As an independent dentist, it is often hard to look at your dental clinic as a business. Chances are you didn’t become a dentist for the love of running a business – you got into it to help people look and feel their best. While that’s a great thing, unfortunately that same mentality can make it difficult for you to effectively manage your practice.
Knowing this, we have developed the 7 things you need to do to make your dental practice run smoothly. Essentially, you need to think like a patient and not like a dentist. Although it is not easy to adopt another perspective, it is vital to understand this dynamic.
Marketing your services
Like any other business, dentistry involves sales and the general public tends to have pre-conceived notions about what this should look like. A typical dental office loses patients over time, and if you don’t get new patients, your investment declines. Losing patients can be a result of moving, being unsatisfied with the practice, a lack of appropriate dental care, lost dental insurance, and/or death. The reality is that, in order to keep growing your practice, you have to continually pull in new clients. Yet past experience and horror stories can make it difficult to get new patients through your door. Fortunately, dental marketing can do a lot of heavy lifting in reducing fears among potential patients. Using online marketing, patient referrals, and offline print ads – not to mention running events – can be a great way to reach new patients.
The value of an engaging website
Gone are the days of generic dental websites. Today’s consumers are expecting websites that are engaging and interactive. When someone visits your website, you need to be sure you have everything in place so you can convert that visitor into a new patient. True, good websites cost money. Although you could put up a homemade website for a couple hundred dollars, it is unlikely to draw as much attention as a professionally built site and will cost you in lost opportunities and time. Consider the benefits of getting a professional website for your dental practice, designed by an agency that understands design concepts and search engine optimization methods. Properly done, a dental website will be an excellent marketing tool for you and your office.
Generate patient referrals
If a current patient refers someone to you, they are significantly more likely to come to your practice. I encourage you to consider a dental referral program – such as a referral bonus program, a free cleaning, or a special discount whenever one of your patients refers a friend and they confirm an appointment. Just be careful to check the laws in your state for dental insurance, as some states do not permit these practices.
To provide a variety of services to your patients, you must also have an expansive team, including dentists with varied specialties, including surgeons, hygienists, and denture specialists.
Hire and attract a great dental team
You can’t build a successful dental practice by doing everything on your own. Having a great team is critical to success in attracting and retaining new patients. This includes your front desk team, dental assistants, and other dental professionals. Their communication skills and attitude should leave your patients feeling taken care of and impressed with the quality of the services provided.
For this, there are advanced professional training and education programs that can be quite helpful in up skilling your team on the latest dental developments and techniques. Beacon Dental Partners facilitates staff training and helps build a strong foundation for your successful business.
Offer help with patient financing
According to the American Dental Association, one of the main reasons why people fail to seek dental treatment is they don’t have the money. Dentistry is expensive, and rightly so. Unfortunately, many of the people who are most in need of having work done either don’t have dental insurance or find that their insurance is lacking. Don’t lose income due to financial barriers. Educate your clients about the financial options that are available to them. Have a concrete financial policy in place from day 1 and stick to it. Make it rigid, fair, and easy to understand. To ensure that nobody gets their wires crossed, designate a specific person in your office to handle all your financing options.
Develop a high-performance office culture
Attracting new patients to your practice is important to your success and long-term sustainability, but you can’t support them effectively without a good office culture. This must be built over time through operating principles, workplace values, behaviors, and communication systems. Work with your staff to make sure all values and expectations are clear. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that each person is working towards the same goal. Bear in mind that the physical environment and office décor are also crucial to your culture.
People have become more cautious and conservative in their spending habits. When it comes to streamlining the administrative and operational costs of a dental practice, it is important to reduce overhead by developing strong and efficient systems, marketing effectively, adding services, and mastering sales skills. Other necessary expenses include malpractice insurance, license renewals, dental association fees, and any continuing education costs for employees.
To properly budget for this, you must first look at your income statement and confirm all unnecessary expenditures, such as items used for labor, supplies, lab fees, and doctor benefits. Doctor benefits are included, because they should be seen as profits and not as an expense. If the expenditure is small and the item is seldom used, then it is superfluous. A habit that is all too common (and costly) is simply ignoring the small expenditures. But, have you ever aggregated these "inexpensive" items and totaled a yearly figure? They are likely costing you thousands of dollars each year.