Recipe for Success
Most dentists want a successful, thriving and profitable dental practice. But we all know that there are not enough of them around. The problem lies in the fact that when you feel like things are going your way, suddenly you face difficulties of more than one nature. Suddenly the number of new patients entering your door reduces, or patients fail to continue with your recommended treatment. Why?
The answer lies hidden in the way we interpret success. Most people think in the now, and inevitably they will achieve the revenue they desire – in the short term! However, a truly successful practise must not only be generating short term increased revenues but also have established strategies for long term future growth. This is the false security we give ourselves when the going is good. We tell ourselves it will always be good and so we don’t plan for the “rainy” days. And these “rainy” days inevitably come.
The main purpose of any business, whether it is a general dental practice, a cosmetic practice or a business in any other industry, is to create and keep a customer/patient. Only too often, dentists are preoccupied with the basic functioning of a dental business, so much so that they forget to plan for their success. All functions of the practice should be designed to either create patients (i.e. new patient acquisition) or to keep patients (so they don’t take their custom elsewhere). Any other requirements, such as increasing revenues, will easily be met if the main purpose is obtained and secured. After all, if there are no patients “buying” dentistry, then there will be no practice to buy from. So if a dental business fails to attract and keep a sufficient number of customers, it will begin to experience losses and eventually die.
- A practice remains stagnant, and all other businesses within the industry take over. Consequential slow or rapid death of the company. Growing, growing gone!
- The practice utilises definite strategies to grow the business because the leader desires to do so. Consequential optimisation and expansion of the business. Growing, growing, successful!
Fundamentals of practice growth
If you were to look at all the critical functions within a dental practice that are necessary for the practice to survive, they could be concentrated down to four main aspects:
This requires having the vision to be successful and setting yourself goals to acquire that vision. Without this strategy in place, you may find yourself easily swayed from your mission, and you may drift into oblivion. You need to know exactly where you are aiming, how you intend to get there and what kind of assistance you will need to reach your targets.
It is vital to have a good management structure in place to motivate, organise and monitor your team to achieve practice growth. This involves creating an excellent, motivated and inspired team.
Requirements of a great team:
- To provide the best customer service to your patients.
- To build relationships with your patients by listening and understanding their needs.
- To understand all the facets of helping patients to decide to accept recommended treatment.
- To assist in the functioning of the practice systems so that the business has maximum growth and optimal revenues.
It can often be the intervention of a team member, which could become the influencing stimulus for any patient to accept recommended dentistry. This is often because our team members are usually the first point of contact any patient has before experiencing how good a dentist you may be. It is extremely difficult for anyone to know precisely how good you are until after they have decided to go ahead with your recommendations. So patients use other information to help them determine if you are the suitable establishment for them.
That information often includes how good you make them feel whilst they are in your care, i.e. how good your customer service is. And only your team can create that high level of customer satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction means future custom and referrals of other patients to your practice who already know how good you are.
One significant way of developing a thriving, growing practice is by introducing innovations and breakthroughs. The dental world continuously brings out new technologies to benefit either the dentist or the patients.
Any one of these technologies could be used to market your practice as a provider of the benefits of that technology. This will assist you in developing a unique selling advantage over other dentists in your locality. A simple idea would be to organise a cheese and wine evening to publicise the new technology or to have an article created for you in the local newspaper.
Examples of these innovations include laser technology, a new way of providing pain-free anaesthesia or a spa-type environment with associated beauty treatments. The list is endless. All these innovations can be successfully marketed to help patients accept dentistry. This method can allow you to attract new patients or keep existing ones and generate increased revenues because you are seen to be different.
Marketing is a critical element in the success of any practice or business. No practice would be able to survive for long without a correct marketing agenda on how to accomplish the aims of a flourishing business. Successful marketing will attract new patients to your practice hence keeping the lifeline of your business intact. Also, it will maximise the treatment accepted by your existing patients, thus maximising your potential growth capacity.
To optimise your ability to acquire new patients and maintain your existing ones, you need to set into place carefully worked out strategies and plans for both internal and external marketing media.
Not only do you require a plan of action but also how and when you will execute each step of the plan, and thereafter you will need monitoring systems. Monitoring your plans is vital to provide you with information on whether something is working or not to make better decisions.
Also, it would be best if you planned to make maximum use of your marketing budgets. This is so you can have the maximum exposure to your marketing message possible using the correct mediums.
If the above four areas were to be maximised and optimised to their full potential, then it would not be difficult to ensure a successful growing dental practice. Most practices concentrate on linear growth and only achieve improvements in certain areas. This will often be in an area that is the hot topic of the time or what everybody else in the industry is doing, i.e. the most fashionable thing to do. This way, practice will only achieve marginal improvements over a short period. Eventually, budgets may not allow for further growth in this area; you may have reached your total capacity to grow in that area or expended so much energy that you will give up the notion.
For example, team motivation alone may not be sufficient for all your patients to go ahead with your recommended treatment. It would be best if you worked in all areas of your practice to become a flourishing business; personal development is continually acquiring knowledge.
If these fundamental areas of business growth were to be divided into their corresponding subdivisions and worked down to their final systems, you would begin to understand the areas of your practice that either need improving or a change of strategy. This exercise alone will give you unparalleled insights into what you should do to obtain 3-dimensional growth. This type of growth allows you to explore your business in all dimensions.
To achieve 3-dimensional growth, you need to adopt a mindset of an entrepreneur’s perspective and a scientist’s. Growth and development are like life; it is a continuous and dynamic process. Those who understand this and action their desires will ultimately realise success. Remember, good things come to those that plan for them.