~ Unusual or surprising and therefore deserving attention or praise.
Another New Year and there is evidence from many of our practices that it has started better than many dentist’s expected, with significant numbers of new patients coming forwards and many of them saying yes to large treatment plans. We like to think our members are generally in better shape to take on these challenging times and even take advantage of them! True entrepreneurs relish a recession; they will tell you that one of the most unexpected characteristics of a recession are the substantial opportunities for focused, energised and well managed businesses.
These last few days I’ve been musing on 2011 and identifying the winning and losing practices that I came across. The spread is really interesting, some private practice turnovers shrunk a further 5-20% due to patient attrition, competition and the owners inactivity. Whilst other’s grew their turnovers by 15, 20 or even 30%. Wow! I know that some of of you reading the last sentence will be sharpening your pencils waiting for me to give you a list of the tactics that these practices employed so that you can pick the one’s you like and implement them.
So, here they are. The top 7 tactics that these practices have in common:
1. The owners and their teams know (and can articulate) exactly what their practice does and how they differentiate themselves from all the practices they compete with. That is, they know exactly what makes up their “Proposition”.
(Here’s an example of a proposition from a practice I visited recently.
- We are a Specialist Orthodontic Practice that offers a bespoke service.
- Our clinical team is extremely experienced and we use the most advanced techniques and materials to create consistently excellent results.
- Our team are proud to deliver fabulous service, always. This often exceeds our clients expectations. They will keep you comfortable throughout your treatment.
- Many of our clients come to us on recommendation from delighted friends, colleagues and family members. We show enormous respect for our clients and in return, they respect us.
- We will always tell our clients about what to expect from during treatment and we are sure to listen to any concerns they might have about their visits.
- We have appointments to suit your schedule and a contemporary, comfortable, and beautiful environment in which we deliver our services.”)
2. The owners have carefully positioned their practice in terms of the quality of what they deliver and the fee levels they charge. They can clearly differentiate themselves from their competition using their branding and communication.
3. These practices have an up to date business plan which includes accurate financial forecasting and ‘Sales Targets’. They have processes in place which enable them to achieve their sales targets.
4. They have a Marketing Plan that works. They know how much it costs to acquire a new patient and the long term value of their returning patients. They have effective systems to reactivate patients who need a check up or who need to finish an existing treatment plan.
5. They have a charismatic, can-do team that love what they do and love to serve their clients. They also provide their clients with a set of services that they really want!
6. They have an enviable reputation for what they do and many new patients come to the practice on recommendation.
7. Their facility is outstanding. They stopped complaining about CQC requirements long ago having got on and implemented it all. They create gorgeous practice environments that are equivalent to a good restaurant or boutique hotel.
However, there is a more interesting common denominator that these practices and their teams share, which is that they have created and are maintaining a“remarkable practice”.
What do I mean? Well, the principal/leader/owner will have some or all of these characteristics. They are: passionate about what they do, they lead a team that creates excellent results at a clinical level and also at a customer service level, they are enthusiastic and relentlessly positive about what they do (at least in public they are) and they have created a unique environment and experience for their patients. They know that their practices exist to serve their patients as well as themselves and that as true professionals, serving the patient alwaysranks above their own self interest.
Because of these behaviours, they surround themselves with people who understand and share their passions and buy in to their proposition and their fees. These people are the kind of folk that you want to be friends with, go out to dinner with and find out much more about. They are very attractive to be around!
The most significant key diagnostic of a remakable practice, and a true measure of its success, is the number of new patients they get on referral from their existing patients. Typically, they receive in excess of 25 recommended patients every month and some practice manage as many as 40. Needles to say, this is great marketing!
Remarkable Practices can charge 200 pounds per hour and more without complaints from their clients, who are willing and able to pay for the value they see in these practices. They make the competition look expensive, even if the competition is charging less, because these practices are so good at the client experience and the results they achieve.
Can you make yourself and your practice remarkable? Of course! Here are some suggestions:
Choose your attitude in every situation. Don’t ever be grumpy or critical unless there’s really no alternative!
Raise your energy. Always be the most energetic person in the room.
Be happy and content at work.
Find reasons to praise your team.
Be interested in your patients as if they were good friends.
Make everybody laugh a lot.
Don’t work with staff who lack the right skills or the right behaviours.
One day soon, the only private practices left at the top of the pile will beremarkable practices. The rest will either have been swallowed up by the Corporates or their patients will have been recruited by better competitors and their owners will have turned the key in the door and simply walked away.
If you would like help with taking the steps to becoming a remarkable practice, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Breathe Team on 0845 299 7209 / email@example.com.