Not many people enjoy going to the dentist, but that doesn't change the fact that it's something we should all be doing twice a year (yes, you read that right, TWICE). Maybe it's too much to expect people to love visiting the dentist as much as they enjoy going to the movies, but the experience can be professional, clean and even pleasant if managed by a good dentist running an effective surgery. If you're thinking of starting your own dental practice, read on for our top nine tips.
Market your business
It's not enough to rely on word of mouth these days, with so many businesses maintaining paid marketing campaigns and long-term strategies. In order to be competitive, you need to be constantly marketing your business.
Start by developing a marketing plan, and consider including some of the below:
- Set up a social media presence, through platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube etc. You can boost and amplify posts, share updates and helpful tips and communicate with current and potential customers.
- Run paid ads through Google.
- Identify and reach out to your target market.
- Connect with local businesses to cross-promote services.
- Run campaigns, competitions and giveaways.
- Demonstrate your new products and services and test up-selling strategies.
- Conduct focus groups.
- Manage traditional forms of advertising, in key demographic markets.
- Revisit your website design.
- Attend networking events.
- Set up a referral program.
- Start a blog.
- Send out a digital newsletter with company updates and helpful advice.
Set up scheduling that works
To the detriment of their businesses, so many professionals have inadequate, ineffective or an entire lack of scheduling. The paper diary may work well for your grandma, but it won't help you run your business, and in many cases, will hinder all of your hard work.
Scheduling software makes managing client relationships, staff and payments so much simpler, and most importantly, saves you time. Cogsworth members get access to features like:
- A conversion-focused system that turns leads into customers.
- An embedded calendar function that syncs with the calendar you're already using.
- The ability to maintain staff and business hours, availability and shifts.
- Easy URL redirection after bookings.
- SMS notifications.
- PayPal payments.
- Recurring appointments.
- Conversion tracking pixel.
- Reseller features.
And much more.
If you don't have a program assisting you with your appointments, you're wasting time, losing customers and stifling business growth.
Set your service working hours with Cogsworth. Sign up for a free trial here.
Hire staff and know your limitations
Starting a business usually means taking on countless different roles, including planning, managing finances, marketing and operations. As you grow, it's essential to hire staff to assist in daily operations, allowing you to focus on what you trained for years to perfect.
Knowing your limitations means trusting the people you hire or who advise you, and avoid taking on too much. There are plenty of teeth that need cleaning, after all.
Write clear and effective policies
Writing corporate policies may seem unnecessary, but they provide valuable guidance for you, your staff and your patients in knowing what to expect. Moreover, should things go wrong, your policies will assist in dealing with the matter as swiftly as possible.
For dentists, there are codes and guidelines to follow when it comes to dental work, procedures, set-up etc., but your policies should also extend to customer relationships, financial agreements, appointment cancellations, privacy, staff incentives and more.
The Dental Board of Australia has outlined a list of policies and guidelines which include suggestions for dental records, infection control, supervision and much more. Read them here, and find guidelines for your country online.
Learn to communicate
It's difficult to know when communication methods are negatively impacting our relationships, as most people are so used to sub par exchanges and barely notice anymore. If you don't communicate well in the workplace, it can lead to mistakes, tension, injuries, inefficiencies and many more undesirable features.
Tips for effective communication:
- Be aware of verbal and non-verbal cues: are you saying one thing but indicating another with your body language? Are your patients giving you conflicting messages you need to be aware of?
- Focus on listening to everyone around you. Instead of waiting for your turn to speak, really hear what those around you are saying. You may pick up on key pieces of information, or at the very least, make those around you feel respected and acknowledged.
- Put your phone down when having discussions; it's rude and gives the impression you're disinterested.
- Don't make assumptions. Ask questions and seek clarification if in doubt.
- Be direct and honest when dealing with colleagues and patients.
- Keep your message simple and clear.
- Recognise your own biases.
Stay up to date
Staying up to date includes continuing with professional development throughout your career, staying abreast of new research and treatments, and ensuring your business, communication and relationship management systems are still serving your needs.
Sign up to industry mailing lists, talk to other professionals, ask your patients what they want and always be open to learning something new.
Learn how to grow and adapt
It's not always easy to change the way you run your business, just as it's not easy to break habits and try new things. Things might be going well now, but becoming complacent and refusing to keep up with trends will be bad for business in the long run. Be open to growing your business and adapting things like:
- Your opening hours: if most of your clients are working professionals, opening late and staying open past 5:00pm could lead to more bookings and fewer cancellations.
- Your treatment list: if services like teeth whitening are becoming more popular, ask your customers if they'd be interested in trying the service. Run promotions, test new services and potentially bring in a whole new customer base.
- Your technology: if your systems are slowing your down, it's time to upgrade.
Get to know your patients
Getting to know your patients will enable you to give current and future patients the kind of service they want. Send our surveys, have regular conversations and ask questions to learn more about them.
Automate your processes
Don't suffer through time-consuming, manual work when there are thousands of programs to do it for you. Sure, you don't want a robot taking your dental work away, but when it comes to relationship management, financial management, website maintenance and everything else, find systems and save valuable time. Some helpful ones to get your started: