What Are Your Competitors Planning for the Coming Year—and How Does Your Practice Compare?

January 11, 2019 Rieva Lesonsky

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What are dentists’ biggest concerns for 2019, and what are they doing to prepare for success in the new year? There’s a lot you can learn from your competition. Fortunately, a recent study has some valuable insights that can help you get ready for a successful 2019.

Money is on their minds

Financial concerns are top of mind for dentists in the survey. Almost nine out of 10 (80%) respondents say that patients’ ability to pay is a major concern, while 86% are concerned about practice revenue in general. In addition, managing practice finances was cited by 80% of survey respondents.

What you can do about it

  • Consider offering third-party financing or payment plans for patients to help increase case acceptance.
  • Break costly treatments into stages with a payment due at each stage to lessen the financial hit to patients.
  • Maintain strong cash flow by invoicing immediately and following up on overdue invoices right away.
  • Work to ensure accurate information in insurance billings to reduce payment delays due to errors.

Investing in technology

Keeping up with new technology is a major concern for 80% of dentists in the survey. When they learn about new technology, they’re willing to invest if they believe the tools will help to grow their practices. Here’s where dentists put their money in 2018:

  • Transitioning to electronic medical records — 48%
  • Buying new equipment — 30%
  • Upgrading office technology—29%

There are more technology updates on the horizon. Within the next year, nearly a quarter (24%) of dentists in the survey say they plan to upgrade their office technology and purchase new equipment. Specifically, 52% plan to buy new X-ray machines, 30% plan to purchase new operatory chairs, and 24% expect to buy new scanners.

What you can do about it

Stay on top of dental trends by reading professional publications and blogs.

  • When you invest in new technology, let your patients (and prospective patients) know about it. Having the latest technology in your office is a huge selling point.
  • Post photos of your new equipment on your business website and your social media pages.
  • Share news of the new equipment in your email newsletters and other marketing messages.
  • During office visits, show patients new equipment you’re using and explain what it does.
  • Focus on the benefit new equipment brings to patients, not to your practice. For example, does the equipment make treatment more comfortable or speed up procedures? 

Planning for patient acquisition

Patient acquisition is another top concern of dentists in the survey, cited by 80% of respondents. No wonder 31% say they expanded their marketing efforts in 2018 and 23% plan to invest more in marketing in the coming year. (Need some marketing inspiration? Check out our 12 months of marketing ideas for dentists.)

What you can do about it

  • Use marketing automation tools to market more effectively and efficiently. For example, Lighthouse 360 automatically collects reviews from your satisfied patients and posts them to top review sites to help build your practice’s profile.
  • Personalize emails to your patients by grouping them into customized, segmented lists so they get relevant messages. Lighthouse 360 makes this easy to do.
  • Keep your website and your local search directory listings updated. Patients search for new dentists online, so a website that’s optimized for search and easy to use on mobile devices will attract new patients to your office.

Don’t forget that investments in equipment and technology may be deductible for your practice. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has resulted in some major changes to small business and professional services firms’ tax liability. Check out the IRS website’s tax reform page to keep up-to-date with the latest tax news and consult with your accountant before making any financial decisions for 2019.



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