The Boutique Dental Practice

If you have read previous columns, you may recall my philosophy of the Boutique Dental Practice. Few factors have had such a dramatic impact on increasing practice productivity and profits and decreasing stress as this revolutionary concept. The boutique practice`s key is enabling the dentist to reach his or her full potential and simultaneously providing the highest level of service to patients.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA

If you have read previous columns, you may recall my philosophy of the Boutique Dental Practice. Few factors have had such a dramatic impact on increasing practice productivity and profits and decreasing stress as this revolutionary concept. The boutique practice`s key is enabling the dentist to reach his or her full potential and simultaneously providing the highest level of service to patients.

There are three primary components to the boutique practice: high quality care; high levels of customer service and high fees.

A combination of all three elements is required to provide the greatest opportunity for building a highly successful dental practice. While the boutique practice philosophy helps practices become even more successful, more importantly, it may be the only effective solution for dealing with changes in traditional dental needs and the permeation of managed care.

High-Quality Care

The foundation of the boutique practice is high-quality dental care. Without quality care, the practice will be unable to charge appropriate fees and offer distinctive customer service. The practice must make a conscious effort to offer and promote quality. Attending seminars and study clubs to stay updated on the most current techniques and materials available should become a routine part of everyone`s duties. This may be time consuming, but it is an investment which will pay off.

In addition, the boutique practice needs to increase the percentage of elective services it performs, such as cosmetic dentistry. The reason is simple. Elective services are the most effective way to combat the effects of managed care and changes in modern society`s dental needs and wants.

Begin tracking each cosmetic procedure`s production and compare this figure to the practice`s overall production. This percentage indicates the role each service plays in your office`s production. Once you know this, you can make educated decisions concerning which services to market to a greater degree.

For example, suppose your office production for July is $70,000, porcelain-laminate-veneer procedures accounted for $14,000. Use the following calculation to figure the percentage of production from veneers:

$14,000 (veneers) x 100 = 20%

$70,000 (total)

This formula shows you that 20 percent of July`s production was from porcelain laminate veneers. Using this figure, you now can formulate a goal for your production from veneers. Each procedure should be given a specific goal with an overall objective to increase the total percentage of cosmetic procedures.

Exceptional Customer Service

The boutique practice also offers extremely high levels of customer service. Each patient should leave the practice with what I call the "WOW" factor. This means that your patients are so impressed by how they were treated that they literally say "wow" as they walk out the door.

This may should a bit unrealistic. However, the boutique practice requires a level of customer service that causes this reaction. Any lower level of customer service is not sufficient in a successful boutique practice. While future columns will examine how the "WOW" factor is achieved, it is crucial to understand now that the boutique practice requires this level of service.

Higher Fees

Do not misunderstand your motivation for charging high fees. You are not out to take advantage of patients. High fees are necessary to have a well-trained staff, the best materials, newest technology and so forth. All of these are necessary to provide exceptional care and outstanding customer service. In addition to covering your expenses, your fees will have to be high enough to allow for reinvesting in the practice.

For example, suppose you want to have several different bonding kits available. This adds additional expense to the practice. Then, when you add in the cost of purchasing other materials and equipment, such as an intraoral camera, and closing the office for continuing education for the staff, the expenses rise significantly. However, all of these expenses must be viewed as investments. Investments have one purpose-to increase productivity and profitability.

The Levin Group has surveyed hundreds of thousands of patients for our clients during the past 10 years and one primary constant concerning fees continually surfaces. Most patients believe that the fees in their dental practice are too high, yet they continue to return. Meanwhile, patients in boutique practices report that the practice`s fees are reasonable despite being among the highest in dentistry. This is because they appreciate the better care and higher level of customer service the boutique practice provides, and they are willing to pay more for it.

Summary

While the boutique practice enables you to have the highest quality care, highest levels of customer service and highest fees of any practice in dentistry, perhaps its greatest asset is its ability to handle changes in dentistry such as managed care. It`s not just financially beneficial, it`s also the smart way to practice dentistry today.

Dr. Roger Levin is founder and president of The Levin Group, a national, dental-management and marketing-consulting firm. He can be reached at 410-486-1089.

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