The Seven Mistakes Dentists Will Make in 2012

Writing this towards the end of 2011, it’s hard to find any good news being forecast for 2012. All our national commentators agree that it’s going to be a tough year for all sectors of the economy and that public demand for goods and services will remain suppressed and may even get worse.

From my daily contact with practice owner’s, it seems that most are reporting a measurable fall in demand in their practice during 2011 and together with rising costs, profits are really being squeezed.

Fortunately there has always been a lot of slack in dental practices and Principals have been able to get away with running their practices badly and still making good profits. So, there’s plenty of room for improvement and many ways in which things can be tightened up to prevent the profitability heading the same way as the recent stock market indices

So, here are the top seven mistakes I think many dentist will make in 2012. Please focus on these areas now in order to counter the real dangers of being in an underperforming practice during a lean 2012.

One. They will fail to harness the power of the web to generate new patients and keep their existing ones.  Most dental practice web sites simply don’t work. They don’t attract enough traffic, don’t create enough leads from the traffic they do attract and don’t provide a reason for existing patients to go back to the site except to find the practice phone number or opening hours. They will continue to work with web companies who over promise and under deliver.  This is a bit like paying for an iPhone 4 and only using it to make phone calls!

Two. They will fail to measure accurately their:
·      New enquiries
·      New patients
·      Patient attrition rates and
·      Active patient list size

Their teams will fail to collect this essential data and so Principals wont be able to audit their front desk’s performance, understand the need for training and scripts or be able to put a number on the opportunities they have missed! Instead, they will focus on cutting costs rather than increasing their patient numbers. The bottom line is that if they don’t measure it, they cannot manage it!

Three. They will fail to train their team to enable them to optimise their contact with both new and existing patients. Their front desk teams wont have a successful sales process to convert enquirers into new patient consultations In addition, they wont have a process to reactivate dormant patients effectively or manage their data bases in such a way that keeps their diaries full. Instead, their data base will be full of missed opportunities…

Four. They will fail to optimize the way they pay their Associates and Support Teams in order to maximize their performance.  They will continue to pay their associates a fixed percentage of their gross and pay their support teams for turning up rather than on their performance. In these practices, everyone still wins except the practice owners. Performance pay is not a revolutionary idea, it is how the commercial world works from coal mining to laser eye surgeons to prostitution!

Five. They will fail to increase the value of their treatment plans, or the rate of treatment plan acceptance. They will continue to look for new patients rather than increasing their treatment plan value and treatment plan uptake by the patients they already have. – It’s easier, nicer, more fun, more rewarding and more profitable to increase the yield from existing happy patients by structuring the follow up, than it is to find a new patient.

Six. They will fail to prepare for the threat from retailers as they enter the dental market place. They will hope that their patient relationships remain strong enough to keep their patients out of Sainsbury and Tesco despite the impact these retailers have had on sectors such as:  Financial/entertainment/fashion/petrol/pharmaceuticals/cosmetics/photo processing.

When these businesses decide to take on a category they don’t mess around. And so, this is truly a Titanic moment for the entire Dental profession. Don’t be kidded, in 5 years time the dental landscape in the UK will look very different, If you are aged under 55, be concerned, very concerned.

Seven. They will fail to communicate properly with their patients, teams, fee earners, colleagues and banks. Believing that the old way of working will be good enough in the new reality of cultural and social austerity.

It has become even more important to understand that the most successful Dentists are not the best clinicians but that they are the best communicators with the best support teams…

So, what is to be done if you feel your practice falls short in any of these areas? Well friends and colleagues, you most definitely need a plan to fix it, a business plan even that takes up the slack in your practice, finally in 2012.

If you would like a quicker fix so that you can:

1.    Harnessing the power of the web to generate new patients and keep your existing ones

2.    Record your:

·      New enquiries

·      New patients

·      Patient attrition rates and

·      Active patient list size

3.    Training your team to optimise their contact with both new and existing patients.

4.    Optimize the way you pay your Associates and Support Teams in order to maximize their performance

5.    Increase the value of your treatment plans and the rate of treatment plan acceptance

6.    Prepare for the threat from retailers entering the dental market place

7.    Communicating properly with your teams, your fee earners, your patients, your colleagues and your bank.


Contact me directly at

Or contact The Breathe Business Team on 0845 299 7209


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