By Roger P. Levin, DDS
Orthodontists are experiencing increased competition and it’s not just coming from other orthodontists. More and more aligner treatments are being offered from general dentists and direct-to-consumer companies. This is having an effect on many orthodontic practices, but there are specific ways to protect the practice and maintain a highly successful future. Consider these five strategies to help protect your practice:
- Develop a broad scale referral marketing program. It’s a mistake to focus all or most of your referral marketing efforts on patients. A single referring doctor can provide far more orthodontic care than any one patient. In fact, we still see practices that have referral sources that send more than $200,000 a year in orthodontic treatment. Community outreach is also essential. It must be broad and should include as many as 10 to 12 different branding placements in order to be truly noticed. Different groups respond in different ways and the broader your community marketing is, the more effective it will be.
- Train the treatment coordinator. For 35 years, we have had the opportunity to interact with thousands of orthodontic treatment coordinators, and we routinely find that many, while well-intentioned, do not have proper sales training. In fact, a survey conducted by Levin Group found that 97% of orthodontic treatment coordinators have no previous sales experience. When treatment coordinators are properly trained, close rates will immediately increase.
- Overhaul your observation program. The observation program is one of the most powerful drivers of future revenue and growth in orthodontics. If the close rate on observation patients isn’t more than 95%, then this needs to be addressed immediately. Part of the problem is that many observation programs are an afterthought, simply involving sending out postcards or reminders that the child should come to the practice to be seen once again. Instead, think of observation patients as (non-paying) practice patients. See them every six months, even if it takes several years before they start. Use that time to monitor them and build powerful relationships so that when the time comes for them to choose an orthodontist, you’re not just an option but the only option.
- Address the overall scheduling system. Too many practices ignore the needs and desires of parents and patients and attempt to force them into inconvenient appointments. New methods of scheduling systems can be built to include a positive flow of patients while maintaining an ideal schedule.
- Increase adult orthodontics. You’d love to reach adults that may be interested in orthodontics but they’re not just going to walk right into your office…right? Well, actually they are and they do. You see the parents of current patients every day and they may be interested in having a consult to learn more about orthodontics. Don’t miss out on this potential pool of patients.
We are entering an era where orthodontic practices are facing major outside competition. Use these five ways to help protect your practice and move it into the pathway of greater success.
ROGER P. LEVIN, DDS is a third-generation general dentist and the Founder and CEO of Levin Group, Inc., a dental management consulting firm that has worked with over 26,000 dentists. Dr. Levin, an internationally-known dental practice management speaker has written 65 books and over 4,300 articles. www.levingroup.com. He is also the Executive Founder of Dental Business Study Clubs – Dentistry’s only All-Business Study Clubs, the next generation of dental business education. www.dbsclubs.com