6 major reasons that dental clinics fail

Article   Sep 25, 2018

Everyone needs a dentist, right? So it would be fair to think that opening a dental practice – pending you have the appropriate education and experience – would be a sure-fire kind of business. A practice that you build and grow and the clients would simply come… except that’s not always the case.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about plane crashes. Unlike those portrayed in the movies with a single inciting incident, real-life plane crashes occur because of the many small problems that pile upon one another. Gladwell tells the reader that most crashes are the result of a pilot making 7 consecutive errors. Failure is simply not the result of one major catastrophic event, but is typically the accumulation of single and small events that pile atop of one another to bring the plane down.


Why do dental clinics fail?

Dental clinic failures operate in the same way as plane crashes, it is not one single event that brings them down and causes them to fail, it is typically an accumulation of the little things piling up that puts a dentist out of business – bad marketing, bad practice management, bad finances – so let’s talk about the top 6 reasons dental clinics fail.

A bad location

Accessible, visible locations are a must when running a prosperous dental clinic. If you don’t have good visibility or easy access, clients will have a hard time finding you. And if clients can’t find you, it means you likely won’t get any.

A bad marketing plan

Marketing is key. There are plenty of dental options out there for those looking and if you don’t stand out you won’t have much of a chance. Today’s marketing world is digital, so when it comes to planning your marketing you need to think visibility on the world wide web. You’re looking at a website, social media activity and even a practice blog. Anything that can help you connect with people and provide them value. Is your practice visible? Are you active online? Do you use outside advertising? All of these are key factors when considering your marketing plan.

Marketing goes beyond your advertising strategy and digital footprint, what happens when people call your office – how are they greeted? And what about when they arrive, what do they see and hear? Are they welcomed into the clinic by your warm administrative staff? Are they seated in a clean, well-kept waiting area? All of these factor into the experience of your dental practice for your patients and potential patients. In marketing everything from how they find you to when they come in for a visit counts.

Poor patient management

Patients are looking for a dentist who provides superior healthcare. While everything else on this list is important, this is incredibly important. You need to be able to diagnose patient issues and effectively communicate the need for treatment to your patients. Even if every other aspect of your practice is top notch, if you are unable to provide superior healthcare your clinic will not survive.

A bad support team

Your office support team is critical to ensuring your practice is successful. Clinics that fail have poor teams that don’t work well together and aren’t on the same place. To ensure your success, make sure you fill your clinic with hard-working, supportive team members that believe in the practice’s mission, are on board with the goals and are willing to go above and beyond to make sure everything is done exceptionally.

Poor practice management

Bad administrative practices only means bad things for a dental practice. Everything from running the office, effective scheduling, good systems and superior protocols and policies are key to ensuring your dental clinic is successful. If you have bad systems that don’t meet your needs and capacity, or poor protocols and policies (or they are badly documented) you practice will not run at full capacity.

Bad financial management

Successful dental clinics have good financial management. Deeply understanding your profit and loss, overhead expenses, cash flow and metrics are all pertinent to ensuring your practice runs smoothly. You need to not only understand your metrics but regularly monitor them and understand how to use them to your benefit.

Superior financial management includes having a good financial advisor and/or accounting on your side. Along with ensuring that you work with them to identify and deal with any financial issues in a timely manner.


Avoiding the pitfalls

Having a successful dental practice starts today, take a few moments to take into account the different areas of practice and evaluate if they are truly working. If they are – great, keep it up and keep trying to improve. If they aren’t, get on top of it now so they don’t bring the plane down.

Shift Accounting has helped dental clinics just like yours avoid dental clinic failure by implementing strong bookkeeping and providing monthly reports and analytics to improve the bottom line. If you have an area in your clinic you’d like to improve and make more efficient, call us today and let’s see what we can do together!

Mohamed Ismail


Business Advisor & Cloud Accounting Expert helping dental and medical professionals to grow their practices.

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