With over 178,000 dental providers in the United States alone, it's clear that dentistry is a profitable industry. But it takes more than demand to create a profitable practice. You not only have to provide outstanding patient care using the latest dental tech and products, but you need to operate efficiently, like a business.
You want to go that extra mile for your patients while not seeing your bottom line heavily impacted by out-of-control overhead expenses and poor workflows. Growing revenue requires a comprehensive strategy that includes your marketing, operations, and customer satisfaction goals.
Ready to create a lean operating practice that enjoys a healthy profit margin and outstanding patient care? We've put together a quick overview of how to handle the business side of your dental office and 25 tips to boost your profitability.
So, let's dive in!
While it's true that the quality of oral healthcare you provide will directly impact your revenue, when talking about profit, you need to look at your office as a business.
There are several factors that play an important role in making your dental clinic profitable, including:
Understanding the impact of each element requires a bigger-picture view of your operations and how they can boost or detract from your earnings.
For example, when considering your office location. Are you renting it in a premium medical building, or did you build out a workspace in a lower-priced market? Maybe you opted to buy outright, so you don't have to worry about leasing. Regardless of which option you choose, look at the effect of this cost on your bottomline. Is it worth the expense, or should you consider other options to save money?
Of course, running a profitable dental practice requires more than careful spending. Let's take a look at some other beneficial strategies for your bottom line.
Having a basic grasp of core business principles is a must. Every day, the actions your office takes will impact your revenue. This reality is why you need to do more than prioritize your patients. Learning to recognize wasteful spending trends, frivolousness with resources, and poor productivity could also be holding your dental practice back.
Teach your entire crew how to recognize and report these issues to quickly implement an improvement strategy sooner than later. Taking this approach will also help your staff buy-in more easily because their firsthand experiences in your office have even more value.
Patients help drive revenue in your business, but getting them in your chair for treatment requires an effective dental marketing plan. If you already have one in place, step back and assess how organized it is. Does it feel methodical or more like a collection of random initiatives?
If your current road map to advertising success feels like it's taking a roundabout way to achieve its goals, or you're not clear on what direction your practice is headed, it may be time to reinvent this strategy. Ensure you're using targeted campaigns and not broad messaging with the hopes of drawing in random leads.
Also, unify all approaches used to engage and convert prospective patients across your entire brand. You don't want everyone doing their own thing because this confuses the brand message you're trying to convey.
Consider incentivizing staff compliance with your marketing goals. This will make getting feedback and insights easier in business areas you don't usually participate.
Your dental office's scheduling process could be driving away prospects and frustrating your existing patients. This is often the case when it's necessary to make multiple phone calls, doesn't offer online access, has access to a real-time appointment calendar, or lacks a reminder feature. All of this impacts your bottom line, not just from a growth perspective but production as well.
If you're using an older scheduling system that doesn't have an online component or it requires manual input and follow-up tracking, you might as well be still using a traditional paper approach. Both are ineffective and are hampering the efficiency of your front desk.
Online appointment scheduling should offer modern, automated features to save your dental team time. This technology should also allow adjustment to appointment times so that you maximize your schedule's efficiency by avoiding overbooking situations that leave your team scrambling to keep up. Using a procedure-based time slot instead of a one-size-fits-all approach balances the day's workflow and maximizes your profits.
Sometimes it's all about that wow factor that keeps patients returning. Whether you catch attention with ads highlighting the before and after results your dental practice can achieve or offering outstanding care, wowing your visitors leaves a profitable impact. Standing out from other dental offices requires more than affordability; you need pizzazz.
If you're not in the market for all-leather waiting room furniture and expensive full-ceiling murals for patients to enjoy while undergoing dental work, don't worry! There are many inexpensive options that can add a wow factor to your office. For example, if your office specializes in dentures and bridges, you could focus on pain management and expedited fittings.
No one wants to go weeks without teeth or endure excessive swelling from multiple extractions. Create a truly comfort-focused denture experience that impresses patients and generates more income from referrals and returning care visits.
You've probably already got several everyday goals that your team strives for from the moment you open your doors. While challenging, this is an ongoing expectation that may seem endless.
When looking to boost your profits, create smaller milestone achievements that produce immediate results. This will improve employee morale and make it easier to get them actively participate in reaching set goals. By giving them a window into how your practice operates, team members become invested and will go the extra mile to support your business.
