According to American Dental Association research, in 2017 the average annual net income in general private practice was $197,190 and $320,990 for specialist dentists. The average annual gross billings were $718,790 for general dentists and $1,058,630 for specialist dentists.
Owning a dental practice is not easy though. Success in the practice of dentistry requires skillfully managing the clinical dentistry, the business of practice management and delivering an exceptional patient experience. It is the combination of all three that enable a dental practice to thrive and reach it’s highest potential.
Here are 5 business tips to maximize your dentistry practice:
1. Be an entrepreneur
A dental practice is a specialized type business. Even if you are a world class dentist, your practice will never reach it’s full potential unless you develop your marketing and business management skills. You have to think like a true dentist entrepreneur.
There is much published about entrepreneurialism that you can read about in your spare time. Some of the most important business areas dentists should focus on are:
• Identify your best, most profitable types of clients. Focus on how to get more of them.
• Figure out what makes your practice unique.Develop, nurture and protect your unique competitive advantages.
• Develop a unique brand and identity for your practice. Professional branding that highlights your competitive advantage is key.
• Try guerrilla marketing and advertising. There are many creative dental marketing ideas.
Successful entrepreneurs look for edge in the market for their business and go after it. It can be in areas like an unmet need, a unique branding or marketing method, “wow” service/product that exceeds client expectations, and low cost guerilla marketing. Entrepreneurs figure out how to get maximum results from minimum investment to maximize their ROI.
2. Focus on the customer experience
It’s so easy to get caught up in day-to-day work that you forget about the most important element: an exceptional client experience. The way you manage your office and the patient experience makes a BIG difference in patient retention and referral rates.
Positive word of mouth referrals are one of the critical elements of every successful dental practice. Here are some tips to improve customer experience:
• Create an appealing office brand, culture and décor.
• Have a quality, easy to use scheduling system.
• Offer flexible financing options.
• Have professional, friendly and brand-consistent staff.
• Support easy, fun patient referrals: referral cards, ask for referrals, feedback on any referrals received.
• Encourage online reviews, monitor them and respond to all.
It is critical to look at everything through the lens of your customer’s experience. To develop real client relationships that last, it is also important to really engage with clients on an emotional level and earn their trust.
3. Protect your dental license from legal risks
State dental boards are responsible for oversight and disciplinary actions. In this #MeToo era, dentist licensing complaints, lawsuits and disciplinary actions are on the rise. Client complaints, practice errors, criminal or DUI charges and even just the allegation of a wrong can cause an investigation by the dental licensing board and enforcement action.
Now, more than ever, it is important to review your practices to ensure you are avoiding risks and protecting your license. Tsion Chudnovsky, a California dental attorney, advises that “dentists should have a relationship with an experienced dental license board defense attorney in case an issue comes up. These days it is important to be proactive and reduce risks wherever possible.”
She often helps dentists understand the most common issues that trigger license disciplinary actions and license revocation. A brief audit of your office practices by a dentist license defense attorney can educate you and your staff and help reduce the risk of future licensing actions.
4. Add profitable specialty services
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are 195,722 active dentists in the United States as of 2015. That works out to 60 dentists per 100,000 population or 1,647 patients per dentist. That is a lot of potential patients!
Adding profitable specialty services in house or through affiliation can be a great way to expand your practice and grow profits. Cosmetic dentistry, teeth whitening, orthodontics, periodontics, prosthodontists, oral and maxillofacial surgery are some of the most profitable areas of dentistry.
5. Develop a plan and execute it
Take the time to step back from your practice and develop a dental business plan that incorporates all the above. Then follow your plan, evolving it as needed over time.
There are many ways to define “success” in dentistry, but they usually involve enjoying your work, having little to no debt and making a sizable profit from your dental practice business. If you start with your goals and where you want to be in your profession, a well-crafted business plan is your roadmap to get there