Growth Strategies for Your Dental Practice
Owning a small business, doctor’s office, or dental practice has its challenges. For one, you’re the brains and the brawn of the organization, at least in the beginning. You have to put in a lot of hours and long days to make your business thrive. From marketing and advertising to doing of the actual work, running a business can be draining, frustrating, and stressful. When you’re the one responsible for profitability as well as for employees’ livelihood, the pressure can take its toll, almost to the point there are days you want to quit.
Before it gets to that point, call Vanguard Dental Management, a dental consulting firm that specializes in helping dental practices become profitable. We offer all aspects of dental consulting services, including practice productivity, how to increase profits, how to attract new patients, how to hire the best employees, how to organize your dental practice, and how to effectively manage your treatment plans, which involves managing insurance companies as well. Below, we’ll go over all of our dental consulting services in a bit more detail. Contact us today for a free video consultation to see how we can help!
STRATEGIES FOR GROWTH OF YOUR DENTAL PRACTICE
Focus on dental patient experience
Overarching your dental practice is the dental patient experience. Most people don’t like going to the dentist, so you’re already at a disadvantage. In order to overcome all the preconceived notions and bad experiences people have of the dentist (and social media and movies don’t help), you need to have a stellar customer service experience. However, in order to do that, you’ll have to have everyone on your staff on the same page. This begins with organization of your practice. A superb dental management consulting firm such as Vanguard Dental Management can help you dial in your strategy for the best dental patient experience.
INTERNAL ORGANIZATION OF YOUR PRACTICE
At the bare minimum, you need to have your dental staff trained on the basics of their job position. For instance, if they answer the phones and make appointments, then they need to be trained effectively how to do that. The billing manager needs to know how to interact with dental insurance, as well as how to submit dental claims. This often entails a detailed knowledge of a medical billing program or a computer software system specific to your dental practice. Your dental assistants need to be trained on patient care and your dental hygienists need to be trained in all the dental tools they will need to perform their job well.
The importance of teamwork
As mentioned earlier, most people don’t like the dentist to begin with, so the quicker you can get them in and out, the better. However, if the assistant responsible for taking their X-rays isn’t on top of his or her job or is behind, then the patient could be left waiting, which never reflects well on your practice. If the schedule was overbooked up front because of a miscue on how long certain procedures take or a procedure when longer than expected, wait times will increase and no one likes to wait for anything these days, let alone for a root canal. Furthermore, everyone will have to work in a team and as a team in order to coordinate efficiently and effectively. This cannot be overlooked, especially in the light of patient experience. When you partner with Vanguard Dental Management for dental consulting services, we’ll offer up tips and tricks to help your team work better together, even in stressful situations.
The importance of office culture
Business culture is very hard to put into words. It’s more of a feeling, a camaraderie, that is understood and implied rather than stated. It’s reflected in the office decor, the feel of the office as you walk in, the personality of the people employed there, the leadership style, the values and beliefs held, the expectations, and the behaviors as well. Having a well defined goal and common values and beliefs help, but having everyone on the same page is paramount to success and growth. By having team meetings and team events, you’ll strengthen the team as a whole, which can only yield good things for your dental practice. Vanguard Dental Management can help with guiding dental practices to hone in on their culture.
The importance of first impressions
Dental practices have to bring in new patients in order to prosper. If a dental practice relies solely on current patients, they will eventually run out of patients due to life circumstances, such as death and moving states. Hence, when a new patient arrives, everyone’s best foot forward must be engaged, from the smile your front desk staff attendant gives to the state of your restroom. Odds are, this person is reluctant to be there, and human nature being what it is, he or she may even be searching for a reason not to return. And believe it or not, this person will probably stay based on the little things in your office. Do you play soothing music? Are there snacks available up front? How about breath mints? Are there complimentary toothbrushes available for the person to brush his or her teeth? Are there toys for the kids, even if you’re not a pediatric dentistry? When you take care of the patient’s entire needs for the time they are in your office besides just their teeth, you’ll win the patient’s affection — possibly for life.
The importance of keeping patients
Just because you have patients who come and see you regularly, that doesn’t mean they will continue to do so. Remember, people are fickle, and the little things can mean big red flags in their minds. Everyone has their off days, but it’s important not to reflect this in patient care. No one wants to come and have their teeth cleaned and their dental hygienist spends the whole time complaining about his or her life and how bad it is. The worst part is your patient can’t leave the conversation — or any conversation that is uncomfortable. Train your staff on what is and what isn’t appropriate to talk about. Politics should definitely be off the table, as well as religious matters. Vanguard Dental Management offers training for all employees on the importance of keeping patients.
The importance of bringing in more patients
There are probably a dozen or so dentist offices in your town or city. So how do you bring in more dental patients?
- Make a good first impression. We talked about this point above.
- Find what makes you unique. Whether you offer every dental service under the sun or you only offer the best periodontal services, you need to decide what makes your dental office unique, which will inherently help you to establish what’s different about you from the other guys and why patients need to choose you. You’ll have to build brand awareness around this unique quality. This can be done through social media, marketing, advertising, or even sponsoring a charity event of a 5k. Choose community causes as well to invest in to get your name out there. Use email newsletters, brochures, or even postcards. Develop a catchy slogan if that’s a talent of yours. You have to give people a reason to remember you above your dental competition. When you partner with Vanguard Dental Management, we’ll offer up ways you can make your dental practice stand above the crowd.
