It's not surprising that many dentists are skeptical when I say they can increase production by 30%-50% in three years. Most of them already work hard and can't imagine how many more hours they'd have to put in every week to achieve that kind of growth. What they don't realize is that their current approach to the business of dentistry limits their productivity in a number of ways. By identifying and rooting out system deficiencies, any practice can grow dramatically without demanding more time from the dentist and team.
Each practice's situation is unique, of course, but the following basic methodologies almost always come into play.
A prerequisite: Implement a new, high-capacity scheduling system
You first need to be sure your schedule can handle an increase in productivity. If you feel that it's already maxed out, a new system that allocates your time more efficiently is in order. With procedural time studies, improved coordination among your assistants, and other changes, you'll discover "hidden" capacity that's been going to waste. When the following steps yield more production, your new scheduling system will be ready to accommodate it.
Multistage growth program
Look at the challenge logically, and you'll see that increasing dental practice production should consist of the following steps:
1. Broaden your range of services.
Unless you've done so recently, there are probably some types of treatment you could add to your list of services. Whether need-based or elective, cosmetic or problem-solving, single-tooth or multitooth, performed by you or a hygienist, consider all your options. You'll probably find some that will benefit your patients.
2. Get the word out about all services.
Patients might be thinking of getting some type of treatment without realizing it's something you can provide. For example, I've known cases in which patients went to other practices for implants, simply because they had no idea their own GPs restored implants. You have to make all patients—not only new patients—aware of all the services you offer, and refresh their memories periodically. In addition, you need to create awareness externally, such as with your practice website.
3. Conduct comprehensive exams for all patients.
Like the most successful dentists, you may already be performing comprehensive examinations for your new patients, but you should also do this annually for existing patients. This will enable you to do equally comprehensive treatment plans.
4. Develop ideal treatment plans.
Patients deserve to know the complete range of dental services—from immediate to long-term—that your practice can provide to meet their individual needs. You're planting the seeds for future presentations while creating a vision of ideal oral health that patients can imagine making a reality. This is like a preview of presentations to come.
5. Make your case presentations more persuasive.
When presenting any type of treatment, emphasize patient benefits rather than clinical details. If patients accept, it will be because what you're recommending will improve their appearance, eliminate discomfort, make it easier to eat or talk, reduce health risks, etc.
6. Offer attractive payment options.
Whenever treatment will require considerable out-of-pocket expense, preempt possible rejection by making it more affordable. A range of options, from a cash-up-front discount to outside financing, can eliminate possible financial barriers.
7. Move beyond the one-consult mentality.
In the new dental economy, patients are taking longer to make treatment decisions. Don't give up if you don't get a "yes" with the first presentation. With continued attention and gentle persistence, you can eventually persuade patients to take advantage of what you're offering.
With a new high-capacity schedule and techniques like these to fill it, you'll soon be producing more than you ever thought possible . . . and enjoying dentistry more than ever before.
Author's note: Download Dr. Levin's free white paper, "How to Increase the Income from Your Practice," at levingroup.com/ppa.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the founder and CEO of Levin Group Inc., a leading dental consulting firm. A nationally recognized speaker, Dr. Levin presents practice management seminars throughout the country.