Creating a dental practice can be a challenging task that takes years and years to grow.
To be in control of a dental practice that quickly turns into a successful, sustainable business is an even tougher task that requires considerable thought and planning.
This article aims to help dental entrepreneurs with practical advice about strategies on how to grow your dental practice quickly.
The article takes guidance from local Broadway dentist Dr. Gustafson, who has successfully managed this process.
Growth can be a broad term for businesses.
Before embarking on the expansion or establishment of your dental practice, you must decide what or how you want to measure your business’ growth.
Two common measures of growth in the dental sector are:
- Financial – measuring gross income and/or measuring profits
- Measuring active patient numbers
Both are reliable indicators of growth in the dental sector, but it is important to understand that they are interlinked. Ultimately, more active patients in a dental practice will obviously lead to higher gross income and potentially higher profits.
Cutting the Attrition Rate
The attrition rate is the percentage of patients who no longer need surgery after visiting on a previous occasion.
For example, if your surgery had 2000 active patients in Year 1 but this dropped to 1800 in Year 2, the surgery would have a patient attrition rate of 10% ((2000-1800 = 200), 200 ÷ 2000 = 10). This would mean the surgery would need to gain at least 17 new patients per month in Year 3 to return to the level of Year 1.
This simple modelling emphasizes the importance of reducing the attrition rate on the growth potential for a dental surgery. If your attrition rate climbs year on year, the business will constantly be playing catch-up and will struggle to grow quickly.
Strategies for Reducing the Attrition Rate
Visiting a dental practice is an essential annual or bi-annual activity for the majority of the population, therefore, dental practices have no excuse when it comes to customer demand.
Once the customers have visited once with all their details and dental history provided, practices must work out how to ensure the patient visits again. Some strategies are detailed below.
A friendly smile at reception and a reassuring dentist or hygienist who can put the patient at ease is vitally important to secure a return visit. Visiting a dental practice can be an ordeal for many people and practices must make the experience as tolerable and stress-free as possible.
To target families, having a waiting room that has magazines and board games can always provide a homely feel to a dental practice that will encourage patients to make a return visit and to ease that initial stress.
Scheduling Future Appointments
Another strategy for ensuring active patients make return visits to your dental practice can be through persuading patients to book their next appointment after they have had their treatment.
This could be put into place for up to one year in advance of their current appointment.
The patient could also be fined if they do not inform the practice in advance of non-attendance. Provided this is explained to the patient, it is a fair, open, and transparent booking policy that will help to reduce attrition.
Dental practices can also send SMS and email reminders to patients to attend dental appointments.
Growing to New Customers
Growth is not only about reducing the attrition rate but also attracting new patients to the surgery. Many factors can impact the ability of a dental practice to attract new customers, these include:
Location & Population Size
To have quick growth, a dental practice should be located in areas where there are new streams of people ready to access dental services. This could be in areas with many office blocks or housing estates—even rural areas where there are limited dental services can be very profitable.
That said, if a dental practice serves a larger community, there are greater potentials for growth as the potential customer base is larger.
Competition is good.
It can drive innovation and allow businesses to better serve customers. However, if you are looking to start a dental practice from scratch, identifying areas with limited dental facilities is a good starting point – otherwise, you risk your business being crowded out.
Range of Treatments
This is where you can attract customers, keep them, and get them to spend more money – all of which are essential to quick growth. Offering more expensive treatment options such as orthodontics, implants, advanced restorative dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry can allow your practice to stand out from other practices that only offer standard procedures.
Reducing attrition to identifying areas of growth are essential to secure healthy sustainable growth for a dental practice. Hopefully, this brief article has given you some useful tips when seeking to grow your dental practice quickly and effectively.