As a dental care provider, your primary responsibility is your patients. As an owner of a dental practice, however, your primary responsibilities become far reaching. They can be anything from marketing, hiring, and bookkeeping to mentoring your team, keeping up with changing technologies or regulations, or even fixing a leaky faucet. Sometimes the pace of managing your dental practice can overwhelm the practice of your dentistry. One way to not only meet the challenges of running the business side of your practice but to support its growth is to hire a dental consultant.
Sometimes in the midst of managing the daily operations of your practice, you can lose sight of why you entered the dental profession in the first place. Most likely, this was to provide patients with great dental care. A dental practice consultant can help you regain your perspective on why you own your practice and why you practice dentistry. A dental consultant who is educated in how to run a business and has experience in the dental industry can be the vital resource you need to manage your practice with confidence and grow it into a thriving enterprise.
Patient care is human care and as such, it is never static. The climate of the dentistry profession is ever-changing. Dental practice management consultants are there to assist you in navigating the competitive waters of the dental field, so you are supported in giving optimal care to your patients.
What is a dental consultant?
A dental consultant is an outside advisor who is hired to provide advice and guidance to improve your business operations. The advice and guidance of dental practice consultants can fall under many different areas of your practice, including:
- Front office management
- Back office procedures and business systems
- Software and automation updates and implementation
- Hiring practices, training procedures, and other human resource concerns
- Insurance, billing, and regulatory processes and procedures
- Marketing and business development strategies
- Team leadership and communications skills
- Finances and accounting best practices
This list alone can seem overwhelming. It can make you wonder, what does a dental consultant do exactly when you hire one? The best way to answer that question, however, is to first ask if you need a dental consultant.
Do You Need a Dental Consultant?
The answer to this question lies in digging a little deeper into what your goals for your dental practice are. By analyzing your goals, it is easier to see whether hiring a dental practice management consultant can help you achieve them. It is not that you could not find answers to best practices through doing your own research. You do have access to Google, professional associations and colleagues, and libraries full of books and articles. But the question then becomes, do you have the time? Or is hiring dental practice consulting services the more straightforward and practical way of achieving your goals?
Before deciding to seek a dental consultation, consider these questions:
- How confident are you in running the business side of your practice?
- Where are you on the learning curve of managing a business?
- Can you identify areas where you need specific support?
- Do you only have a vague idea on how to achieve your practice goals?
- Do you strive to have a better work-life balance?
- Is your practice set up for growth?
- Is your practice about to make a specific transition, as in taking on a new assistant or moving to a new space?
- Is your practice safe-guarded against unexpected risks?
- What is your practice now and what do you envision it becoming?
- Has your practice hit a revenue plateau or even a revenue decline?
- Do you see that there are areas of your practice that could be more efficient but are not sure how to make those areas more sustainably efficient?
A dental consultant brings professional expertise on best practices into how your business is run and how it can run better. A dental consultant is a valuable resource who can help:
- Streamline processes that reduce your workload
- Devise an action plan to expand your practice
- Reinforce a positive dental culture for your staff and patients
- Prevent business practices that lead to stagnation and lost revenue
- Provide leadership training and management support
Dental practice consulting can help you devise an actionable plan that is specific to you, your practice, and your individual goals. By providing a beneficial external perspective, a dental consultation can light a path to grow your practice that you may not be able to see on your own.
When to Hire a Dental Consultant
Are you still uncertain about whether to invest in the expense of hiring a dental consultant? If so, it can be useful to analyze some specifics that might be happening in your practice. Solving these issues can merit an investment because they will likely yield profit over time.
Some of these specific are:
- Sitting on a growth plateau and not knowing how to get off of it
- Taking on new associates and unsure how to maximize their benefit
- Needing to optimize your marketing efforts that seem to be falling flat
- Improving operations that are costing time and unneeded expense
- Struggling with team management and high turnover
- Facing consistent issues with your cash flow
- Experiencing a dental culture that is breaking down patient relationships instead of building them
- Needing direction before an expansion or transition
- Feeling overwhelmed, stressed or frustrated
- Undergoing a growing competitive environment
How to Choose the Right Dental Consultant
If you have determined that the time is right for you to hire a dental consultant, then the next question is how do you choose the right one? Finding the right fit for your needs and within your budget is vital. You want someone who aligns with your mission and core values. You are looking for a guide that will educate you, encourage you, and keep you accountable. Overall you want to find someone who brings value to your practice and will partner with you to navigate the road ahead.
To find the right fit, some questions to ask a potential dental consultant are:
- Will your solutions be based on my mission and core values?
- How will you assist me in understanding my business numbers and how to improve them?
- How does profitability look to you?
- What is your definition of team culture?
- What do you see as the essential elements of a positive dental culture? How do you sustainably create those elements?
- How do you help me and my team tell our story consistently?
- How do you view communications between me and my team, me and my patients, my team and my patients?
- How do you evaluate and define a philosophy of care?
Ways a Consultant Can Help Grow your Practice
The best dental practice consultants know what questions to ask you to define your mission and core values. But more importantly, they will help you put that mission and those values into action. A dental consultant brings expertise that assists you in:
1) Determining your needs
2) Creating a plan for solving problems and building sustainable policies and practices
3) Breaking down the plan into actionable steps
4) Keeping you accountable for completing the steps
Much of what can hold back the growth of your practice is a lack of standard operating procedures (SOPs). These can be analyzed, improved and efficiently implemented across how your practice conducts business. Improving your SOPs is at the core of how a dental consultant can grow your practice and set you up for the future you envision.
With expert dental management consulting services, you can confidently:
- Streamline scheduling, billing, and compliance processes and procedures
- Create a patient centered practice focused on the patient journey
- Develop your leadership skills and improve your communication with your dental team
- Improve your team management and hiring procedures and systems
- Make a risk management plan and protect the investment you have made in your practice
- Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your front office
- Delegate tasks to lighten your workload and focus on patient care
- Implement new technologies without breaking the bank
- Develop and sustain successful marketing strategies to enhance loyalty, increase referrals and boost new patient appointments
- Put yourself in a long-term, profitable position with consistent and reliable revenue
An Investment in the Future
What the dental consultant does is bring a sense of objectivity into running your business. It is easy to lose the big picture or even the reasons for the small details in the middle of making day-to-day decisions that keep things up and running. What is needed is an outside eye. One that can provide a balanced assessment of what is working and what is stopping things from working more smoothly. Having a reliable expert to help you build on the things that are working and remove or redesign the obstacles preventing your practice from thriving can be invaluable. Hiring a dental consultant is an investment in the success and future of your dental practice.