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Chris Barrow Q&A – more answers!

Back on 27th July 2015 I presented a live webinar during which dentists were asked to participate live and put me “on the spot”. View this webinar here

What followed was a lively session that seemed to fly by and expired before we could respond to all those who submitted questions.

So what better way to tackle some of those unanswered questions than via a blog?

Here goes:

Q1 – Hi Chris I’m looking to expand my implant business and I currently have an active group of around 10 referring dentists. Would it be counterproductive to advertise directly to patients and risk upsetting my already established referral base?

A1 – Very definitely you would upset some of the existing referring GDP’s if you appeared to be marketing direct.

There are two crossroads in the life of any implantologist. Firstly, do I want to own my own practice?

Second, do I want to go direct to market or through referring GDP’s? You have to expect your existing 10 to drift away if you go direct or make a long-term decision to turn the 10 referrers into 20, 40 and beyond.

Q2 – Hi Chris, I just wanted to ask, you mentioned that there are two types of patients; one that is governed by price the other that is governed by quality. Do you know the percentage of each that exists in the market? i.e 60/40?

A2 – I’m not aware of any science around that – simply the opinions of those who are experienced in the market.

We hear about the 80/20 rule a lot and it is applied in many different environments – largely around effort invested and reward extracted. You have probably come across that. I’m going to give you a very unscientific answer, in that it wouldn’t surprise me if 80% of people looking for an implant dentist were influenced by price and 20% by quality.

That might sound odd as, surely, when it comes to invasive surgery, the proportions would be reversed?

Perhaps for brain and heart surgery or oncology! Part of the problem is the proliferation of those claiming to be implant competent which has diluted the public perception of the extra skills required.

Q3 – Is there a quicker way for a dentist that is new to implants to build his credibility and his business?

A3 – you are not going to like this answer. My answer is “no”.

Yours is a high trust business and trust is earned in three ways.

First, there is intuitive trust – what happens when we meet somebody for the first time and there either is or is not some chemistry. Follow your intuition as it can often be correct.

Second is third-party trust – what happens when someone we already trust recommends you to family, friend or colleague.

Third is long-term trust, earned by being trustworthy over a long period of time. All three are at work every day but you cannot force the issue. Trust takes time.

Q4 – Chris, How important is it in an implant practice to understand your true costs associated with the overall treatment, not just the implant, and do you have a way of working this out?

A4 – Very important. “Knowing the numbers” is a pre-requisite to any success in business.

We have used a variety of Excel templates over the years to calculate costs, key performance indicators and profitability of fee-earners and treatment modalities. My answer to anyone getting started in business is that being competent with spreadsheets and understanding the maths of business are mission critical.

By that, I don’t mean book-keeping and accounts – there are people out there you can hire to do that.

I mean understanding cash flow – where the money comes from and where it goes – and how you measure up to industry benchmarks in dentistry.

Q5 – I would like to build my practice as a referral practice but there are some large referral practices in the area that the GDP’s in the area are referring to already, do I risk excommunicating myself from the local groups by trying to take some of there referring dentists or is there a tactile way I can do this and still feel comfortable in local meetings?

A5 – We live in a free market economy and you are just as entitled to market yourself as anyone else.

As long as you conduct yourself in an ethical manner, you occupy the moral high ground.

Things change, people change, relationships change – and some of the dentists currently referring to the larger referral practices will change. Be ready.

Q6 – Hey you mentioned direct marketing is preferred over print – I wondered please can you explain the importance of understanding patient demographics before marketing the practice??

A6 – Hey back! The first step in marketing is to decide who you do want as patients – and also who you don’t want. The second step is to decide what types of dentistry you do want to do – and those you don’t.

You have complete freedom to design the business and, subsequently, the lifestyle that you will experience. To quote “you are the master of your fate, you are the captain of your soul.”

Q7 – Would you have advice as to what stage your practice should consider bringing in a treatment coordinator?

A7 – Day one – I have been a great supporter of the TCO role in practice for many years.

A great TCO will save you time and add immense value to the patient experience, thus driving more treatment agreed and delivered and more word of mouth recommendations.

Dare I say it – a great TCO can be better than you at crucial moments in the patient experience.

 

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