There is no such thing as a typical dental practice. They can range from standalone rural spaces to sleek urban offices, with everything in between. When trying to nail down your ideal, some factors are easy to identify: treatments offered, schedule, and target compensation.
Other factors fall into gray areas, where an “ideal” is harder to articulate. In these cases, you need to think about what sounds most appealing to you.
Ask yourself these questions to begin deciding what kind of practice will suit you best.
Are you a relationship- or volume-driven dentist?
Some dentists build their practices on patient relationships, while others focus on driving volume. The approach is reflected in the practice’s policies and patient expectations.
A practice built around patient relationships may have processes that ensure no one ever waits more than 5 minutes beyond their appointment time. These dentists tend to spend more time with each patient and nurture each relationship rather than delegating this function to staff. These practices may be entirely fee for service and often charge in the top 1%.
By contrast, a volume practice may run multiple treatment rooms simultaneously by delegating as much as possible to auxiliaries. In this model, staff members are the primary relationship builders while the dentists work on doing their tasks as efficiently as possible. These practices tend to accept insurance and make up for lower fees through increased volume.
Both practice styles can be professionally and financially rewarding, but they are typically incompatible.
Response from Dr. Michael Gulizio, DMD, MS and founder of NYC-based Core Smiles.
Building a practice these days is more difficult than it was when I started my practice (which was about 16 years ago). At the time I was considering building my own practice, an oral surgeon told me something that I never forgot — that it takes a year to build a day — which meant that for new dentists starting a private practice, it would take a full year of practicing until you would get to the point where you could book a full day of patients.
Today, unfortunately, this is not the case.
The introduction of private equity and venture capitalism into the dental ecosystem has changed the playing field. Dentists graduating right out of dental school are taking positions with corporate-run practices, such as “Tend” and “Dental365.”
They attract young dentists with a decent starting salary because these corporate entities are funded by hedge funds, angel investors, and private equity firms. They put quite a bit of money into the practices they develop by investing in beautifully-designed clinics, the latest technology, and street-level storefront space (which, as you know in NYC, is priced at a premium).
Unfortunately, dentists who work for corporate entities are very restricted in their ability to practice as intended. The reason I know this is because one of the participants in the program that I run at NYU told me that he cannot implement some of the concepts we are educating him on.
When I asked why, his response to me was that the corporate model is purely run to ensure production numbers are met on a daily basis (which, of course, is how corporate-run entities work) and that the very refined procedures taught in my program simply “take too much time” to execute properly in a corporate setting. Some of these procedures include basic adhesive dentistry — such as porcelain inlays and onlays and porcelain veneers. As a result, this model inherently affects the quality of dental care.
Another paradigm shift that has evolved more recently is that many practices, including my own, are incorporating dental specialists on-site. For example, my area of expertise is prosthodontics, the specialty that addresses major bite problems, TMJ treatment, reconstructive implant dentistry, and, more exclusively, esthetic dentistry; however, I am not equipped or trained in periodontal procedures.
When patient treatment requires periodontal intervention, I have had to refer my patients to a periodontist in another office, and, invariably, almost every single time, patients have complained to me that they do not like having to go to another clinic. I now have a periodontist in my clinic — not only is this better for patient convenience, but it is the optimal way to address patient treatment because, on occasion, I will need to work chairside with the periodontist to ensure that my patient gets the best result.
Growing a dental practice can be hard work. In fact, it takes more than just being confident in your abilities to grow and manage this type of business successfully – you need an understanding of the strategies that are crucial for creating patient relationships as well as dental marketing strategy.
A dental practice needs to be proactive in order to thrive. It’s not enough that they have the best equipment or services and provide high-quality care each day; marketing is just as important if you want people coming into your office on a regular basis.
There are many strategies for marketing with varying results, but using combination methods will yield better outcomes than trying one strategy without another complementing it effectively.
Here are three dental marketing strategies:
1. Ask your patient for reviews Online reviews have been a key part of making business decisions for some time now, but the importance is growing. More and more people rely on online review sites when looking to buy products or services; this includes dental care providers. Google weights Maps search results based on review ratings – making it a key advantage (or disadvantage) for your SEO.
If you have an average 3.2 star rating on Google, and a competitor has a 4.7 rating, they’ll have a better chance of ranking above you. In addition, maintaining positive reviews can help build customer loyalty and attract new patients by improving brand perception in their eyes; however, negative feedback could hurt both current and prospective patients.
2. Start a Google Ad Campaign Google Ads is a platform that allows you to have your ad displayed when someone searches for certain keywords e.g. dentist in + location. When using this type of advertising, it’s important not only do you target location-based keywords but also use descriptions and headlines to highlight unique offers or other features about your practice which set you apart from others.
3. Sign up for competitor emails and newsletters You can learn a lot about your competition by listening to the way they communicate with their customers. You might be surprised at what you hear. On average, how often do they follow up after phone calls or emails? What type of promotions and discounts do these other dentists offer to prospective patients—do they have any loyalty programs set up.
Another important question would need answering here: “How does this particular office make referrals?” Is there an app involved somehow – maybe something like Groupon where people get discounted services instead-or just word of mouth alone?