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

5 Characteristics of a Successful Dental Practice

5 Characteristics of a Successful Dental Practice

The Irish Dental Association runs an annual conference focusing on dental practice management, and the 2014 event was based on the theme of improving attendence of patients at dental practices - a particular concern for dentists in the new economy.

One of the 2014 keynote speakers was Gary Brown - the executive chairman of Target McConnells, one of the highest profile marketing agencies in the country, with a portfolio of top clients - this is clearly a guy who knows about delivering the biggest results. Gary is renowned for a straight talking, tough approach to engaging with new business and clearly shook out a few mental cobwebs in the audience. He compiled over 2 dozen characteristics of a successful dental practice, and here are the top five.

1 Successful Dental Practices have their own logo

This is fundamental advice - it establishes the practice as a business entity, not just the office of the dentist with his name above the door. I could talk for a while about branding, but essentially a brand is a promise to the people you deal with and the logo is a simple visual shorthand for the brand and ultimately that promise.

Swords Orthodontics Athletics Logo Fingallians 

Swords Orthodontics has two logos, one for stationery and an athletics logo for less formal applications

2 Successful Dental Practices have an office that is professional but not impersonal

There's truth in this. Some people respond well to an area that is clinical, and maybe this has increased as the beauty industry has expanded beyond hairdressing and manicures to surgical and parasurgical treatments. Dentistry still has a certain cultural position in our mindsets that leads to concerns before nervous patients set a foot in the door. To counter this, a welcoming, cosy but tidy, practice is likely to put people at their ease. Your clinical treatment area can still be clinical - people want to see modern shiny equipment where they expect it - but think somewhere between a London gentleman's club and Starbuck's rather than an operating theatre.

Swords Orthodontics Patient Lounge Area Swords Orthodontics Treatment Coordination Room

Swords Orthodontics patient lounge and treatment coordinating room - clean, comfy, welcoming

3 Successful Dental Staff have professional attire, clean and pressed

Working in a dental practice isn't like working in an office - you are engaging with your patients in a visible way that any retail business deals with their customers, but you also need to ramp up the trust to the highest level. Now if you looked at the most successful retailers you regularly see (eg MacDonalds, TESCO), or business that require trust (eg any airline), you'd agree that the staff that the public meet don't wear their own clothes at work. It looks more professional that way, which gives a good impression to the patient, but it also instills esprit de corps to the team, and simplifies heath and safety and employment law for the practice owner.

Swords Orthodontics Brenda Swords Orthodontics CourtneySwords Orthodontics Michelle

Swords Orthodontics Uniforms

4 Free Wi-Fi

Ten years ago, not only was this not on the list, most people didn't know what it was. In 2014, not only do they know what it is, they expect it as soon as they leave the house. That might not seem like something dentists should concern themselves with, but think back to comparisons with Starbuck's and MacDonalds - if it's available when they spend a couple of Euro on a burger or latte, it makes your pracitce look out of date if it's not there while they're waiting to spend a hundred more on dental treatment.

You can read a story about Swords Orthodontics' experience with free Wi-Fi here.

5 Evidence of treatment benefits (ie "Before" and "After")

I think the first time I saw Before and After photos was on an advert for a body building course in an American comic (would it have been Charles Atlas and the guy that gets sand kicked in his face at the beach?). People generally trust their dentists - the Irish Dental Association recently found this to be about 88-95% for different aspects of dentistry - but a surprising number are happy to move around dentists. How do they decide where to have their treatment done, and what sort of treatment is worth investing in? The dentist that can ethically demonstrate the benefits of their work will have a sustained advantage here.

Swords Orthodontics patient Pre TreatmentSwords Orthodontics patient after treatment

Swords Orthodontics keeps a file of photographs with the patient's consent for demonstrating different problems and their treatment


I'll cover more aspects of a successful practice in future article.

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