Just be sure when creating goals that they are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Maybe start with booking ten new patients a month. This is specific and measurable, unlike simply asking them to focus on scheduling new patients in general.
Dental offices worldwide have recognized that patients expect efficiency, expediency, and affordable care without sacrificing their treatment experience. This approach to running a practice also comes with significant cost savings from a business perspective.
By automating routine tasks, such as intake, patient forms, billing, and reminders, you save production time and empower your team to focus on more important tasks at hand, like treating and upselling to your patients.
Automation is a significant profit booster if using a modern practice management software platform like Adit. If you don't currently have these integrations, or you're still using an automated system from the 2010s, it's time to upgrade and start taking advantage of the many savings you're missing out on.
As mentioned earlier, incentives are a great way to motivate and mobilize your dental team to improve practice profitability. Before you start handing out gift cards or offering flex time, consider these two elements first:
Of course, consider the metric's value versus that of the incentive. For instance, let's say you're handing out a reward for a certain number of positive patient satisfaction surveys received within a predetermined timeframe. Only give them the promised prize if they meet the required qualifications. If your goal doesn't have set criteria, put one in place.
As far as what is appropriate as an incentive, cash rewards are acceptable, such as a small bonus on their upcoming paycheck. Or, you can opt to give them half a day off or other increased employee benefits for their hard work. These latter options are great because you can usually offset the cost in other areas of your business.
Communicating with the public involves more than a memorable jingle or click-pens emblazoned with your practice name. Even providing some of the best oral healthcare services in town isn't always enough unless your dental office walks its talk. You need to present your clinic in a quality manner in everything it does. This means using quality media services for your marketing materials, keeping your office in beautiful condition and up-to-date, including having an intuitive dental website that clearly shares your brand messaging.
Also, consider taking a unique approach in your dental practice faces your market. For example, consider installing hi-def TVs in some exam rooms so patients can get an up-close view of any oral issues as you explain their treatment options. Extra attention to detail leaves an impression and will inspire referrals as well as returning for additional care. All of which feeds into your profits.
One of the most essential elements that contribute to a healthy flow of revenue and profit is happy dental patients. But, with the media often portraying dentistry as a painful experience, it's vital that your office dispels this perception.
A great approach is viewing your service experience through the lens of the patients you serve. Look for opportunities to put your visitors at ease through calming office decor, including FAQs on your website, offering additional comfort options like anesthesia and similar considerations.
You could also task your team with contributing ideas based on their firsthand experiences with anxious patients. This can ensure you keep patrons comfortable and not ashamed of their nervousness or hesitation to receive care.
Not every dental office worries about having a specified script for answering patient calls. This leads to mixed messaging, misinformation, and potentially turning a willing prospect into a cold inquiry. Plus, if you're not using a tech-forward communication system like Adit Voice, your team probably misses calls and voicemails throughout the day, directly impacting your bottom line.
Anytime a patient calls your dental clinic, it's an opportunity to generate business. This is why your front desk team, and any staffer that answers calls, should pay close attention to how they're communicating. Developing a script that can help your team control the conversation and miss any crucial details and treatment considerations will help minimize missed booking opportunities.
Using a smart VoIP platform can also prove helpful because many offer integrations with your EHR so caller information can immediately populate when answering. This adds further insight into a patient's needs to better upsell your dental services.
One sure way to increase the smiles and rave reviews about your office is by offering a state-of-the-art product or treatment that isn't available everywhere. This creates a surge of demand as patients want to enjoy the benefits of this care and rush to find a provider that offers it. So, despite your initial investment into a new service, your dental practice can quickly recoup it.
When deciding what new options to provide patients, keep in mind it doesn't have to be the most expensive or complex dental tech. It's all about supply and demand, but make sure your team has the necessary training and familiarity with it before advertising its availability at your clinic.
Every time you or your staff interact with your dental patients, there is an opportunity to market your brand. From simply setting appointments or explaining an upcoming oral procedure, these moments are crucial in nurturing loyalty.
Simply sharing the latest news about a new team member joining your office and mentioning they will help increase hygiene appointment availability can be just the impetus to secure additional bookings. This tip isn't about making a hard sale out of every communication; it's including your patient in what's happening at your dental practice and how new offerings can benefit their oral health needs. These conversations also demonstrate that your staff has their best interests in mind at all times and their patronage is valued.
Knowing what quality of patient interactions your office should have with its patients versus implementing them are two very different things. Believe it or not, practicing patient scenarios with your team can go a long way in not only reinforcing best practices but help create confidence in the solutions they can provide.
