Most dentists need to take a step back and improve the business side of their practices. They typically focus more on the clinical side because that is all they learned in school. But if you want to become a very successful dentist, you need to balance the clinical side with the business side.
In every practice, there are 4 pillars to constantly think about: marketing, operations, finance, and patient retention. If you aren’t measuring these critical components, it may be wise to get educated about them, hire someone who can handle them, or join a practice like Apex Dental, which gives dentists the autonomy of a solo practitioner’s office with the strengths of corporate dentistry.
Solo, Group, and Corporate Practices
Corporate dentistry definitely has its pros and cons, according to Dr. Joseph Maio, CEO of Apex Dental. Most corporate offices focus more on the business side, he says, which means they are really good at marketing, sales, and finance, making it very difficult for their competitors including solo practitioners to compete with them. For example, they can spend more money on marketing and drive down supply and lab costs because they can order in volume.
However, Maio notes that corporate offices don’t tend to focus on what the patient needs. They focus more on meeting quotas. They also have a high turnover rate with their staff because they don’t provide a beneficial environment for their staff to feel appreciated.
Group dental offices balance the business and clinical sides. They have a team of doctors who focus on the clinical side and a team of business professionals who focus on the marketing, operations, and finance side of the practice. Together they can balance the experience for the patient and the staff in a positive manner and give all of their patients a hometown feel when they come to the office.
Solo practitioners tend to only focus on the clinical side of the practice, and the business side usually suffers. As a solo dentist, it may be wise to consider teaming up with dental business advisors or hire a person to handle the business side of your practice.
Most solo practitioners have really great relationships with their patients and really care about them. This is where solo dentists win, but they also need to focus more on the business side because they are competing against groups and corporate dentistry. The key is to balance the clinical side with the business side, and you will improve your practice for you and your patients.
How to Win the Battle With Insurance Companies
In a sense, dental insurance isn’t ideal for patients. It causes dental offices a lot of wasted time and lost revenue on unpaid and delayed claims. It also can complicate your dental practice with cash-flow issues. According to Maio, in-house membership plans are a smart option to help increase the bottom line of your practice.
Maio reports that 50% of people don’t have dental insurance. This means there is a whole new market for your practice. In-house membership programs have helped with the success of Apex Dental because they provide a steady cash flow each month from their patients.
With an in-house membership program, your patients will become more loyal and committed to your office because they will feel valued and that their dentist and staff care about them as their patients. Insurance companies really are just middle men and don’t truly care for your patients like your office does. An in-house membership program can be a wonderful and beneficial marketing strategy to attract and retain new patients to your office.
Also, Maio says that dental insurance has not changed since the 1970s. It is technically a discount plan and not insurance. It is an outdated and unethical business model. Insurance companies only make a profit by promoting the delay or rejections of insurance claims. Providing your patients with a membership program can be the best strategy for your practice.
According to Ben Tuinei, an insurance specialist and the founder of Veritas Dental Resources, “Reducing insurance dependency is the best thing you can do for your practice.” In-house membership programs allow you to build your patients’ trust and give them what they need by providing discounts.
Again, patients want a “hometown feeling” when they go to the dentist. They honestly want to know the staff and dentist who are working on their teeth. Start improving your practice and create an in-house membership program for your patients.
By applying Maio’s advice and executing some of these ideas, you will build your dental practice. And for more ideas to help you improve your practice, download our podcast interview with him.