Time to Consider Dental Consulting
Case #3454 Dr. M. Needshelp
“I have a small practice that has not been hit by the recession until just recently. I am blessed with wonderful patients who have been here with me for twenty plus years, but lately I have had whole mornings without patients and lots of holes in hygiene. I have had turnover in my practice and in the last two years terminated five employees. The team I have now is great but I still have to monitor their work every minute to make sure it gets done. I don’t do any advertising but I have a website that was designed by a friend and it looks good but needs work and updates. When I put in search words to bring up my practice I am at the bottom of the list. Recently I was quoted a fee to optimize my website and place me at the top on the list, but I thought it to be too expensive. I figure word of mouth is all I really need.
My patients ask me if I am considering signing up for their PPO plan and I say no, I am signed up for one and that is enough. There is a report from the computer that says I have about one thousand active patients in my practice, but that can’t be right, I have been here 22 years. Some patients have left but that is because of the front office person I had here previously who drove people away with her bad personality. The services I offer are fillings, crowns, implants, cleanings, bridgework, and veneers. My fees are pretty fair but I don’t know if I charge too much or not enough. There are a lot of dentists in this area but they are not of the caliber that I am and frankly I don’t know if they are busy or not. I just know that I am not and I am very concerned. What should I do?”
Dr. M. Needshelp
Dear Dr. Needshelp,
From reading about your practice, there are several systems I would question as to whether they are working to build your practice. For instance, you say you have not been hit by the recession until recently. The effects of a downward spiral don’t just show up, the process started most likely a year or two ago or even longer.
The turnover in staff is not perceived as positive by patients unless you have taken some time to explain that it was for the better of the practice and to improve service to the patients. Patients tend to look at long term, caring staff as a sign that the practice is stable. A change of the entire team can be suspicious to patients. If you feel that the current team is great, why do you have to monitor their work every minute? Patients can feel tension and can tell if you are preoccupied with what the staff is doing. The focus for all the team should be on the patient and their needs. If you have hired your staff with a system that includes job descriptions, performance appraisals and accountability you would not have to physically monitor their every move.
As far as the website is concerned, the updates and changes should be done on a regular basis. People tend to go to websites first and then call or email your practice. If you do not offer email to patients, you are missing out on a valuable communication tool. Word of mouth is the best way to get new patients, but it is not the only way - and you should not limit access to your practice. 22 years ago, the demographics and psychographics of your practice area were very different than they are now and it is important to know how your neighborhood has changed so that you can continue to keep the patients you have and to attract new patients to your practice.
A big concern for you is that your practice is declining and shrinking. There are several signs that this is evident, but a thorough system analysis by a dental consultant would be the advisable thing to do at this stage of your practice. A hit and miss marketing attempt without a demographic overview of your zipcode would be a waste of money and time. It is important to offer services that meet the needs of your practice community. As your patient base ages and the demographics change from young families to predominately senior residents, you must adapt to this change or market to attract young families from nearby communities.
Dr. Needshelp, you are seeing and feeling symptoms of “system disease.” At this point, you are too close to see the causes. The best thing that I can recommend is to have one of McKenzie Management’s Consultant Coaches come into the pratice to provide you an “action plan” to move forward. The symptoms have been there, but the recession has brought them to the surface. Call today, 877-777-6151 to speak to one of our experts and start improving your practice today.
If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’s Consulting Coaching Programs to improve the performance of your practice, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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