People won’t often associate dental practices with b2c enterprises, but since NHS dentistry is being superseded by private-only practices, that’s exactly what they need to be. With medical and dental technology and techniques developing exponentially, increasing outlay is required for the latest equipment and materials to match the competition. And with around 48,000 dental practitioners in the UK, there’s a lot of competition out there.
Take the blinkers off
Some owners and practice managers can be rather blinkered when it comes to objectively evaluating all aspects of the business. It’s the ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mindset which is seriously limiting a practice’s potential. And whereas a few years ago several generations would all attend the same dentist, people are now far more willing to shop around. For a private practice to stay ahead of the game, regular auditing is essential – and preferably by an objective outsider who will catch what you don’t. Bringing in a turnaround management specialist shouldn’t be reserved for when the practice is failing. Bringing them in early should ensure continuing success for any dental practice. The following are just a few of the top turnaround strategies for dental practices.
You might be one of the most acclaimed dentists in the country but that doesn’t mean you have the necessary skills to effectively hire and manage your team. And how do you deal with ‘Mavis’, who’s been working at the practice for decades and likes to do things her way? It’s tricky – but that’s where the turnaround expert comes in. They have the skills to hire employees that will be the right fit for your practice, plus they know how to gently encourage existing staff to implement more efficient systems, leaving the practice manager / owner immune to any flack that might occur.
A dental practice, like any other business, needs excellent branding – from the signage outside, to its website (incredibly, there are still practices out there with no online presence). Brand image plays a huge part in how a business is perceived. Even something as seemingly trivial as using an old-fashioned font can have prospective patients making (possibly correct) judgement calls. And as a website is often the first contact people have with your practice, it must make the best first impression. It should be visually appealing and professional, easy to navigate, quick to load, and have detailed information on services your practice offers. Things like before and after photos, and testimonials should also be included to persuade visitors to use your practice. A turnaround expert for dental practices knows how your website should look and operate, and that brand image should have continuity throughout the practice.
How do you promote yourself? If you are relying on finding patients via word of mouth, plus anyone who stumbles across your website, that’s not enough. You should be active on social media, particularly Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Blogs are a great way to highlight something new or share your expertise. A turnaround specialist can set up marketing campaigns to expand your reach and find new patients. If people can’t find your website through Google searches, you haven’t got the SEO right. Guess who can help with that?
Dental patients are a rather unique set of customers, as many will have a love/hate (okay, let’s be honest – it’s mainly hate) relationship with dental treatments. This is why it’s vital to make the patient journey as pleasant and memorable as possible. Rather than an austere, clinical approach, patients should feel a real connection with your team, by being treated as warmly and sympathetically as you would wish to be treated. What’s the waiting area like? A turnaround specialist understands the psychology of interior design. A pale blue room with office chairs and a few old magazines doesn’t cut it anymore. Private patients want the whole ‘experience’, from a warm welcome, to an aesthetically pleasing waiting room. It should be more akin to staying at a 5-star hotel.
Admin and Financial Systems
You and your team don’t have time to keep up with the latest software, but the turnaround consultant will be able to tell you how to save your practice time and money through implementing the latest automated financial systems or a CRM upgrade. They can also advise on increasing overall efficiency in the practice. And if you’re saving time, productivity increases.
Do you ensure that regular CPD is timetabled? Is everyone up to speed on the latest techniques and compliance regulations? Because if the answer is no, you can be sure that a nearby competitor is doing just that. Managing an effective and engaging training programme is essential, and should be an important turnaround strategy for dental practices.
Selling your practice
Getting a practice ready for sale can be a nightmare, but an objective and skilled pair of eyes can make all the difference. Hiring a turnaround specialist to give your dental practice a business facelift will pay dividends, as it can add value, making it a more attractive proposition for prospective buyers.
The adage goes, “Don’t work harder, work smarter,” and a turnaround specialist will make sure you’re doing just that. You should not only save time and money on the day-to-day running of the practice, you should see an influx of new patients, as well as happier existing patients.