Every business – regardless of industry – is concerned about growth. It is very difficult for an organization to increase profits without corresponding growth in revenue. Growth is the key to long-term financial stability as well. As for the dental industry is concerned, all the numbers are pointing upwards. But is your practice keeping pace with the rest of the industry?
Dental practices generally go through two different stages of growth. The first phase usually happens early when you’re just setting up your practice. Marketing, advertising and word-of-mouth brings in new clients and the numbers improve steadily. In this stage, it’s easy to calculate the rate of growth and predict numbers for the next few years. The number of new patients, the number of surgeries you perform etc. will increase until you reach the operational capacity of the clinic.
It is at this phase that dentists have difficulty growing their practice anymore. After all, how much more can you grow if you are already at maximum capacity? Many practices adopt the most obvious solution i.e. expand the practice. This is actually a sound strategy in certain circumstances. But more often than not, dentists overextend themselves and are unable to manage the bigger business. So what exactly can you do when you’re dental practice has plateaued and shows no signs of changing?
Improving Efficiency after Reaching Maximum Capacity
Naturally the first option is to expand the operational capacity of your clinic. If you already evaluated and rejected this option, all is not lost. There are still ways in which your clinic can grow. The main issue here is that very few dental professionals have training in business management principles. Practice owners generally think that once they have reached the maximum capacity, there is no more room for growth.
The reality is that there is plenty of room for growth without increasing capacity. Are your workflows and processes as efficient as they could be? This is the key question that needs to be answered. Even if you are filling every appointment slot during the week, it doesn’t mean you are very efficient. It only means that you and your employees are busy.
At full capacity, you may not have the time to design more efficient business systems. You and your staff already have your hands full managing the existing patient load. Where is the time to sit down and consider the potential for productivity improvements?
How to Kickstart the Growth of Your Practice
There are several areas that you can look for efficiency improvements which can lead to practice growth. One is to take a look at the existing software and IT systems. Is there any room for improvement? Has your vendor kept up to date with industry developments? Sometimes a new practice management or EHR system can unlock hidden productivity benefits.
Another overlooked the area is the mix of treatments and procedures that you offer. Sometimes dentists don’t take advantage of the existing tools and machinery in the clinic. Quite often patients don’t know what procedures your clinic offers and so they cannot make the best decision. So make sure you’re informing your patients about all the available alternatives.
Improving efficiency can also mean hiring an extra member of staff. Are your existing employees doing more than one job? As a practice grows, you may find that individual staff members are taking on more responsibilities which encroach on their core duties. It may be time to create a new job role so that everyone can focus on their actual responsibilities.
Reaching the operational capacity of your clinic doesn’t mean your practice can’t grow anymore. It may take some time but there are plenty of ways to get out of a growth plateau!