“It’s like having your teeth drilled.”
We’re all familiar with this expression to describe a difficult situation. Not surprisingly, this statement is seldom uttered in dental offices, even though dentists experience plenty of pain points related to the nonclinical aspects of running their small businesses. These include finance, cost management, insurance, human resources, and marketing, to name a few. These must be handled seamlessly so the doctor can manage patients and keep up with the latest clinical procedures.
To what extent is your dental dealer part of the solution to relieve your "pain" as an independent practitioner?
Minimum expectations of a dental dealer
Products in stock. Competitive prices. Product quality. Customer support. Any dentist would expect this from their dental dealer. Here are some additional must-have expectations.
No-hassle return policy. An independent dental practice is a busy place. When it comes to product returns, dentists expect their dealer to understand the practice’s need for flexibility.
Adaptable ordering system. Dentists also expect a dental dealer to know how their practice operates and to devise an ordering system that makes the most sense for them.
On-demand distribution. Dentists expect a dental dealer to have the flexibility to shift instantly from a standard, transactional approach to distribution. This means pulling out all the stops to get them the products they need to ensure uninterrupted delivery of patient care.
What distinguishes a solutions-based dealer?
A solutions-based dental dealer can offer value-added services that address the nonclinical challenges and increase efficiencies in the office. It’s like the doctor having additional employees working as an extension of his or her practice.
The hallmarks of a solutions-based dealer
Doesn't push. A solutions-based dental dealer should not be about pushing products and services. Beginning with a comprehensive meeting, a knowledgeable company representative should actively listen to and engage with the doctor to understand the practice’s business challenges. An attentive dealer should be able to identify untapped nonclinical enhancements that could add revenue for the small business.
Value adds. The solutions-based dental dealer finds complementary business solutions to help independent dentists run their practices cost-effectively and profitably. Such value adds could include custom rewards, rebates, and even free technical services and customer support. This approach is in keeping with the philosophy to provide a complete product and service offering to help with the nonclinical side of the business.
Product education. For the solutions-oriented dental dealer, customer engagement is built on a solid understanding of what products the customer is using and why, and which ones are most important to the doctor. But the solutions-based dealer takes this one step further by offering potential product alternatives that may make more sense for an independent practice.
The solutions-based dealer trains sales representatives to counsel practitioners about product choices that do one or more of the following: help the practice operate more efficiently, improve patient comfort, add streams of revenue, and save the practice money.
Experienced technical staff. Another hallmark of the solutions-based dealer is the constant awareness that when clinical equipment is down, the practice is losing revenue. This awareness leads to creation of a highly-skilled technical staff to maintain and repair customer equipment, and this means fixing it quickly the first time.
Continuing education. Successful independent practitioners are always learning about new ways to run their practices more efficiently, keep more revenue in-house, and expand revenue-making opportunities. They should look for a dental dealer who is able to offer free continuing education related to these learning objectives.
If your relationship with your dental dealer is purely transactional, then you’re missing out. A dental dealer should be more than just someone you call to place an order. A solutions-based dealer should be able to help your small business run more efficiently and profitably.
My advice is to meet with and encourage your dental dealer to be more than a pass-through provider of products. Be candid about the nonclinical pain your small business experiences. You need a dental dealer that can relieve that pain with a dose of added value.
The article originally appeared in DE Weekend. To subscribe, visit dentaleconomics.com/subscribe.
David Charnowitz is founder and CEO of DC Dental, the Baltimore-based independent dental supplier. DC Dental has differentiated itself as a solutions-based supplier offering a commitment to value, large selection, faster delivery, and high-quality customer service.DC Dental serves dentists throughout the country with a focus on the Mid-Atlantic region. For more information, call (877) 653-7500 or email [email protected].