Figuring out how to run a successful dental practice can be hard work. A lot of factors come into play when making a business successful, and a dental clinic is no exception.
In addition to all the normal concerns of running a small business, dental practices face a unique set of challenges. Many people feel nervous when visiting the dentist. That can affect the patient experience. Review and rating websites can also have an impact on your reputation, and that may cause you anxiety. All of this impacts the day-to-day operations of your clinic.
This article contains some tips and techniques that all dental practices can implement to make their practice more successful.
What Makes Your Practice Unique?
Even in the dental field, creating a successful business depends a lot on branding. It may be good to reflect on what your ideal customer wants when they come to you. What will they be looking for? How can you address that? What unique competitive advantages do you have? Once you have answered these questions, you can highlight your strengths in your marketing efforts.
For example, a pediatric dentist may focus on promoting to parents. They could highlight that their practice is family-friendly. Or they can mention that they make a point to hire staff members who work well with children.
Another example could be if you have a lot of patients with dental anxiety. You may choose to focus on how your dental practice uses techniques and practices designed to provide a positive experience. If you try to create a calming environment, make that known. Or you might research the use of new tools, such as the DentalVibe Comfort Injection System, which helps to reduce dental injection pain.
Or perhaps you make an effort to address the care of elderly patients. Good dental care throughout life reduces the probability that people will need a full set of dentures later in life. Focusing on how your dental practice provides people with ongoing dental care as they get older is a great marketing advantage.
Engage Your Employees
All successful dental offices focus on how patients and employees interact.
Even the smallest micro-moment of interaction with your staff can affect how your patient feels. It can make the difference between an unpleasant visit, or a great visit. Whether it’s a quick smile from the front desk team or a quick joke to help an uneasy patient relax, every micro-moment counts.
However, this is not something you can teach in an employee training session. A lot of it comes down to how all the employees interact on a daily basis. If they get along well and are comfortable, it will make the patients comfortable as well.
Create an Office Culture
Your office culture should be clearly discernible to patients. It’s important for employees to feel like the work they do is important and is something they can be proud of. Seeing that the staff is happy and content draws in prospective patients and keeps existing patients coming back.
Each business has an office culture, and yours does too. Everything affects office culture: interaction between the staff members, your individual leadership style, and personality. Even your personal expectations can affect it. In the end, it comes down to how you run your business overall. Even the decor and environment can play a role.
Once you discern what your company culture is, identify areas where you can display it in a way that appeals to your key patient types.
Expand Your Dental Team
A well-equipped dental practice employs a variety of professionals with different skill sets. For example, it may be useful to your dental practice to have dental hygienists, dental surgeons, denture specialists, and so forth. By collaborating with other specialists, your clinic can become a one-stop solution for anything a patient might need.
But knowing what hires to make can be a hard decision to make. How do you know what additional associates you need? Some formulas you might find helpful are
- Front Desk Formula: hire one individual for every $350,000-$400,000 of production.
- Dental Assistant Formula: hire one individual for every $250,000 of production.
Expand Your Services
As you grow your patient base, try to identify how you can address patient needs and strengthen your competitive position.
Maybe the size of your current location keeps you from expanding the way you would like, or it has limited accessibility. You might consider moving to a better-situated location. Or perhaps it’s time to think about taking on staff with a certain specialty to meet the needs of your community.
When you are considering such big decisions, it’s important to consider what your practice can currently handle. It’s important to find the right balance between growth and quality and not over-extend your practice. By taking these factors into consideration, you can create a reputation for excellence and build a loyal client base.
Offer Additional Training for Dental Assistants
Dental assistants can be an invaluable asset to running a successful dentist practice. With a little more training, expanded functions dental assistants (EFDA) can take on responsibilities that hygienists and dentists usually perform. This way, you and your hygienists can address the more complex dental work while the EFDA provides simple treatments or cleanings.
Of course, requirements for EFDA certification and training change depending on local regulations. You could offer to cover the cost of the training and certificate. While that is an additional cost to the company, in the long run, it can help your practice become more profitable.
Incorporating training helps employees stay happy, effective, and productive. Investing in your employees is investing in their future and in the success of your practice.
Address Scheduling Woes
Another common occurrence in a dental practice is the constant schedule changes. Patients cancel, reschedule, and make new appointments, and the front desk team scrambles to keep up with it all.
Because of this, it is worthwhile to invest in a good digitized scheduling system. In that way, the whole team can stay up to date easily on any changes, and provide the best possible patient care.
A good scheduling software also helps your staff to maximize the number of patients your office sees in a day. Your team can easily view the schedule and book appointments to replace cancellations and no-shows.
Get a booking app to streamline your clinic’s schedule
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Capitalize on Working Hours
A good thing to consider is where your patients are during your working hours. Are they at work as well?
There are only so many working hours in a day, so it’s important to think about how you can maximize your bookings and boost your team’s productivity.
For example, some successful dental practices have 24-hour cancelation policies and fees for missed appointments. Others have found that adjusting their own office hours to earlier in the morning or later in the evening is an effective way to accommodate patients.
Provide Flexible Dental Financing Options
Not everyone has the same preference when it comes to payment options. Convenient financial options will make patients more likely to accept your treatment recommendations. And they will be more likely to keep coming back to you for follow-up care. The more payment options you are able to provide, the wider range of prospective patients you will have.
For example, if a patient does not have dental insurance you can adapt your plan. You can still provide basic coverage for checkups and cleanings, but help the patient take a more preventative approach in their own lives.
Another option is to provide long-term and short-term financing options. Short-term options often attract new patients, and you will see immediate benefits to your business.
Connect with Patients and the Community
Thanks to the digital age, there are a plethora of opportunities to find more patients and keep up with existing patients. You can reach out to patients through direct mail or emails. You can also attract prospective clients through social media marketing. This helps you stay at the forefront of people’s minds.
As your practice grows, your impact on the community also grows.
When you interact with the community by volunteering, being a sponsor, and so on you prove how dedicated you are to the community you serve. It shows that you are not just about making a profit. You are also about making a difference.
One of the top suggestions on how to run a successful dental practice is to have a referral system.
Many people experience anxiety at the dentist and hesitate to look for a new dentist on their own. Usually, they will ask for a reference. So why not offer your patients a discount for referring you?
One way to do this is by having referral cards on hand at your office. You might create a referral bonus program or provide incentives to your office staff for bringing in new patients. Whatever you choose, make sure to take the initiative to check in once in a while on how it’s going.
Manage Your Reputation
In the modern age, it has become all too easy for people to publish personal opinions in public view. This can either work to your benefit or it can work against you.
Some businesses may hire reputation managers to monitor popular networks. Reputation managers watch for any mention of the business and respond on behalf of the company. There are other options too.
You might start by claiming ownership of your business on social media and on review-based websites. Doing this will help you to keep track of comments and reviews and respond accordingly. This proves that your practice cares about patient satisfaction and the patient experience.
Look into Branded Merchandise
People love free stuff. In years past, dentists used to give out candy or stickers to well-behaved children at the end of their visit. And this tactic still works!
Offering basics like toothbrushes or floss triggers a patient’s reward system, which makes them happy. And it helps keep communication about dental hygiene open.
Conclusion on How to Run a Successful Dental Practice
There is a lot to think about when it comes to how to run a successful dental practice. As the practitioner, no doubt your main concern is your patients’ well-being and satisfaction. But as a business, you also have to focus your attention on your office.
The way you run your office can leave a lasting impression on patients, and that affects your retention rates. It is essential to stay on top of the best practices and to be well organized. But as long as you keep the needs of your patients at heart, then you have already discovered the secret of how to run a successful dental practice.
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