- Expand your services. These days, people want a one-stop-shop for all of the services they engage in. After all, it’s nice to be able to go grocery shopping, grab your coffee, get your haircut done, and grab lunch all in one store. You’ll improve your value, strengthen your competitive position, and keep these patients in-house instead of referring them to specialists. There is a caveat here: don’t overextend yourself. You still want to maintain quality customer care that is personalized, and no one likes feeling like they are just a number in your office. Whether you need to expand your office square footage or add additional employees, Vanguard Dental Management can help with our dental consulting services.
- Offer flexible payment services. Everyone is in a different place financially, and some dental services can wait. Unfortunately, if the patient leaves your dental office without an appointment for future dental work, the odds they will come back is diminished significantly, not to mention this isn’t the best solution for the patient who is putting off dental work that could worsen. By working with all insurances and accepting all forms of payment, you will be able to offer more dental services, and you will win goodwill with the patients. Credit card payments, cash, check, and even financing options are all good options to offer.
- Make it easy. Offer new patient forms online. Text message your patients appointment reminders. Give them reminder calls. Don’t pressure them to come in every six months. Use verbiage that makes is seem optional, instead of making them feel guilty. And it goes without saying that you need to be a friendly face, easy to talk to, and excited to see them every time a patient walks through your front door.
- Reward patient referrals. Word-of-mouth referrals is one of the best ways to get new patients in the door, and a lot of people ask their friends and work colleagues for dental recommendations. Ask patients to leave reviews online, which most people read before choosing a new dental practice to try. You can offer up prizes or drawings to those who refer others to the practice, and email out links to leave referrals. Everyone is busy so you want to make this as easy as possible on them.
- Determine your ideal dental patient. Take a hard look at your current patients’ demographical information, such as age, income level, family size, and insurance information. You’ll want to see who earns you the most money. Do this with your services as well. Market to whom you want and to the services you want. Then give these patients what they want, such as top-quality dental services found nowhere else.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STAFF
The next big area that small businesses and dental practices struggle with is staffing. Let’s face it, people are inherently messy. They all have experiences and baggage that they bring to the table; it’s how everyone handles all of this that matters. The first thing dental practices need to manage is hiring the right people.
Hiring the right people
It’s hard to find high-quality employees that won’t jump ship after a few months or a few years because they’ll become bored or stagnate at their jobs. It all starts with the job posting. Many companies utilize job posting services or free, online ads to place their job opening. The problem with this is you are usually bombarded with applications, which makes it incredibly difficult to shift through them all. After all, you’re going off the written word. In this instance, it’s paramount you establish criteria to narrow down your pool of applicants. Are you looking for experienced candidates? If so, what specifically are you looking for? Is it dental experience or more general experience? Are you looking for a specialized training of such, such as dental assistant school or a college degree?
Instead, Vanguard Dental Management advises for you to focus on why you are hiring people in the first place: to solve a problem you are having. Focus more on why the candidate wants the job and not on the fact they can do the job. Probably most people who applied can do the job, but you want someone who wants to do the job — and not just any old job, but your job with your dental practice specifically.
Once you’ve narrowed down your candidate pool, don’t rush through the interview. Spend some time getting to know them; after all, you’ll be spending potentially 40 hours a week with this person, so you want to make sure they are compatible and will fit in with your office culture (which we discussed above). Ask about their personal life, their interests, their whys, and their past employment history. It’s impossible to determine how committed someone is to the job you are offering by a one-hour interview; however, by asking questions and getting to know the person, not the piece of paper that landed them the interview you’ll find employees who are more committed than otherwise.
Focus on employee retention
Human nature is naturally to be complacent after a while, to be bored, and to be looking for the next big opportunity. How does your practice retain employees? You do this by treating your employees how you want to be treated. Giving them time off for doctor’s appointments or to attend their children’s play at school will go a long way in generating loyalty — the ultimate quality you want your staff to have. Flexibility in a job is often rated one of the top qualities employees look for, and by having an understanding attitude and even a respect for your employees’ time will increase employee retention. Encourage them to learn and grow within your practice, and let them know they are valued. Remember their birthdays, and get them a Christmas gift. Offer up positive feedback more than negative, and cultivate an open environment where voices can be heard without repercussion. Listen, and be open to change. Vanguard Dental Management specializes in consulting dental practices on the best employee retention practices.
Focus on training
If you want the best dental practice in the area, employees have to know what they are doing. This makes for an efficient running of your dental practice and a self-confidence level in employees that affects the entire office. Investing in ongoing training opportunities and encouraging your employees to be engaged in your community and in the dental community will help them to remain engaged in the happenings in your office and in their world. Learning is lifelong and by being engaged with your employees, you’ll learn what they are struggling with, or you may even learn some new things from them. There’s always room for process improvements and sometimes all you need is a fresh pair of eyes. Vanguard Dental Management can be that fresh pair of eyes. Partner with us today!
Spoiling your employees
The fact of the matter is in today’s world if you don’t offer a reason for employees to stay, they will leave. Most of us want to make a difference in our jobs. That looks different for everyone, but being engaged with the patients is the best way to feel this way. When a patient leaves better than when they arrived, then you have succeeded. And although the “thank yous” might not be as prevalent at a dental practice where a root canal was just performed, employees know they are making a difference.
THE VANGUARD DENTAL MANAGEMENT DIFFERENCE
Vanguard Dental Management offers the best dental consulting in the business. We will show you how to accelerate your practice productivity and profitability, as well as how to attract new patients, and the high-quality patients who pay their own way. All of our dental consulting services are remote, meaning you’ll only need a phone, video-conferencing, and our online training platform. When you partner with Vanguard Dental Management, you will have personalized attention at any time. Our mission is to help you relieve your financial stress by getting you to the place you need to be to have the personal income you want and the family time you need. Vanguard Dental Management brings over 40 years of experience to dental practice growth. We are here to help your dental practice reach new heights. Contact us today to get started!