How much does it cost your clinic when a practitioner leaves?

A practitioner’s decision to walk is likely to cost a clinic a lot. But how much? We’ve developed a tool to help you work that out, leading to happier staff and a healthier bottomline.

Joel Friedlaender·

a red calculator on a pink background

If you could spend $1000 to save your business $90,000, you’d see that as an absolute no-brainer every day of the week, right?

Yet when this exact equation presents itself to clinic owners in real life, it’s amazing how many people make the opposite choice, without realising it.

Say you’ve organised a work dinner for your team. It’s going to cost you $2000 for staff to attend, but many employees also want to bring their partners. Some rough, back-of-the-napkin maths suggests this will add an extra $1000 to the tab.

A thousand dollars is a lot of money, but you know that inviting people’s better halves will make them feel more connected to your business (our families are always involved in our work, whether we like it or not). And that connection might contribute to your practitioners sticking around longer. If you knew that a single practitioner leaving could cost your business $90,000, the decision to spend that extra thousand suddenly becomes a lot easier.

Everyone knows attrition is expensive, but how expensive exactly? What impact would one practitioner leaving have on your bottom line? Until you know that figure, you can’t tell how much you should really be investing in your staff – and your culture.

To find the answer, we built this cost calculator. It lets you figure out roughly how much it costs to lose a practitioner. You can enter details from your business, and get a tailored estimate in seconds–no spreadsheet needed.

How much could losing a practitioner cost your business

Calculate the cost

We made this calculator, to help you make better decisions about improving your workplace culture. We talk a lot about flexible work, and trusting our employees, and building a sense of community. They’re all great ideas in theory, but we wouldn’t blame you for wondering: how would they save me money? Will they make your business stronger?

We’ve found that this is one way, where focusing on culture, and consequently reducing staff turnover, directly benefits the bottom line.

So let’s break down the numbers. There are two big areas of loss when a practice loses a practitioner. The first is appointment revenue. As most practice owners know, new practitioners see fewer patients (on average) than existing ones. They have new patients that carry higher acquisition costs. And until you hire that new practitioner, you have vacant appointment slots going begging. There’s also the chance that some of your patients will leave to follow their practitioner (always a scary prospect for clinic owners).

Let’s assume that an experienced practitioner sees 60 patients each week, and a new one will see 40. It takes them 26 weeks to fill all the vacant appointment slots. And each appointment earns roughly $80. That’s $41,600 of direct revenue loss right there. Then we can add in another $5,200 for new patient acquisition losses, $19,000 for all those empty appointments, and $15,000 for the patients who leave to follow their old practitioner. All up, that’s $81,000 out of your pocket when someone decides to quit.

And that’s not even considering the cost of recruitment. This is mostly measured in time, which is a metric that you really need to think about as a practice owner. You have a finite amount of time each week, and it’s better to spend it wisely (on things that add value to the business) than unwisely (writing your seventh job ad in six months). When we add up the hours spent finding a new hire, training them, on-boarding them, showing them how to use the coffee machine, and the associated advertising costs, recruiting a practitioner can easily add up to $9000. That’s pretty scary if you’re losing multiple people each year.

The thing to remember is that losing a team member isn’t just about money. When a practitioner walks out the door, they’re taking experience with them; the relationships they’ve built with clients. There’s an effect on team morale. People with itchy feet suddenly find their minds wandering to greener pastures. You have to print new business cards. You need to update your books and begin the painstaking interview process all over again.

All things that could have been avoided if that practitioner had simply wanted to stay.

Which leads us to the big question. How do you encourage good people to want to stay? There are tonnes of variables here – salary, autonomy, encouraging friendships, opportunities for development and growth, including your employees’ families in the business. We’ve actually written a lot about workplace culture already (you can read our thoughts over here).

When you think that each practitioner leaving could cost your business around $90,000, all of a sudden that work dinner, or that team-building weekend, or the lunchtime yoga session, or the espresso machine in the kitchen, they probably seem like worthwhile costs.

You often hear people talk about ‘investing’ in their staff. But what does that mean if it’s done properly? Your staff are an asset, and they can appreciate or become a net loss. If a bit of extra spending helps to keep them happy, healthy and doing great work – versus the $90,000 it might cost when they leave – that’s money well spent.

Our calculator isn’t designed to fix your team culture, just to get you thinking about culture in a different way. It quantifies the cost of someone leaving your team, and it gives you some context for looking after people, and keeping good talent around.

Watch Joel Friedlaender share his experience of building a team and retaining people for the long term.

Author information

Joel Friedlaender is the founder of Cliniko. He writes about productivity, team-work, and how we do things differently. Follow him on Twitter at @jfriedlaender.

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