Dental Clinics are all about helping patients with preventive and curative solutions for their dental health. With the adoption of modern lifestyle, challenges related to dental health are going up in every day’s life which makes this business rewarding but at the same obviously competitive. Dental Clinics feature among big businesses and like any other sizable business, it also has its own set of challenges. A few can be similar to any other business but a few challenges might be unique to dental and medical professions. difficulties can be known snags which can be foreseen well in advance but at the same time there are challenges which usually are unforeseen and they come as a surprise element.
Challenges which can lead to loss of revenue and profitability of a Dental Clinic can be –
Communication – Effective and clear communication is the key to onboard new patients and retaining old customers. Any inefficiency on the part of Front Desk can lead to dropouts of new enquiries and losing old patients. This can also lead to an increase in no shows and cancellations.
Two-way communication – Customers and clinic, both should be able to freely communicate with each other. Apart from regular phone calls, clinic should ensure communication through digital media channels like Whats app, Twitter etc
Lack of Connect & Trust – No Dental Clinic can grow and remain profitable without repeat customers. Unless and until the patient is not able to connect with the clinic, staff and the doctor, he will not be inclined to return to the clinic. For a dentists job to be well done, a mutual trust is required from both the sides and unless a patient feels connected, it will be difficult for him to trust his doctor
Appointments and Confirmations – Effective and faster appointments at the time convenient to the patient as well as for the doctor coupled with confirmation calls prior to the appointment day can ensure minimum cancellations and no show
Missed calls – Every single unanswered call is a missed opportunity!! As per the data, average dental clinics are not able to answer almost one third of the calls from new patients which were initiated through marketing campaigns. Reception desk must ensure zero missed calls. Calls landing during lunch hours are also to be promptly answered so that every opportunity should be utilized for increasing the revenue of the Dental Clinic. In case of a missed call, the patient should be called within a couple of minutes. Patient calls beyond working hours are again a business opportunity and should be addressed accordingly.
Low Conversions – New business is essential for revenue growth and profitability. Low conversion from new enquiries is just like “leaving money on the table”, an incredible amount wasted in marketing and promotion.
Lack of new patient stream – Unless and until new patients make the sizable chuck in the total customer base, it will be difficult for the clinic to remain profitable.
Not knowing the source of new patients – The source of new referrals and enquiries is critical for future growth of customers. Unless and until the clinic knows about the source of new patients, it cannot design its lead generation and marketing programs effectively
High Cancellations – Cancellations can be measured as a percentage of total enquiries and total closed cases. Any increase in the cancellation percentage is alarming and a sign of leakage in the customer’s appointment process.
Undefined Vision & Goals – Unless we score, we are only practicing. Lack of vision and undefined goals for the clinic and the staff can be a critical reason for low or declining revenue. Long term and short-term goals should be defined and each employee should be aware about the clinic’s expectations from him.
Customer Satisfaction – A dissatisfied patient is unlikely to visit again and the clinic loses the revenue from his repeat visits. Any business strategy or a process should be focussed only on and around the customer. A satisfied and loyal customer will not only contribute to revenue multiple times but will also be the brand ambassador of the Dental Clinic.
Time Management – Lack of time management not only gives a bad customer experience but also affects the productivity of the clinic. A minimum waiting time and timelines should be adhered for high patient satisfaction and productivity
Marketing and Promotion – Despite investing on marketing and promotional activities if the clinic is not able to get the enquiries, it’s the time to review the activity and investment. There could be a need for additional investment or change of media vehicles.
Less or no Digital media presence – Ignoring Social and Digital media in the promotional campaign can affect the outcome of promotional campaigns. Every relevant media vehicle to be used to get the new leads
Fewer referrals from existing patients – Referrals can contribute substantially towards new enquiries that too without spending a dime. Patients should be encouraged to help with referrals.
Lack of Optimum Referrals – Referrals are usually free promotions and are therefore critical in new patient acquisitions, cross network referrals and non-health segment referrals can also help in increased revenue and profits.
Cash Flow Management – An eye on Cash Flow management is critical for a dental clinic as this may not only affect the profitability but at times may lead to difficulties in meeting obligations.
Overheads – Dental clinics have high Overheads due to high cost of equipment, office cost manpower etc.
Productivity – Maximum utilization of minimum resources, Manpower is an expensive resource and unless the per person productivity of the clinic is benchmarked with the best in the industry, output cannot be in line with the expectations. Raises can be awarded on the basis of individual’s performance and clinic’s overall performance and profitability
Efficiency – Any complacency or inefficiency can lead to the requirement of additional time to service each patient. which would lead fewer patients catered each day and thus less profits.
Reviewing the Fees – Fees and charges should be reviewed periodically and should be increased as and when required
Rising cost – Rising costs of manpower, supplies and other expenses can affect the profitability. This should be kept under control by rationalizing, renegotiating and changing the suppliers. Effective use of manpower with a constant endeavour for increased productivity should be followed on a regular basis.
Bank interest – In case of any loans or credit lines, an eye on interest can help in rationalizing the borrowing cost. Minimum utilization of credit line will help with profitability.
Knowledge and skills – Change is the only constant thing. With the advent of new technology, Dentists will have to keep abreast with the time. This can help in faster treatments, saving costs for the patients and also for the clinic. A patient will always prefer a doctor and dental clinic staff who are updated with the latest trends in Dentistry.
Patient Complaints – Rightly said by Bob Hooey “If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.” Every customer should be thanked for his feedback and complaint. Every complaint should be taken as a lesson for the future so that no customer gets lost because of the same issue.
Challenges which are unforeseen and can suddenly impact the revenue and profitability of a Dental Clinic –
Pandemic like situation – A Covid-19 related situation can lead to drop in business. Such a situation can extend for long and can lead to heavy losses for businesses like Dental Clinic where physical proximity is required to service a patient. Apart from getting fewer patients, doctors and staff are also at risk. The cost of protection strategies might affect the bottom line further.
Integrity or Accident – Any fraud by an external party or an embezzlement by an employee can lead to heavy losses for the clinic. Adequate controls should be put in place to avoid any incident, employees should be informed in detail about these controls and their advantages for the firm so that none of them have any trust issues with the clinic. Also, any natural catastrophic event can also push a clinic’s finances in red. Insurances purchased with the help of an expert can cover all such risks up to a great extent
New Competition – Any new clinic in the surrounding with better facilities or prices can affect the business of the clinic. Any new strategy or promotion done by the competition can immediately impact the enquiries and onboarding of new patients.
Regulations and Taxation – Government regulations and taxes are the realities which no business can afford to ignore. A strict vigil on the compliance of regulations, any change in regulations and rationalizing tax outflow can save from unexpected pain and money outflow.
Key person(s) leaving the job – Though expensive but the Manpower is the most valuable resource. Any experienced key person leaving the clinic can result in drop of efficiency, discomfort for patients, reduced conversions etc which can ultimately affect the output.
Fee reduction by Insurers – Any change in terms of major insurers can impact the bottom-line of the clinic. A regular review of terms and prices can help in mitigating the risk rather than getting the P&L shock.
Every business has to face challenges and Dental Clinics are no exception. Any challenge, major or minor, if remain unaddressed can not only affect the revenue and profitability of the dental clinic, but can also affect the future growth of the business. A capable, dedicated and united team is the biggest resource a Dental Clinic can have to face any foreseen or unforeseen challenge.