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There are many reasons why Minoa Marketingâ€™s Naomi Cooper believes better than 90 percent of dental practices do not effectively leverage their assets. After all, dentists go to dental school, not business school. But itâ€™s not too late to better understand how to take advantage of the human and physical resources at your fingertips.
Naomi Cooper of Minoa Marketing offers advice for dental practices to capitalize on what works and identify areas for growth in their business.
Are you getting the most out of your dental practice? Are you leveraging its assets to the fullest potential?
Chances are the answer to both questions is “No,” and there are many reasons why.
“The foremost reason is that dentists go to dental school, they don’t go to business school,” says Naomi Cooper, president of Minoa Marketing, a Los Angeles, California-based dental/medical marketing and social media consulting firm. “They may be maximizing their clinical skills, because that’s what they were taught.”
And yet, Cooper points out, most dental schools have no more than one semester on business.
“The reality is there are very few D.D.S./M.B.A.’s out there, yet the dentist is supposed to be the CEO of a million dollar-ish business,” she says.
So, let’s start leveraging those resources.
Cooper says the first step, perhaps even the pre-requisite before the first step, is to have a practice assessment done by an unbiased third party. Because any person, even someone with exceptional business acumen and training, is not capable of assessing their own business objectively.
“I couldn’t assess my business objectively, and this is what I do for a living is assess businesses,” she says.
That third party opinion should also come from someone who knows the dental business. Many business consultants understand business in general, but they don’t know the first thing about running a dental practice. An experienced dental consultant will not only help you understand how your practice is doing compared to five years ago, they’ll help you benchmark yourself against other practices.
And if you’ve been working with a consultant for the last 10 years and have hit a plateau, maybe it’s time to get another opinion.
“Because even a consultant can end up being too close,” Cooper says.
Cooper believes that a practice’s existing patient base is its most important asset. However, it’s also the most underappreciated and underused. She explains that dentists are often looking for that unicorn patient who wants a $30,000 full mouth reconstruction. But the reality is those are often current patients who are just waiting to have their eyes opened.
“You have to look at your patients with a fresh eye,” Cooper says. “You maybe thinking, well, that restoration has held up pretty good for the last 20 years, because you’re diagnosing the pocketbook rather than the patient. It’s important to look at existing patients as part of production potential.”
In other words, even though the restoration may be holding up, it’s not a functional outcome many years later.
Next is the front desk. Cooper says the person sitting there too often is someone’s sister’s uncle’s cousin who needed a job and was willing to work for minimum wage. And then after 20 years becomes office manager.
“I see a lot of people who conflate someone answering the phones with someone being the heart and soul of the practice,” Cooper says. “And the office manager for a dental practice should be someone with true business acumen, hopefully with experience running a dental practice.”
It’s important that the front desk and/or office manager is an individual who can fill in the gaps; who compliments the dentist in terms of having some of the skills the dentist may lack, such as case acceptance or people skills. And, Cooper adds, the front desk receptionist should be “the nicest human being you know.”
Does your practice have a cohesive brand? Does the name on the practice door signify what the practice is all about? Or is it as generic as California Dental Care? And does that brand appear on signage, business cards, letterhead and the practice website?
“Knowing your brand is really important,” Cooper says.
And speaking of websites, Cooper says a critical asset for dental practices is an excellent website that is mobile friendly. She states that 60 to 80 percent of web traffic today is on mobile devices. So if your website is not mobile friendly, it will not be seen by 60 to 80 percent of your existing patients.
“Not to mention that Google will basically not show your practice if you do not have a mobile friendly website because of its mobile initiative,” Cooper says.
Lastly, maximize patient review, whether they’re placed on Google, Yelp or Health Grades.
“Today, people care much more about the opinion of the masses,” Cooper explains. “And if they see you have 40 positive reviews, they’re much more likely to trust those than when someone says, ‘Go to this doctor.’”