Have you recently finished dental school and going to start your own practice? If yes, it’s a difficult but truly exciting time for you. New dentists tend to make some mistakes in their initial years of practice that can really affect their success and lead to frustrations. We have put together those mistakes dentists must avoid in order to be successful.
The dental economy has changed drastically in recent years. It wasn’t long ago when dentists could simply finish dental school, start their practice and start enjoying a steady growth almost instantly. That’s when there was a high patient demand and limited supply of dental services.
Today, however, the economy has reversed. New dental schools across the country means higher supply of dental services and belt-tightening consumers means a smaller base of active patients. Hence, dentists face tough competition and their dental knowledge and expertise is no longer enough for them to achieve success.
Following are some common mistakes dentists must avoid at all costs.
- Not putting any efforts into marketing
You might have seen senior dentists running successful practices without investing any efforts and money into marketing. One of the biggest mistakes you can make today as a new dentist is not putting any marketing efforts to bring in new patients and retain the current ones. The changes in the dental economy has made the market more competitive and so, it’s almost impossible to have your practice grow without the right marketing techniques.
Many dentists start marketing only when their practices are showing signs of decline. They throw a few strategies and when these last minute strategies don’t work, they get frustrated. To avoid this frustration, you should market year round and use a minimum of 15 marketing strategies throughout the year, says Dr. Levin of Levin Group. Doing this would ensure superior results, bring new referrals, new patients and more production.
- Not setting goals
Another major mistake dentists make is not having any particular goals in mind. They go to office hoping to have a great day with a few problems. And if they’re lucky to experience that, they expect their practice to grow by a certain amount each year. And of course, that’s unlikely to happen because growth doesn’t happen itself.
To experience growth in today’s economy you need to market your services and use techniques to increase productivity. And to ensure you use the right techniques, you first need to have particular goals in mind about what you want to achieve. How many new patients are you aiming for? Where do you see your practice in the next three years? These challenging goals and a powerful vision motivate and inspire the entire team to work together to improve performance.
- Not following up with patients
Your current patients are your most valuable resource and you should do your best to retain them at all costs. To make sure your patients schedule regular appointments with you and refer you to others, you need to make them happy. One technique is to send a text message or a phone call to remind them about the appointment. This technique is proven to reduce missed appointments by 50%.
Another technique is to follow up with them after the appointment. Call them in the evening of their appointment and ask them how everything went and if they had any issues. Making these calls yourself rather than delegating them will make your patients feel special.
- Ignoring the power of social media
One big mistake today’s dentists make is when they exclude social media from their marketing strategies. Any marketing strategy remains incomplete without being active on social media. Social media is where most of your target audience is hanging out and so, using the right social media strategies will help you reach that audience directly.
To harness the power of social media, first identify the social media site most used by your audience. Then create an account and try to maximize the number of people you reach out to by increasing page likes or followers. And then, whatever social media strategies you use, be consistent with them.
- Not referring to a specialist whenever possible
One thing that damages your patient’s trust and your relationship with them is when you don’t be honest with them. If you think something is beyond your skill level, let your patients know and refer them to a specialist. Nothing can be as embarrassing as having to punt and refer in the middle of a procedure. On the other hand, referring beforehand builds trust and makes your life much easier.
The first few years of your practice are difficult but very exciting. Making mistakes is natural and also helps you learn and improve. Just don’t forget the simple stuff and avoid these common mistakes and you’ll be great!