To run a successful dental practice, you have to stand out from the competition. Patients have never had more options for dental care and expect more than ever from healthcare providers. While quality care remains crucial, you must also seek other ways to improve the overall patient experience, including incorporating new technologies into your treatment options, streamlining office operations to improve efficiency, and maintaining a professional online presence. Please continue reading to learn several techniques dental practices of all sizes and specialties can implement to make their business more profitable.
What makes a successful dental practice?
Successful dental practices have several characteristics in common, but most of them center on improving the experience between the doctor and the patient. Take a closer analysis of where your practice is already strong and identify areas in which you wish to improve, focusing on these critical elements:
Provide excellent dental care. Stay abreast of the latest developments in the dental industry, including new types of treatments, best practices for dental exams, and scheduling solutions. For example, many patients like the ability to schedule appointments online or to confirm appointments via text message rather than over the phone.
Maintain an interactive, user-friendly website and positive social media presence. People increasingly look online before making a decision, and their first stop is often your website or social media profiles. Making it easy for patients to connect with you and learn about your practice contributes to a positive patient experience.
Create a welcoming environment for all patients. Include chairs that accommodate all shapes and sizes and additional measures for patients with dental phobia.
Adopt proper business management practices to control costs. Setting a budget and managing controllable expenses reduces your overhead while leveraging innovative marketing efforts and patient retention practices increases revenue. These together contribute to a more robust bottom line.
All these elements are essential for running a successful dental practice, but to truly thrive, everyone must share the same values and focus. This means creating and actively promoting a company culture that supports your goals. A positive, unified company culture goes a long way toward increasing patient compliance, reducing attrition, and reducing employee turnover, all of which ultimately make the business more profitable.
How can I make my dental practice more profitable?
You can implement several specific techniques to improve profitability for your dental practice.
Become less reliant on dental insurance.
While being less reliant on insurance may seem counterintuitive, relying too heavily on insurance can cut your profits. Insurance companies determine how much they’re willing to pay for a particular treatment and which kinds of treatments are covered. This can lock you into the insurance company’s pricing and have a negative effect on patient treatment. If you recommend a course of treatment for a patient, and their insurance company rejects it, the patient may not be willing to proceed with treatment.
Communicating the value of the treatment is essential, as is making it easier for patients to pay out of pocket. Consider establishing alternative options for payment, such as installment plans for significant procedures, discounts for payment in full, and a rewards system for regular patients.
Offer additional training for dental assistants.
Your dental assistants can be a valuable resource; consider giving them more responsibility. With the proper training and certification, an expanded functions dental assistant (EFDA) can take X-rays, apply sealants, or conduct coronal polishing for your patients. This can free up your hygienists and yourself for more complex dental work or allow your practice to accommodate more patients who need simple treatments and cleanings.
The requirements for EFDAs and the functions they can perform vary from state to state. Consider making arrangements with your assistants to cover the necessary training and certification costs. While this will increase costs for the practice, having an EFDA on staff will help your practice become more profitable in the long run.
Automate time-consuming tasks
The newest generation of dental practice software can help automate many basic tasks, such as scheduling, appointment reminders, and other types of patient communication. Upgrading your software and adding capabilities that include email reminders and SMS can reduce the number of no-shows and free up time for your front-office staff. They, in turn, can work more closely with your patients and handle more complicated requests.
Many good dental software and client management programs will also allow you to go paperless, reducing storage and reducing the time spent filing and retrieving files.
How can I make my dental practice stand out?
Differentiating your practice from other dentists in your area can be challenging for a small business owner, especially if you don’t have much marketing or sales experience. However, implementing a few strategic practices can make all the difference in attracting and retaining patients.
Proactively seek referrals and reviews.
Positive reviews and referrals are essential for building a successful dental practice. Often, people trust the recommendation of someone they know or a review written by an actual customer more than an advertisement. Don’t leave these valuable marketing techniques to chance! When you have a patient who has a positive experience with your practice, ask them to leave a review on your website or Google and refer their friends and family to your practice.
Phrasing the request as a personal favor can often increase the likelihood that the patient will follow through. For example, saying, “It would mean so much to me if you left us a positive review,” can be far more effective than simply emailing the request. Give patients a card with your social media profiles for a visual reminder after they get home.
Suppose you’ve upgraded your dental practice software to automate many routine tasks. In that case, you can add one more task to that list: email each patient after their appointment thanking them for their business, and including a link to a short survey or place to leave a review.
Understand your target clientele.
While it may be easy to assume that your target customer is “anyone with teeth,” highlighting a particular specialty can often be more effective. For instance, if you are a pediatric dentist, ensure your marketing efforts center on parents. Make your practice family-friendly, and hire staff who are good with children.
Or, you may notice that many of your patients suffer from dental anxiety. In this case, focus on implementing techniques and practices to ease dental phobia. This may include taking additional measures to create a calming environment and using tools such as the DentalVibe® Comfort Injection System, which eliminates the pain associated with dental injections.
Older people are another demographic that can be a good niche to focus on. Ensuring that people maintain good oral hygiene as they age can reduce the chances that they’ll need a complete set of dentures, which many seniors will appreciate.
Regardless of your niche, ensure your advertising and marketing strategies address your target customer’s needs and pain points.
Update your website
Your website can be more than just listing your location and hours. It’s easy to overlook the importance of a professional website. Still, prospective patients will wonder what other areas of your practice need an upgrade if your website is ineffective and outdated. A great business website allows patients to book, change, or cancel appointments online and make payments on their outstanding balances. Ensure you have a secure site, including an SSL certificate, to protect your customers’ personal information.
Your website can also add value to your patients’ lives in other ways. A well-written blog and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page can help patients understand the details of their upcoming procedure and implement oral health tips to improve the health of their teeth and gums.
Hire a professional website designer to ensure that your site is secure and scalable, meaning that it can grow as your business grows without interrupting a user’s ability to navigate the site. Also, ensure your website is mobile-friendly, as more than 50 percent of website traffic typically comes from mobile devices.
Offer pain-free injections
The fear of pain keeps many people away from the dentist. The DentalVibe® Comfort Injection System allows you to tap into this market by offering pain-free injections. DentalVibe® applies a light vibration to the tissues around the injection site while injections are administered. Research has shown that when vibration and injection sensations coincide, the vibration feeling reaches the brain first and essentially blocks the pain sensations from being perceived by the brain. Dental patients of all ages no longer have to fear the needle. Are you interested in becoming a certified pain-free dentist? Request your no-obligation consultation to learn how DentalVibe® can help you grow your practice!