Looking to convert your practice to solely private? Ash Parmar offers some tried and tested strategies on why you should consider making the switch.

Are you happy to work within the NHS? Do you enjoy having a large list of patients each day and working on a ‘conveyor belt system’? Many of us are doing some private dentistry, or looking at seriously converting to private only.

There are a number of proven and defined strategies that can be followed to ensure a successful conversion to doing private work only. This article is aimed at giving an overview on how to make positive change happen predictably and successfully.

A positive mindset

The most successful people in history have understood the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction says that you are a living magnet. What you get in life is dictated by the thoughts you emit into the universe (positive or negative).

The law says that if you have a very clear idea in your mind of your desired goal (eg having a successful private practice), and you can hold that idea in your mind on a continuing basis, you will inevitably draw into your life the resources that you need in order to achieve it. So, be completely focused on your outcome, and you will achieve your goals!

Design your life 

It is important to design your life first, and then design your work around this. Not the other way around! Dentists should sit down with their spouse or partner and really identify what is important in their life. You need clear answers to the following:

  • How many days a week do I really want to work?
  • How much income do I want?
  • How many weeks of holiday a year do I want to take?
  • What are my hobbies and things I am passionate about that I need to create time for?
  • What is the most amount of time I am prepared to travel to work?

Work is important; but it is desirable to have a balanced life. How much time do you spend with your loved ones? What is the price to pay if you work hard and do not have a balanced life? How healthy are you? Do you have time to develop your spiritual life? How happy are you? These are important questions to contemplate and address. It may sound obvious, but if you are physically fit, eat and drink healthily, and enjoy fresh air and the beauty of nature around you, you will feel much better. Your attitude to work and your energy and enthusiasm at work will then be amazing!

Vision and goal setting

To make change happen, you need to create a new vision. Three important areas need to be considered:

  1. Who are you? It is essential to decide your practice identity and develop a clear picture of this
  2. What type of dentistry do you want to do? Clearly define the type of dentistry you want to do from now on in, eg cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, implants, etc
  3. Whom do you want to treat? Based on the type of dentistry you want to provide will clearly define your target audience (eg age, sex, demographics, etc).

This is a difficult exercise to do properly, but one of the most important steps to begin with. Goal setting is also required. Goals must be written with clear deadlines. Only the top 3% of the most successful business owners have clearly defined written goals! To convert an NHS practice to a private practice may require a one to two-year game plan with clearly defined and manageable monthly goals. This makes the task easier and minimises financial risks in the transition. 

Create a marketing plan

Allow a budget of 5-8% of the annual turnover for marketing your practice. You should then have a detailed marketing plan for the year, which will change with time. This is because you need to monitor your marketing strategies and evaluate what is working and what is not. Some examples of successful and low-cost marketing strategies are:

  • Find time to develop excellent relationships with your clients
  • Offer outstanding customer service at all times
  • Ask for referrals
  • Learn how to make exceptional temporaries (this has been my secret to building a great cosmetic practice)
  • Repeat newsletters to your database
  • Use of ‘smile questionnaires’
  • Digital photography (one of the most powerful ways of non-pressurised selling)
  • Having a very good website (have a look at my two websites for some inspiration: www.smiledesignbyash.co.uk and www.theacademybyash.co.uk).

Create a beautiful looking practice

To improve your practice need not cost much money! Dentists spend thousands of pounds on equipment and fancy gadgets, but often fail to understand that patients may not perceive those differences. They will however notice the aesthetic ambience of the practice, the nice aromatherapy vapour as they enter your premises, the beautiful music playing in the background, the smiling and smartly dressed professional team members. They will also notice the totally clutter free environment, the beautifully appointed washroom with Molton Brown products, the freshly brewed cappuccino when they ask for a coffee. They will also enjoy the classy hardback books in your reception lounge, the nice works of art and makeover pictures of your clients on the wall. 

In summary, set a budget, have a team meeting and brainstorm the ideas of change you want to consider in your practice. Review what nice hotels and restaurants look and feel like. You cannot have a successful private practice if you don’t look the part. 

Education and development – invest in yourself

To make successful changes, you will need the following:

  • Excellent clinical skills – go on postgraduate courses to learn additional skills. Hands on courses are the best way to learn (eg smile design, orthodontics, occlusion, and photography)
  • Learn the art of selling – how can you quickly learn the skills to successfully get your patients to say ‘yes’ to larger treatment plans? How good are you and your team at communication skills? Do you fully understand the DISC profile system and its importance?
  • An excellent treatment coordinator – dentists find it hard to delegate. However, a highly trained and skilled treatment coordinator will drive your business to levels of success you would not have dreamed of! Dentists should mainly focus on actually doing the dentistry. The more you learn, the more you find out you don’t know! Life is a journey of learning. Develop a passion for excellence in whatever you do.

Mentorship and coaching

It is important not to try and reinvent the wheel. It will actually be more efficient and productive to get help from dentists and business coaches in dentistry that have a wealth of experience to help you focus clearly and guide you on the journey of change. When people are choosing a cosmetic dentist or one that offers implants, they are now increasingly looking at the calibre and experience of the dentist and the practice. Are you ready to step up to a new level?

Summary

Whether you are a newly qualified associate dentist, or the owner of a dental practice, there is much to learn in order to become a successful private dentist. Handling people, mastering the art of effective communication, investing in better equipment and dental materials and learning new skills are some of the important areas to work on.

There are many courses you can choose, but deciding what you want first, and then choosing the right mentor(s) will help you a lot.