The fluctuating economy and what it means for your practice

Oct. 8, 2011
You have a choice: you can either sit still and be daunted by what your dental colleagues are saying about the economy’s effect on their practices, or you can do something about it. Jameson Management shows you how to ramp up your new-patient numbers, maximize end-of-year opportunities, and increase your practice production from within.
Reprinted with permission from Jameson ManagementThe American Dental Association's Second Quarter results on their Survey of Economic Confidence provided information that most likely will not come as a surprise to you. Of the dentists surveyed, only 10% stated confidence in the economy's future while 45% were not at all confident and another 45% were somewhat confident.Other survey results based on this report provided by the ADA show that 37.6% stated a decrease in gross billings so far this year, while 22.4% showed an increase. 40% remained the same. Only 15.8% of the dentists reported an increase in new patients while the rest stated their new patient rate either decreased or stayed the same.Observations of the fluctuations throughout the year have come as no surprise to some experts, stating that the rise and fall based on particular quarters reflects the increase in patients' advantageous use of insurance benefits. Therefore, we may see an increase in these numbers in the Fourth Quarter as the public uses their end-of-year benefits to get the dental care they need.What's important to note in all of this information given to us by the ADA is that everything is not as grim as you may think for dental practices. Many of the issues at hand regarding decreases in percentages are areas that you can take the offense on from your place in the practice:1) If the projections are true and the 4th quarter improves, this means the public is still putting dental care somewhere on their list of priorities in their financial lives. It's up to you to make sure you reach out to them and educate them that you are there and that you can help them afford the care they need.2) There are systems that can be put into place in your practice to help amp up your new-patient numbers, to help maximize your end of year opportunities, and to increase your practice production from within. Here's how ...• If you need more new patients, you need to be marketing. More often than not, a business' first response to economic woes is to panic and to hold tight to money. Marketing is often the first item to go when it comes to cutting the budget. This is absolutely what not to do when the need for new patients is higher than ever. Case in point: A Jameson client in a small community in Washington is smack dab in the middle of a struggling economic area. Blue collar, high unemployment, the list goes on and on. They invested in a full-blown marketing campaign with Jameson Marketing and found their new-patient numbers more than doubled in less than one year. What does this mean to you? It means don't pull your marketing budget. In fact, now's the time to refine your efforts — take a look at what message you are sending out to your community and who that message is attracting. Are you targeting to the appropriate potential patient for your practice? You may need to have a marketing professional look over your collateral to tell you just what you are saying and who is seeing it. • Just as important, if not more, is the need to step up your performance in your new-patient experience. If you do not have excellent systems in place to handle the influx of new patients that a successful marketing campaign can provide, then it will be money wasted. This includes your telephone technique, scheduling systems, case presentation, and overall internal marketing of your practice. Jameson can help you in these areas. • Make the most of end-of-year opportunities. In the ADA survey results article, mention was made of the importance of end-of-year insurance benefits in terms of amping up the fourth quarter for most dental practices. You can help make this happen in your practice by putting an end-of-year insurance campaign into place for your patient base. Request the Jameson Orange Paper on Maximizing End of Year Opportunities at to receive sample letters and directions on putting your own campaign into place. • Increase your practice production from within. Internal marketing can be a powerful tool when it comes to seeing positive increases in your production numbers quickly. It would be safe to say that you have more dentistry in your charts waiting to be done than you have produced in years. Take the time to market to these patients. Educate them on services you provide and put communication systems in place to talk to them about their dental care when they are in your office for hygiene exams. Empower your team to take the initiative when they see the opportunity and talk about the incredible restorative and esthetic care you provide.This all may seem easier said than done, but it's important to understand, as Cathy Jameson says, "There's no such thing as status quo. You are either going up or you are going down." You can sit and be daunted by what your dental peers are saying about the economy's effect on their practices, or you can do something about it. You can reach out to people where they are, make dental care possible for them, maximize insurance, maximize health-care financing, and maximize your marketing systems — both internally and externally — and get to work on being the exception to the rule. Jameson understands you and can help you get started. Call today: (877) 369-5558. Contact Jameson Management for resources.