Good Vs. Great Dental Practices
Have you ever wondered why it takes some dental practices decades to generate just $1 million in revenue, while other practices are able to grow to $5 million in a fraction of the time? In this article, we’ll get into the biggest factors that separate good dental practices from exceptional ones.
What Makes a Successful Practice?
At RevUp Dental, we’ve worked with dentists all across North America, and have seen first-hand how they operate. While some practices generate under a million in revenue, others may generate $5 million or more! Obviously, these practices have different approaches to the way they organize the practice, schedule payments, present treatments, etc. But, it might surprise you to learn what the real difference-maker is.
The experience of the dentist doesn’t seem to make a big difference. We found many cases where incredibly talented dentists with decades of experience were struggling to get by, while younger and less experienced dentists achieved much better results much faster.
The area in which the practice is located doesn’t seem to matter much as many would believe either. We’ve worked with practices in highly competitive areas that still do exceptionally well, while others, operating in areas with very little competition, were still struggling.
So then, what’s the big secret? Why do some dentists take decades only to achieve mediocre results, while other dentists can build a practice that’s two or three times the size in just a few years? The best way I can explain it is by telling a story that happened to me in which I had a lightbulb moment about what really separates good practices from bad ones.
Marketing Makes the Difference
A few years ago, we hired a new employee at RevUp Dental, and I had to go to the Apple store to pick up a new laptop for her. This was during Black Friday and every store in the mall had balloons and flyers featuring all kinds of promotional sales.
So I made my way to the Apple Store, and at the front of the store, there was a female customer talking to an Apple employee behind the desk. I was a few steps behind her so I could overhear their conversation. After the employee had greeted her, she asked him:
“Hey… what kind of promotions do you guys have going on today?”
To which the employee responded, “Ugh…. we don’t have any promotions going on.”
“How can you not have any promotions on Black Friday?” the customer said, taken aback. “Literally every store in the mall is running promotions today and you’re telling me you guys don’t have any promotions?”
And I will never forget what the employee said next. He paused for a moment, then said, “Ma’am.. this is Apple… we don’t really have promotions… ever. Maybe once in a while on some small things like cables or bags, but never on the main products. We just don’t need to.”
I remember looking around the store after he said that and realizing that they didn’t have any balloons, posters with buy-one-get-one-free deals, or any of that sort of nonsense. And yet, the store was completely packed. There were more people in that Apple store than just about any other store in the mall. In fact, the customer complaining about the lack of deals started looking at products as well.
On my way out of the mall, I looked around at all the other stores and realized that most of them were empty. Every one of them had promotions, special deals, and all kinds of gimmicks to catch people’s attention, and still, all the salespeople twiddling their thumbs attempting to chat people up as they walked past were just being ignored.
This made me think:
- What is it that makes companies like Apple so popular?
- Why are there so many people that live paycheck to paycheck but have to have the latest iPhone?
- How many students do you see at coffee shops who have Macbooks?
- Why do these customers with no income, saddled with thousands of dollars in student debt, and living off of ramen noodles still feel that they HAVE to have the latest Macbook?
- You can buy a faster laptop for half the price yet they all want a Macbook. Why?
And it’s not just Apple, you see the same level of devotion to brands like Lulu Lemon. How many girls spend $150 on a pair of yoga pants when they can go to Walmart and buy a pair for $20? How many people are happy to spend thousands of dollars on a Rolex. Why? It’s just a watch. 99.9% of people on the planet would not be able to tell the difference between a real Rolex and a fake one, so why do people buy it?
The simple answer is people don’t make logical decisions, they make emotional decisions. The same emotional elements play a big role in how successful you will be as a dentist.
People Want the Best
Everyone wants “the best” or at least what they perceive as “the best”. If people perceive your product, service, or business as something unique, something that can help them stand out, something that is different and novel, they are going to spend a lot more money than if they perceive what you are offering as a commodity that they can get elsewhere.
This is why there are a lot of people out there who may spend hundreds of dollars on a nice pair of shoes, but when it comes to the socks they just go to Walmart and buy a 3-pack for $10.
If people think that you’re just a dentist like every other dentist in your area, then they are just going to go to the dentist who is the closest, or the cheapest, or whoever happens to accept their insurance.
The reason companies like Apple, Rolex, or Lulu Lemon are so successful is that they put an insane amount of thought into the little details of the customer experience. Apple puts a lot of thought into how the keys on the laptop are shaped, how they feel when you press them, how the laptop feels when you hold it, and when you open and close it. They obsess over things that most other tech companies regard as completely pointless. The same is true for dental practices.
Those small details that most people think are pointless are what separates dental practices that spend decades and only achieve mediocre results from dental practices that achieve 2 or 3 times as much revenue in just a few years. Successful practices understand that the little details matter, and they matter A LOT.
The Little Details
So, exactly how do the little details make or break a practice? We’ve been inside many practices over the years, and have witnessed first-hand how inattention to those little details can cost practices potential patients.
On numerous occasions, I have gone into dental practices that don’t have a beautiful or professional presentation room. They are trying to pitch a patient on $20,000 of dental implant work, and they’re doing this presentation in the staff lunchroom, while another staff member is busy heating up a pizza pocket in the microwave. Obviously, the patient doesn’t accept treatment, and, in response, the staff or the dentists assume that the patient just wasn’t serious about seeking treatment.
Nobody is going to come in for a consultation on implants or Invisalign for fun. If they’re standing in your office, they want to buy dentistry. If they leave without committing to treatment, it means that, after looking around the office, they realized that the office was not the best choice for them and they decided to go somewhere else.
A lot of dentists opt for the “good enough” approach when it comes to things like branding, marketing, photos, or staff training. They think, well, we’re a small office, so this is good enough for now, but once we get bigger… we’ll invest more money into doing things better.
We often see practices present their patient with a treatment quote by simply printing out a quote from their patient management system onto a single piece of the cheapest paper they could buy at Staples.
Taking the time or effort to put together a detailed treatment plan, a professional folder with nicely designed and branded material to explain to the patient what that treatment will entail, why they’re the best at it, etc. will make all the difference for the patient experience.
Companies like Apple didn’t get to where they are by starting out building “good enough” products. If you want to build a very successful dental practice, you need to start acting like a successful practice before you become one. You need to start doing all of the little things at a much higher level of quality than other dentists are doing before you see the results.
The little things in your practice matter a lot. How your office looks, your logo, your website, the photos on your website, the quality of your sign, how your staff answers the phone, how you present treatment, and how you make your patients feel during their visit.
So, the next time you’re thinking about why a patient didn’t book their treatment with you, ask yourself:
- How did your staff greet that patient on their first visit?
- Did they offer them a cup of coffee?
- Does your office look clean and professional or does it create the impression that you don’t really care?
While these details may not seem important to the daily operation of your practice, for the patient, they could make all the difference.