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There is a saying that you learn as much from your parents about how NOT to parent as you do about how TO parent. Following other dentists’ lead is much the same: Follow the lead of successful people and learn from the mistakes of those who fail.
Here are five things that successful dentists do:
- Know a little about business, but don’t think you know it all.
Very few successful dentists are their own business manager, accountant, marketing director and human resources director. Most successful dentists establish the OVERALL management of the practice, but leave the details to specialists.
- Work, work, work to establish your practice.
Put your time into your moneymaker: seeing patients. If you bring in $1,000 per hour seeing patients, you shouldn’t spend your time doing anything else that brings in LESS money when you could be seeing patients.
- Find your niche and dominate it.
Sure, it’s that easy, right? Of course not. But it can be done, and extremely successful dentists are doing it. Look in your market: What niches are not filled, or at least not dominated? This is one area where we really push our clients to achieve success.
- Don’t be cheap.
If somebody has a deal that’s too good to be true, it usually is. You don’t get something for nothing. No reputable marketing company, for instance, is going to work for a few hundred dollars per month. Same thing with your staff compensation, your equipment, etc.
- Market to patients, not other dentists.
Address your patients’ needs, not what would impress other dentists. Remember, patients don’t know what all of those initials after your name mean. In fact, they don’t care. They want to know if you can fix their problem or stop their pain.
You might have seen some things you are already doing, and if so, keep doing them! Now, let’s look at five mistakes unsuccessful dentists do to help you avoid doing them.
- Be just like everyone else.
So if your competitors have a big ad in the phone book, you get a big ad in the phone book. Or your competitors advertise “gentle dentistry” so you advertise “gentle dentistry.” This “me too” mentality comes about because dentists think that they have do what the others are doing to compete.
In fact, just the opposite is true.
Too many people doing the same thing are a herd, and no one stands out. Instead, look for things that none of your competitors are doing and use them to get your name out.
- Think marketing is a waste of time and patients will just find you.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are dentists who don’t market at all because other dentists aren’t marketing. One of our clients told us that his state dental association said during one of its meetings that marketing is a waste of time. Our client said he just laughed as he thought about his $200,000 sports car. Some waste of time!
Perhaps there was a gentlemen’s agreement once upon a time that dentists would not market, but that time is long gone. There is nothing unseemly about letting people know that you can solve their problems. Expecting them to figure out which dentist to see WITHOUT any information is unseemly.
- Overspend on learning new techniques and getting new equipment BEFORE you have an established practice.
Far too many dentists jump right in trying to get the best and latest training and equipment. They can perform 15 different high-end procedures on the best equipment money can buy. They’re a million dollars in debt and hardly have any patients, and yet they can’t figure out why they have a cash-flow problem.
Training is great. Equipment is great.
But make sure you have a solid business plan that includes realistic patient growth before going crazy on equipment and expensive CE. Because equipment and CE themselves don’t bring in new patients.
How you let people know the BENEFITS of the equipment and CE brings in new patients.
- Expect someone else to solve your problems and expect them to do so quickly.
When we sign up a client, we have an 18-month contract. That’s because educational marketing and search engine optimization don’t happen immediately. Internet marketing is not a quick fix.
It works, but it takes time. So anyone that tells you their system will double your patients in a matter of months is lying to you. Don’t fall for it.
- Want to do everything in the business except dentistry.
Dentistry IS your business. Everything else is ancillary to that. Dentistry is what brings in the patients. If you would rather spend your time developing new marketing plans, lecturing, teaching courses or whatever, you shouldn’t be surprised when your practice suffers. While you’re spending time promoting the practice, there isn’t much of a practice to promote if you’re not there to see patients.