True Dental Success Institute

Top 3 Habits of Elite Dental Practices

WOW, What a weekend!

First of all, on behalf of our entire team here at the Dental Success Institute, I’d like to send out a sincere THANK YOU for attending our annual Dental Success Summit.

We couldn’t be more thrilled with the results of the event… the weather was beautiful, the speakers presented valuable and actionable information, and best of all, we were able to reconnect with old friends, and meet lots of new ones!


We’ve been floored by the overwhelmingly positive feedback that we’ve received from the attendees and I wanted to share with you the biggest practice building strategies and take away lessons that the attendees were presented during the sixteen hour event… so here you go!

Lesson #1: Create a systems dependant practice rather than a staff dependant office. One of the biggest mistakes that I see private practice owners make is recruiting the very best experienced team that they can find and allowing that staff to create their own systems for running the practice. This may work well for the practice for a brief period of time, but if the all-star staff ever moves on and leaves your practice, the systems leave with that employee.

A better strategy is to take a proactive approach to the systemization of your practice and to clearly define the roles and duties of every position within your business. Once each position is defined, an accountability agreement must be drafted. This agreement will serve as a contract between the owner and the employee and will give the owner the standards necessary to maintain order and effectiveness regardless of who is holding each position at any given time.

This structure removes the pressure from the owner of having to constantly having to recruit and maintain a practice full of “A” players. With strong enough systems in place, each position can be filled with enthusiastic and eager employees with limited experience. All-stars are still great for the practice and plugged into the right systems can bring the practice to remarkable heights, but the right systems prevent you from being held hostage by them.

Lesson #2: Ruthlessly track your practice’s key indicators. Most dentists walk around with a very rudimentary understanding of where their business stands from a financial perspective. Most commonly, dentists are aware of three numbers: production, collections, and new patients. This is a good start but without intimate knowledge of several other key indicators any business owner is completely blind to the true reality of the business’s performance.

Here’s a quick list of the metrics that must be regularly tracked in order to get a full understanding of where your practice stands: total staff salaries (25%-30%); lab fees (6%-8%); facility (5%-7%); dental supplies (5%-8%); marketing (5%-7%); and other minor operating expenses (10%-12%).

After all of these expenses are paid, the owner-doctor should be able to pay himself or herself 25%-30% of the practice’s overall production. Any cash left over after the doctor is paid is the practice’s profit.

Getting to know where your practice stands in comparison to industry standards is the first step towards taking your practice to the next level.

Lesson #3: Create a predictable and consistent system for new patient acquisition. Here’s the bottom line when it comes to acquiring new patients: no single marketing campaign, media or strategy will work in all markets. What works in Manhattan or San Francisco may be a huge flop in small town U.S.A.

Many of the supposed marketing experts preying on our profession will try to make you believe that they have the secret sauce that will instantly bring in a flood of new patients regardless of your location.  It simply isn’t true.

As dentists and entrepreneurs, our businesses are reliant upon qualified new patients entering our practices and paying for our services. The most qualified new patients are those that are referred from the existing patient base.

Our “Internal Trifecta” includes referral generation, reactivation and recall systems. By having a written protocol that outlines the exact steps to each of these systems within your practice, delegating a portion of each of the systems to your team, and holding each team member accountable for their specific responsibilities, the number of new and reactivated patients will exponentially increase.

And while the internal systems of new patient acquisition and reactivation should comprise between 40%-60% of your new patient flow, external marketing is still necessary to attract those in your community who are in search of a new dentist.

Here are three quick tips when designing your marketing piece:

  1. Always keep your avatar in mind. Your avatar is simply your ideal patient. You must have a very clear picture of who you are trying to attract when creating your external marketing promotion.  Where do they live? How much money do they make? How old are they? How many children do they have? Grandchildren?  Where do they socialize? What do they do for fun? All of these questions will help you to craft a message that will speak to them directly. Try to attract everyone and you will attract no one.
  2. Be unique. Leaving the design of your marketing piece to the ad rep that sold you the   advertising space or air-time is a recipe for wasted money and zero results. Their goal is to make you look as similar to your competitors (who they also sold ad space to) as possible. Dare to be different, make your ad community based and as different from all of the other bland, white noise out there as possible.
  3. Track and Measure your results. The cardinal sin of marketing is not tracking your results. If you are ever going to get an acceptable return on investment for your marketing dollar, you have got to be disciplined about tracking the results of each promotion in your campaign. If you are placing several ads in several different media, you should have an exact measurement of the performance of each one. This type of tracking allows you to try to improve ads that are not performing well, and to drop media that is not producing a decent return.  If you fail to follow through with this one step, your marketing efforts will never positively materialize.

There you have it! The biggest take-away lessons from the annual Dental Success Summit. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to boil the lessons of a sixteen hour event packed with amazing content into a short blog post, but the “Top 3,” are a great start.

If you’d like any further information about these subjects or would like to schedule a 20 minute practice consultation with me, simply contact us and we’ll get one scheduled right away!

As always, thank you for supporting this awesome community!

All the best,

Mark Costes, DDS
Founder, Dental Success Institute
Founder, Horizon Schools of Dental Assisting
Author, Pillars of Dental Success
Host, The Dentalpreneur Podcast on iTunes

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