Swords Orthodontics
17 Main St, Swords, Co Dublin, Ireland

Another 5 Characteristics of a Successful Dental Practice

Another 5 Characteristics of a Successful Dental Practice

More thoughts arising after Gary Brown's keynote presentation to the Irish Dental Association early in 2014. His talk was on maintaining your base of patients and building loyalty. 

1. Successful Dental Practices Have Educational Material in the Office

By telling your patients what to look out for in terms of dental health and disease and dental hygiene, you gain their trust. Instead of looking like the dentist who wants to make the most money from their patients, you show the patients that you put their health first. The funny thing is, when your patients are actively interested in their oral health, you'll probably see them for more check ups than before anyway.

Personally, I like to know about things, and when I find that the information is easily available, then I don't get too enthusiastic about having to memorise it. With dentistry, I think if you're prepared to empower the patients by giving them the information about disease and treatment, they're likely to be happier to trust your treatments.

At Swords Orthodontics, since we have a large proportion of younger patients we have educational material that's specifically aimed at children, including story books with tooth characters. For parents and adult patients, Quintessence publishing has a couple of excellent books by Ronald Goldstein and Douglas Terry.

Examples of educational material:

  • Books
  • Leaflets
  • Models
  • Photographs
  • Posters

As a bonus, these materials can add to the decoration of the office, eliminating that clinical look and creating a more welcoming practice.

2. Successful Dental Practices Have Signs outside

A surprising amount of people can be too nervous to actually set foot inside the dental practice to ask about your services. How many potential patients have you lost without even realizing?

Signs placed outside the practice means that you can communicate to these patients about your service without making them feel uncomfortable. This also avoids the problem of people walking past your practice without seeing you.

Although they're hardly dangerous things, signs can pose a trip hazard if someone isn't looking where they're going so it's worth checking that your liability insurance will cover you for this. Planning permission is also sometimes needed to place a sign outside - I was at a recent dental conference where one speaker found planning permission compliance could get quite detailed when it came to signage, and could use the word "Dental" but not "Dental Care". I can think of other words that might reduce the tone of the neighbourhood, but "care" wouldn't be be up there with them, but the law's the law.

3. Successful Dental Practices Are Open when others are not

Dental emergencies never seem to happen at a convenient time, so it makes sense to be open when the other practices aren't. A patient with a freshly chipped tooth will be eternally grateful to find you open on a Saturday.

Similarly, in a non-emergency situation, your practice will also be the first choice of patients who want to come straight after work without having to book time off. Popular times outside of regular office hours are Saturdays and Wednesday evenings.

And it's not just when your surgery is open. People may want to make dental appointments at odd hours of the day, not just office hours. if they have been cruising the internet looking for a dentist, they'll probably make that call for a first appointment at 8pm. So who answers the phone then?

4. Your Staff Act Professionally and Are Well Dressed

While professional attire was discussed in the first of these articles. Acting professionally is a critical part of being a successful dental practice. This isn't to say that your staff should be only cold and formal toward patients, but the patients should get the sense that your practice holds itself to very high standards. It gives people reassurance that they'll be looked after well and in a world of chaos, people are drawn towards calm and reliable situations as points of reference.

5. Successful Dental Practices Have Readily Available Parking

Ideally, your patients won't have to drive down the road, then walk back up again to get to your practice. You run the risk of them finding a closer dentist while they look for a place to park. Of course, whether of not you can have parking depends on the location of your practice, but if you have the option then it's a good idea to take advantage of it. I appreciate this is easier said than done, and a lot easier done if you were setting up your practice from scratch. But if you were ever wondering why someone else seems to be doing very well with their practice, it will be to do with the details in this series of articles - including parking and access.

Make sure your practice and parking area are easy to find (so we're back to signage), and it's ideal if you're located near public transportation  (e.g. bus stops and train stations).

Just as with signs, it's wise to check with your liability insurer that you're covered for a parking area. Planning permission will most likely be required if you plan to install a parking area from scratch.

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As part of Phase One of the National Reopening, Swords Orthodontics is now resuming routine orthodontic treatment.
There will be a few differences in how we do this specifically to deal with coronavirus, but you'll still be getting great orthodontic treatment.
We'll be in touch to reorganise your appointments, please don't attend without an appointment.