4 ways to innovate your dental practice without breaking the bank

June 17, 2015

Like building any business, starting your own dental practice is not for the faint at heart. Without a doubt, one of the greatest challenges of having your own practice is the amount of pressure you’re putting on the bank. While you’re trying to relieve yourself and your practice from financial hardship, it can be difficult to think about innovation. Most clinics assume that innovating must require tons of money … and investing in the latest technologies.

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However, there are many practices that will hardly cost your clinic anything … and they’ll make your clinic appear more innovative and on top of the latest trends to appeal to new and existing patients. You don’t need a huge marketing budget or experienced IT people. All you need is an innovative mind and the will to make a difference. Companies who fail to innovate, out of the fear of expenses, can’t keep up with their new patients, and run the risk of missing out on great opportunities that could potentially save them money in the long run.

Here are four innovative ways to make your dental practice stand out without going bankrupt.

Get out there!

Being innovative means getting yourself and your practice out there in whatever ways you can. Many of your patients and potential future patients are hanging out online. If you’re not there, you’re missing out on lots of missed opportunities. When you’re on social media, it makes your practice seem innovative and up-to-date with the times, so to speak.

When your name is out there circling on social media, not only does it make your practice more innovative, but it also gives your brand a name. Especially if you’re interacting with people and getting patients to talk about you, people love customer-driven reviews and feedback so this makes your practice even more enticing.

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The best part is that you don’t have to spend any money to get your practice going on social channels. It’s up to you to put these free social media channels to good use. When patients come into the office, encourage them to “check in” via Facebook or Twitter. Entice them by offering more “swag” in their swag bag, awesome games on your Facebook page, or a free T-shirt. The T-shirt and swag bag will also serve as earned media for your practice, helping you to get out there even more!

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Think outside of the office

Creativity leads to innovation. Without the sense of creative thinking, your practice will be sadly (and quickly) left behind. The world of dentistry is constantly changing. In order to keep up, you have to “think outside of the office” to keep the fresh ideas (and innovative ways of doing things) flowing.

Thinking outside of the office means not taking the typical route. While many dental practices market toward parents with young children or people trying to upgrade their smiles, innovative practices will pitch to other dental practices or physicians to receive business.

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There’s a few different ways to go about this approach. There’s the “free sample” method, where you bargain with unsolicited help. If you’re in great relations with other dental practices, they’re more likely to recommend you when their patients are moving cities, need different facilities, etc. The best form of marketing is word of mouth, so puckering up to some other clinics providing some “help” could do you a lot of good in the long run.

Another approach relies heavily on emotions. Many relationships are based on our “emotional bank account.” According to this theory from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, only those who have deposited into an individual’s bank account can influence and motivate an individual. By listening carefully, you can find places to intervene and become of assistance to other practices that will later return the favor … hopefully in the form of a referral!

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Collaboration

Always be on the lookout for ways that you can help others in the practice … and ways that others can help you. Innovation can also come in the form of finding new ways to work together to improve customer service, business practices, and communication. This process of collaborating with others takes active listening from everyone on the team to ensure everyone’s opinion is heard and gives each employee a sense of value.

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When teams collaborate and work together, they achieve more. This is in direction opposition to teams where each independent person is out to fend for himself or herself. When communication is high and your team is flexible, you can lower costs, increase production, increase capabilities, and become more adaptable to change.

Collaborative teams feel more empowered knowing that their actions are part of a greater team, which makes everyone feel more engaged and committed to the mission. Innovation becomes easier when everyone is working together to gather ideas and input to come up with future solutions.

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Membership plans

This is one of the simplest ways for innovation to take place at your practice. With tough competition, many small businesses across America are stuck in the struggle of offering quality employee benefits. While dental coverage is one of the most common benefits included in these packages, dental insurance premiums can vary greatly based on age, number of employees, type of coverage, etc.

Most insurance plans require the employees to pay 20% or more each visit … and it may exclude common treatments as well. However, if your practice offers a prepaid membership plan, you’re able to customize annual memberships to best meet your patient’s needs. As a dental practice, you have the ability to offer membership to individuals, families, or small business owners.

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This is another innovative way to market your practice to yet another valuable target … small businesses. These patients will be more inclined to come in for a checkup, oral exam, cleaning, etc., because it’s included in their annual membership. This will also help these patients to recommend you to other friends and businesses.

You can see now that innovation doesn’t need to cost you a fortune in the latest products and technologies. Instead, innovation is a mindset that you should always keep on, inside and outside of your dental practice. With your innovative mindset, it’s easy to stay open to fresh new ideas that will help you in setting your practice apart from the others.

Author's note: To learn more about cephX, visit www.cephx.com.