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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Success Begins By Taking Ownership Of Your Situation (Part 2)

A tale of two dentists

Six months ago, Dr. M decided to buy his first dental practice. He purchased his first new practice from Dr. R. Upon taking ownership of his new practice, Dr. M decided to take a very conservative approach with his transitioning plan. While he was the new face working in the practice, he did nothing else by way of making changes or taking ownership.

Dr. M called me recently to explain his situation in more detail, and let’s just say that his situation was not a good one. First of all, he paid a premium purchase price for this practice. He explained that currently, patients were coming in for their appointments and wanted to deal only with Dr. R. Dr. M was learning that Dr. R had a very unique way of running his practice, a unique style in managing his patient relationships, and a very “patient friendly” way of handling the financial side of his patient accounts.

Furthermore, the practice team that Dr. M inherited were all extremely loyal to Dr. R. Things were great for the team under Dr. R: premium wages, extra paid holidays, and regular trips away for training sessions. Having no relationship with his team to that point, they had high expectations of working standards and he had a serious financial obligation to Dr. R.

Dr. M was between a rock and a hard place. To add one more piece to this crisis, Dr. R had informed Dr. M that he was going to stop working at the practice in four months. With all of this, Dr. M had to get going with a change in approach to managing his practice. If he had any chance of realizing the type of success that he envisioned when he purchased this practice, he needed to disrupt the status quo and change the game to suit himself.

Conversely, Dr. E also purchased her first new practice last fall from Dr. S. This was a practice in a smaller town, where the selling dentist was very well known and well liked by his existing patient file and office team. For Dr. E, there was a lot to like about this practice. She had a vision for this perfect practice and her ideal lifestyle - and this practice purchase worked on all counts.

After the sale was official, Dr. E immediately went to work in making this practice “her” practice. Being very charismatic and personable herself, she made it her mission to personally meet everyone associated with the dental practice. While Dr. S was still working in the practice as an associate on a twelve month contract, she first engaged her team with her vision for the practice. Then she went about meeting every one of her patients that came in each day, with a smile and a warm hello.

On the strategic side of things, Dr. E understood the importance of having a professional marketing approach to support her in making this “her” practice. There were a lot of smart things happening at this dental office: the updating of their brand identity and office decor, the implementation of the first website the practice ever had, an introduction to an expanded scope of services, and continually communicating the respect that she had for Dr. S and her team. Dr. E wanted to ensure that the right message was getting out to her patients - the right way.

Last week, during my Marketing Team Rally Session with her and her team, it was clear to me that everyone was on board with Dr. E and her new dental practice.

The next step was to begin planning our strategy for how we would begin building awareness around her dental practice and herself in the local community. It was time to shift gears with our marketing into “new patient acquisition” mode.

To effectively transition a practice, your first six months of activity are very important to making the right first impression to everyone involved and to set yourself up for the success that you desire. Make sure that your first marketing priorities focus on brand development and existing patient retention. Once the house is in order and marketing foundation is in place, you can then begin actively growing your practice through external marketing channels and with the referrals of “your patient file”.

Bottom Line: This article uses a case study approach to explain the need for a professional marketing plan when transitioning a dental practice.

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