What is your Practice’s Competitive Advantage?

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What is your Practice’s Competitive Advantage?

“If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” — Jack Welch

Very true words spoken by a very successful business leader. What is your Practice’s competitive advantage? And more importantly, are you successfully communicating it? Here are some simple steps to define, create and communicate a competitive advantage:

Step #1. Assess your Practice’s strengths. What do you do really well? What in your approach, education, training and background makes you different or better? Be specific as possible. (Hint: your current patients are often the most reliable source of this information. Find out what they think.)

Step #2. Define your ideal Patient. Income, location, insurances, dental problems, mannerisms, personality, schedule, etc. Everything you can put down on paper.

Step #3. Ideal Patient’s Needs Assessment: put yourself in their shoes and analyze what their specific needs are and how you are currently serving those needs. (Hint: some of your current patients will meet your ideal patient criteria. Be sure to ask them what your not doing today to meet their needs.)

Step #4. Competitive Analysis: research your closest competitors. Start with the ones that you are competing with for patients right now. What are they offering that is different than you?

Step #5. Now add everything up. Look at your strengths, your competitor strengths, and your ideal patient’s needs. Where are the gaps? Where are the opportunities?

Step #6. Adapt your practice operational model to meet these needs, and communicate, communicate and communicate some more. Let those ideal prospective patients know that you can deliver what they need. Leave no doubt.

Practice Treatment Plan can help you in this process. We specialize in Dental Marketing Strategy, Integrated Marketing Communications and Patient Experience Enhancement.

Planning for your Practice’s Success

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Planning for your Practice’s Success

You should always be planning ahead. Most successful CEOs of major companies will tell you that when things are going really well, that is usually the best time to take a critical look at your operations. Here are some tools that you can use to assess your practice and plan for the future.


SWOT Analysis. A SWOT Analysis is a high-level overview of your whole practice, and is still one of the most effective tools there is to generate critical self-evaluation. List your practice’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Be honest, misleading yourself here won’t help you prepare.

  • Strengths: Just because something is a strength doesn’t mean you can neglect it.  As a Practice Owner, it is your job to make sure that these things remain strengths of your practice a year from now. For example, if your employees are one of your strengths, what are you doing to make sure that they stick around?
  • Weaknesses: Now that you have identified what they are, what action plans are you going to put into place to correct them? Not all of them can be corrected of course, but focus on those that can, and where possible, turn them into opportunities. And for those weaknesses that you are powerless to change, how will you counteract how your patients see them, or as they say in advertising, “change the conversation”?
  • Opportunities: This is the fun part of a SWOT. What exciting new opportunities lie ahead for your practice? Maybe it is a new service that you want to offer? Or a new patient demographic segment that you plan on breaking into? Whatever they are, make sure that you attach qualitative and quantitative goals to them. Define timeframes, growth targets, communication plans and patient satisfaction metrics.
  • Threats: We all know that there are many threats out there that we are powerless to predict, but that does not mean that we cannot mitigate risk by planning for the potential threats that we can envision.  No need for worry, but you should always have contingency plans when possible.

Survey Your Patients. How do they think you are doing? Can you count on their loyalty in the new year? Losing patients is one of the hardest blows for a practice to absorb. Make sure yours are happy, and if they are not make sure your plan for next year will address their issues or concerns.

Engage Your Employees in the Process. Ideally, you will include your employees in your planning process. Let them contribute and feel like a part of the process to get them motivated. If not, you should at the very least communicate the plan to them and explain how they will contribute to it. Generate positive momentum to propel you into the new year.

Practices need a plan to succeed. As the old saying goes, “Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail.” The above tools will get you started in your Practice Planning process.

Is a Do-it-yourself Dental Website Good Enough?

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By Benjamin Suggs, Practice Treatment Plan

Being Dental Marketers, we come across many Dentists that have chosen to design their own website using a template, some type of WYSIWYG software, or their basic knowledge of HTML. While some of these websites turn out looking pretty good, most look just like what they are – a do-it-yourself website. So is a do-it-yourself dental website good enough? More often than not, the answer is no.

