Tips For Managing Your Dental Practice
It can be hard to view a dental practice as a business. After all, dentists, like doctors and vets, are not in their line of work for the money but to help people and make them look and feel their best. As a result, many dental practices are not as organised, efficient and profitable as they might be.
Here are some ideas to help your dental practice to run more efficiently.
Marketing your services
For most people, a visit to the dentist is not something to look forward to but rather something which has to be done routinely every six months. This is all very well but it’s just as important to encourage new customers to join the practice in order to keep it growing.
A marketing campaign that educates the public about the need and benefits of regular dental visits is just as important as reassuring them how painless those visits can be.
Take control of your inventory
Good inventory management is vital. Correct ordering means that you will always have the right products to hand when you need them but you don’t have piles of little-used stock which will become out-of-date and end up in the bin.
You need two separate inventory systems; one for your office and one for your dentistry. Keep the office supplies in one location and the medical supplies in another. It’s best practice to have one person delegated to the task of managing the inventory to minimise the risk of accidentally over-ordering.
Manage cash flow
Don’t fall into the common trap of viewing billing as your only opportunity to influence cash flow into your practice. Think about new patients, better technology and more efficient equipment too. Minimise outflow by shopping around for less expensive supplies; implement a better inventory system and assign someone to monitor marketing metrics etc.
It’s possible to cut down time spent billing simply by checking out new software solutions. Once familiar with the system, dedicated staff members can fly through billing in half the time thus increasing efficiency and saving you money.
Offer patients help with financing
Visiting the dentist is not cheap and this is one of the reasons people fail to attend regularly. Not everyone has dental insurance or find that the cover they have is not sufficient for the treatment they need.
Have in place a good financial policy for your clients to take advantage of. Make it easy to understand and flexible (within reason) to encourage people to join your practice and keep coming back regularly.
Extend your hours
Many people work long hours these days and may have to travel out of town to their place of employment. This can make it difficult for them to fit in a visit to the dentist and many employers are not prepared to allow unpaid time off for routine dental appointments. By establishing a staff rota, it may be possible for you to extent your opening hours to include before and after work appointments and perhaps a Saturday morning surgery too.
Every practice suffers from cancellations, no-shows and last-minute emergencies. Instead of viewing these as a nuisance, use them as opportunities to see additional patients. Contact patients whose appointments are in the future to see if they would like to come sooner. This not only demonstrates good customer service but also keeps your finances ticking over.
Look to the future
You should always be looking for ways in which to develop and grow your business. Keep abreast with technology and look at how other successful practices are run and the services they offer for ideas. No matter how successful you think your practice is, there’s always room for improvement.
If you find the task of managing your business too onerous, employ an experienced practice manager to look after that side of things and consider outsourcing your marketing activities to a professional firm of consultants. Although the initial financial outlay may be a little off-putting, the long term benefits will be more than worth it.
Image source: smallbusinessfunding.com
About Alison Page
Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies.