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Tag Archive for: dental practices

Brand It: Don’t Be “Just Another” Practice

Brand It: Don’t Be “Just Another” Practice

Every dental practice is unique and should be able to identify a number of distinctive selling points. The following list can help you get started:

  • Doctor and Staff (schools attended, family, interests, charitable activities, etc.)
  • Location (easy to reach, free parking, near major shopping areas, etc.)
  • Environment (furnishings, refreshments, wi-fi, reading materials, etc.)
  • Technology/Services (the best, the latest, the fastest, etc.)
  • Financial (insurance accepted, financing options, free services)
  • Praise from other patients (testimonials)
  • Educational (home care instructions, advice on dental issues, etc.)
  • Scheduling (special hours, staying on schedule, etc.)

It makes sense to involve the whole team in identifying possible differentiators and then selecting those which are likely to be most appealing.

Getting the Word Out

Once your practice has determined what sets it apart from others, come up with a marketing plan that will effectively communicate your differentiators. The strategies you choose will depend, in part, on your differentiators. For example, to promote your practice’s engagement in the community, attend local health fairs and other events, submit dental health articles to local papers and websites, etc.

Many differentiators relate to customer service. Patients who experience them first-hand can then be encouraged to refer family members, friends, neighbors, fellow workers and others to your practice. This kind of word-of-mouth advertising could prove to be the most effective element in your marketing plan.

 


Additional Resources

Read “Turn Your Facebook Page into a New Patient Generator.

Learn more about Levin Group’s marketing consulting program.

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Old Systems & High Stress – A Deadly Combination

Old Systems & High Stress – A Deadly Combination

When I ask dentists why they and their team are feeling stress, they usually attribute it to patients or staff problems. While it’s true that losing a dental assistant, for example, can elevate stress temporarily, our research shows that long-term stress actually comes directly from system inefficiencies.

Systems that no longer work properly frustrate the team members who use them. They make even simple, routine tasks troublesome, forcing everyone in the office to grapple with bottlenecks every day. The most capable and dedicated staff members usually suffer the most because, no matter how hard they strive to excel, poor systems undermine their efforts. Doctors also feel more stress because the practice—their practice—is falling short of its business potential.

All systems, no matter how good they are, have an expiration date. Systems that once facilitated practice growth inevitably become obsolete. When they do, they stop helping and start hurting, pushing practices toward financial decline and leaving potential income on the table every day.

The Obvious Solution

The good news is that replacing inadequate systems can solve both stress and production problems. If you have older systems, the schedule is often the best place to start. It affects nearly every operation in the practice. When the schedule continually breaks down, patients get upset causing team members to get stressed. A new, high-performance schedule can often trigger a practice turnaround, especially if a commitment is made to replace other outdated systems.

In the new dental economy, the practices that thrive will be those that transform themselves into real-world businesses by upgrading their management systems. Conversely, dentists who continue doing “business as usual” will continue to experience lower production and higher stress.


Additional Resources

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper “Increasing Production with the Right Systems.

Read “Top 4 Excuses for Holding onto Bad Systems.

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The CEO Mindset – Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

The CEO Mindset – Don’t Be Afraid to Take Risks

CEOs in real-world businesses manage and lead by taking risks. You always have to be looking for ways to innovate. What can be improved? What new service or product can be introduced that will generate new revenue?

Dentists should be thinking along these same lines. How can I make the practice better? What services will patients want in the next year or five years? How can I ensure my practice will continue to grow?

As in business, creating a growing practice also requires a certain willingness to take risks. You can’t just sit back and expect your practice to grow simply because it has in the past.

Many dentists are micromanagers who fear making any mistakes. Due in large part to your clinical training, you may find the idea of making mistakes seems nothing short of terrible. However, the pathway to increased success is often built by appropriate risk-taking.

No CEOs have grown and developed in their roles without making mistakes. Many dentists struggle with this concept because they can’t make a conscious distinction between clinical mistakes and practice management mistakes. As much as the former are to be avoided, the latter must be accepted as part of the job.

Smart dentists look at mistakes as learning opportunities. They recognize that errors are part of owning and operating a dental business. Nobody gets everything right the first time. Those who are willing to innovate, take risks and learn from their mistakes have the potential for tremendous growth and development.


Additional Resources

If you liked this rule from Dr. Levin’s e-book, 43 Rules to Increase Practice Production, read another excerpt here. 

Read “3 Habits of Happy Dentists.

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6 Steps for Overhauling Your Schedule

6 Steps for Overhauling Your Schedule

Your scheduling system is the core of your practice. It drives production. If you create an excellent schedule, you’ll be able to focus your resources more effectively… and grow practice income.

