term employment, and systems in place which document the workings of the practice for the inevitable turnover and change that we will all experience. 

Sounds like a lot, I know, I’ve been there. So take a deep breath. You can get there. If you’re reading this, you have already begun the process, you know you need something else to change the current trajectory of the practice and your life. 

Turn the corner now, and begin training and investing time and energy in your team and the systems to run  your office. This will equip current team members, and those to come, with the confidence and skills that they need to do their jobs really well. 

Most dentists know that systems are key for ensuring consistent service and quality of care levels, but don't know how to build them. A conversation with an ACT coach can give you a few simple steps to get started. And if you're already in the process of replacing that trusted team member, use our New Hire to Rockstar guide to minimize transition time and keep your office moving forward.

Turnover of your team members comes at a high cost, and not just to your bottom line. All too often, dentists don’t begin to think about retaining team members until it is too late. Be proactive in your efforts to retain your best team members, I promise that you will never regret it.

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