Connie Hopper has been a Business Development Consultant for DPAS for two years. With a background in marketing and a degree in business management she has the knowledge to help practices with their branding, marketing strategy and website, to help grow their patient numbers.
Here, she shares her thoughts on how everything from formulating your unique selling points to branding consistency and creating a strong online presence, can help practices to succeed…
What are your most enjoyable experiences whilst working with practices?
I love a good training session! Especially when everyone gets involved, chips in their own ideas and isn’t afraid to ask difficult or even silly questions. I always get such a buzz from a thorough session where everyone is engaged.
What are the biggest issues facing practice teams today, and how can they deal with them?
I honestly couldn’t choose just one thing; the new NHS contract, ongoing CQC challenges, lack of clarity surrounding new regulation (e.g. GDPR and the Insurance Distribution Directive), all while maintaining their day-to-day business life and trying to entice new patients through the door!
Running a dental practice is definitely no easy feat. But working with open and honest providers that are always looking to support you is a good place to start – don’t think you have to do it all on your own, there are people out there who want to help to enhance your business.
What advice do you have for practices looking to grow their business?
Really hone in on your Unique Selling Points (USPs). Are you the slick, high-end practice offering cutting edge technology? Or the family-run practice looking out for the more nervous patients? We often think we have to do everything under one roof, and while initially that can seem like the best idea, sometimes offering too much can simply leave your customers confused.
Focusing on just a few USPs, rather than trying to be all things to all people, will also keep things simpler for you and your team. This will also mean you don’t have to spread your budget that far and can spend it on the things you really want to promote. In this case, less is definitely more.
If you could only pick one thing that practices should be doing in order to succeed what would it be?
Consistency in your brand. If you do want to be that slick, high-end practice offering cutting edge technology, don’t let yourself down with the beaten-up brown sofa in the waiting room. That brand needs to be replicated at all points of the patient journey – from the website, phone call, reception welcome and waiting room – not just in the dentistry you deliver.
What three key business lessons have you learned from your time in dentistry?
- Make the most of everything your providers have to offer, don’t get overly caught up in what ‘deal’ they can give you (particularly as these often come with hidden extras). Yes, bottom line is important, but also take into account how their knowledge, contacts and business sense can help you to stay up-to-date with the market, or whether you will be able to make use of their other products and services. Your providers are likely to have come across similar situations in the other dental practices they service, so make sure to pick their brains for knowledge. If they value your relationship, they will be more than happy to share this with you.
- Don’t try and do everything all at the same time! If you have big plans for your practice, spend some time to think through how best, and when, to introduce any changes. Whether it’s systems and processes or products and services, this kind of well-thought-out strategy for moving the business forward will help you to successfully implement, promote and refine it – and make it less stressful for you. Don’t forget to build in time to evaluate how things are going, that way if you need to make adjustments you can do so without deviating too much from your original plan
- Do you know your online presence? Is your website up to date and accurately representing your business? People tend to buy into a practice from the “shop window” that is your website. If it is old, tired or is slightly broken, the chances are that potential patients might assume your dental skills are the same. That doesn’t mean you need to be investing thousands into the latest whiz-bang, all-singing, all-dancing website, but some investment to ensure you have a simple, Google verified “shop window” that is focused on the patient, contains all the key details and information they want to know and is on-brand, is well worth it.
What do you enjoy most about working in dentistry?
I love that no two practices are the same…everyone is at a different stage of their business cycle, from just starting out, to nearing the end of professional life, and everything in between! There’s not a lot we haven’t yet seen in dentistry, but working with individuals to suss out their needs and help them achieve their goals really gives me a sense of achievement. Either that, or the free toothpaste!