Why you ask? There are many reasons:


Lets be honest, it isn’t that hard to spot a do-it-yourself website when you come across one. Chances are, your prospective patients will be able to spot yours as well. Dentists take great pride in presenting a polished office space, hiring professionals and specialists to design and construct it so that when patients walk in they immediately feel comfortable. A dental website should be an extension of that experience. A website is an online representation of your practice. It can earn you new patients, but it can also cost you new patients. They say that about 58% of all purchases start online. That means that the majority of people do their research online first before purchasing any type of service or product. Prospective patients are no different, and if they see a sub-par website advertising your practice, they may keep right on searching.

Opportunity Cost

The price of a do-it-yourself site is unbeatable, because it is usually $0-$100, depending upon the price you have paid for a template, software or website hosting. However, when you look back at all of the time that you spent working on it, you will find the actual opportunity cost to be much greater. What else could you have been doing in those many frustrated hours of trial and error at the computer? For most professions, especially Dentistry, time is our most valuable and finite resource.  What do you think yours is worth?

Online Lead Generation

Having a website is one thing, driving prospective patients to it is another thing entirely.  Search Engine Optimization is a science, and one that requires a serious time commitment and constant study, as everything in cyber-world is in a continuing state of change. The process of optimization starts in the design process, and continues well after the site has launched. Online ad purchasing is a similar story. Experienced professionals know the ins and outs, the tricks of the trade and how to produce results. And many times, organic SEO might not be the most effective method. Many dentists are having success utilizing Pay-per-click marketing online.

Follow the Trends

Professional web designers keep up with the popular trends and new technologies in website design. That is their full time job. Just as trends and technologies change rapidly in Dentistry, they also do in website design and management. Let a professional be tasked with keeping your website current and on the cutting edge.


There are many free web tracking solutions that a do-it-yourself designer can use to track traffic to their website. However, Merely acquiring that information is not as important as how you use it.  Bounce rates, referring websites and other useful data points can help you determine how and where to further optimize your website. Working with professional web designers makes it easier to spot these potential issues and correct them.
These are just some of the reasons why you may want to consider hiring a professional to design and maintain your dental website.  In the end, you need to make the best decision for your practice based on your goals and your current resources. But remember, hiring a professional can increase the chances that your website will generate income for your practice, which means it will pay for itself over time.

The Most Common Pitfalls that Hinder a New Dental Practice’s Success

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This article is an excerpt from the free “Dental Practice Startup Guide”. It is a review of some of the most common mistakes that Dentists make when opening a new practice, and how they can be avoided. Click Here if you would like a free copy of the Dental Practice Startup Guide.

The contributors to this guide have helped hundreds of dentists open their first dental practices. In those years of experience, we have identified some common “pitfalls” that are sure to hinder a new practice’s success.  The good news is that these mistakes can be easily avoided. Here are some of the most common mistakes that we have seen startup practice’s make:

  • Trying to negotiate real estate terms on your own. A specialized real estate advisor can help you leverage market conditions to get you the best terms possible on your lease or purchase.
  • Not hiring the right staff for the front desk. Your front desk staff are the face of your practice. They are the first and last people that your patients will interact with when they visit. Too many dentists hire friends and family members that lack the right skill set for this role.
  • Failing to properly manage the budget. Fixed and variable costs need to be closely managed to ensure that your practice can continue to function.
  • Not using a dental contractor. Hiring a specialized dental contractor can actually keep your costs down, because they know how to correctly size a job. Non-dental contractors may be priced lower, but they will often take longer and cost more in the end.
  • Not allocating enough resources to marketing. Sufficient marketing is critical to attracting, converting, engaging and retaining new patients.  A large number of practices struggle in the first few years due to a lack of effective marketing.