When patients have a difference of opinion on treatment or simply have an issue with their care, already being familiar with such inevitable situations is crucial to the level of professionalism your dental practice offers. This step also alleviates any stage fright or panic that can impact how your team reacts in tough situations by allowing the focus to remain on handling issues appropriately. Such effort will improve not just morale and patient satisfaction but also your profits.
One of the great things about specialized employees is that they excel at what they do best. They stay focused, have a strong performance, and can help your dental practice edge out the competition by offering a narrowed field of treatment that's difficult to find.
But, a specialty isn't always about the amount of education or specific training one has received. Your hygienists could easily be split into different patient focuses, offering a more customized care experience. For example, if you have two hygienists, one might show an affinity for working with older patients. This skill could easily translate into a specialization that allows you to improve dental care outcomes and experiences by simply leveraging their abilities toward patients they benefit the most.
Empowering your team members to put their talents to their best use often creates increased revenue and improved efficiency.
Instead of having a specialist on your staff, consider focusing your dental practice on a specialty, such as pediatric dentistry, or gearing your service model around a particular patient persona or procedure. This is a great way to narrow your workflow and marketing to increase your bottom line.
Plus, with the time spent by your dental team researching and developing their skills, your practice can further develop its industry authority and draw patients needing this service in your area. This will help you stick out from competitors and dominate the market in this area.
In a time where our data has become more valuable than oil, it's important for dental practices to analyze these values to understand more about patients, industry trends, operational efficiency, and more. These metrics are key to adjusting the many strategies you rely on to drive growth, patient outcomes, and profitability.
Your dental practice management software should offer an analytics integration to help you access and understand this information. With it, you can assess your office's strengths and weaknesses, fine-tuning your services to tap into new revenue streams. If your current system doesn't offer this feature, look into PMS options like Adit, which seamlessly integrates with most existing platforms to bring your office up-to-date.
While on the topic of data, how you manage this information is crucial. You don't want to silo information regarding employee hours or time spent on procedures. Having a dedicated process to collect, check, share, and organize patient and practice metrics is essential to ensure everyone on your team is on the same page, working toward the same goals.
Automation can make data management consistent and a breeze so that instead of wasting time ensuring that files are in the right place and information is uploaded correctly, your team can focus on retaining the patients at hand. Instead of waiting on patients to return traditional paperwork, your team can send an intake packet via SMS or email and let recipients complete and submit completed forms electronically.
With an automated PMS, your team won't have to give a second thought as to where the information ends up. Instead, all this data gets automatically updated to the patient's EHR or creates a new profile as needed.
Many dental offices use a modernized scheduler and reminder system but leave out billing or intake processes. This is often due to not understanding how every aspect of your business works together to create efficiency.
Instead, take a whole system approach when modernizing the technology, products, and techniques your clinic offers. This will ensure unified data, regulatory compliance, and balanced workflows for your dental team.
You're probably all too familiar with the concept that learning never stops. When it comes to dentistry, this saying has never rung truer. When your dental team goes into cruise control, skills stagnate, and cutting-edge expertise becomes outdated. Prioritize professional development for everyone working in your office.
From your hygienist to billing staffers and front desk reception, there are always opportunities at dental conferences and online continuing education courses to continue expanding their skills and training. Patients will appreciate your authority in the field of care they're receiving, and your office can maintain its edge over competitors.
Your practice management system is the MVP of your dental practice; it saves time and money while improving patient outcomes. But we live in a mobile society. Our phones and other favorite smart devices keep us connected 24/7. We bank, attend doctor's appointments, and even conduct business from the screens of our phones. Do your patients currently enjoy this level of access to your dental services?
If not, you're already losing money sheerly on lack of convenience. It won't take long for your ROI to improve after launching a mobile app for your office. Why? Because patients won't be stuck using a computer to book appointments or have to play email tag trying to get scheduled. Mobile technology means your clinic is accessible 24/7, no matter where the patient is, all from the privacy of their smartphone.
You probably love your dental assistant to pieces for what they do. But are you realizing their full potential in your office? It's not uncommon to undervalue their contribution to practice operations, but this is usually due to underutilization on management's part. Assess the duties that everyone on your team performs each day and determine if there are any tasks you could have your assistant handle instead.
Remember, your dentists and hygienists are performing procedures that are billable, whereas your assistant's work isn't in this category. Anything your assistant can do should be on their list of responsibilities, not that of your specialists and practitioners.
