PennWell Dental Community
You asked: Are things bad now in the dental office? Will they get worse? Is this just a "bump in the road?"
The answers are so specific to the specific dentist that you ask.
If you ask me things are great. My practice has flourished in Texas in the 1980s and in California ever since, in good times and in bad times.
In the down turn there are offices that do great and others that suffer. What is coming next for an office depends on how well that office adapts to the environment. Change is the only thing you can be certain of, and it will come to us all.
Consumers have changed dramatically since1984. They are more aware. They have more demands. They interact with each other more closely. But what they wanted then is what they want today. They want good service.
This in turn means we must approach them more respectfully. We must serve them better. We must realize we depend on them to be our biggest advocates.
You can’t just go out and market to the mass as easily as before and just get business. You have to deliver the value at the other end. You must be service oriented. If you don’t deliver what you claim your patients will review you negatively. Bloggers will tear you apart and the money you spent to reach the mass is gone.
If you constantly try to upsell patients the word will get out. You will be accused tried and convicted on the internet.
But any dentist that builds their practice around 4 main aspects will set themselves apart from the pact. The order of importance is as follows.
They have to get visibility where it counts. (There are cheap ways to do this)
They need to be available when the patients need them (This requires a dentist that is committed to his/her patients)
They need to deliver great service ( this has more to do with how your patient perceives you and your office than what work you performed)
They need to provide good dentistry (this is what we learned to do)
You would think that great dentistry should be number one. But patients don’t know the difference between acceptable, good and outstanding dentistry unless they are basing their opinions on esthetics or comfort. An open margin may not be a problem for 5 years before it becomes a symptomatic disaster.
So why are the other 3 ahead of good dentistry?
Visibility is first because if they don’t see you, they won’t try you.
Availability is second because you have to get them in when they need you. Make them wait too long and they are gone.
Service is the most important. If you serve them well, they will like you and they will talk about you and they will refer others to you. They will become your marketer and your advocate.
Patients understand service. They will most likely label you as a great dentist for many reasons, but good dentistry is probably not one of them.
I cannot stress enough to dentist looking for growth the importance of the wave of change that has arrived. It is a fact that patients are informed and connected and they will talk to friends and strangers via the internet and either recommend you or blacklist you because of the experiences that they encountered at their visit to your office.
Recently some innovative methods to gain visibility and to deliver better and more convenient service to patients have come to the market. Dentists that employ them first will be busy because they will be the ones to set the bar. Those that don’t won’t, because there isn’t room in the marketplace for every competitor to do this effectively.
I think we are in the middle of a slow climb upward. There will be a few bumps upward. But for the most part the worst I feel is in the past. Our practice, I think, bottomed out the last few years. But that seems to be done and we are on the rise!
I don't think there is any recession in dental profession. You should try to get online reviews from your customers because online reputation is a big source of business these days.
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The short answer is yes. It will get worse.
There is a crisis of leadership and quality in the profession. The indisputable elephant in the room is that there are more dentists now than ever in history. More importantly there are more dentists per capita than ever in history. This is not a simple result of free market supply and demand. This is because the market for dental professionals is being manipulated unfairly to the disadvantage of dentists and their patients. This harms dentists by driving driving down income. This harms patients by lowering the quality of dentistry in America.
Our main voice, the ADA, actually promoted the fictional apocalyptic shortage of dentists narrative for years despite no evidence to support this claim.
If you want to do something, speak with your wallet. Stop paying the ADA. At least consider taking a year off. Treat your family to a nice vacation with the money you save. Perhaps then the ADA will return to being an advocate for the profession. In the near future, count on spending more time on marketing if you want to remain successful.
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I read your articles. And i think you are right and take more good decision.
Dentists aren’t such bad people. We’re just the ones doing the work and stuck with the bad-guy label. if you came to see me as a new patient, one of the first things I would want to know is what you like and dislike about going to dentists. I want to do more of what you like and less of what you don’t like.