Most dentists enter the practice because they have a passion for the work, not out of a burning desire to be a CEO. Yet building and growing your dental practice requires you to be a top-notch business owner, capable of running everything from marketing to human resources, and from bookkeeping to daily operations. You certainly do not need to perform all of these tasks yourself, but you do need enough understanding of each process to tell whether it is working well or needs adjustment. As insurance reimbursements go down and expenses rise, it is more important than ever before to run a streamlined practice that drives profits without compromising the quality of care.
A dental practice consultant can be the solution. While you are understandably attached to certain ways of thinking and managing your practice, a consultant provides an outside perspective. He or she can take an objective look at the business side of your practice and help you see things in a new way. With a consultant by your side, you are truly poised to take your practice to the next level.
However, hiring a consultant is not for everyone. If you are considering taking this step, it is important to understand some basic truths about what to expect.
Consultants Are Not Miracle Workers
A good consultant will challenge your assumptions and help you see your practice in a new way. However, the hard work of implementing changes will fall on you. In the short run, while you are developing new systems and processes, your workload may skyrocket. Your consultant will likely give you lots of homework to complete between meetings, and you may wonder why you brought this person in at all. Remember that it is the consultant’s job to assess your practice and make suggestions, but your job to bring those ideas to life. In the long run, though, your practice will thrive. Just keep your long-term goals in mind.
Change Begins with You
If your dental practice is struggling, it is easy to blame external factors. Your location is terrible, your staff is lazy, you can’t afford a fancy new machine, or a myriad of other excuses. While some of these may be objectively true, they are symptoms of the problem, not the root cause. As the business owner, you and you alone are ultimately responsible for the practice’s success. Bringing in a consultant is a sign of strength and good decision-making—you are admitting where you need help, and hiring someone with the specific skills and knowledge to fix those areas. Take a deep breath and trust the process, remaining open-minded to ideas that might at first strike you as strange.
Clinical Skill Is Important, But Not Sufficient
Many dentists with struggling practices try to educate themselves into success. Post-doctoral training, clinical workshops in cutting-edge techniques, adding in-house dental labs…all of these things help you to become an objectively better dentist, but have little to no effect on growing your practice. Remember, your patients are not trained in dentistry. Although the digital generation has more general knowledge about various treatment options than its predecessors, few patients are really able to judge whether one dentist’s clinical skills are better than another’s.
Continuing education is always an excellent idea, but to truly take your practice to the next level, you need to switch gears to focus on the business management side. Sometimes it’s as simple as going back to basics: Do you accept the insurances that are most common in your area? Are your wait times reasonable? Do you offer online appointment scheduling? Do you have extended or Saturday hours? Your consultant will analyze all of the little details that could be hurting your business.
Avoid One Size Fits All Solutions
Be wary of dental consultants who want to sell you their practice management “system.” Implementing systematic processes is an excellent thing, but they must be tailored to your practice. Every dental practice has a different patient base and different staff members, all with their own unique needs and desires. Local norms and conventions vary widely, as do individual offices. Look for a consultant that will make the effort to analyze your practice and make recommendations that are tailored to your needs, rather than plugging you into an existing system.
In today’s economy, dentists must run smooth, streamlined practices that provide top-quality care at minimal cost. To achieve this, it is vital to ensure that the business side of the practice is fully optimized. As most dentists are not business experts, bringing in outside help can be the solution. However, a dental consultant is not right for every practice. The points above can help you decide whether it is the right choice for you.
Ascent Dental Solutions is dedicated to helping dentists build their practices. If you are interested in learning how to take your dental practice to the next level, please contact us today at 413-224-2659.