by Roger P. Levin, DDS
Building a practice by adding new services is a smart approach for creating long-term growth. The key is to select services that are profitable, manageable, and relatively easy to implement. Providing the right service mix will increase patient satisfaction, draw new patients, and lead to greater profitability.
Here are the types of questions we ask at Levin Group to help identify the service mix that will best suit a practice:
- What elective and cosmetic services do you currently offer?
- What percentage of production are your esthetic and elective services?
- Are patients requesting services you don’t currently offer?
- Are patients aware of all your services?
- What is the socioeconomic makeup of your patient base?
- What percentage of patients are children, adults, or seniors?
- How will your patient population evolve in the next five to 10 years?
- Are you offering the right services to take advantage of those changes?
- Do you have many edentulous patients?
In any practice, new services are a conduit for creating stronger patient relationships as well as providing tremendous opportunities for growth. Offering new services to the appropriate patient base allows you to maximize your value to current patients and attract new patients to your practice.
Levin Group Method™ dictates that one service be added at a time in order to develop the skills and presentation necessary to implement that service before beginning the next. Create a list of five or six new services you would like to offer and implement them one at a time. A practice dedicated to adding the right new services can benefit greatly from each service. More significantly, the practice ensures its patients will always receive the best care dentistry has to offer.
Practices should offer a variety of need-based and elective services, including whitening, veneers, inlays and onlays, implants, periodontal maintenance, and ancillary services.
Many patients have used some form of over-the-counter tooth-whitening products. Practices can capitalize on the value that patients associate with retail whitening products by offering affordable, more effective whitening procedures through the practice. Whitening is often an introductory service that leads patients to select more involved cosmetic and elective procedures. Many of our clients, using enhanced case-presentation training, move whitening patients into more comprehensive esthetic services.
Many patients have chips, cracks, gaps, misalignments, and discolorations in their anterior teeth that mar their smiles. Porcelain laminate veneers placed over anterior teeth can quickly and painlessly correct these imperfections and help patients achieve beautiful smiles. Veneers help patients accomplish healthy, natural-looking, and beautiful smiles with little or no discomfort. This is still a growth area in dentistry, but we find that many practices do not present these cases well.
Inlays and onlays
Ceramic inlays/onlays allow patients to beautify posterior teeth that have older dental work. For patients who have had cosmetic dentistry on their anterior teeth, the next logical step is to redo older amalgams on posterior teeth. The stark contrast between cosmetically enhanced anterior teeth and older dental work on posterior teeth can motivate patients to opt for comprehensive cosmetic dentistry.
For partially and fully edentulous patients, implants have many advantages over dentures, bridges, and other prostheses. Implant dentistry is extremely productive for both specialty and general practices. Partnering with the right specialty practice can be a win-win for the practice and your patients. This is a major service and growth area for the future of dentistry.
Many patients who visit a dental practice only once a year or less show signs of gingival or periodontal disease. Practices need to design and develop programs that focus on soft tissue therapy. Given that the hygienist should generate at least 25 percent of practice revenue, it is extremely important to maximize hygiene productivity. Soft tissue therapy creates opportunities to improve patients’ oral health through a complete periodontal program.
One area that is often overlooked by dentists when they think about expanding their services is ancillary services. In-office dispensing of dental products can be an effective way to improve patients’ at-home care. In-office dispensing is an opportunity to make specific recommendations to patients, and then have products available for immediate purchase. Remember, people want convenience. Having dental products for sale in the practice is a positive and excellent strategy. It also helps to create what I call a “WOW” factor for patients, who are very pleased to learn that they can purchase oral health-care products in your office. Patients can usually purchase products in the dental office at a lower cost than in retail stores due to the professional rate offered by the manufacturer to the office. The practice also benefits by achieving increased hygiene production and boosting overall profitability.
Practices should consider dispensing products that improve at-home oral health care for patients. One such product that enhances normal brushing is the dental water jet. While flossing is recommended by dentists, noncompliance is an issue for the majority of patients. As an example, the Waterpik gives both dentists and patients another option. Instead of trying to persuade noncompliant patients to embrace flossing, dentists can recommend this clinically proven technology. Many patients prefer the ease and convenience of a dental water jet compared to flossing.
With more preteens, teens, and even adults undergoing orthodontic treatment, many dental patients find that maintaining good oral health is extremely challenging. Braces trap food particles and become breeding grounds for bacteria and decay. The dental water jet effectively cleans around braces and other dental appliances, including crowns, bridges, and implants. Products that enhance at-home care should be considered a win-win for both patient and practice.
Formula for long-term practice successAdding new services to your practice is an excellent opportunity for practice expansion and enhancing customer service. By implementing the right service mix, you can increase your production without increasing team stress or practice hours. Providing an assortment of need-based and elective services is a formula for long-term practice success.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is founder and CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm that is dedicated to improving the lives of dentists through a diverse portfolio of lifetime services and solutions. Since the company’s inception in 1985, Dr. Levin has worked to bring the business world to dentistry. Levin Group may be reached at (888) 973-0000, or at www.levingroup.com.