December 22, 2021
by Sean Robertson, DDS; Lisa Philp
You made it – Congratulations!
The past two years have been all consuming for dentistry: A constant state of change, endless pivoting and now it seems we are faced with “the great resignation.” Replacing hygienists, assistants and administrative team members is a significant challenge right now. Despite this and all the obstacles we have faced as a profession, we need to look forward and do so with optimism. And if you need it, we can give you honest reassurance that there is reason to do so.
As one of Canada’s leading dental practice management and consultancy companies, Transitions Group has worked with hundreds of dentists across Canada for more than 20 years. And through the pandemic, our company continues to support our clients and help them navigate the uncharted waters.
Our team analyzed internal data from 2019, 2020, and 2021. The goal of the analysis was to understand how practices we had worked with were doing on a comparative basis with time and what some of the key changes were that led to positive outcomes in their practices.
Here’s what we found:
Like most practices in Canada, Transitions Group clients experienced an average decrease of 26% in top line revenues in 2020 compared to the previous year. With the typical Canadian dental practice shut down for 3 months (one quarter), this aligns with what is to be expected.
With eight-months of data for the current year at the time of writing this article, if we project 2021 practice revenues for the average Transitions Group client, we see a staggering increase in revenues of 61.5% compared to 2020.
Perhaps the most compelling data comes from the comparison of the year prior to the pandemic with the current year’s projections. Looking comparatively at 2019 with the projected revenues from our clients for 2021, we see a 20% increase in gross production. What this tells us is that, despite the challenges we have faced as a profession, it is possible for your practice to be operating stronger than it ever has before. It also tells us this is a great time to be in clinical practice.
With not only optimism but excitement in hand, our team then reviewed how the practices that experienced the strongest growth achieved their results. Here are the top 5 common themes we found in our most successful client practices:
1. They invested in practice management support.
With the constant state of change, practices that have demonstrated the greatest recovery from our data invested in management support to optimize capacity, patient communication, team communication, and delivery of treatment. After all, treatment delivery remains the revenue generating engine in dental practices. But the environment this has to be delivered in has changed. From our analysis, practices that are experiencing the strongest growth have invested in management solutions to allow the clinical providers to focus on their area of expertise, while investing in management support to optimize that treatment delivery.
2. They invested in clinical technology.
We have seen a strong shift toward digitization of treatment, that is now reaching practices of all size. Even smaller practices are investing in intraoral scanners and digital imaging solutions to support patient care and laboratory fabricated appliances.
3. They invested in administrative operations.
We are seeing a major shift toward paperless operations and an increase in digital patient communication. With social distancing requirements and screening measures now added to the administrative team’s task list, electronic support and automation has become key to keeping patients informed, reassured, and practice capacity maximized. These investments also create automations that support your administrative team and meet the increasing patient demand for electronic communication.
4. They demonstrated strong leadership and enhanced workplace culture.
Practices that are thriving in today’s climate have created workplace culture with strong team engagement, despite the pandemic’s impact on delivery of care. These practice owners stayed current on the changes required by our regulatory bodies. They supported open communication with their teams to navigate uncertainty with the evidence available. These practice owners led with confidence, communication, and cohesion while supporting a positive workplace environment through the uncertainty. With auxiliary team members in short supply, workplace culture to support career engagement has never been more important.
5. They invested in continuing education.
Many of our top clients have increased the scope of care they can provide in their practices through advanced education. This has not only resulted in increased top line revenues, but has reignited the passion in dentistry. It is important to balance the challenges and headaches with skill development and excitement about your career.
It is easy to understand why some dentists feel the need to increase efficiency by decreasing practice spending. After all, the pandemic and associated shut down was unpredictable and shook us all – personally and professionally. We know from Prospect Theory and Loss Aversion1 that humans are more likely to behave in a way that avoids a loss than they are to seek a gain. But strategic investing in your practice can yield remarkable results. And in a time where purchasing a practice and operating a practice cost more than ever before, quite often the way forward in growth is top line revenue and not tightening up expenses. In the words of Warren Buffet, “When there’s blood in the streets, you buy.”
Invest in yourself, enhance your practice, and love your career. You deserve it.
About the Authors
Lisa Philp is the Chief Visionary Officer and founder of Transitions Consulting Group; a full-service coaching company for dentistry. Lisa is an industry leader, author, consultant, coach and speaker.