How to develop an esthetic-centered practice

Since the beginning of time, history has showed that esthetic beauty has always been cherished by the human race. Today, the American public is obsessed with the notion that being beautiful is better. This has been documented by the continued development and success of new hair, body, skin and weight-loss products. Additionally, the growth in esthetic reconstruction by plastic surgeons, orthognathic surgeons and dermatologic surgeons has reached a new plateau. Procedures such as face lifts, hair

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Here are six keys to making your practice more rewarding, profitable and fun.

Larry Rosenthal, DDS

Since the beginning of time, history has showed that esthetic beauty has always been cherished by the human race. Today, the American public is obsessed with the notion that being beautiful is better. This has been documented by the continued development and success of new hair, body, skin and weight-loss products. Additionally, the growth in esthetic reconstruction by plastic surgeons, orthognathic surgeons and dermatologic surgeons has reached a new plateau. Procedures such as face lifts, hair transplants and liposuction have become today`s fashion. This market continues to grow without any assistance or interference from third-party insurance carriers.

With renewed public awareness, esthetic dentistry has begun to take its rightful place as a necessary treatment to keep America healthy and beautiful (Figure 1). If you desire a practice that is rewarding, fulfilling, profitable and fun, then I urge you to pursue the area of esthetic dentistry!

There are six vital keys to marketing your new esthetic practice!

1. Develop the skills necessary to be both clinically and technically excellent—How are these skills achieved? Attending continuing education courses and keeping up to date on new materials and systems are vital steps. It seems that change comes virtually on a daily basis, as procedures change with the research and development that clinicians, researchers and manufacturers have supplied. You must be committed to reading to keep up with the changes. Seminars are important and the new hands-on programs help develop the skills and confidence to make you a believer. You must believe in yourself and understand that you have the potential to achieve excellence.

2. Involve Staff—The dental team is essential. You need to surround yourself with positive people who support you. Eliminate the negative aspects of your practice. Does your staff know and understand the value of your services? Do you? Attitude and strength in your convictions will make you and your staff a winning team. Make staff members your partners with incentives and bonus plans.

3. Create a successful new-patient experience—The key to successful case presentation is to establish a trust relationship between you and the patient. You and your team must create a new-patient experience that reflects honest, excellent and professional care. A new-patient coordinator may be necessary to help you reap the tremendous rewards by serving as a communication liaison between you and the patient. The coordinator`s job is to inform, educate and stimulate the patient to the possibility of that beautiful smile (Figure 2). Often, it is the coordinator`s job to quote the fees, make the appointments and establish that all-important rapport with the patient. Our patients are given an office tour, introduced to everyone and given the VIP treatment.

Here are some extremely important procedures to follow during your time with the patient:

* Listen! If you must speak, ask questions and gather as much information as possible.

* Pay particular attention to your patient`s concerns. Ask more questions, "tell me more about that" will always get a response. How do they feel about time; is it an issue? How do they feel about pain; is fear an issue? Never assume you know what a patient is going to tell you. Always keep asking patients about their concerns. Always keep asking questions and gathering information. Then, you can address those concerns strongly. Do not, under any circumstances, avoid them.

* Ask your patients about their expectations. Try to get beyond the obvious and find out what the patient really expects of you. Ask them what they would do with their smiles if they had a magic wand. When you put patients` smiles on a TV screen, they tend to be detached from them and can be more candid about their desires.

* Be positive. When would you like to have that beautiful smile? Do you want what is best for you?

* Use high tech to demonstrate and to educate. The intraoral camera, patient CD systems and especially computer-imaging are essential to demonstrate the state-of-the-art today.

* Open your schedule to permit cosmetic cases to begin immediately if so desired. These patients are impulsive and want to get started when they have made the decision. Often, these procedures are discretionary and elective. Take advantage of the moment, treat them special and seize the opportunity. Go for it!

* My treatment coordinator will help you find the best available time to suit your schedule. If you want that new smile, we will find a way for you to feel financially comfortable.

* Close the sale! Use your new-patient coordinator to discuss the possibilities, fees and what you have determined is the most appropriate treatment for the patient. The coordinator can appoint, get a retainer fee and answer the patient`s final questions. If necessary, have a second consultation at no charge to discuss any concerns that the patient may have and to answer any questions and to reinforce the value of what they will receive.

4. Invest in your business— Successful people in business reinvest in their business. They upgrade personnel, equipment and redesign and redecorate their offices and showrooms. You may need to re-evaluate your workplace. How does it look to your patients? What kind of statement are you making? Is it esthetic? Is it state-of-the-art? Is it comfortable, new, clean and bright? Orange shag carpeting will not sell cosmetic dentistry! As previously mentioned, high tech is necessary and will pay for itself.

5. External marketing—If you feel there is value in external marketing, then hire either a public relations firm or a management company to build your name in the community. If you do it, do it right! Any advertisement may help. To get to the level of an exceptional "artist" in your community, you need to be exposed to the public professionally, ethically and esthetically. This may cost a considerable sum, so carefully hire the right individual to escalate your production to new heights.

6. Be proactive—Do not wait for patients and situations to come to you. Go out and get it! The entire team should be aggressively seeking and encouraging the enthusiastic patient who loves to smile. We want our satisfied patients to help build our practice with word-of-mouth referrals. They usually know a friend who could use our artistic talent. We give our patients as much attention as possible with flowers and gifts and complementary recare visits.

As you can see, there is a lot of work to do and a lot of decisions to make. Don`t panic! Relax, enjoy and have fun with what you are about to do. Prioritize!

As each new change is made with staff attitude, dental excellence and office presentation, everyone will get more excited, more motivated and more stimulated to be the best that they can be. Your staff will be positively reinforced and will begin to carry you on their shoulders.

If you decide you want a more cosmetic-oriented practice and you make the physical and financial changes that are necessary to do it, the emotional, financial and pleasurable rewards will be worth your efforts. Be patient, listen and learn and enjoy the ride. Good luck on your journey!

The author is an accredited member of the AACD. He is co-director of the Post Graduate Aesthetic Continuum at Baylor College, the co-director of Ultimate Aesthetics at the Americus Continuing Educational Center in New York City and the Advanced Aesthetic Programs at the Las Vegas Institute. He has lectured and published internationally. He has been featured on television and in leading publications, including Vogue, Glamour, Forbes and The New York Times. He is assistant editor of the AACD Journal and maintains a private practice limited to aesthetic and restorative dentistry in New York City. For literature or seminar information, contact Jackie Pastore at Dr. Rosenthal`s office at (212) 794-3552 or fax to (212) 794-3644.

Figure 1

Before

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After

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Figure 2

NEW-PATIENT CONSULTATION

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The new-patient coordinator informs, educates and stimulates the patient to the possibility of a beautiful smile.

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