By Paul A. Henny DDS
Strong, well-differentiated, and well-positioned practice “brands” have high profit margins, command a premium fee, and see fewer patients each day. They also secure more patient loyalty and appreciation, grow faster and ride through economic downturns with less trauma. In contrast, failing practices tend to have poor profit margins, depend on coupons, insurance discount programs, require high patient volume to survive and are highly susceptible to economic downturns.
Position or be positioned. You may not realize this, but even if you have made no effort to position your practice within your community, you have still created a “brand” for your practice, albeit perhaps not the kind of brand you really intended. This branding comes through others making assumptions about you which are likely to be similar to experiences they have had with other dentists. If their previous dentist spent minimal time building truly helping relationships, they may assume that you will do the same. If their previous dentist was a family practitioner with little understanding of esthetic or restorative dentistry, they may assume the same of you.
In the general public’s eyes, all dentists are pretty much the same, unless you have made the effort to help them learn otherwise.
Positioning your practice through strategic branding allows you to promote your strengths and unique selling points (USP’s). This in turn causes others to approach you who are interested in your best and finest services.
How do know if your practice “brand” is moving you in the right direction? The answer is found in more than just your monthly production numbers and collection statistics. Ask yourself these 5 questions:
Do many of your new patients reluctantly accept or not appreciate the value (to them) of a comprehensive exam?
Are you frustrated that you must aggressively “sell” restorative dentistry, in order to cause patients to choose appropriate predictable treatment?
Do your patients frequently break appointments and delay treatment plans because proper dentistry is simply not a priority in their life?
Do your practice collections lag behind because many of your patients begrudgingly pay their dental bills?
Do you spend too little time doing the kind of dentistry that you really enjoy and feel is the most predictable and valuable to your patients?
If you honestly answered “Yes” to several of these questions, it’s likely that your brand may need a “makeover.” You may very well need to get about the business of repositioning your practice to be more attractive to the kinds of patients who value and are interested in your best and finest services. If you answered “No” to these questions … Congratulations! You are on track and doing a great job with the development of your practice brand. Keep up the good work!
In the next Co-Discovery posting, I’ll cover more about “The Four Key Points For Successful Branding.