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  • Editorial

     

    Professional Dental Practice Management

     

     

    Aref Alaabed

    International relations director at Dawacom

    Established IMTA in London

     

    From a business perspective dental centres are one of the businesses that need high capital and offer little in return. In this regard, being able to develop a business model that increases revenues are one of the ways dental practice can benefit from and be guaranteed of growth.

     

    Owners of Dental centres do not have any prior training or experience in business management and this is a great disadvantage to them. Most of these dentists and centres depend on their reputation for success in business as well as their practice location, equipment, and professionalism. Yet little do they realize that these aspects are not enough to achieve their goals and receive the expected revenue on the long term.

     

    As owners you would be very excited to start your own centres but the first obstacle is the financial issue! Since you need a vast sum of money to start with, in Jordan for example you need at least 250,000 $ to furnish and start up your own centre with 5 clinics, x-ray room and an attractive decoration. This huge amount usually is not accessible to most of us, so you start looking for resources, like a loan from a bank. However getting a loan isn’t easy either, they ask for a Business Plan! This is where they drop a bombshell on you! Seen as dentists weren’t taught how to write a business plan during their studies! Here you are forced to face that fact that you’re not just applying what you learnt in Dentistry school, you are starting a real business!

     

    Modern dental centre businesses require strategic planning in order to succeed. With the economy getting worse with time, only the best managed businesses will have the opportunity to not only survive but to also grow in terms of revenues, profits and size. Running a successful business also means coming up with strategies of giving the customer the best, and this is not possible without deliberate management which requires specialised training. Here we all agree that as Dentists we have never come across these terms in our universities! Vision, mission, goals, leadership, work flow, job description, cash flow, business plan, depreciation. SWOT analysis, SMART goals, scale of salary and many other terms considered to be the basics for any Healthy business. The owners of the dental centres bear in mind that they definitely may not have enough budget to hire a practiced manager to be in charge of all the managerial work and if one day they have the budget to hire a manager then they will be stuck again with regard to communication with this manager and how to train him/her because we have no background with regard to communicating with teams and training new members! Therefore having knowledge in all these terms is very important for all dentists planning to open their own practices or centres!

     

    As soon as you open your Dental Centre the first thing you do is telling people about your centre and of course they will come because they are following your name and want your magical hands to treat them! Later on you may face a problem, TIME! There will be no time to manage the team and follow up with the small issues which on the start of the business were considered important issues. This will cause a small crack in your team! Because you’re not paying attention to the leadership issue! Not finding enough time to motivate them! A social problem might very well appear, as you may have no time for your family, friends and even yourself! “it’s my future, my business and if l didn’t spend all my time in working then how can I survive!!

     

    When starting a business you need to have the ability to set a strategy for your practice that includes your vision, mission, goals and values, this is all part of building your future business, it is impossible to run a successful business without setting a strategy and following it. You need to be aware of how to effectively use Human Resource (HR) management and policies by setting a development plan for your staff, setting a clear method to recruit and evaluate your staff and have the ability to create KPI’s in your practice.

     

     Accounting and finance is one the most important skills unfortunately many dentists do not have. It’s important to understand the basics of accounting and finance principles and teaches you how to calculate depreciation and the breakeven analysis, learn how to set a pricing method for your practice and monitor cash flow is important too. You will acquire the skills needed to be a highly effective leader and the difference between a manager and a leader is made clear. Professionally communicating with your team is very important; you need to know which leadership style do you have indeed it’s important to get a clear motivation ways to your team.

     

    Last but not least, after successfully building your dental centre you need to develop and discover successful ways on how to market your centre even it’s a part of your business plan initially, by creating a marketing plan that will build and grow your practice; marketing mix, brand your practice and determine your buying motives are unusual concepts for the dentists however these concepts are very important in Marketing. Those who have the knowledge about the dental practice management will be in a much better position with regard to handling their own centres. Not only would it increase the centre’s revenues and profitability, but also increase the efficiency and productivity in the centre, leading to happier patients and happier practitioners.

     

    CONCLUSION

    Based on the fact that there are no management courses in the dental schools in universities, it is really important to gain the business knowledge required to operate a practice from a reputable training company. As a dental practitioner you need to acquire the skills needed to manage your practice or centre, especially if you do not have the budget to hire a manager to plan, market and recruit employees. You also have to be aware of quality standards, know how to negotiate with suppliers, plan your practice’s growth as well as monitor your cash flow! Even if you have a budget for all of these things you need to gain a minimum understanding of business and management terms in order to have effective conversations with the manager you hire. Dental practice management courses are a suitable programme for everyone seeking a healthy business, giving you the confidence to manage your practice and lead your employees to reach your ultimate business goals and growth.

     

    REFERENCES

    Climo, T. (2009). The emergence of the dental practice management company. Retrieved March 24, 2016, from dentaleconomics: http://www.dentaleconomics.com/articles/print/volume-99/issue-9/features/the-emergence-of-the-dental-practice-management-company.html

    Rada, R., & Johnson-Leong, C. (2004). Stress, burnout, anxiety and depression among dentists. American Dental Association, Volume 135, Issue 6, pp. 788–94.

    Ueltschy, L. L., Eggert, A., & Bindl, U. (2014). Service quality and satisfaction: an international comparison of professional services perceptions. Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 21 Iss: 6, pp.410 - 23.

    Willis, O. (2013). Business Basics for Dentists. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.