"If a dentist has been in practice for any length of time, they've likely read dozens, if not hundreds, of articles on how to grow your practice, and many offer conflicting advice," said Penny Reed, author of the new book "Growing Your Dental Practice: Market Yourself Effectively and Accelerate Your Results" (Indie Books International, 2015).
She continues, "The purpose of my book is to direct dentists' focus to the five most important areas that drive growth in their business and how their role as a business owner, leader, and coach influence these key areas. This is especially important as dental reimbursement continues to be flat, causing increased pressure to find proactive ways to grow their practice."
Reed has worked with dentists and spoken to dental groups for over 23 years. Her articles have been published in numerous dental trade publications, including Dental Economics.
Here are Reed's top five ways to grow a dental business:
1. Increase New Patients by 10%
A thriving dental practice should have a minimum of 25 new patients (comprehensive exams) per full-time doctor per month. If the value of a new patient is $2,000, and a dentist increases by 10%, or three new patients per month, a dentist's revenue would increase like this: three additional new patients per month at $2,000 per new patient = $6,000 per month in additional production.
2. Increase Active Patients by 10%
Increasing the active number of patients means not only adding new patients, but also ensuring the total active patient base is growing and not shrinking. In a practice with 2,000 active patients (an active patient is a patient who has been in to the office in the last 24 months), then an increase in 10% would translate to increased annual revenues of $40,000.
3. Increase Hygiene Membership by 10%
Another growth factor is to have more patients in the practice see the hygienist regularly to increase revenue and overall dental health. For a dental practice with 2,000 active patients, that can translate to increase annual revenues of $59,600 (and many more healthy sets of teeth).
4. Increase Case Acceptance by 5%
If the patient visit value is $200, and dental practices increase it by 5%, the dental office raises the value by $10 per patient visit for a total of $210 per patient visit average. That change produces an additional income of $10 per visit at 6,144 visits per year. The monthly increase would be $5,120, with a $61,440 annual increase.
5. Maximize Efficiency of Provider Time by 10%
In an eight-hour day, this would mean streamlining systems to allow almost an additional hour of primary provider time (doctor or hygienist). A dental office should focus on freeing up 30 minutes (three 10-minute units) of primary time in operative and the same amount for hygiene. That could add up to $75,000 more revenue in a year.
"Dentists need to see the potential," says Reed. "For an office that already has annual revenues of $1.2 million, these changes can result in a potential growth opportunity of more than $296,000."
Instead of focusing on aspects of the dental economy they cannot control, the book directs a dentist's focus to the five areas that drive growth in their business, which fall into three broader categories: marketing, engagement, and organization.
"The principles in this book are proven to work over and over again, both in my practice and by others," says Dr. Kevin Rowan of New Albany, Miss.