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Build a business within your business

May 12, 2016
Hygiene departments can spearhead the diversification of revenue streams by building businesses within their practices. 

Hygiene departments can spearhead the diversification of revenue streams by building businesses within their practices.

Small local businesses such as dental practices are vulnerable to competition and customer attrition. Even if your practice operates in a stable environment, proactively cultivating multiple income sources insulates your practice from unexpected bumps. Picture a set of Russian nesting dolls: these dolls are resilient because they are dolls within a doll. Hygiene departments can spearhead the diversification of revenue streams by building businesses within their practices.

Options for multiplying revenue sources (e.g., the expansion of dental services, the launch of a customer acquisition campaign, the addition of an operatory), require long-term planning and additional resources.

Businesses ranging from dermatology practices to hair salons make a sizable profit from selling home-care products. Hygienists already play a significant role in recommending home-care products to their patients. So, launching a home-care product business does not involve much extra work if you are already educating your patients on optimal home care. Rather, it monetizes your efforts. Plus, stocking home-care products can help your services business in many ways beyond boosting the bottom line.

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When the practice sells certain types of products, it helps brand the practice; for example, a dermatology practice that sells high-end face creams creates a more upscale brand for itself. In addition, hygienists can provide patients convenience by dispensing proven oral-care products. It facilitates compliance as the patient does not have to remember to find and buy the product (especially if the product is up-and-coming with limited distribution). Finally, product education can take place on the spot if you stock the product, which builds value in the appointment.

Patients may feel the practices that provide high-quality home-care products also provide patient-focused, forward-thinking dentistry.

In order to leverage product sales, do your homework. Evaluate the cost and margins of the products you might provide. You might start asking patients about their interest in a particular product before ordering in order to gauge how much to initially stock. Figure out where you can store these products. That said, the most important step is to select inspiring home-care solutions that fit your patients’ demand profiles.

Demand for teeth whitening remains very high; however, many consumers make their decisions regarding at-home teeth whitening without consulting a dental provider. As a professional, remind your patients that you are the smile expert; make at-home teeth whitening part of the conversation. In fact, the lure of a whiter smile is an effective way to boost a patient’s interest in your overall home care recommendations.

For example, when chairside professional whitening results have been achieved, hygienists can suggest maintenance products. Popwhite’s Power of Purple peroxide-free toothpaste and oral rinse effectively extend the benefits of a professional whitening treatment or serve as a stand-alone whitening system. Popwhite is an up-and-coming brand that is launching sales through dental offices. The rise of niche, independent oral-care brands provide exciting opportunities for hygienists to customize home care for patients.

You can display, discuss, and demonstrate a product when appropriate. If your office dispatches a newsletter, this is a great platform to make patients aware of the home-care products available through your office. Reinforce that your practice is consistently striving to achieve stellar, concierge-style service.

The key is to present the curated products so that patients recognize you are making them available in order to promote their well-being. Whereas having to push a product you do not find valuable can be burdensome, the experience of introducing a patient to a product you feel he or she would benefit from is a win-win!

Jay Khorsandi, DDS, is a cosmetic and general dentist. He was part of the founding team of The Smilist, an innovative, membership-model multioffice practice in New York. Prior to that, he owned Zen Dental in Los Angeles, where he built a personable brand of dentistry emphasizing patient relaxation. Dr. Khorsandi currently focuses on helping patients improve their quality of life by treating sleep apnea and snoring. Dr. Khorsandi has served on the faculty of UCLA School of Dentistry and currently sits on the Popwhite Advisory Board.