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Scaling your dental practice for success is our deep dive for January. Each week we’re diving into one aspect of scaling: benefits, mistakes, strategies, etc. to give you a better understanding of why scaling your dental practice is so vital to your vision, your success and your legacy.

You want to scale your practice, but you want to do it right and avoid the mistakes, obstacles and oversights that can come with scaling and growing a single practice into a thriving dental organization.  

One of the reasons that dentists in particular face challenges after deciding to scale is because they’re never taught how to design a scaling protocol in dental school. To truly understand the complexities of scaling a practice a dentist would have to go back to school and study business after getting a degree in dentistry. Who has time for that?  

That’s where an organization like us, Optimize Practice Services, comes in handy. We optimize your raw materials, talents, teams and existing infrastructure; listen to your vision and goals for the future; and then design a strategic plan to scale your dental practice according to what is going to work for you, your team and your community while lending our leadership, expertise and knowledge base.  

One Great Resource for your Dental Practice Growth 

But if you decide to go it alone, we’ve still got you covered. We offer tools and resources to help you, where you’re at and with the talents, teams and know-how you’ve already got at your disposal. In fact, one of the resources we offer is sort of a step-by-step guide to avoiding the pitfalls of scaling, my book, Extraction: The Surprising New Formula to Systemize, Scale and Sell Your Business.  

I wrote Extraction as a road map for dentists and dental practice owners for scaling and growing a successful dental practice organization. And I’ve gotten great feedback from dentists who’ve used it to scale their practices, grow their teams, and even sell their organizations. And stick around to the end of this post, I’m going to offer another free tool to assist you in your scaling efforts.  

Are you Serious About Scaling your Dental Practice?    

According to the international business management firm, McKinsey & Company, only 22% of businesses launched in the last decade have successfully scaled their operations. That is a frustrating problem since most of the value created in building a new business is created during the scaling process. So, how do you avoid being one of the 78% of businesses who fail to scale their model?  

Let’s start with the mistakes to avoid in the scaling process.  

Ignoring Market Research    

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is assuming that what worked in the past will automatically work when scaling up. Neglecting thorough market research before you create your strategic plan can lead to missteps in understanding your target audience, competitors, the community and industry trends.  

When creating your strategic plan keep in mind where your new locations could be; study the surrounding areas; figure out where your next practices might best serve the community; and take some time to study market trends not just for where you want to locate your next practice, but who your community is and what they want and need in a dental practice.   

Neglecting Team Experience and Training  

As you plan for scaling your dental practice you will also need to plan to scale your team. Scaling to a second location will not work with a team of 5 people. You will need to hire people for that second location, of course, but you will also need to designate team members to help with scaling operations.  

Poor team management and training can lead to the wrong people being in the wrong seats or being on the wrong bus altogether. Focusing on quantity over quality can result in a team that lacks cohesion and shared values. But it can also hinder growth. A strong team has bought into your vision. They are as excited as you are to reach your vision. Without your leadership, the bus doesn’t know where to go and lacks the motivation to get anywhere.  

Take the time to find individuals who not only possess the necessary skills but also align with your company culture, values and vision. Your team is the backbone of your dental practice. Build out your strategic plan to include scaling your team, providing adequate training for their new roles and staying on top of team cohesion and mindset so they are part of the journey with you.  

Mission, Values, Norms for your Dental Practice

Not Budgeting for Technology Upgrades and Scalable Systems in your Dental Practice 

As your dental practice organization grows, so should your technology infrastructure. Ignoring or delaying necessary upgrades can lead to inefficiencies and bottlenecks. While detailing your strategic plan, budget for technology that streamlines your operations, enhances patient- communications systems, and provides robust and nimble processes for your business including AI, where you can incorporate it.  

But this is also a time to research and find new technologies to introduce to your patients: new diagnostic tools that simplify and enhance your abilities; new treatment options; and new advances in cosmetic and teledentistry. It is truly a brave new world in dentistry and delving into these advances will be an exciting experience for you and your team.  

Successful scaling requires scalable systems. If your processes and systems can’t handle increased demand, you risk compromising the quality of your products or services. Invest in systems, apps, programs and vendors that can grow alongside your business, ensuring seamless rollout and expansion. 

Scaling is an opportunity to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. Businesses that rest on their laurels and fail to embrace innovation risk becoming irrelevant. Encourage a culture of continuous improvement and explore new ways to add value to your offerings and business structures.  

Read this post to learn more about emerging technologies in the dental field.

Losing Sight of the Patient Experience 

Word of mouth might not create more business for your practice if you’ve got a robust marketing strategy, but it can most definitely break a dental practice, if you’re not careful. Losing sight of patient experience is like losing sight of the goal post. One of the major goals and benefits of scaling your organization is a desire to ensure a positive patient experience. Personalized care, a welcoming environment, and clear communication systems and technologies contribute to patient satisfaction, fostering loyalty, positive reviews and robust word of mouth. 

Detailing a patient-centric approach in your strategic plan, as you grow, ensures that you and your team continue to provide excellent service and meet or exceed patient expectations. This part of the plan will involve researching the best vendors and CRMs (Customer Relationship Management programs) to fit your budget, your needs and your patients’ preferences.  

Not Investing in a Robust Strategic Plan 

Scaling your dental practice requires a significant financial investment. Ensure you have a clear understanding of your cash flow, expenses, and revenue projections before scaling while you’re analyzing options for growing your business. This will help you make informed decisions and weather the inevitable challenges that come with expansion. 

One part of strategic implementation will come when you begin to measure your lead and lag KPIs. You need to study and understand the measures that got your dental practice to the point where it is ready to scale while also understanding what might come around every corner ahead.

Before you create your strategic plan, you will need to undertake a deep understanding of these areas of your dental business:  

Once you study and understand all of these aspects of your dental practice, you’re ready to create your Strategic Plan. A strategic plan is an overarching blueprint for scaling your dental practice. It is your roadmap from point A to point B and it will become your and your team’s bible for accomplishing your vision.  

I was able to develop a successful strategic plan to scale my dental organization to 8 practices across two states. If you’d like to read about how I did that, I detail it in my book Extraction. But I was also extremely lucky to get introduced to Dan Sullivan and his invaluable annual conferences for entrepreneurs (yes, you are a dental entrepreneur) Strategic Coach. Check out Strategic Coach for another incredible resource offering insights, tools and community while you develop your entrepreneurial skillset.  

SA specifically offers many tools and materials that help you develop your strategic plan. Arguably, a strategic plan is the single most important document and piece of information you will create to scale your dental practice. It is not the first step, but it is the most important step. Without a plan, it’s just a dream.   

One More Mistake to Avoid in Scaling your Dental Practice 

Scaling your dental practice into a thriving organization will be a complex process that requires careful planning and execution. By avoiding these 5 mistakes, you can set your dental practice up for sustainable growth and long-term success. Keep learning, stay adaptable and nimble and remember that the journey of scaling is as crucial as the destination. And the journey can be fun! Especially when you’ve got the right people in your corner.  

One way to create community and support while you scale your practice is to join a mastermind. What is a mastermind, you ask? A mastermind is a group of peers that come together regularly to discuss the challenges being faced, break down obstacles into moveable pieces, offer up resources and inspiration to one another and provide community to lean on while you each grow and learn through your biggest endeavors.  

Learning to rely on others for support, knowledge, experience and resources is a prerequiste for scaling your dental practice. My co-founder and the CEO of OPS, Josh Gwinn, hosts a monthly mastermind exclusively for dentists. Join us and bring your biggest challenges so we can work on them together, provide support and create community. We believe that the future of dentistry belongs with dentists. Join the movement.