In 2022, there are 178,867 dental businesses in the US. That means the competition is through the roof. If you aren't managing your dental business properly, you will lose patients. Avoiding common dental practice management mistakes can save your business. It can also help retain existing patients and increase new ones.
With that in mind, here are seven common pitfalls to avoid.
1. Neglecting a Superior Patient Experience
Customers who had a negative experience with your dental clinic are less likely to return. The cost of replacing them is far greater than retaining existing patients. Here are five strategies to maintain patients:
- Install attractive, bright lighting with visible signage
- Clean and polish the windows frequently
- Engage in authentic conversations with your patients
- Hire friendly, well-mannered employees
- Greet patients and parents by name
The goal is to convert a routine dental examination into an enjoyable visit. This is particularly true for young children with common dental phobias.
2. Having a Bad Dental Practice Website
Your website should differentiate your dental business from the competition. It should also showcase your dental practice services.
However, most websites either say the same thing or make the same mistakes. You are different, so here's how you can pinpoint a bad website:
Slow Loading Time
An ideal website has a load time of around 0-4 seconds. If your website takes forever to load, your visitors will leave. This can reduce conversions and lose potential customers.
Too Many Stock Photos
Stock images are abundant and easy to include on a dentistry website. As a result, everybody is using them on their site. While the pictures may seem "beautiful," it offers little value.
After all, your competitors are also using the same thing. You end up disappearing with the rest of the crowd. That is why these images do not inspire trust or let others know you on a personal level. Hire a local photographer and showcase some of your raving fans, employees, products and services.
Where's the Phone Number?
You would be astonished by the number of dentists who fail to make their phone numbers visible. The contact number should be easily accessible on the homepage. It should also be clickable on mobile devices and trackable so that you know the source for each prospective new customer.
What Differentiates You?
The secret to converting visitors into new patients lies in its differentiators. The term "the greatest dental experience" or "we care about your smile" does not distinguish you. Any dentist can say the same thing, so try these instead:
- Open 7 days a week
- In-Office Dental Implants
- Urgent Same-Day Consultations
- Options For Sedating Anxious Patients
- In-House Financing For Uninsured Patients
- Early Morning and Evening Engagements
- Bilingual Office Discounts for New Patients
Successful dentists highlight the unique aspects of their dental practice on their website. Figure out what most customers dislike about your profession or specialty and what problems your competition is unwilling or incapable of solving for the customer that you are willing to solve and love to do. Then, be sure to highlight these areas. You'll be the only practice in the region doing so.
Written testimonials build patients’ trust in a dental practice. Reviews displayed on your website must contain the following:
- Star ratings
- Testimonial quotes
- Photograph of the individual who left the review
- Where the review was first published (Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.)
This shows visitors the review is genuine and from an actual customer. It’s vital to include reviews on the front page of your website.
Not Revealing Special Offers
Every dentist provides discounts, but many miss the opportunity to include them on their site. Special offers not only generate new customers but can also be used to reward loyal customers and encourage repeat business. Here are examples of offers to include:
- New Patient Visit Discounted
- Free Cosmetic Dentistry Consultation
- Free Teeth Whitening
- Free Sedation For Pediatric Patients
- $500 Off Invisalign Treatment
- Free Consultation for a Second Opinion
Regardless of the type of special offer, it's important to include them on your website to make your business more attractive to potential customers.
3. Hiring the Wrong Dental Practice Staff
Your dental office can only be as successful as your team. It is essential to employ competent and engaged team members with excellent peronalities, service-oriented work ethic and a can-do attitude.
Even if you are on a short timeline to fill a position, ensure you are taking the time to research and carefully review each candidate’s:
- Professional history
- Qualifications that make them a suitable match, or not, for the business
After reviewing applicants, arrange numerous interviews and invite input from your team. Recruiting and training are expensive processes, so it’s important to take extra time and effort to ensure your new recruit is a worthwhile investment.
4. Lack of Dental Practice Leadership Skills
Proper leadership focuses on training and inspiring growth, not dictating or demanding. Training new employees is a no-brainer, but ongoing training and investment in your team are essential. Invest time to enhance their strengths and provide feedback in their areas of growth. Create opportunities for your employees to acquire new skills and sharpen existing skills. Provide hands-on training and inquire where they may need more assistance.
5. Undervaluing Your Services
An excellent dental practice management strategy focuses on educating patients. Even if your services are reasonably priced, your patients should know it's well worth the cost.
Teach them about the recommended procedure and the repercussions of refusing them. They are more likely to invest in their oral health if they are informed and motivated to make the best decision for their specific situation and desire.
Conversion and compliance are almost never about the price but rather the result of an ineffective style of communication and motivation, both of which can and should be improved so that 85% or more of your new patients accept the best treatment plan for their needs.
6. Treating Your Employees Like "Family"
It's easy for your staff to develop a sense of camaraderie when you work together every day. However, it's vital to have boundaries. Inform them in advance of what they may anticipate from your working relationship. This one is controversial because so many companies say "we are one big happy family" when talking about their employees.
Your employees are not your family. Your family is your family. Period. Full stop.
Employees are your colleagues. They are your teammates. They are not your family. I see big challenges with employers and supervisors who try to treat co-workers like family. They allow emotions and favoritism seep into the working relationship. As a result, the core deliverables and performance of the company suffer as managers become blinded to the consequences of their unprofessional behavior. Co-workers should be held accountable for performance in service of the organization's core values, not allowed to play games of problematic family dynamics in which new employees rarely have the opportunity to shine.
Clarify employer-employee boundaries and any repercussions if they are crossed. Strong working habits and a favorable professional atmosphere are formed from a clear understanding of the company's key objectives and core values. It's never a good idea to start blurring the lines between a supervisor-employee relationship and how you might interact with an actual family member. This becomes especially important if you work with a spouse or other family members in your business.
7. Keeping Outdated Equipment
In your office, patients are attentive to the technology and they may seek care elsewhere if they believe your practice is ages behind the industry. Why not replace obsolete equipment with cutting-edge technology?
Keep an eye out for innovation that expedites examinations and increases treatment acceptability. Consider what your competition and other local dentists are using. It may seem costly, but it will help more patients trust your expertise and share you with friends, neighbors and co-workers.
More on Dental Practice Management Mistakes
Whether you are a new dentist or have been practicing for years, there's always room for improvement. From using advanced technologies to enhancing your leadership skills, you want to stay ahead of the competition. There's always something new to learn, so don't be scared if you make mistakes.
A successful dentist takes the time to learn from common dental practice management mistakes and make improvements. If you need more insights on growing your dental practice, we can help. Contact us today for tips on starting and maintaining a successful dental practice.