As a practice model, Dental Service Organizations (DSOs) have pros and cons. The same applies to private and alternative practice models. After you have read, researched and determined the right fit for you, maximize your practice’s return on investments.
According to an article in the Journal of Dental Education, “dental graduates report having strong intentions for the independence of private practice.” To satisfy dentists’ goals, provide quality patient care, be responsive to different urban and rural locations and be competitive in the marketplace, private and alternative practices need to know their competitors and their patients.
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Dentists have the opportunity for a lucrative, fulfilling career in spite of practice model shifts taking place. If you select a private practice or alternative model, however, you may be asking how best to compete and position your practice in the marketplace. In the midst of the chaos of industry and model shifts, look for the opportunities.
First, study and understand DSOs, what they offer patients and what their strengths and weaknesses are. From this, determine your practice’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The next step is to organize this information into a strategy.
A strategy is a set of ideas that can help you achieve your goals. To develop a strategy, you arrange those ideas into a plan. This helps you identify how you can reach your practice revenue goals and create a plan to help you stay focused on the goals, tactics and actions needed.
Succeed in planning, and you plan to succeed. With the aid of foresight, you have greater opportunity for a lucrative practice. Knowing your competition allows you to be better prepared to compete with DSOs and win.
Below are some alternatives to DSOs and traditional private practices:
1. Location is imperative. If opening a new practice or expanding your existing practice, study your demographics. Selecting a market and location where there is high demand and low supply of dental services positions you to gain access to greater patients. Moving or expanding into a strategic location gives you first opportunity to build patient relationships, loyalty and retention.
2. Services meet patients’ needs. How can you add value to your practice, strengthen your competitive position, maximize profits and attract more business from current or new patients through expanded services? Be balanced in your approach to services, making sure that you offer services that meet your community’s needs and that are state-of-the-art but that you can deliver with quality.
3. Differentiators are what make you unique. What sets you apart? Identify these, ask your team and survey patients to learn their perspective. Utilize this information to communicate those differentiators in your marketing, advertising and communications. These can include:
- Credentials and performance of you and your clinical staff
- Insurance acceptance, financing services offered and payment options
- Location, office setting, amenities, hours, parking, cleanliness and appearance
- Service, friendliness and ability of administrative staff
- Relationships with patients, including communication, time spent and treatment quality
- Clinical technology used by your practice
- Variety of services available
If competing against DSOs, they may have lower overhead and be able to charge less for services than your practices. If you do charge more for treatments and procedures, demonstrate the value and quality patients receive in exchange. If you want your practice to profit, communicate to patients how they will profit in choosing you as their dental care partner.
Get to know your competition, your practice and your patients.
“Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril,” Sun Tzu, The Art of War