Top 6 Reasons Dental Practices Fail

Over the last 15 years I’ve seen a lot of practices come and go. Having consulted over 200 dentists over this span of time, it’s more than apparent that the majority of practitioners I’ve helped had at least a somewhat distorted view of what it takes to succeed in practice.

Rarely have I seen clinical errors taking place in a practice. 95-98% of you are fair to excellent clinicians. However, it is the lack of administrative training that causes more trouble than anything in dental practices young and old. Funny thing is, it isn’t the dentist’s fault! I want to make that very clear. After all, how much administrative training is being delivered in most universities as part of a dentist’s professional education? Not much at all. And not only is the training limited, it’s often dated, and sometimes totally useless by the time you graduate. Universities such as Midwestern, Temple and U of Alabama just don’t cut it in terms of preparing a dentist for the real world with targeted practice management training. Many of my clients believe that they were set up to fail from the very moment they receive their diploma. That’s a lot of added stress when you’re standing there trying to open a practice, and working hard to get things moving, especially with huge debt looming.

I’ve met some of the greatest clinicians the field of dentistry has to offer. Cosmetic dentists, Endodontists, Orthodontists, and even a few Periodontists. Many of you truly believed (Coming out of dental school) you could open a practice and somehow even succeed within a marketplace that is very unforgiving of doctors that lack administrative basics. You and I know that there isn’t much margin for error. This is one reason many fail in that first year.

That being said, I’ve listed out the top six reasons most practices fail.

Here they are:

6) Inadequate or Improperly Trained Front Desk.

In my article entitled: “Hiring A Good Receptionist” I covered some of the mistakes doctors make when interviewing and hiring front desk personnel. You truly get what you pay for! And if you think paying any person with a pulse off the street 8.00 an hour is going to cut it here, you’re mistaken. A good receptionist is worth her weight in gold!

Read full article here: Hiring A Good Receptionist

5) Improper Delegation of Clinical Responsibility.

About half the dental practices I have consulted over the years have had one or more dentists doing their own hygiene! Unbelievable! You’re a dentist, not a hygienist! You need to be doing dentistry! The time you spend doing prophys and root planing, is time you should be spending doing dentistry, not things OTHER THAN dentistry. If you’re doing your own hygiene, chances are you need help fast, and are probably not sure what to do. We can help.

4) Can’t Control Collections.

It’s your money, so it should be in YOUR pocket! This is a “Top 4” problem because it can drain the life from a practice and most doctors and office managers have no clue how to fix it. All that hard work, but you only collect an average of 65-75%, spread out over four months? That will drive any dentist to drink! It’s no wonder dentists have more stress than even traditional MD’s.

Furthermore, if the bulk of your collections are 90-120 days, with only 75% winding up in your account annually, we need to talk!

3) No Quality Control.

When was the last time you asked a patient how they felt about their visit? When was the last time you asked them what they liked, or did not like about the experience of being your patient? Have you ever had a patient fill out a survey? No?  Then don’t be surprised when you see a new patient once; then never again after that first visit. Oh I can hear the excuses now! “I don’t have time”……”My staff doesn’t have the time”. Regardless, it’s your funeral if you ignore this point.

2) Relationships With Patients, or Lack Thereof.

My dentist still calls me on my birthday! Don’t laugh! He even remembers that my birthday is the same as John Lennon’s! He knows my children by name, my dogs by name AND my favorite football team. He knows I like classic cars! Do you think I’ll change dentists knowing how much the man cares? When he talks to me he’s actually listening, and he cares that my kids are getting good grades. It makes a HUGE difference! Now go ahead and say “I don’t have time” again. (Rolls eyes)

1) Poor Treatment Plan Acceptance.

This is an absolute KILLER! One for one, dentists will say that “New Patients” is their biggest issue. “If I could just get more new patients…. A steady flow of new patients, I’d be OK”.  We’ve heard this in at least 65-70% of practices.  However, when we dig into a practice, we find that treatment presentation lacks luster.  The result of poor treatment plan acceptance is what is known in the consulting field as a “Revolving door syndrome”. Patients come in, they are examined and presented with a treatment plan they do not accept (For various reasons); leave through the door in which they came, never to be seen again. Practices with poor treatment plan acceptance will waste new patients as easily and quickly as kids waste food! Think of it as an artery that isn’t clamped and is pushing someone toward “hypovolemic shock” (All nonsense aside).

If you’ve seen yourself being stressed out from any of the areas above, you need to stop the bleeding so that you can concentrate on what you’re best at. That’s dentistry isn’t it? You went to school to learn to fix teeth; that’s what you should be doing! The magical thing about this is, that once administrative basics are implemented, stress levels deflate considerably.

Call us. We’ll give you a free one hour consultation at no cost or obligation. By a show of good faith, we hope to make a few friends. If what we share helps, and you see our value, all we ask is that you consider us when in the market for web services. We never miss!

Until next time, take care and have a great holiday season!

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