By Guest Writer Ayla Narayan, RDH, Fortune Management Executive Coach
At Fortune Management, we have the privilege of a front row seat to the evolution of dentistry. What we know is that you, the dentist, in addition to being oral health experts, often take on the role of business owners. Managing a dental practice goes well beyond your skillset as a clinician. Let’s take a moment to explore the multifaceted role of dentists as business owners, shedding light on the challenges, strategies, and rewards that come with this dual responsibility.
There is a clear difference between being a clinical expert and having business acumen. Dentists begin their careers with a focus on clinical skills, but as they establish their own practices, they soon realize the importance of business acumen. Managing finances, marketing, and human resources become integral to running a successful dental practice.
1 – Invest inTechnology
Maintaining pace with evolving technology and its rapid advancements requires constant investment and adaptation. From digital imaging to patient management systems, staying current is essential and can be great investments when done correctly. Doctors often ask me what should I invest in? Can I afford it? How will I get my teams to utilize the investment? The simple answer is invest in technology when you are ready to invest time and focus. You can also ask your coach or accountant to help you analyze the potential return on investment.
2 – Retain Your Patients
Patient Retention is rooted in building a loyal patient base and involves effective marketing strategies. Dentist-business owners need to employ digital marketing, social media, and community outreach to attract and retain patients in a competitive market. My favorite topic is internal marketing. Teams often need additional training in transformational vocabulary and developing a “wow” patient experience. There is a model we at Fortune Management follow to create and deploy a phenomenal experience to your patient base. Your teams must develop their own unique ways for patients to remember what an outstanding visit they had. Understanding what makes you unique as a team and communicating that to your patients consciously and subconsciously is a form of marketing that is often undervalued because it is the lowest cost form of marketing.
Additionally, building a strong presence within the community can significantly impact the success of a dental practice. Sponsorship of local events, participation in health fairs, and educational initiatives can help strengthen ties within the community. Have a cause and be a leader; invest time and show the community that you care. This is often how we build solid referral sources and a long-standing, loyal patient base.
3 – Become A Great Leader
Effective leadership and team management are areas that often lack sufficient focus. A successful dental practice is a team effort. Dentist-business owners must be effective leaders, fostering a positive work environment and ensuring their team is aligned with the practice’s goals. Aligning multiple personalities into one coherent vision is a task that requires consistency and building a strong culture. Communicating effectively is built into the foundation of all successful dental practices.
4 – Understand Your Finances
Sound financial management is crucial. From budgeting to managing overhead costs, dentist-business owners need to provide quality care and maintain a profitable practice. Having a structured, patient-facing financial policy is critical to controlling the often-unaccounted adjustments that occur when practices give various discounts. It is my belief that we do not need to give endless discounts, instead we should focus on value and patient experience. On the topic of value, it is important to ensure your practice fees are current. Is what you are charging in-line with the value you provide? For a complimentary Dental Fee Schedule Review, please click here.
5 – Diversify Your Services
Successful dentist-business owners often explore opportunities to diversify their services. This might include offering cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, or other specialized services that meet the demands of their patient demographic. These days we are talking a lot about myofunctional therapy and sleep therapy. There are considerations to take into account whenever a new procedure is being added to the practice’s portfolio of services.
Owning a dental practice provides a level of autonomy and independence that can be personally fulfilling. Dentist-business owners have the freedom to shape the direction of their practice and implement their vision for patient care. Although the financial investment can often be daunting to a dentist entrepreneur, the reward is building a business that can then be converted into generational wealth and a legacy of being a caring healthcare provider.
Balancing clinical responsibilities with business ownership fosters continuous learning. Dentists often find that the challenges of running a business contribute to both their professional and personal growth. Fortune management was founded in the belief that an extraordinary practice leads to an extraordinary life. The skillset that is the most important in becoming extraordinary is a commitment to constant and never-ending improvement or C.A.N.I. We are never done learning, we are students of life, of communication, of healthcare, of business and most importantly, we are students of ourselves; learning more about who we can become every day.
Being a dentist goes beyond treating teeth; it involves navigating the intricate landscape of entrepreneurship. The dentist-business owner must wear multiple hats, from clinician to leader to business owner, constantly adapting to changes in the industry. Despite the challenges, the rewards of running a successful dental practice are vast, contributing not only to the dentist’s bottom line but also to the overall health and well-being of the community they serve.