TOP TIPS to grow your practice


Several times a year I get asked to speak at a conference or an event and usually the organisers ask me to suggest a topic. Weeks before the event I get to sit at my laptop and flesh out the title I dreamed up, usually on the hoof, months earlier.

This week I have been writing a short (20 minute) presentation for Dental Showcase (London Excel, October 9th-11th). The title I came up with: Five Tactics Which Cannot Fail To Grow Your Practice. My thinking being tactics are what everyone wants and four minutes per tactic, in our short attention span culture, will put bums on seats.

So, here are my five:

1. Get the principal in great shape

Inevitably a small business is heavily influenced by the owner and, in particular, the owner’s vision and passion for their practice, their (positive) attitude towards getting the work done and them finding enough time, when not being a dentist, to get the changes put into place.

2. Create a compelling proposition

Many dental practices look the same to someone browsing their websites, usually because they all claim to offer the same things in the same way (maybe there’s a lot of cut and paste going on…).

Being able to clearly articulate what your practice offers and the style in which it is delivered (and have everyone on your team being able to do this) will put you ahead of your competitive set.

Even more important is to have a proposition sufficiently different to your competitors that it entirely separates your practice from the rest. A truly killer proposition (for example, seven day opening) makes it much easier and cheaper to go marketing.

3. Sort out your essential marketing

Very few practice owners seem to have sorted out their basic marketing platform. That is, their proposition, positioning, target market and branding. All practice teams have to be able to understand and deploy essential tactics such as patient-get-patient, the internet and kerb appeal.

4. Make your engagement work

Although well meaning, most reception teams haven’t been trained in how to deal with an enquirer and how to (consistently) convert 75 per cent of them into new patients.

Surprisingly, many receptionists seem to find it hard to be sympathetic to enquirers who need help and don’t understand the need to follow through quickly in order to make a sale. Have you mystery shopped your reception team lately (or would you like our team to do this for you and comment on the results?)

5. Have your clinicians gross high

If you have clinicians who can’t articulate to a patient their choices, and can’t work hard and work fast, it will be hard to make your practice profitable regardless of whatever else you do.

If you work with associates you need them to: monitor their day with a day book, avoid doing single unit dentistry where possible, stop placing large fillings and start placing well-made extrinsic restorations.

As I was creating these tactics, it became increasingly clear that although this list of growth tactics is interesting, the list of blockers to practice growth is more compelling and more difficult to fix! Getting past the following obstacles is more difficult than putting the five above into place:

The five most common blockers to practice growth:

1. Everyone is happy with the status quo

2. The principal’s lack of vision, lack of business planning, lack of interest, lack of time, lack of focus, lack of follow through

3. The principal is unwilling/fearful to invest

4. There is significantly greater competition and the practice can’t/won’t compete at the right level

5. Lack of effective marketing and sales processes

The truth is that getting the tactics right to grow a practice is relatively straightforward, the difficult bit is getting the tactics executed! This is the challenge we have been addressing in our three Breathe Business Clubs this week.

If you would like a chat about growing your practice or about how Breathe Business Clubs can help you, please call me on 07770 430576, email

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