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Updated: Nov 26, 2019
After pouring yourself into your dental practice to make it high-tech, modern, and inviting so patients remain loyal, the last thing you want to do is miss the mark over something unexpected. Fortunately, patients are always talking, you may just have to listen to what they are saying by reading between the lines with their questions and decisions.
To guide you, there are some steps that dental offices can take to make the patient experience as enjoyable as possible, whether they are coming in for a routine cleaning or to have more extensive work done. By checking off the following features, you will recognize areas in which you may want to invest and your dental practice will be among those that patients stick with for the long-haul.
First and foremost, patients are looking for high quality at the dentist. After all, their smile is one of the first things that people notice, and it’s something that people are willing to invest large sums of money to maintain. Not to mention that when it comes to their health, people are not willing to compromise.
Besides, anything less than a high-quality job will have them back in the dental chair sooner than they may have otherwise needed to be.
According to a Futuredontics survey, almost 50 percent of patients polled identified “poor quality” as the No. 1 reason for switching dentists.
Fortunately for patients, there are options to help them pay for high-quality dental care. It’s helpful for you as a dental practitioner to be aware of these options.
Dental patients are no different than any other patient and want to walk away from the experience feeling like they’ve been cared for and not taken advantage of. Having said that, they also rely on you to communicate what work needs to be done.
Be sure and let your patients know if your dental office offers financing options, as insurance doesn’t always cover the cosmetic work. Dental work isn’t cheap, and being able to access financing could make the difference between the patient moving forward with the process.
Also, patients are likely to follow the insurance, meaning that they will stick with the dentist that makes it financially reasonable for them to do so. In fact, nearly 50 percent of dental patients would jump ship to a different provider if the office no longer accepted their form of insurance. So choose wisely when selecting the insurance providers you work with. Obviously, if a provider is more trouble than it’s worth, then it makes sense to cut the tie with that insurance provider.
Another feature to be aware of is patient comfort, from the experience in the waiting room to the dental chair. The process of calming any nerves begins as soon as the individual walks into the office, and this means that the small things matter, including anything from a friendly greeting at the front desk to soothing music streaming through the speakers.
Creating a comfortable environment could also require major changes, meaning you might need to invest in updating your office or even moving to a bigger location. Fortunately, dental practice financing can make this process less daunting, giving you the opportunity to access capital and pay it back over a reasonable amount of time.
Taking steps to ensure that the patient is comfortable has a good chance of increasing trust and loyalty in the relationship. This is where you can take investment cues from your patients. You could direct financing from a dental practice loan toward integrating technology into equipment such as x-ray machines or dental tools that will make the patient’s experience better.
People are also looking for convenience, particularly those in the age group of 35 to 44 who earn between $55,000 and $100,000 annually, the Futuredontics survey reveals.
This could mean keeping office hours on a Saturday, for instance. To accommodate, you’ll want to explore investing in the right technology to make scheduling as seamless as possible. For instance, you could launch a mobile app that supports scheduling appointments online. According to the survey, more than one-third of patients polled expect to see a resourceful website that is current and informative.
You may also need to build your staff to handle the additional office hours. Invest in the best talent who are knowledgeable about the industry and can serve as a resource of information for patients.
If these ideas would cramp your cash flow, keep in mind that a dental practice loan could be directed toward working capital needs. In addition to investing in technology or hiring more employees, you can direct financing toward lease expenses, utilities, or purchasing supplies, for instance.
By delivering to patients what they expect, you are likely to save money on other expenses such as advertising because your business has a better chance of growing via word-of-mouth referrals. That gives you a bigger budget to use toward other things, such as the ever-changing technology. For those times when cash flow gets tight, however, keep in mind that there are unique financing options designed for dental offices.
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.