When contemplating the future of a dental practice, several steps are essential to this long-range planning. Dentists of mature practices need foresight and a clear strategy to optimize the financial potential of practice that will undergo transition in the future. Therefore, taking positive measures to enhance the mature practice requires a realistic analysis of the brand and the ultimate goal.
Influence of Patient Population on Stabilizing Mature Practices
Mature practices have unique features. Often, these practices have had only one owner since the early 70’s and frequently exhibit these common characteristics:
The majority of the purchase cost of an existing practice is the successful transfer of the viable patient base. The rest of the valuated assets may comprise a much smaller portion of the price and include, the following:
The existing long-standing team is key. Dentists often assume that they are the greatest reason for patients’ loyalty to the practice. The reality is that patients have an affinity to all the team members of the practice. A potential downside of having long-term employees is their resistance to change. This may include balking at a more contemporary approach to growing the essential new patient component of the practice.
Counter-Productive Solutions To The Diminished Patient Flow
When some practitioners adjust to the diminishing demand for appointments, they sometimes employ counter-productive strategies.
Strategies To Assure Protecting Value Of Our Aging Practices
The need to step back and take stock of the existing operation is undeniable. Bringing in an outsider with a strong knowledge of dental office operations to obtain an unbiased assessment of the present status is valuable. This evaluation should begin as soon as production and the ability to acquire new patients begins to decline. Generally speaking, this would be 5 to 7 years before one would be planning to place the practice on the market. What should this exercise yield? A sense of what makes this practice different from all other practices.
What is the practice's unique essence? The Brand.
Each office has a unique brand that should be communicated to its community of potential patients. A web designer or marketer can develop an effective website to tell the story of your personal practice which will resonate with the internet-friendly potential-patient-user. Those who scan websites before calling the office to get more information about the practice generate the majority of new patient referrals; therefore, it is essential to develop a positive online presence. If patients are reluctant to commit on the basis of viewing the website or getting a personal referral, an invitation to visit the office for a more in-depth explanation of the operation on a pro bono basis could be considered. Additionally, further steps to make inexpensive cosmetic improvements to the physical environment of the practice is an option.
Another positive improvement is to add a coffee and drink station in the reception area to create a more hospitable and contemporary feel. Signs placed in the waiting area indicating that new patients are always welcome also helps to create a warm, comfortable, and inviting atmosphere.
The mature practice, with some updates and upgrades, can ensure that you have a valuable asset upon transition to sale. Choosing the status quo and allowing the practice to atrophy and decline is less than ideal. However, by taking initiatives to arrest the decline can lead to enhanced productivity and increased professional satisfaction. Which would you prefer? I strongly recommend the latter.