To grow bigger, think smaller!

I’ve been using the same dry cleaner in Exeter for around 20 years. I popped in yesterday to pick up my dry cleaning and he said, “I took your advice!” (I know, I know: you can’t take the coach out of the man!). Apparently, many years ago, I suggested to him that niche businesses were easier to build than more general businesses and Nick (the dry cleaner) has been searching for a niche ever since! Now, he’s found it: dry cleaning wedding dresses then putting them in a special box. The web site has been up for 4 weeks and he’s already averaging 4 wedding dresses a week at £175 a dress. And his niche is only going to go in one direction!

So, what’s all this got to do with dental practice… Well, niche dental practices are very rare. Most dental practices are trying to be all things to all people.

Consider a typical UK private dental practice. The two principals and their associate are preparing their day. Today, Principal 1 will see: some check ups, a new patient, some fillings, a couple of crowns and place an implant. Principal 2 will see: some check ups, a new patient, some fillings, a couple of endo patients and an Invisalign patient. Their associate will see: some check ups, a new patient, some fillings, a crown prep and a couple of facial aesthetic patients. They will gross somewhere between £1100 and £2400 each today and go home tired and perhaps a little bored.

Principal 1 has done a few implant courses and places around 20 (mostly) single tooth implants a year. He doesn’t do many multiple units and no bone grafting or sinus lifts. Principal 2 likes endo and is thinking of getting a microscope if he can find one cheap on eBay. He may do an MSc in Endo one day if he can find the time. He did the Invisalign course a couple of years ago and he finds around a dozen cases a year amongst the practice patient base. Their associate has done a weekend course in Facial Aesthetics and keeps it simple, just injecting Botox. She has around 8 regular patients who ask for this treatment.

Three capable dentists, relieving the boredom of a mundane check up and fillings day with a little Rock and Roll dentistry! Some (specialists) might call them dabblers. They add a few implants, a little molar endo, some Invisalign and a bit of Botox to their repertoire but truthfully, they are simply scratching the surface of these special interests in order to entertain themselves.

With some further training, some effective marketing, some sales skills and some diary zoning, our three dentists could:

  • Reduce the number of days/week and weeks per year that they work
  • Increase the turnover of the practice by circa 33%
  • Future proof their practice by creating profitable and popular niches

These guys could deliver: 100 implants/year, at least a day of endo/week, 10 Invisalign starts/month and a busy weekly facial aesthetics clinic. Or, if they were willing to focus on their special interests further, they could double these numbers. There are no shortages of patients wanting these treatments and plenty of effective strategies to beat the local competition.

One problem with General Dental Practice is the pressure to be all things to all people. And therefore dabble. However, in business terms, a niche offering can be:

  • Easier to market and sell
  • Easier to deliver
  • Have lower costs (therefore be more profitable)
  • Require less of your time clinically

If you’re looking for an example, how about Orthodontic practices? (The most successful business model in dentistry!) The Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule) suggests that 80% of your profit is likely to come from 20% of your patients/procedures. So there is a no-brainer business case for giving up on the 80% of your patients or procedures who create 20% of your profits (have someone else deliver these treatments instead) and simply focus on the 20% of patients/procedures that delivers the most success. This is how you gain time to take off, gain cash in the bank and re-gain your sanity.

So, don’t be like Nick the dry cleaner and wait 20 years to find a niche. Here are 5 niches that are proven to work and differentiate you in a world of general dental practices…

  • Third Age’r Dental Care
  • Cosmetic Dentistry, Adult Orthodontics, Facial Aesthetics
  • Affordable Private Dentistry
  • Paediatric Dental Care
  • Denture and implant clinic

And in case you haven’t noticed, our business, now Breathe is the perfect example of a niche business…

So remember this, “when you’re talking to everyone, no-one can hear you!

If you would like some help developing your niche, then please contact me for a chat:
M. 07770 430576
D. 01548 852573

Best wishes,



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