A decade ago, you would have had to drive through an entire city to see the cookie-cutter signs of corporate dentistry. Today, the view of dentistry has drastically changed. In any setting, urban or rural, corporate dentistry is now the group practice that takes the look and feel of the "mom and pop" shop.
For even a fellow dentist, it's hard to distinguish the private practice owner from the group or dental service organization giants. If local doctors want to outlast, outperform, and outsmart what seems to be a competitive takeover, they need to be sure to do the following:
Dental service organizations and groups do one thing far superior than the average practice owner: track metrics. Private practice owners pride themselves on focusing on the patient experience and connecting with the members of their community. This, however, seems to come at the cost of common business habits and the ritual of tracking core numbers. For example, the No. 1 metric for private practices to determine if they will outlast a group competitor is the hygiene reappointment rate. Anything less than a 100% reappointment rate and the private owners are allowing patients to walk out their back door and right through the front door of the corporate competitors.
Numbers tell a story. They tell us if our behaviors are yielding the results we desire. A common example is losing or gaining weight (for those rare few). You track your caloric intake, monitor your exercise, reduce carbs, and increase water. Then in the morning what do you do? Step on the scale to measure if your behaviors are enough to get you what you want, more or less weight.
It's the same with running a business. Throughout the day, you and your team participate in habitual behaviors that will either support you to achieve your goals or keep you from them. To ensure you outlast the big boys next door, you must never sacrifice measuring your business numbers.
In watching the Summer Olympics and listening to all the athletes' stories, one common theme was discussed in almost every interview. To have a competitive edge, the athletes worked with a coach who observed and leveraged their strengths, as well as helped them navigate their weaknesses.
Private practice owners judge and scoff at the support system corporate dentists have at their disposal, somehow perceiving that the support systems taints the success the corporate doc achieves.
The training, resources, and knowledge that corporate dentists receive prepare them for the business of dentistry in ways private practice owners never even think of using. Dentistry is attractive to financial investors for a reason: When dentists are trained in more than just dentistry, the profit margin for a dental business is highly lucrative.
Pride sometimes keeps a private practice dentist from establishing a trusted advisory committee that includes experts in finance, retirement planning, practice management, leadership, stress management, and clinical mentoring. To outperform corporate neighbors, every private practice owner must embrace the notion that building and maintaining a growing dental practice takes more time, energy, and effort than a single person can sustain.
Group and corporate offices go for quantity; they market to a massive number of patients and diagnose a huge amount of dentistry. There is little in the name of strategy at the execution level when it comes to groups. Private practice doctors can outsmart the big boys in developing and implementing a strategic business plan that focuses on hiring the right team, attracting ideal patients, and spending wisely. The areas of human resources, marketing, and finance are three key departments that come with group practices and the experts who manage them, but these are often missing in private practice.
To start implementing strategic planning, it is essential that you have a people strategy that propels all other business strategies. Without team members who are right for you and their position, all other business strategies fall short in execution, and then so will your practice when it comes to outlasting, outperforming, and outsmarting groups.
Jen Butler, MEd, is the CEO and founder of JB Partners and has been working in the area of stress management and resiliency training for more than 25 years. Learn about how to hire the right team at www.jenbutlerpartners.com, or contact her at jen@JenButlerPartners.com. You can learn about her Catalyst Seminars and download a free e-book.
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