Doing well? Afraid your practice won’t continue to perform at the same level? Here are four tips for continuing to add value and building on your success.
By Roger P. Levin, DDS
I would like to reflect a recent conversation I had with an orthodontist who produces $2.2 million per year in a solo practice. He was genuinely concerned that even though he has done well, he has another 20 years to go, he’s not financially independent, wants to send three kids to college and retire by the age of 67. He recently found out from his financial planner that he was right on track for the age 67 target of reaching financial independence, but he is not certain that his practice will continue to perform at the same level.
Why is he concerned? First he talked about direct-to-consumer orthodontics. He also noted that there are DSO‘s now creating their own aligner products and charging less than half of his fees. He was not complaining or whining but wanted to know what I thought the future of orthodontics would be and what steps he could take to ensure that future.
It was a long conversation, but the main theme of my recommendations was to immediately start building higher value for the practice (from the patients’ perspective.) Orthodontic practices have typically been fun environments that are highly respected by parents and patients. However, the recent emergence and quantity of advertising for different types of orthodontic treatment and different delivery models has confused the public to the point where they likely will end up believing that the quality is the same from all the various sources, not understanding that an orthodontist is a highly trained specialist who is the best delivery model to achieve a beautiful smile and great results.
So how do you build more value for your patients? It’s not simply about having fun contests for the kids. Nor is it only about excellent referrals from referring doctors, social media, and the community. It is about branding, messaging, and benefits. Here are some examples:
- Let every parent or patient know during their TC appointment that there will be no additional fees if the case takes longer than anticipated. Yes, we know that you do not normally charge for this, but it still comes across to parents and patients as a benefit.
- Look for new exciting innovative strategies that enhance the positive feelings of parents and patients. For example, one orthodontist we know finishes every case by having an age-appropriate glamour shot taken by a professional photography studio in the community. The photographer does not charge the practice in the hopes that there will be additional sales to the patient or parent or family and this has been a win across-the-board for everyone.
- Build into your fees a small rebate if patients keep all appointments. We know the patients who keep their appointments tend to finish on time which reduces overdue debonds (pure overhead.)
- Evaluate a “Retainers for Life“ program. Patients can come back at any time for new retainers. Most patients will not take advantage of this, but it’s an incredibly positive benefit that will not be offered by other delivery service models.
As a final thought, you may want to give every parent or patient a brochure at the TC consult that lists all the benefits offered by your practice. When you can show 10 or 12 more than anyone else and you go through them one at a time and carefully explain each, it builds a much higher level and sense of value to help justify the orthodontic practice fee. OP
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on orthodontic practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world. To contact Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Ortho Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email [email protected].