The original title was “Looking Forward,” but I decided against using the political slogan “forward.” 🙂 I haven’t blogged in a while. I just haven’t been inspired much lately. And, the holidays are a drag. Yeah… my personal issue. 😉
It’s been a tough year. It’s been a tough four years for many of us. My practice has been relatively flat during that time, which I actually consider a success given the economic trends.
It Can Only Get Better!
I’ve always been an optimistic person, and I remain so. However, my optimism now applies to a much longer time frame. I honestly do not see the economy getting better in the short term… maybe even worse. The good news (for me) is that I’m in it for the long term. I have young children, and I have no retirement goal set for the foreseeable future. The additional good news (for me) is that I really enjoy dentistry and have no desire to get out of it.
When you can’t beat’em, don’t join’em.
I hear more and more dentists joining managed care plans in a panic to stay “busy.” While it seems to assuage their need to “do SOMETHING,” I don’t hear of any stories about joining plans successfully saving a slow practice. You may also want to consider how you’ve positioned yourself as a “plan dentist” once the economy turns around. If you drop out of the plans at that point, you may find your plan patients will leave you for the same reason they came to you.
Of course, your mileage may vary. I have a strong bias against managed care… just another personal issue. 🙂
I realize that we dentists are all different, and that’s what’s great about this profession. Part of what has kept me afloat is offering niche services. Oddly enough, I have found bread-and-butter or “routine” dentistry is the hardest to “sell” unless it’s an emergency. On the other hand, cosmetic and other “elective” services have kept me afloat. I’m not doing as much of it as years past, but it’s still a significant part of my practice. I’m very glad I took the continuing education courses when I did.
Consider expanding your services. Learn to do more endo yourself. Learn how to do cosmetic and rehab dentistry at a high level at the Clinical Mastery courses. Jump over the long learning curve and create great results, right out of the gate! Incorporate short term cosmetic orthodontics. Start placing implants. What are you referring out? What are patients asking for?
Marketing also plays a crucial role in today’s economy. In most geographic locales, people have a choice on where to seek dental care. There are at least 25 dentists on my street! At this point, my marketing is primarily online. The website I started building in 1999 (it’s never finished) is the smartest thing I ever did. Everyone Googles everything.
Social media has its place and is a very popular topic. Yet, I have not encountered a dentist who can claim social media, alone, as a significant source of new patients. I’ll probably get some criticism for saying that. However, I do believe it can be a PART of a well-balanced online presence. Ultimately, social media efforts should lead them to your website, in my opinion.
Is your website working? I mean REALLY working? Just ranking at the top of Google results isn’t enough. Is your website converting visitors into patients? Do you have good original and compelling content?
Fair Winds and Following Seas
That’s a traditional Navy blessing. We must forge ahead regardless. To thrive, or even survive, many of us will need to rethink what we’re doing. What can we do to adapt? What can we do to rise above the rest? Leave no stone unturned. Ask your staff for ideas. Ask your patients. Look at what other dentists are doing successfully. If you can’t invent success, COPY it.
What will you be doing in 2013? Comment below!