Many dentists live for cosmetics and reconstruction - the cosmetic home run which will make a huge monetary difference in their monthly bottom line. How tightly niched can you be in cosmetics and still make a living? Can it work in every area, as some have touted?
Consider the fact that cosmetic work is not covered by insurance. That’s good, because it then becomes your patient’s choice. Because cosmetic procedures are not insurance-driven, a certain sophistication of skills and mastery in psychology of sales are necessary to have a general dentistry patient say “yes” to treatment. If your practice is insurance-driven, then you and your staff are mentally tied to insurance fees and maximums. It is a real challenge for optional cosmetic services to have a great impact in your practice. If your staff knows each patient’s insurance coverage by heart, it is an indicator insurance reimbursement drives your practice. It would be rare for you to do a 10-veneer case - even if the doctor and team are highly clinically trained - because veneers are not covered by insurance.
To boost the number of cosmetic and reconstructive cases you do, not only must you master sales skills, but so must each staff member. Unless sales skills are studied, mastered, and applied with excellent open-ended questions - asked by patients focused on obtaining beautiful smiles - the conversation will likely go the deep-hole “technical route” of need and the patient will ask:
“Why should I do this?”
“Will my insurance cover it?”
“Oh, no, I don’t think so!”
“I am not interested.”
The cosmetically-trained dentist thinks, “No one in my town is interested in cosmetics but I love learning.”
Learning the clinical techniques of cosmetics will not result in cases being accepted. Study relationships, trust-building, and psychology, and discover why sales is a never-ending process in which every team member must be involved. Cosmetic success requires a paradigm shift for each team member.
Study composition from the areas you draw patients. Though we want to democratically make cosmetics available to everyone, some sets of people are much more interested and can dream their dreams more easily with “wiggle room” money. If your small area is the home to trust-funders and wealthy transients, it may work for a tightly niched cosmetic and reconstructive dentist without a general dentistry base or even a hygiene program.
If, on the other hand, your small area is composed of solid blue-collar citizens who depend on an annual harvest or the shaky continuation of the foundry for their living, your approach to cosmetics may come from their dream of saving their own teeth, not having to deal with teeth that come out at night, and having teeth that work. To market strictly “cosmetics” may not work well. There is no “wiggle room” for these folks, and they believe in longevity and value for their dollar. This type of practice will be successful with a solid general dentistry base and skills that can sell value and longevity to some. An occasional home run will occur.
Dr. Brian Saby of Red Deer, Alberta, concurs. An accredited member of AACD, Brian had externally marketed, focusing on cosmetics. He discovered potential patients thought cosmetics was all he did. Since the majority of his cosmetic work comes from regular patients who have been shown the possibilities, he changed the focus in his ads to attract the average patient.
What may work well is for the dentist to learn a technical skill others may not be offering in the area, such as automated endo, implant dentistry, or cosmetic dentures.
Numbers and skill come into play. Cosmetic dentistry usually has a longer acceptance time. Thus, there are huge oscillations in the income stream from month to month. Dr. Rhys Spoor of Seattle advises, “Cosmetics will naturally occur in a happy general practice. Pick the easy ones and feel great; referrals will come. Leave the hard ones for the dentists equipped to handle them and all the headaches which can result.”
Can you do cosmetics anywhere? Yes, but you may only work two days a month! Cosmetics anywhere? Yes, and usually with a solid general dentistry base. Study your demographics before you niche your practice too tightly. Make cosmetics a part of what you offer mixed with other services.
Dr. Bill Blatchford’s Custom Coaching Program is now available anytime, anywhere. Utilizing 18 years of practice-management experience with more than 1,100 offices, he focuses on leadership, systems, case-presentation skills, communication, and profitability. The program involves maximum personal time with the coach and interaction with other doctors. He has a new book available, “Playing Your ‘A’ Game - Inspirational Coaching to Profitability.” Contact him at (800) 578-9155 or visit his Web site at www.blatchford.com.