The family dental practice is not what it used to be. At one time, being a dentist was a sure fire ticket to financial security, but not anymore. At one time you very rarely saw a dentist’s name on a bankruptcy list and now it is a common sight. What happened to the family dental practice to bring about this change in financial status? To understand this dilemma you have to understand what is happening in the dental community. Here are some of the contributing factors to the high bankruptcy rate among dentists:I strongly suggest you to visit Cinnaminson Family Dental Practice to learn more about this.
The shrinking dental caries (cavities) rate. With better dental health awareness and preventive practices, fluoride in water, dental health education at a younger age and better diets the caries rate is shrinking. As well, more people today have dental insurance through their employees or private health plans, so they get regular check ups which helps prevent caries from starting. This shrinking caries rate can also mean there is a shrinking income for the dental practice.
More competition. With more dentists graduating from dental school and fewer dentists being able to retire (due to their high debt load as well), this creates a glut in the dental market. The US Census reports there were 116,000 dentists practicing in 1970; by 1996 (the latest year statistics are available) that number rose to 196,000. This historical data would suggest that currently (2011) there are double the number of dentists practicing in the US as there were in 1970. Since population rates did not double during the same time frame (Population: 203,392,031 in 1970, and 310,759,842 today) the over supply of dentists is evident.
Lack of Business Practices. While dentists today get adequate training on dental procedures they are woefully under-trained on how to run a business. Most dental students come out of dental school with student loans that can amount to $80,000.00 per year of school. They begin work in a dental practice as an associate, open a new practice or buy an existing practice. However they start work in dentistry, most graduates are starting their careers with close to, or more than one million dollars in debt. The debt, added to the lack of business training and marketing knowledge creates the ‘perfect storm’ for potential bankruptcy.
Marketing Plans. Ask almost any dentist to share their marketing plan with you and they will probably show you their advertisement in the yellow pages and their website. Unfortunately this is NOT a marketing strategy. It is ONLY advertising. Marketing must include customer follow up, community involvement, networking, online promotion and numerous other tactics to maintain and grow business.
What Can the Family Dental Practice do to Ensure Their Success Both Now and in the Future?
Basic Business Practices. First and foremost a dental practice owner must remember that their practice is a business and should be treated as such. Profitable business requires a business plan, a marketing plan, a financial plan, a sales strategy and an exit plan. All of these are to be formulated and written by a business professional.
Use of a Mentor. Never under estimate the value of a business coach. Bill Gates once said “The reason I am a success is that I surround myself with people who know more than I do”. Your mentor may be another dentist, or it may be a successful entrepreneur or business owner who is not in the dental industry. A good mentor shares what they have learned and acts as a guide. How to find a mentor? Local business associations are a great place to start (Chamber of Commerce, etc).
Network, Network, Network. This includes getting involved in the local business community organizations, volunteering on non-profit boards and participating in community events. It also means getting to know the other dentists in your community, as well as connecting with other health care providers who may refer clients to you – and you refer to them.
Continuing education. Many of today’s treatment options were not taught in dental schools. This includes dental implants, bone grafting and the use of dental lasers. Becoming a “Jack of all Trades” does not mean you will have to place the implants yourself, it means that you will learn enough information to talk about the benefits and contraindications of implants and then point your patient in the right direction for treatment. Many dentists are now also offering cosmetic procedures such as Botox.
Keep up with technology. Keeping up with technology does not mean you have to buy every new piece of capital equipment that comes on the market, but look around your office and ask yourself; do your chairs look outdated? Is your sterilization unit sharing space with your dental lab? Are you still using a dark room and hand dipping the x-rays? If so, then it is time to take advantage of what the newer technology has to offer both you and your patients.
Dentistry is in a state of continual change and it’s important for dental practitioners to stay abreast of those changes if they are to be successful.