If you haven't reviewed your service fees lately, you might want to. It's not uncommon for practices to shy away from increases out of worry that they will lose a lot of patients. The good news is that price increases don't usually mean lost revenue, especially if the hike is justified.
Your patients come to your dental office for more than affordability. Don't forget your high level of care and stellar team of employees. No one likes having to find a new healthcare provider, and the same can be said of dentists. Providing a clear explanation of why your fees have gone up (rising cost of supplies, new building construction, renovations, etc.) is a great opportunity to share exciting new services and features you're now offering.
When reviewing your procedure and consultation costs, be sure to assess these elements based on the following:
You can rely on your practice analytics software to get these metrics and then change pricing accordingly. Just make sure to communicate these updates with your patients, on your website, and any other marketing channels your office relies on to communicate with the public. Demonstrate your emphasis on patient care prioritization by offering the best oral healthcare techniques and products available. All of these steps will boost your profit margin.
A time-consuming and often frustrating process of any dental practice is insurance claims and the technical headaches that come with them. From coding errors to coverage denials, reducing or ending your relationship with insurance carriers is probably tempting. And you might find that decreasing insurance dependency may be more profitable in the long run compared to the amount of productivity wasted on claim processing.
How do you go about cutting out insurers without losing patients too? Consider offering an in-house benefits program that provides similar savings on specific procedures based on a monthly subscription. This approach may actually help your dental practice tap into the local uninsured market, increasing your profitability through patient growth.
Has your office experienced a decline in returning patients lately? What are you doing to reactivate them? For many dental practices, the solution is a random postcard a few times a year reminding them of upcoming care they've probably already received elsewhere. Instead of wasting time and money on fruitless mailing campaigns, modernize your reactivation efforts with customizable messages that make their return a breeze.
Effective dental practice management software has automated reminders and personalization options that leave patients with a sense of being appreciated and missed. For example, instead of sending a generic message saying that your office shows they're overdue for a yearly exam, send an SMS with an online scheduler link that immediately allows them the option to engage and book their care.
No need for phone calls and excuses; just a few taps on their phone screens and inactive patients are back in your dental chair. You can also incentivize their return by offering a small discount or free whitening session.
To be profitable, you need effective patient collection. If your team seems to spend significant amounts of time calling and mailing invoices to collect on accounts, evaluate why collections are such a struggle.
Quite often, it's not that dental patients can't pay, but a matter of convenience. Sure, it's not that hard to write out a check and mail in payment or call over the phone, but many families have busy lives. It's easy to lose track of time and not get around to sending in payment.
Instead, consider offering flexible payment options, including:
Collecting payment doesn't have to be a negative experience when the right tools and conveniences are in place. If your current practice management software doesn't offer the flexible options in the list above, you may want to consider an upgrade to incorporate these methods. You'll be surprised how quickly you can achieve a 98% collection rate by simply offering more convenient ways to pay.
While our list of profit-generating tips for your dental office is helpful, one key element is crucial to make any of them beneficial: having the right tools for success. To effectively operate your clinic, grow your patient base, and maximize your revenue, you and your team need up-to-date practice management software with robust features for every aspect of your business.
At Adit, we understand the dental industry and what it takes to run a profitable organization in this highly competitive field. Our developers created a platform full of intuitive integrations and tools that seamlessly integrate with most existing software or offer an end-to-end solution for practices wanting to modernize their antiquated PMS solutions.
With over 15 innovative features that leverage the latest automation tech to provide your clinic with a hassle-free management experience, our cloud-based platform has quickly earned high praise. Some of the integrations included in our software include:
We also ensure that our system grows with your practice and always offers the most up-to-date features to provide you with a future-proof management platform.
You need maximum profitability, and our development team will keep finding new ways to help you get the most insightful analytics about what's driving your margins and how to increase them. To be successful, you need to make smart decisions about your practice operations and patient experiences. Our tools will empower your dental office to do just that.
Contact our team today to learn more about implementing many of the strategies recommended in this article to drive your profitability to new heights by improving your revenue, efficiency, and patient outcomes. Request your free demo today!
Angela is a former English teacher turned marketing content specialist. Over the past 10 years, she’s developed marketing strategies to forge enduring bonds between B2B, B2C and SaaS companies and their clients through holistic education, effective communication, and captivating storytelling that moves audiences to act.
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