You started your dental practice with a vision of success. But what does that mean? What makes a dental practice successful? Your answer is probably different from that of every other dentist because it is very personal and depends on your goals.
In this article, we will discuss how to create a plan with concrete steps you can start following now to make your practice successful according to your definition. Very possibly, you’ve been so busy running your practice from day one, that you haven’t completed a formal plan for success. Now is the time to sit down and create that plan. We’ll start with how you define success. Then we’ll cover initiatives that will help you get there.
Identify the factors that define success for you. You will first need to define your personal goals, such as providing comfortably for your family, keeping stress low and building a nest egg. Then identify the factors your practice needs to successfully reach those goals. These might include, for example, maintaining a full schedule, profitability, loyal patients, efficient staff and high production.
Make sure these factors are measurable and compatible. For example, you might decide that a full schedule means your chairs are 90 percent booked, and that’s measurable. But if the procedures are all exams and fillings, they might not be compatible with high profitability. In this case, you could set your doctor-to-hygiene mix at the ideal 65- to 75-percent doctor production and 25- to 35-percent hygiene production.1
Word of mouth continues to be the most effective dental marketing tool for attracting new patients. However, word-of-mouth recommendations have become online reviews, and more than 85 percent2 of consumers today rely on reviews from strangers more than traditional recommendations. They get these reviews when they search for a dentist using tools such as Google. Your goal should be to appear high in online searches and to maintain satisfaction scores of four stars or higher.
Start with your website. This is where patients get their first impression of your practice. Make it clean and professional. Include essential information such as your practice’s name and logo, the services you offer, doctor and staff profiles, location and directions, office hours, appointment requests, and patient forms.
To appear near the beginning of online searches, answer the questions patients are asking by posting patient education content in the form of blog posts and videos. The more you can post, the higher your practice will appear in searches. But make sure the content is relevant and fresh—post weekly or at least monthly.
Establishing a loyalty bond with your patients is more important than ever, because finding a new dentist is just a Google search away. First, you need to ensure your patients are happy. Select staff with great interpersonal skills, and don’t be afraid to coach them. When you have happy patients, ask them to leave a review on Google, Facebook and Yelp. Send them a follow-up thank-you message with a link to your online reviews.
Communication is the magic ingredient to keeping patients coming back regularly. Use emails, texts, phone calls and post cards to remind patients when they’re due for recare. Enable them to make appointments directly from the communications and on your website. Use the same tools to confirm appointments and to remind patients of appointments. Your practice management software should help you do this.
Profitability depends on many variables, including the types of procedures you choose as your specialties, the efficiency of your staff and so on. We will focus on streamlining your business practices.
The core of your business management is your practice management software. Make a list of capabilities you want in your software and compare that with what your software delivers. Most dentists use their practice management software to do patient scheduling, billing and electronic health records. Make sure your software is handling these and that you aren’t doing any of these tasks manually.
Your practice management software should also do many more tasks such as digital imaging, patient communications, online booking, reporting and so on. Make sure your solution provides or integrates with other solutions to provide these capabilities. Keep in mind that more than 90 percent of dentists want software that integrates all the features into one package to provide the highest efficiency and profitability.
Click here to find how Dentrix connects your practice technology into one management system and one workflow, so your team can work smarter.
2Douglas Sligting, Dental Branding, https://pdfslide.net/documents/how-to-manage-your-online-reputation-douglas-slighting-2019-07-31-why-is-reputation.html
3 Software Advice BuyerView: Dental Software Report 2014, https://software-advice.imgix.net/managed/other_pages/Dental/BuyerView%202014/software-advice-buyerview-dental-software-report.pdf