Dentistry business guru talks ‘2012 boom’

Chris Barrow, managing director of the BKH Group, gave the opening welcome for the Dental Business Conference at the Dentistry Show 2012.

He followed his opening address with the talk, ‘The Boom of 2012’, where he outlined his top 10 successful habits of winning practices.
1.    Recruit the right team.
You need to have all the areas of practice business covered: finance, marketing, customer relationship management, treatment co-ordination, operational (clinical and non-clinical) and team wellbeing. The principal should be focusing on clinical dentistry for four to four and a half days per week, with the remaining day or half-day dedicated to communicating, leading, and managing the people who are carrying out those other six critical functions.
2.    Attract the right patients.

Focus on the needs of specific demographics of patients and adjust your services and surroundings to cater for them: 25-35 year-olds – a reasonable income and little responsibility, 35-50 year-olds – usually female and want to look good (e.g. smile makeovers), 50-65 year-olds – ‘affluent greys’ who expect ‘concièrge class’ and are prepared to pay for it. 65 and over is an emerging marketplace for denture stabilisation. They want a good customer service experience and respect.
3.    Sell the right products.
This is what’s selling (in no particular order): whitening, facial aesthetics, veneers, GDP orthodontics, Cerec, migraine, smile makeovers, dental implants and denture stabilisation. Most of it is from new patients, not from the existing maintenance book. These products are getting more people in.

4.    Deliver the right marketing mix.
Marketing needs to be ongoing and continuous, not an occasional short campaign. The top three sources of new patient enquiries are currently:
– Word of mouth (through robust systems)
– Internet, web-based and social media engagement
– Direct marketing

5.    Understand the numbers.

A successful dental practice understands the finances. They are able to produce a profit and loss statement within a few days of month end, and they interpret that statement to look at the key performance indicators. These KPIs will tell them whether they’re on track or not. And with those numbers you need to look at every pound you spend on marketing and be able to link it directly to a result.

6.    Work with TCOs.
After an initial enquiry to the practice, ask the patient if they would like to come in for a free assessment with your TCO. Next, suggest a paid consult with your dentist. The dentist and the TCO work on the treatment plan and presentation and the treatment flows. Within six months of training a nurse as a TCO, your fee earners’ (associates, principals, dentists) productivity will increase by up to 30%.

7.    Partner with therapists.

Dental therapy is the future of independent dentistry, because soon they will have direct access to patients. It doesn’t mean they’re going to set up their own businesses, it means they’ll be able to work in the building independently of you. If you work with them, they can drive your maintenance programme.

8.    Offer HMAs and membership.
With therapists or hygienists in place you can offer patients a healthy mouth assessment every six months for maintenance. The dentist gets to do dentistry all day and not just endless check ups and the therapy team runs the maintenance book. Then, you can introduce a membership scheme and build up some stable cash flow into your business. 

9.    Improve your clinical skills.

There are a lot of hygienists and therapists who could take your basic work away from you, so you’d better upskill or you’re going to get left behind. Attend courses and dental conferences, receive mentoring from senior clinicians, and take part in e-learning to become a better clinician.

10. Take plenty of time.

There’s no point in being a millionaire if you have no friends or time with the family. Work on your work-life balance, have plenty of holidays, get home on time and have a life.
Chris then introduced a ‘bonus habit’, which aptly enough, was ‘Deliver more’. In your patient journey and clinical delivery, constantly ask yourself how you can deliver a little bit extra that patients weren’t anticipating. People love it when they get more than they expect and it has a disproportionate effect on their attitude towards you.
Chris finished off by explaining that these habits will positively differentiate you from the competition and make a big difference to your success in 2012 and in your whole career.

Make a date for next year’s Dentistry Show at the Birmingham NEC next year.
For more information, visit, call 020 7348 5269
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