By Danny Chan
Dentists may be adept at diagnosing and treating oral conditions but how do they analyse and improve the health of their own business? Unlike in the clinical arena, where they possess the attendent diagnostic training, skills and technology to unravel root causes behind symptoms and complaints, dentists are somewhat clueless when it comes to investigating the soundness of their own business systems. Utilising faulty methods to interpret patient trends and other data, they tend to exaggerate growth and overlook red flags, leading to bad marketing and management decisions that undermine the practice’s viability and stamina.
That is what Emanuel Recupero, Founder and CEO of Dental ED, surmised as the independent dental practice’s archilles heel, particularly when they are pitted against the well-oiled machinery of big corporates.
Dental ED, a leader in advanced dental clinical training and practice development, is an internationally recognised brand that pioneered web-conferencing for dental study clubs and online courses. With 17 years of experience providing industry-leading training solutions, Emanuel certainly knows a thing or two about helping dentists stay ahead of the learning curve. He recently embarked on a new venture to help optimise their competitiveness in a tech-driven business environment increasingly dominated by dental corporations.
“Most dentists are not trained to run, manage and market a business. During the so-called golden years of dentistry, when competition wasn’t as intense, dentists were able to run lucrative practices simply by focusing on their clinical expertise.”
“The dynamics have changed. Today, dentists are on a different playing field. You need to be not only business savvy but also technologically just to survive in the current boom-bust climate where digitally enhanced practice building and management tools are the norm rather than exception.”
To level the playing field, Dental ED has joined forces with Momentum Management Programs (MM) to form Practice Entrepreneur Network (PEN). Dr Toni Surace, Director of MM, brings a wealth of coaching and mentoring experience towards crafting relationship-focused management practices that run more efficiently and effectively.
The new partnership fuses talents in software development, marketing and tech innovations with a proven practice management program. Through PEN, independent dentists are supported by an extensive array of centralised business and marketing resources – similar to what the big corporates enjoy – without having to lose their autonomy. PEN charges members a flat subscription rate of A$2800/ month.
“Unlike corporates or part ownership models, you do not lose your ownership of the practice or independence when you sign up with PEN. You will be joining a network of like-minded dentists while enjoying our support services, including advanced strategic marketing and business management resources.”
“There is safety in numbers. Together we can help give your business that competitive edge in today’s changing dental environment.”
Even currently adopted digital tools in patient lead capture and conversion, Emanuel warns, are losing relevance and reliability in an increasingly crowded digitised marketplace.
“Many dentists are banking on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), social media and websites to attract and convert patient leads. However, the dental market is getting saturated with Google Adwords and SEO campaigns all targeting the same demographics,” he explains.
“It’s ultimately a numbers game. These methods can only work to a certain point before customer fatigue sets in – and we are already seeing the signs. Even technological tools must constantly evolve to deliver a point of differentiation – that will help put your practice on your prospective customer’s radar.”
To stand out in the crowd, Emanuel says PEN member practices can take advantage of specialised electronic marketing tools that are not available on the market. Created by Dental ED’s team of software developers, MiPractice is a portal that lets dentists access a cloud-based suite of services, which he claims, help boosts the conversion of leads and word of mouth prospects by significant numbers.
One of the nifty e-marketing services is a Customer Survey Questionnaire that qualifies leads before using various prompts to convert quality leads into prospects. Another one is a behaviour-driven pop-up ad that is designed to collect customer data from your website visitors in exchange for SMS video packages on specific treatments of interest. MiSmile, a first in dental, is another tool that allows patients to send a snapshot of their teeth through the portal thus providing staff menbers a useful premise for making a follow-up phone call – and opportunity for lead conversion.
Of course, there are also business diagnostic tools that analyse patient trends in relation to internal and external factors that affect the clinic’s performance. It provides a more accurate means of studying and scrutinising available data in order to pin-point problemetic areas.
“Once we identify the real causes and effects, we can more confidently devise appropriate counter strategies to resolve or minimise the issues.”
“Instead of a shotgun marketing approach that fires indiscriminately – hoping to hit as many targets as possible – we’ll help you to strategise a more targeted approach. This way, you not only cut down on marketing costs, you are using your resources more effectively and efficiently.”
The concept, though not revolutionary, still sounds refreshing to a dental entrepreneur struggling with dated marketing strategies and the competitive onslaught. Before it’s too late, it may even throw a lifeline to dental entrepreneurs who don’t yet realise that they are indeed struggling.