If you have a goal of practice growth in 2018, the analysis and planning you do now is vital.

Essentially there are five ways to grow your dental business:

1. Convert your existing patients to existing treatments or services

 2. Convert your existing patients to new treatments or services

 3. Increase the number of new patients

 4. Increase your fees

 5. Buy a list of patients / goodwill of a practice

So which areas should you prioritise? If you haven't already considered this, here are FIVE key questions to ask yourself :

1. What marketing is working for your business?

Take a look at where your new patients have come from in 2017 (if you don't measure this I urge you to prioritise creating a system for doing so), then consider:

• Can you improve the amount you are generating via your existing patients?

A simple calculation of your active patients versus the number of patients who recommend you can be revealing. Make the calculation and consider whether you are happy with the percentage of patients who are currently generating new patients for you. If not, take a look at your patient recommendation systems.  Do your patients actually know they can recommend you?

·         Can your patient journey be improved to provide more remarkable moments for patients?

·         Can you stop paying for advertising or other marketing which doesn't generate new patients for you?

·         Can you redirect these funds to create more promotional materials which help you talk about your treatments with existing patients?

2. What price rises should you make in 2018?

Your business costs have undoubtedly risen over the last few years. Your accounts should clearly illustrate this increase for you.

If you don't systematically review your prices each year to identify those fees which should be increased, you fail to redress this balance and your subsequently profit margins reduce.

A mystery shop exercise can be very useful. This involves someone calling your closest competitors as a potential new patient. It gives you an impression of how your patient experience and prices compare with your rival practices.

Formerly the domain of the retail sector, this exercise is now being used frequently in the dental sector. Chances are your practice has already been 'mystery shopped' more than once, so you should have no qualms about using it to your advantage too.

With knowledge comes confidence. Perhaps there are opportunities for you to raise the price of larger treatments if you are worried about increasing your fees for exams and hygiene appointments. Some dentists do both. Just make sure you complete the exercise annually in order to highlight the opportunities you have, rather than simply seeing your costs rise and doing nothing to balance these additional outgoings with extra income.

It makes sense to consider this in advance and make any price rises in line with the start of the financial year for your business.

3. What untapped profit potential do you already have?

Which of these still have potential for you:

·         What potential do you have to convert more patients to other dental services, such as hygiene or cosmetics? 

·         Have you assessed the working structure in your business to match your revenue to profit?

·         Can your exam and hygiene patient recall rates be improved further?

4. What is your 2018 marketing strategy?

When you review the key areas of profit potential you reveal opportunities to improve systems and carry out specific projects to drive the growth of your business. You create your marketing strategy.

It's important to collate these actions into a plan for 2018.  The earlier you do this, the more of the year remains to take the action and generate growth.

A key part of your Practice Manager's role should be managing this plan for you, so you can make the most of your own time. For smaller and sole practitioner businesses, Clarke McEwan can also stand in place of a practice manager for you.

Now is a good time to meet with us to agree a plan at the start of the year and make reviewing the plan progress a standard part of your meetings with us.

Your marketing strategy will dictate some of the Key Performance Indicators you should track throughout the year via your plan. And it should ultimately contribute to achieving your business vision.

5. Are you capturing the stories you create for your patients?

Giving your patients confidence in a healthier, fresher mouth creates a difference to them. So does giving them a brighter, straighter smile.

A key part of the process of promoting the 'magic' in what you do is capturing and sharing these stories with potential new patients.

Make sure you create a system with your team to identify and capture these stories. In marketing terms they are worth their weight in gold.

Need to discuss your 2018 strategy? We are always happy to talk to practitioners and you are welcome to call us on 07 5475 4300 for an obligation free chat.

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