Why the Success of Your Dental Practice Has Very Little to Do with Teeth

One of the most surprising realizations many dentists learn after going into private practice is how little of a practice’s success has to do with teeth.

It’s true.

Taking care of teeth is the skill every patient assumes you have. It’s the bare minimum expected of you. It’s not anything that sets your practice up for greatness. To achieve that, your dental practice needs to do three other things.

First, your practice needs to run smoothly and efficiently.

All successful dental practices are built on a strong operational foundation. Yes, this requires treating your practice like any other business by having systems, processes, and help in place.

A strong operational foundation helps your practice run efficiently and profitably while benefitting your patients, employees, practice, and you.

It helps your patients (and keeps them happy) because they receive the same great service every time they interact with your practice, no matter who’s helping them. It helps your employees (and keeps them loyal) because they’ll know exactly what’s expected of them and how to succeed in their job. It helps your practice (and keeps it profitable) because it ensures time and money are spent wisely, inefficiencies are reduced, and administrative activities are done right the first time. Finally, it helps you (and makes you more money in less time) because it frees you up to spend time building your practice to operate without you having to personally see more patients and to make more money.


Second, your practice needs to deliver WOW experiences to every patient.

In addition to strong operations, successful dental practices must develop strong relationships with their patients by delivering WOW experiences every time a patient interacts with your practice.

Patients walk through the door expecting quality treatment. Simply meeting that low expectation won’t make your practice stand out. By delivering a WOW experience on top of smooth operations and quality care, your practice will leap beyond your patients’ expectations.

Because of that, they’ll be much more likely to keep coming back, even if they have to drive a few minutes farther or even pay a little more for your practice compared to another practice. They’ll also rave about their experience to their friends and family, letting them know your practice is different.  

Here are four simple ways to start delivering WOW experiences to your patients:

          Provide free gourmet coffee, teas, other drinks, and snacks;

          Let your patients use iPads or play video games with headphones to block out the sounds of the dental tools;

          Provide amenities that ease anxiety and help patients relax; and

          Implement an on-time guarantee that treats your patients’ time with as much respect as you’d expect for your own time.

We do each of those in our practice. In addition to providing the finest coffees, teas, and tarts for our patients, we let our patients use iPads during their visit, trained our employees to provide hand and arm massages to help our patients relax, and guarantee that our patients will be seated within fifteen minutes of their appointment time or their next exam is free.  

Since implementing these WOW experiences for our patients, we’ve seen our patient satisfaction and loyalty skyrocket. Additionally, the demands on my personal time reduced because my services became only a small part of our patient experience.

The good news is the bar is pretty low when it comes to delivering better patient experiences at dental practices and you can exceed those low expectations by leaps and bounds pretty easily with a little creativity and a minimal investment.

Third, your practice needs streamlined marketing processes to consistently attract new patients.

If your systems, processes, and help are the operational foundation for growing your practice and delivering WOW experiences to your patients is the relational foundation for growing your practice, streamlined marketing processes that consistently attract new patients is the tactical foundation for growing your practice.

Attracting the right people using tactics that are predictable, repeatable, and profitable is the final ingredient to ensuring your practice will be successful in the long run. Although this used to be a time-consuming and expensive exercise, it’s now much simpler and cost effective thanks to social media

In its most basic form, this requires building a social media following and posting content that shows potential patients why your practice is different and better than the others, such as by highlighting the WOW experiences your practice provides or the great things your employees and patients are doing in the community.

In addition to showing people your practice is different, posting different types of content like this gives you additional opportunities to post interesting content on a regular basis without coming across as over-promotional.

At my practice, we regularly highlight our staff, patients, community events, and news on our social media channels. We also tell stories about our patients, community involvement, and the WOW experiences we deliver. By doing this, we built a following of well over 50,000 people on Facebook alone. More importantly, however, we created a consistent flow of new and profitable patients.


Putting it all together

Although teeth matter, you can be the best dentist on the planet and your practice will struggle as long as your operations are inefficient, your patient experience is subpar, and your marketing efforts are ineffective. By streamlining operations, delivering WOW experiences, and implementing predictable and repeatable marketing processes, on the other hand, you can set your practice up to help you make much more money and much less time.