Seem harsh or fatalistic?
The reality is “dying” doesn’t happen all at once, or quickly but a little bit every day. Maybe you’re wondering what happened to that steady stream of new patients you enjoyed for so many years. Maybe you’ve never had competition in your area and now you’re struggling to stand out. Or maybe you’re working just as hard as you ever did, or harder, but all the hard work isn’t translating into advancing your bottom line.
No dentist ever plans to start their business investing all their time, money, and tears with the intent of letting their dental practice die. You may not have the goal of building a dental empire.
But growth isn’t all about the amount of money in the bank or multiple locations. Growth is about moving forward and can come in many different forms.
We’ve taken a look at prosperous dental practices from across the country to share what they routinely focus on to keep moving forward.
A common measures of growth in the dental office, although not really an accurate gauge, is the head count on your team. If you’re increasing the number of people you have on your team, chances are you have the profits and demand to grow your practice. When demand is on the rise but your employee numbers aren’t growing your team can become stressed, stretched thin, and overworked.
Unfortunately these same team symptoms can be an indicator that your practice growth is waning or dying. Before you hire new employees be aware of the growth numbers; new patients, revenue, and active patient base numbers. A team that is overworked or stressed can be a result of unclear practice goals, expectations, or lack of effective team communication.
Your Continued Education
Team growth isn’t the only factor at play. Personal growth from everyone within your office is equally important. After all, the industry is changing rapidly. The only way to keep up with the latest treatment technology, marketing solutions, and management practices is to continue learning. If you’re not learning, you’re falling behind, which could impact your position in your marketplace and overall practice growth.
To keep your practice competitive, you must operate out of a modern, clean facility. Without making regular upgrades to your equipment, decor, and overall office infrastructure, you’re not progressing forward.
Just as your facility needs to regular updating, so do the services you’re providing. Dental technology changes by the day and keeping up with the latest treatments and technologies will help patients choose you over competitors. A lack of updating could cause your community to have the wrong perception of your practice, making it harder to compete over time.
#1 Patient Growth
It’s nice to see the same patients return to your office every six months. You know what you can project financially, and that you have a steady stream of people using your services. Over time, those familiar faces will likely have most if not all of their restorative treatment completed, you’ll have done all the dentistry they need done.
This type of stagnation is dangerous and could be costly for your practice. Keep track of your new patient average per month & look for trends when you see your average dip or jump up.
Retention is another area of focus when it comes to dental patient growth. With a steady increase of new patients your active patient base should be rising as well. Take a look at your attrition average per month to be sure all the hard work that’s going into attracting new patients isn’t going to waste.
Regular cleanings is the typical path for re-care and new patients, but scheduling comprehensive treatment plans can do wonders when pushing your practice forward. Not only will you be doing the type of dentistry you want to do but to grow, you need to successfully convert patients who are on the fence about whether or not to have work done.
Booking more patients for comprehensive or complex treatment requires a combination of factors – the right service mix, the right financial options, and effective communication that meets a patient’s values. Master each of these, and you’ll see a dramatic increase in your conversion rates from diagnosed treatment to scheduled treatment.
If your practice isn’t moving forward, you’re putting your livelihood (and your team’s livelihood) at risk. Many dentists believe that the ultimate sign of growth is the amount of money in your bank account. That’s not always the case.
If you’re investing in your team, continued education, and developing your office technology or infrastructure, you’re not dying. You’re setting up your practice to grow year over year. Soon, those investments will pay off in the form of more patients, or more of the type of dentistry you want to do.
If you may be concerned or would like to be sure you have a vibrant, growing practice, we welcome you to take advantage of our free coaching call. We love sharing what we’ve seen work well in other practices and any valuable insight for your practice success.