Denturists frequently ask me “What is the typical successful denture clinic doing?”. This is a hard one to answer as I don’t believe there is such thing as a “typical” denture clinic. Every clinic is unique, has a different set of goals and will strive for those goals in its own way.
Success, however, is achieved through good management skills, not luck. The primary point in the quest for success is knowing what your two main “hats” are. Firstly, you are the executive of a practice and secondly, the denturist. The first role is the most vital as it CREATES the practice and determines the degree of success. You could even be just the executive and hire other denturists to do the dentures instead of you and achieve success that way. But, if you do not wear this executive hat well, you, as the denturist, will be overworked, stressed out and underpaid.
An interesting point is that your pay or profits, as the executive, reflects how successfully you are managing the practice. If your profits are not all that you would want, look no further than the fact that, although you are thoroughly trained as a Denturist, you probably have zero training as an executive.
Management of a clinic involves many things: hiring and motivating good staff, being a good boss, internal marketing, external marketing, good sales skills, proper financial planning for increased profits, strategic planning, implementing all your good ideas, and all those hundreds of other decisions and actions you take every day.
This article on internal marketing is the first of a series of articles addressing the subjects of marketing and sales. I will be offering lots of very “tried and true” ideas, but the stress must be on you actually implementing them. There are two key parts to internal marketing: (1) professional image, and (2) the service (not the technical service of making the dentures). This article will concentrate on image.
Start Your Outward Growth By Looking Inward
Decide whether you want to have a big, affluent clinic or not — or maybe you just want to make life easier by working less and earning more. Are you tired of being broke, overworked (or under worked) stressed out? If the answer is yes, read on.
A big, affluent clinic is not built overnight. It takes dedication and skill to move it from where it is now up to the size and prominence that you want to achieve. It means doing the correct actions, one step at a time. Let’s start with your internal marketing, specifically your image.
Image, Image, Image
One of the differences between the big denture clinics and the little ones is the image they project. If you want to improve your income, you’ve got to look the part. There are many ways to do this and, most of them are inexpensive.
Take a drive and look at the front of other healthcare professionals practices, or even stores or other businesses and see what it is you like most or least about each one. Then, figure out how to bring your store front standards up.
Go across the street from your practice and look at it as if you were a new patient or someone just considering using your services. How does the building look from the street? Is it upscale or a hole in the wall? Is your sign visible, eye-catching, clean, well lit? Are the windows clean?
Now walk up to the front door of your clinic as if you had never seen it before. What is your first impression? Be honest with yourself – does it look classy and professional? Does it look warm and inviting? Does it make a good impression on you or even make you say “Wow”?
Walk Right In!
Walk into your clinic. Notice whether the carpets are clean or in good shape, whether the walls are nicely painted or wallpapered. Just fixing those things can increase your professional image and give new life to the practice. You are never too broke to look professional; a few dollars into image can increase your income by looking the part of someone who is doing well.
Are all the lights inside the practice working; are the chairs and equipment clean and in good repair; are there beautiful pictures on the wall and are they hung straight; are the magazines in the reception area current, in good shape, and high quality? How are the plants doing? They should look lush and prosperous, not stringy and brown.
Is there a receptionist, and is she at her desk to greet patients when they walk in? Is there a warm smile and happy greeting from the receptionist when you walk in? Does she do the same for the patients as they walk in?
Is she well groomed and professionally attired? No casual sweaters, jeans, sweatshirts, chewing gum, etc. allowed. Uniforms are nice but not mandatory as long as your staff show good quality taste. Remember, the receptionist is your Department of First Impressions — through the telephone first and then when the patient arrives at the practice. This point can be a killer and can lose the practice income due to poor first contacts.
Hop In The Chair!
Enter your operation. Sit in the chair and see what you would see as a new patient. Are the counter and cupboards clean, uncluttered, well painted? Is the chair comfortable and in good shape or does it need recovering? How do things on the wall look — posters and pictures — are they attractive and hung straight? Is everything spotless? What about your own clothing? What is your own lab coat saying? Denturists in ugly, greying lab coats are very uninspiring to patients. It may be enough to turn some away. You should have new, fresh lab coats — one for each day of the week. It is not expensive to buy five lab coats and then to get them laundered each week. A small outlay of cash here will result in a bigger return of income.
Hide That Lab!
Can patients see into your lab? They should not be able to and you should arrange a way to prevent this, unless you have a spotless state-of-the-art lab that is in itself a promotion for the practice. Do you have a spare lab coat inside the lab to change into when you are doing lab work, so that your denturist lab coat can stay clean? Is there a mirror inside the lab door so you can check your appearance (any dust on your glasses; are your nails and hands clean) and do you smile before going out to meet a patient?
Now The Fun Part!
Having done your inspection, the challenge is how to remedy any points that you may have found that need improving. Devise a battle plan for how you are going to attack these points. Prioritize them and systematically work down your list; if you don’t have the funds for some, do the ones you can first.
Good luck! Get these actions done before the next issue of this journal arrives. The next article will be on internal service points in a clinic. Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to The Art Of Management Inc. and a clickable link back to this page.