I have been in dentistry a little over 15 years now and I know some of you reading this have been in significantly longer than me and I am certain you would have a lot to add to the challenges we have seen and will see in dentistry.
- We have seen changes with how dental insurance coverage has become the greatest influence in what treatment our patients accept for their dentistry.
- There have been huge advancements in dental technology, which in turn causes dental offices to invest significant amounts of money to keep up with the changes.
- There have been difficult economic times that caused our patients to spend less on their dental needs.
- Most dental offices have issues with competition, specifically having some of the competition offer patients much lower prices and much deeper discounts than should be given. There are more dentists advertising than ever before and some advertising these prices would make you wonder how they are still in business.
- Most recently, there has been discussion around corporate dentistry and how it is going to hurt the average small business owner dentist.
Regardless of the business you are in, there will always be good times and hard times. There will be ebbs and flows. That is all part of doing business and every industry faces these challenges.
The first step in overcoming these issues is recognizing and realizing it is part of the game. In any game, there are teammates, opponents, and obstacles or things that you must overcome to win.
Recognize your teammates: In the case of a dental office, your teammates are you, your staff, dental supply representatives, lab technicians, marketing team, your great patients, and so many more that help you become better and better each week, month and year. These are the people looking out for you and want to help you win at the game of offering the best dental care and taking the best care of your patients.
Recognize your opponents and the obstacles: These are your competition: the challenging patients that attempt to dictate how you will take care of them, the insurance companies, people trying to get you to discount your rates, and anyone else who attempts to cut into what you are trying to do—take exceptional care of your patients. It’s important to note, sometimes one of the obstacles is the face staring back at you in the mirror. If you’re like most people, you may be your own worst critic. You can be the one that holds yourself and your team back.
Recognize how to score: I can’t answer this for you or your specific situation, but I know for my dental office, we get a point on the scoreboard each time we get a patient healthy. We also have goals that we try to reach every day, week and month, which represent how many patients we have helped get healthy or are on their way to better dental health. We consider it a win at the end of each month when we have reached our goals ethically and responsibly. We know we have won when we make enough money to cover the overhead, pay the staff, pay ourselves, and put money away for savings and the future. Admit it, we are in this to help people, but if we aren’t making money then we are not going to be in business very long. We look back on the year and consider it a winning year when we not only reach our goals but have a great work environment for our staff and continue to find ways to grow and serve them and our patients.
Finally, play to win: To win, you must find a way to do it better than your competition and overcome all the obstacles that are in your way. This is the final piece of the puzzle and the primary way to do it is to be better than everything that is against you. Make sure you are offering your patients the best customer service possible and that your team is fully trained in putting the patient first, ALWAYS. Ensure you have a working environment that takes care your staff because when you have that, they will take better care of your patients. Always make sure you do everything you can to get and keep your patients healthy. Don’t be influenced by things that don’t help you reach this goal each day.
These issues are real and we are not the only industry that has to deal with these variables. Even after we overcome the latest challenge, a new one will inevitably arise. Owning a business is never easy and if you are focusing on the issues that you are up against, it will always be a struggle. If being a small business owner was easy, everyone would do it.
The most important thing is to realize that this is all part of the game and it is one that you CAN win. Knowing what game you are playing, strategizing how you can win, and not taking your eye off the ball, is how you are going to continue to grow and pass right by the competition.