Accounts receivable industry’s leading information portal, NexaCollect, hosted an online seminar for dentists on how to expand their practice. This 60-minute seminar and discussion session was conducted on Friday, 28 August 2020, and was attended by dentists on the Zoom conference call. Here are some of the important tips that were covered during this informative session.
The dental marketplace is as saturated as it gets, especially in today’s competitive era of fast dental care. In 2020, patients are exposed to inexhaustible options for dental care and management. All it takes is a quick search on the internet or a social media post for dentist suggestions and they are bombarded with an array of modern and equally competent dentists near them. This is precisely why dentists today in a total mass of over 200,000 practicing dental professionals need proper guidance not only to help them keep their practice up and running but also to make a significant mark on the community with their practice.
In good news, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 19% job growth for dentists from 2016 to 2026. This means more opportunities to expand and grow your dental practice. Maybe you are a fresh graduate who knows zilch about the job market and financial responsibilities but is looking to open up your own dental practice. Or, maybe you have an unyielding dental set-up for which you are struggling to raise profit for an inexcusable number of years. Irrespective of the situation, you will need proper direction and focus on helping build your business from the ground up.
Here are 8 ways you can expand your dental practice and bring in more patients and subsequent growth to your business.
1. Define what makes your practice unique
Take a moment to catalog all the distinguishing features of your practice that sets you apart from and ideally gives you an upper-hand from your competitors. In order for you to establish yourself as the leading dental care office in your local area, you need to learn to identify, market, and preserve your unique competitive advantages. With an immense set of responsibilities and leadership, you cannot rush through the process, so easy does it.
Take a look at your competitors and list out the top three things that set them apart in the dentistry business. Now take a look at your own office. Can you name any noteworthy feature about your office that individualizes your practice in the community? Whether you offer a wide array of dental procedures, offer a particular specialty, or make use of state-of-the-art technologies, these distinctive features can help your practice take off.
2. Build the dream team
Often dentists can be lone wolves in their profession; a one-man-team that is expected to handle adversity on its own. However, if you are defiant of getting help from experts and toughing it out, you may stand little to no chance in establishing your foothold in this dog-eat-dog industry. Dentistry, like any other profession, has to be a team effort. If you are thinking of expansion and accretion, you will need external help to counsel you on making informed business decisions.
Put together a consulting team of many key players who can help out your business growth. A financial advisor can help you manage your financial plan and secure your investments and returns. On the other hand, a lending partner will you with your financial adoption by helping you secure working capital, debt consolidation, or a business loan. You may also take assistance from a legal advisor who can help you navigate any legal issues that may arise in respect of your dental practice.
3. Create an office culture
Now that you have set up a dental practice, you will also have to learn to create a vibrant office culture. Your staff may not inherently be welcoming to new-comers and may engage in damaging groupism practices. In order to create an environment that is safe and comfortable to all, there needs to be a fine-tuning between the employees and the boss, a.k.a you. Institute a good office culture as this can directly ripple into the patient experience. This can include your values, systems, morals, responsibilities, personalities, and expectations.
Some of the most successful dental offices have found a way to inculcate a happy office culture. Employees want to be proud of the work they do and content with their job description. Some ways you can build a good office culture is by holding regular team-building exercises, holding one-on-on sittings with your staff members to address and acknowledge their career goals and criticisms, reducing uninvited gossips around the office, etc. You are a boss, it’s time for you to act like a leader.
4. Invest in worthy marketing
An average dental practice in the U.S. sees 8 to 12 patients a day. Even though your practice has been experiencing a steady flow of patients, this does not mean that you will never run out of patients to see. Seasonal patient droughts are a thing. But with digital marketing, that may no longer be a problem. It is true that you must invest to make a profit. Investing in widescale digital marketing can help you grow your business in today’s modern world.
You can start small by running an email campaign or go all out by building a dental website to introduce patient traffic to the site; the options are endless. While you are juggling with patients and appointments, you may not always get the time to sit through a mind-numbing session of a marketing to-do’s webinar with the hope to implement it into your practice. For busy dental surgeons, marketing agencies can help you identify your deficiencies and market your practice to allow a steady flow of patients into your practice. By embracing new online channels for advertisement and communication, you can increase your reach in the community and expand your business.
5. Improve patient referrals
When it comes to growing your dental practice, nothing beats word-of-mouth referrals. While you may be leveraging your online presence to bring in more patients, you cannot neglect the archaic system of patient referrals through word-of-mouth. You can advertise your practice through your patients by sending out a post-procedure email asking about their experience and to provide three referrals if they had a positive experience. You can also add into the mix fun prices for patients to win through a referral contest. Also, remember to provide referral cards to the patient that can easily be handed out to others at the end of the appointment. Be proactive in asking for patient referrals and see your business flourish!
6. Capitalize on the co-risks
Now that you have set up a dental practice, you are no longer just a dentist. You are now a businessman so you will need to start thinking like one. As a businessman, you will have to get cozy with the idea of “upselling”. When someone comes in for a dental visit, you must take the time to “sell” patients the procedures they need but are wary of getting. As a dentist, however, you must make sure that you take the best interest of the patient’s dental health into account to help you gauge the “sale”.
By actively looking for new ways to help patients with their dental conditions, they will more likely become avid sources of referrals to other patients who need similar treatments. This concept of capitalizing on the co-risks is one of the best internal marketing strategies to increase practice profitability.
7. Provide flexible financial options
Every successful dental practice provides the patients with a wide range of payment options so that they will be more inclined to accept the recommended treatment options and return for ongoing dental care. Providing affordable maintenance and comprehensive dental plans to cover the patient’s dental care with convenient monthly direct debit is one form of payment for your patients. In addition, personal checks and cash, special financing, and insurance coverage can help ensure that personal financial deficiencies do not interfere with their dental care.
8. Hire a Dental Collection Agency
A collection agency for dental offices will systemically collect debt from past-due accounts without hurting your reputation. Collection agencies not only provide superior returns but it also frees up the employees of a dental office who hate to waste time chasing patients for overdue bills.
9. Improve your scheduling and billing systems
Create a user-friendly scheduling system for your patients so that they can easily book an appointment without much hassle. Add a directive link to your website for booking an appointment so that your patients can schedule one directly on the spot, without having to pick up the phone! Various cloud-based software helps patients to book their appointments by setting filters and selecting convenient time slots. Once the appointment is requested, the patient will automatically get a confirmation email.
You can also make the task of billing easier for you and your receptionist. Tracking down patients to pay their co-pays and processing insurance claims can not only take effort to perform but may also take days or weeks to process. Automated billing through special dental billing software can help streamline your office workflow and help you get paid faster.
Additionally, it is important for you to stay actionable about your goals. This means that you keep tabs on your business and train your staff to record and report key metrics that will help you assess if your business is running in profit or diving swiftly into unwavering losses. For context, your over-the-counter collection percentage should be about 35% of the day’s production and the acceptance ratio in the ‘treatment presented to treatment accepted ratio’ should be 70% to 90%. Through trial and error, you will learn to take valuable steps towards building a strong community likeness and reliance towards your dental practice.