Strategic Thinking for Dental Professionals: A Smile-Worthy Approach to Business Growth

by Ron Fung, EY-Parthenon


In the business world, strategy is more than just a fancy word tossed around in boardrooms; it’s an essential ingredient for success. Though some may see it as an arcane concept reserved for high-level executives, strategy is crucial for every industry, including healthcare. So, dear dental clinic owners, it’s time to sink your teeth into strategic thinking to ensure your practice thrives and flourishes. As dental professionals, adapting a strategic mindset to guide your practice toward long-term success is vital. In this article, we will explore the concept of strategy and its various levels, along with its relevance in the context of healthcare providers.

First, let’s define strategy. Strategy is a roadmap of how we plan to win in our chosen playing field. It bridges the gap between our current state and the desired future state. In business, there are three main layers of strategy: corporate strategy, business strategy, and functional strategy.

Corporate strategy focuses on choosing what businesses to be in and allocating resources accordingly. For example, a large conglomerate may diversify its portfolio by investing in various industries, such as automotive, pharmaceutical, and technology. This decision determines the overall direction and scope of the company.
On the other hand, a business strategy aims to achieve a competitive advantage in the chosen industry. For instance, a smartphone manufacturer may decide to differentiate its products by focusing on high-quality cameras and cutting-edge design, appealing to a specific market segment that values these features.

Functional strategies pertain to specific functions such as marketing, operations, and finance. For example, an operational strategy in a retail company might involve optimizing the supply chain and inventory management systems to reduce costs. In contrast, a marketing strategy could focus on creating targeted advertising campaigns to attract new customers.

Now, let’s explore how we can apply these three levels of strategy to your dental practice.

For corporate strategy, you may decide whether to specialize in general dentistry, orthodontics, or pediatric dentistry. If you opt for a generalist approach, your mission should be to provide the best care possible to a diverse clientele. From location selection and training budgets to employee attributes and even clinic décor, everything should cater to a broad audience with inclusivity in mind.

Regarding business strategy, as an owner, you might choose a promising location which is likely to appreciate due to upcoming urban developments. To gain a competitive edge, consider attracting young patients and families through outreach programs at local schools or building a reliable presence within community sports leagues. Catering to busy schedules by offering evening and weekend appointments could also be a crucial component of your success.

Lastly, functional strategies for a dental practice could involve outsourcing finance-related tasks, such as payroll, to prioritize core competencies. By doing so, the practice can concentrate on delivering exceptional dental care while eliminating the burden of managing non-value-add activities like payroll administration. Furthermore, integrating instant messaging features on your website enables patients to connect directly with your front desk, providing convenience amidst their hectic days.

We may not all be the CEO of multinational companies, but strategic thinking is still crucial for your practice’s success. By developing strategic thinking abilities, you will be more effective and capable of identifying opportunities while correctly adjusting the right levers. Dental professionals need to adopt this mindset to ensure success. A well-defined strategy offers a clear roadmap, enabling organizations to navigate the competitive landscape effectively and capitalize on growth opportunities. By understanding and implementing the different levels of strategy, you can better allocate resources, establish a competitive advantage, and focus on core competencies. With this strategic guidance, organizations may be able to adapt to market changes, face difficulties in decision-making, and ultimately find it challenging to achieve long-term success.

Keep an eye out for our forthcoming mini-MBA articles as I delve into how management professionals employ these strategic tools in large corporations to overcome intricate daily challenges. We’ll also discuss how you can adapt and apply these tools in your journey as a clinic owner, paving the way for exceptional performance and patient care.

About the Author

Ron Fung has enjoyed a rewarding career spanning over 25 years in alternative investments and management consulting. As a Senior Executive of Corporate Strategy at EY-Parthenon, he advises Fortune 500 companies, DSOs, and private equity clients on all strategic matters. He previously served as the Managing Partner of Valeo & Co, specializing in healthcare investments. Ron is well known for his innovative strategies that enable businesses to thrive in the intensely competitive healthcare sector. To connect with Ron, visit his LinkedIn profile: