Many dentists look to grow their practices much like any other small business owner might seek to expand their customer base and reach beyond their current revenue stream. Although dentists have the ability to provide quality care, they often lack the business skills needed to run their practices efficiently. This can lead to problems such as overspending, struggling to attract and retain patients, and not being able to generate enough revenue to sustain the practice.
If your clinic is showing signs of potential growth or you’re looking to find opportunities to attract new patients, you must ask yourself a few questions before starting. Work through this list we’ve put together for you as you make plans for your clinic’s future!
Do You Have the Resources?
It’s time to take stock of the resources you currently have available – evaluate whether you have enough to move forward and help catapult your clinic into a phase of growth.
First, review the amount of physical space your practice currently has available to house office space, equipment and supplies, and consultation rooms. Is your current space laid out in a way that is conducive to the comfort and efficiency of hygienists and staff? Is it welcoming and comfortable for patients? If you attract new patients in a short span of time, will you be able to accommodate them or will you need to consider leasing a new office space?
Second, compare the number of staff you currently have working on-site to the number of patients you see regularly. If there is a large gap between the two, hiring might be a top item to prioritize to make sure new patients are taken care of and don’t feel rushed or mishandled due to staff shortages within the practice.
We’ve all experienced what feels like a never-ending shortage in clinic personnel in the past few years, but there are ways to attract and retain staff so they’re loyal to your practice and are set up with the tools they need to give excellent customer service and care to all of your patients.
Thirdly, recap the amount of time you’re spending with patients by meeting with your practice manager to identify how much of your schedule can accommodate an influx of patients. Are you currently at capacity? It might be time to bring on more hygienists or dentists to help support an influx of work to spread out the patient load more evenly.
Finally, and most importantly, review your monetary resources and comb through your budget as carefully as you can. If necessary, hire an accountant to review where every dollar goes, and whether you can afford to bring on more staff, pay for extra equipment, or even look into leasing or buying new office space for your practice. It might be necessary to borrow money in the form of small business loans or a business line of credit to boost your available cash and make strategic moves in order to help your practice grow. Don’t let lack of funds keep your clinic at a standstill!
Are Your Current Patients Happy?
Once you’ve squared away your on-hand resources, it’s time to evaluate what your patients think. They’re your greatest asset, and feedback from their experience at your clinic is crucial to making sure you understand their needs. Have your existing patients fill out reviews and questionnaires regarding their experience and whether they’d suggest your practice to friends and family.
If negative feedback starts to trend centered around their routine visits or interactions with staff or schedule, it’s necessary to catch these issues and fix them before they become a larger issue with more patients walking through the door.
Many patients, especially young children, experience higher levels of anxiety around dental visits than they do other medical exams. Are there ways you can up your game to help ease their concerns and provide comforting experiences while in the office?
Just because you’re an essential part of the medical community doesn’t mean your practice is immune to adverse impacts from patient reviews. If your current patients are already unhappy with something, that number will only grow and eventually hurt your practice – just as any other business would experience negative impacts.
How Will You Get the Word Out?
If you run a clinic, then you’re running a business, and businesses require putting effective marketing campaigns into practice. If you’re hoping to expand, preferably focus on local marketing!
Word-of-mouth advertising is especially effective for local businesses, but this assumes that you have a clinic and the level of dental care your patients are willing to talk about. Focusing on providing exceptional care and having open dates for regular appointments, as well as emergencies, is key here!
Email marketing can help foster patient loyalty and provide the opportunity to offer referral programs for your patients to take part in. Provide additional value between visits by sharing blog posts from your website that inform patients on how to best take care of their teeth. Highlight testimonials and transformations that patients have experienced while coming to your office for special procedures. All of this information can also help with increasing your search engine optimization or SEO.
Local SEO plays the long game, but this type of marketing helps boost your business higher on search engine results pages when people look for dentists in their area. This is especially helpful in gaining new patients, so don’t neglect to add this to your marketing strategies.
Evaluating your resources, patient satisfaction, and marketing tactics will not only benefit your clinic in its standing now but also in the future. By taking the time to assess what is and isn’t working, you can make changes that’ll help your clinic grow and thrive. Some solutions are more immediate, while others may take time to implement and show tangible results; however, they’re all worth exploring!