You can't just throw marketing dollars at this problem
Just like 2021 before it, 2022 turned out to be another challenging year for dental practice owners. From a production standpoint, last year’s numbers actually looked pretty solid. Production did tick down slightly from the stimulus-fueled highs of 2021 but was still above 2019 pre-pandemic levels.
So why did 2022 feel so challenging, overwhelming and exhausting?
According to Gary Kadi, Speaker, Author and Founder of Next Level Practice, what the industry felt in 2022 and is still feeling, is something he calls compounding circumstances.
Sky-high inflation. Persistent staff scarcity. DSO consolidation confusion. Employee turnover. Lower profitability numbers. Last year had it all, and these issues don’t look to be going away anytime soon.
It all adds up to a uniquely challenging environment for dental practice owners to navigate, with no true blueprint for success.
“Prior to the pandemic, dentists faced one, maybe two major issues a year,” says Gary. “Most private practice owners could simply throw some marketing against the problem and muddle through.”
Things are different now, and Gary says today’s turbulent environment represents a turning point for practice owners. Gone are the days of marketing your way out of a problem, adding more staff or changing a software system.
“So much is out of the dentist’s control right now at the macro level; they have to look inward to solve the problems facing practices today,” says Gary. “It’s not easy, but dentists need to make the fundamental changes to their business to survive and thrive in this tough environment.”
For many practice owners, that’s a daunting proposition.
Gary says step one of the process is to admit that changes are necessary. He calls it “avoiding avoidance” and admits it’s one of the hardest things for a private practice owner to do.
“Change typically doesn’t happen until the pain of what you’re going through becomes worse than your hesitation to change,” says Gary. “Knowing when is the right time to make a change, is a skill.”
A skill that Gary says dentists need to develop quickly in this uncertain environment.
“If there’s ever been a time to embrace change, it’s now,” says Gary. “This year is not going to be pretty for practice owners who stay stagnant.”
Each dental practice requires changes unique to the individual practice, but Gary says a few are common across the industry, like staffing and inflation. Regardless of your pain points, he says dental practice owners should focus on three things:
- Have an engrossing future – When you define a future that’s bigger than your present, you can scale any obstacle. Keeping your sight set on the finish line, makes the hurdles easier to jump over.
- Focus on what you can control – Rather than obsessing about inflation and other things you can’t control, lean into what you can control: your attitude, installing systems that work and training your team.
- Build the A-Team – Surround your practice with a skilled external team of experts, then let that team help mold your internal team into something Mr. T would be proud to join.
“If we’ve learned one thing from the pandemic, it’s that no one wins alone,” said Gary. “Now more than ever, stop trying to do it all yourself and build a team that will take your practice to new heights during this challenging time.”
These new challenges are demanding a change from dental practice owners. It’s causing burnout, frustration, and giving DSO’s an opportunity to take advantage of. This is understandable, change is hard. Gary and his team believe this is a transition period for the industry, and dentists can and will persevere.
“What I hope doesn’t happen, and what we’re trying to prevent, is a dentist throwing up their hands and saying, ‘I’m out, I’m selling to a DSO,’” says Gary. “When rash decisions are made, in most instances, the private equity firms win, not the private practitioner.”
To connect with Gary, Next Level Practice, or get a free digital copy of his bestselling book Million Dollar Dentistry, click here.