You’ve probably noticed that US inflation is rising quickly. It’s at the highest level in 13 years and is rising at the fastest pace in 30 years.1 You’ve seen this with the increase in grocery and gas prices, but these aren’t the only challenges we’re seeing. Inflation also affects your practice—wage costs, equipment costs, and more. The costs to run your practice are higher, and you may need to make some changes to ensure you remain profitable.
Fortunately, dentistry is a resilient industry. When patients understand the importance of dental care, they’re more likely to pay for treatments and exams, regardless of inflation levels. As the economy changes, you don’t have to add gimmicks to attract patients. The tried-and-true methods to improve practice efficiency and attract patients are the best way to stay profitable. Here’s how to keep your practice profitable even as inflation rises.
Investing in technology can reduce costs by improving practice efficiency. You shouldn’t waste money and resources on things that can be done with technology. Automating tasks gives your team members more time to focus on the most important part of the practice—patient care. Practice automation adds value, improves patient engagement, provides consistent quality of services, and reduces overhead.
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Communicate with patients
Patient communication plays a much bigger role in practice profits than you may realize. Communicate with patients often and early when you must make changes due to inflation, especially if you’re increasing prices. Giving your patients advance notice helps them prepare. They’ll also be more willing to continue to support your practice if they feel included through communication. Ninety percent of consumers say transparency and adhering to values are key factors in deciding what businesses to support.2
Communicating the importance of your services is also helpful. When patients understand how important proactive dental care is, they’ll be more likely to spend money on it, even as other expenses rise. Social media, email, and text messages are all good communication tools. Combining these methods is the best way to stay in contact with patients.
Market your practice
Marketing is a crucial part of attracting the new patients you need to keep your practice profitable. Social media, review management, SEO (search engine optimization), and other tools can help. The following marketing strategies will help you get new patients and build loyalty.
Promotions: These can be a good way to attract price sensitive patients. However, you don’t want to offer too many discounts as this can reduce profits overall. Offer discounts only on products and services that have the highest margin for your practice, and target the most price-conscious patients. This way you can attract some patients who will not pay full price for certain services, while still making a profit from their procedures.
Bundles: A good way to discount some services is to bundle them. If booking both a hygiene and whitening appointment together gets patients a better deal, they’re likely to book more than one service. This can help you gain more profit per patient.
Influencer marketing: This can be helpful to attract new patients. A recent survey found that 92% of social media users trust recommendations from influencers.3 You don’t even have to get a celebrity endorsement. Micro and macro influencers (5,000 to 20,000 followers) are often more persuasive. Their followers trust them more due to the community feel of the small follower count. Find a micro or macro influencer in your area to partner with and market your services.
Change pricing and payment options
These tips are essential to keep profits up as inflation rises, but despite all your effort, you may still need to raise prices. If you’re nervous about doing so, you can raise them a little each quarter until you get to the final prices you need. If you find that many patients are concerned about the increases, you may need to consider new payment options. Using a “buy now, pay later” service can help patients who struggle with the increases. Nearly a third of consumers have used these payment services, with 81% saying they would do it again.4 Offering these options allows patients more upfront more options, which allows you to increase your patient base.
Remember that adapting to change is key during challenging times. It can be scary when change threatens your business, and today’s inflation rates are certainly frightening. It’s more important than ever to evaluate your practice policies. Using technology, communication, marketing, and pricing and payment options will keep your practice schedule full and help you stay profitable, even as your costs increase.
This article originally appeared in DE Weekend, the newsletter that will elevate your Sunday mornings with practical and innovative practice management and clinical content from experts across the field. Subscribe here.
- Blumberg JM. Inflation is soaring! What to do about it in your dental practice. MGE Management Experts. November 3, 2021. https://www.mgeonline.com/2021/inflation-is-soaring-what-to-do-about-it-in-your-dental-practice/
- Charest D. How any small business can inflation-proof its marketing. Inc. June 11, 2022. https://www.inc.com/dave-charest/how-any-small-business-can-inflation-proof-their-marketing.html
- 7 tips to stay relevant as an online business with inflation. CodeDesign. January 28, 2022. https://codedesign.org/7-tips-stay-relevant-online-business-inflation
- Maree P. Consumer spending and inflation: Marketing’s response to reduced purchasing power and rising prices. WPromote. March 9, 2022. https://www.wpromote.com/blog/digital-marketing/consumer-spending-inflation