Revamping your scheduling system takes quite a bit of planning. Following are several basic guidelines that will ensure the best results:

  1. Conduct procedural time studies. Conditions in any dental practice change over time, such as the experience levels of you and your clinical staff, new technologies, new governmental regulations, etc. For this reason, you should measure how long it takes to perform various procedures and tasks. The timing process is relatively simple, and it can make a huge difference in how patients are scheduled.
  2. Use 10-minute increments. Most practices have already shifted from 15-minute units to the more precise 10-minute increments for planning appointments. If you haven’t done so yet, you can easily make the switch when you have the results of the time studies in hand.
  3. Structure an “ideal day” template. What’s your idea of a perfect daily schedule? The only way to make it happen is to define it, explain it to your team and train your scheduling coordinator with scripts that guide patients into the ideal schedule openings.
  4. Use scripting to control all aspects of scheduling. You can’t put together an efficient daily schedule without patient compliance. Write scripts to ensure that most practice-patient interactions about scheduling achieve the desired results.
  5. Schedule new patients within 7–10 days. In today’s more competitive dental market, you can’t afford to keep patients waiting for their first visit to your practice… because they might change their minds.
  6. Update your confirmation process. Modern communications technologies offer better ways to confirm appointments than the old postcards-and-phone-calls approach. Review the various techniques and services now available to dental offices and put together a more effective methodology.

Conclusion

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to creating a scheduling system that will decrease stress, reduce rushing and downtime, and enable you to increase production without working longer hours.


Additional Resources

For a more in-depth discussion of revamping your schedule, check out Dr. Levin’s popular how-to book, Power Cell Scheduling.

Learn more about our training course on Scheduling by going here.

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Top 4 Excuses for Holding onto Bad Systems

Top 4 Excuses for Holding onto Bad Systems

Systems, systems, systems! Either you got good ones or you don’t. If you don’t, you’re asking for trouble!

Here’s the problem: most dentists think they have good systems when, in fact, they don’t. Sure, at one time, the systems were effective and efficient, but that was years ago. Management and marketing systems have a shelf life of about three years when they’re operating at peak efficiency.

After that, things slow down. As the practice continues to evolve, the old systems can’t keep up and they begin breaking down more and more frequently.

Doctors and team members will get out “the duct tape” to keep the systems running, but bottlenecks continue to multiply, forcing the staff to improvise work-a-rounds and other fixes that, of course, create additional problems. Before long, those once sleek, simple, super-efficient systems have transmogrified into a Rube Goldbergian nightmare. It takes more and more effort to get less and less done. Not a good situation for you, your team or your patients.

Yet dentists insist on holding onto outdated, production-killing, morale-destroying systems. Why? Here are the top four excuses dentists make for keeping bad systems:

1. It’s going to take too much time to replace the systems

You can’t expect to snap your fingers and have new systems like that. A better way to look at it is that new systems are an investment in your practice… in your sanity… and your financial well-being.

If your outdated systems aren’t working well now, what will they be like a year from now? How high will he stress be in your practice? How long will your team agree to keep working under such conditions… before they start looking for opportunities elsewhere?

2. It won’t be worth it

Can you remember what was it like when your current systems were new? How the days seemed to fly by with few problems? Patients weren’t backed up in the reception area. Stress was low or nearly nonexistent. And you weren’t putting in extra time in the office and at home, thinking about the practice 24/7.

You can’t go back to those easier, stress-free days with your current systems. But if you could get a better practice and a better life with new systems, would it be worth it?

3. We fixed systems before and nothing happened

Fixing systems isn’t replacing them. And that’s what you’ve got to do when systems become outdated. Your practice is continually evolving, and new systems can absorb only so many changes before they start to flounder. Think of all the changes that have occurred in your practice in the past three years regarding technology, supplies, personnel, protocols, equipment, etc.

I bet it’s a pretty substantial list, yet you’re operating with basically the same systems before any of those changes happened. It’s like running new software on an old computer. It either won’t work or it runs so slowly that you finally throw your hands up in frustration.

4. My team doesn’t want to change

It happens. Teams get comfortable with the status quo. But if your practice isn’t performing to your satisfaction, then it’s up to you to change it.

After all, you want to get the most out of your career. You don’t want to settle for lower income and lower profitability… just because your team is happy with the way things are.

Sure, you want your team’s input on how to improve the practice, but keeping everything the same shouldn’t be an option.

Conclusion

Your practice is a Ferrari. You can’t expect it to operate at peak performance if there’s a lawnmower engine under the hood. That’s what happens with old systems––they prevent you from reaching your practice’s full potential. Who wants to be puttering down the road when you could be flying full speed ahead into a much brighter future?


Additional Resources

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