This is a continuation of last week’s article on the nine things that hold doctors back from taking their practices to the next level. We begin here with number five.
5. Poor location: It is actually possible to become invisible to the normal patient you want to attract. Three decades ago, most dentists thought that being in a high-rise commercial building was great. Not so today. We know that women make 92% of all appointments. Knowing this, we want our offices to be where women are. We need high visibility and high traffic counts to make our practices take off. I want to be next door to a Whole Foods grocery store on one side, with a Starbucks, jewelry store, dry cleaner, Ace Hardware, and a few restaurants kicked in for good measure. Find the perfect location and marketing becomes a given. Figure out how to have an LED sign and it is even better. Paying more is actually inexpensive if you have the perfect location. It just takes advantage of the natural marketing that visibility and convenience garners the smart doctor.
6. Poor Demographics: Demographics are the characteristics of human populations and population components commonly used to identify consumer segments. They include such things as the statistics of a population’s ages, sex, education, income levels, ethnicity, etc. There is a sweet spot for every type of business and dentistry is no different. Competition or saturation of dentists to population is the most important. You need at least 2000 potential clients per dentist to do well. Go below this, and you find yourself in a dog eat dog battle for scraps. This is the number one reason that practices struggle and ultimately fail. Understanding who your audience is will add momentum to your growth. Once you know the ages, race, sex, income, unemployment, and education levels you should be able to design marketing and offer specific services to take advantage of your location and demographics.
7. Doctor and staff fail to embrace change and implement information: I think most of us have taken courses, purchased DVD’s, and read about practice management and leadership and yet still fail to improve. There is no learning without application. It doesn’t matter what you have studied if you can’t put it in play. Change has and will always be a constant in healthcare. Far too many doctors have just decided to plateau and simply coast for the rest of their careers. Almost as bad are those who think that they can just postpone the changes they need to make, only to wake up and find that the opportunities of yesterday have passed them by. Playing catch up is way overrated. The most frustrating thing we see as coaches is a doctor that knows they need to change and when given the answer they procrastinate on implementing the strategy that would literally turn their practice around.
8. Financial Captivity: Really just means that you have spent too much with too little to show for it. This is the doctor that goes out and buys a 3D imaging unit or Cerec machine when the numbers just don’t work. It’s as if these doctors believe that buying one more new shiny object will propel them over the top. This creates an inability to spend money when needed on the right strategy and handicaps you and your ability to move to the next level. We see doctors who have added on to their facility only to realize that they raised their overhead 10% with no ability to afford the marketing they will need to fill the chairs.
9. Poor clinical results and skills: Clinical speed, consistency, services, and success as judged by their patients is a recurring theme. A lot of doctors are practicing decade’s old dentistry even when designs, crown preps, materials, and systems have changed. In a consumer driven business, patients vote with their feet. Keep in mind that, clinically, everything is changing so rapidly that you need to spend at least 20 hours a year in concentrated clinical improvement along with adding new services to your office. The age of referring everything out died ten years ago. We all need to learn to place implants, do oral surgery, cosmetic dentistry, ortho and treat kids. The best practices (most profitable, least stressful, with unlimited growth potential) are those that embrace both bread and butter dentistry for all ages and pseudo-specialty services. It is a balance between what patients want coupled with what you have to offer them.
Take each of these nine areas and work on minimizing their effect by changing how you look at the relationship you have with patients while embracing the change that will be necessary for you to compete in the future. This is how you Summit.
Michael Abernathy, DDS