The 2 keys to positioning your dental practice

We often talk to our clients about their positioning and where their practice sits within their competitive set. If you want to understand this better, spend a Saturday morning visiting three car showrooms in your town.

I suggest you visit BMW, Nissan and a used car dealer. See how each dealer proudly occupies a different position within the retail car market and look for the clues that (intentionally) help you to understand their positioning. And remember that all of these businesses are likely to make a healthy profit!

Now let’s apply this to your dental practice. First of all, where do you want to sit in relation to your competitive set in terms of the quality of what you deliver and the fees that you charge? Principals often make the mistake of all huddling together like sheep trying to occupy the same ground, too sheepish to stand out from the crowd. However, successful practices wear their positioning proudly, intentionally standing out from the crowd and differentiating themselves from their competitive set.

There are two keys to positioning your practice. Picture by Paul Schadler, Creative Commons

There are two keys to positioning your practice. Picture by Paul Schadler, Creative Commons

Let’s deal with fees first. Private dental practices in general position their fees something like this:

  1. Harley Street: Check up £150, hygienist visit £120, 30-minute filling £300, aesthetic crown £1,800.
  2. Boutique practice in wealthy, provincial town: Check up £70, hygienist visit £70, 30-minute filling £170, aesthetic crown £795.
  3. Mainstream private practice in provincial town: Check up £45, hygienist visit £55, 30-minute filling £120, aesthetic crown £645.
  4. Mixed NHS and private practice in provincial town/rural area: Check up £33, hygienist visit £40, 30-minute filling £90, aesthetic crown £550.

These treatments are known and understood by patients and, thanks to the internet, they can easily compare your practice to your competitors. So if you want to create bespoke practice positioning you have to charge bespoke fees and (this goes without saying) you also have to deliver a bespoke patient experience.

Now let’s look at the second way your patients judge your positioning: quality. Remember, this is simply a patient’s perception of the quality of your practice and just like your visit to the car dealers, patients are skilled at noticing your positioning and any incongruity between your fees and your practice quality. This is pure theatre and you can influence your patients’ perception of your positioning by how you set up your practice and your patient journey, including these important way points:

  • Website (including your practice name and branding)
  • Your kerb appeal including the appropriateness and quality of your location, building, signage approach and entrance
  • Your reception and your support team, the way they look (age appropriateness, grooming, accent, tattoos, piercings etc)
  • Your support team, quality of their communication and product/service knowledge
  • Waiting area, including the quality of the design/fixtures and fittings (light switches, loo paper and towels etc), magazines, furniture, music, art on the walls, information gathering (clipboard or clinipad?)
  • Punctuality
  • Professionalism of the dentist: communication skills, affability, courtesy, kindness, empathy, grooming
  • Professionalism of the nurse(s): communication, empathy, skill, grooming
  • Quality of the treatment plan presentation: explanation, level of choice, prices, time spent, environment for treatment plan discussion, visual aids etc
  • The way the treatment is carried out: on time, no surprises, painless injections, quick, informed, successful, appearance of the restorative work, function, effective and helpful (not bossy) hygienist etc
  • The availability and the way the desirability of continuing care is communicated, patient plan value and performance
  • Effectiveness and style of receptionists’ follow up
  • The way feedback, reviews and referrals are asked for and by whom

One more important factor in patients’ perception of your positioning (picking up on point 2): your practice location has to be in keeping with your positioning. A Bentley dealer wouldn’t dream of opening a showroom in an area where there are tattoo parlours and shuttered takeaways. Your location has to be congruent with your chosen positioning.

If you would like some help in getting your practice positioning right, contact me for a chat:


m. 07770 430576


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