Like any career field, running a successful dentistry practice has its own obstacles. You can overcome those obstacles, but only if you see them clearly. You must know both the myths and the real reasons why your business is not successful before you can work on the problems.
The assumption that you are paying your staff too much to ever turn a profit is a common myth. However, paying your employees should be the least of your worries with a successful practice! While your staff salaries may be higher than other practice’s, that is not the problem. Instead of focusing on how much you are paying your employees, focus on production. Discover ways to bring in new patients and increase the number of services and procedures performed. When your production increases, the percentage you spend on overhead decreases, and you will no longer feel you are paying your staff too much. It is not easy to reduce salaries, and laying someone off may not be the right option either. Instead of actually reducing salaries, reduce the impact that paying your staff has on your practice by increasing the money coming into your office.
Some dentists believe that because cosmetic procedures cost more, those who solely provide cosmetic dentistry services automatically make more. This is another myth that isn’t borne out by the facts. While everyone wants beautiful teeth and would love to have cosmetic services, the number of people who will actually pay for these expensive cosmetic services is small. A practice seeing dozens of patients a day for preventive care can gross much more than one that is only seeing one or two patients a day, because more people are willing to and capable of paying for preventive care. In addition, cosmetic services cost you more in lab fees and visits. There is nothing wrong with offering cosmetic services to your patients, but most dentists make more money when their patient base is built on preventative care. If you solely focus on cosmetic services, you will make more per visit than you will for preventive care, but you will lose a large number of patients who will not be able to pay for these specialty services. Diversification is the key!
Far too many dentists fall prey to the idea that there is a magic marketing plan that will fix everything while requiring them to do nothing. While external marketing is important, it is only one piece of your marketing plan. An outside vendor cannot possibly do all of your marketing for you. You need to incorporate your marketing in every aspect of your business. Some things you can personally do include working on improving the unity of your team with meetings and staff reviews, and focusing on providing excellent care and services for your current patients. This has a trickle-down effect – your current patients are some of the best marketing tools you have, so the more you do for them; the more they rave about you to their friends. This word of mouth process is one of the most powerful forms of marketing, and only you can make it happen. Don’t give up on external marketing such as direct mail and postcards, but don’t make external marketing your only form of new patient acquisition.
This myth encourages you to put the blame on the patient. You aren‘t making money because patients don‘t understand how important their dental care is, or you aren’t making money because your patients aren’t excited about dentistry. Is anyone really passionate about their dental care? No one usually looks forward to going to the dentist, so you cannot get upset with your patients for not being excited about drills, shots and fillings. Likewise, you cannot blame patients for not spending money on their teeth unless you educate them on the benefits of dental care and the consequences of neglecting their teeth and mouth. Instead of focusing on making your patients passionate about going to the dentist, you need to focus on your relationship with them. If your patients feel you care about them, and you explain why you want their teeth to be healthy, they will be more likely to come in for more procedures.
Believing these myths can block you from being successful. While there are many obstacles in the field of dentistry, you can overcome them. Instead of focusing on salaries, focus on production. Instead of basing your business on cosmetic services, base it on preventative care and offer cosmetic services as additional benefits. Be active in your marketing plan, and concentrate on improving your relationships with your patients. This is the path to success!