• Smile Detntal Journal Logo
  • Editorial

    Head, Heart & Hands Three Essentials for Success in Dental Practice



    Hassan Maghaireh
    H. Clinical Teaching Fellow - University of Manchester
    Editorial Director; Smile Dental Journal
    Head of The Scientific Committee; BAIRD
    Private Practice; Leeds - UK




    Dentists often feel anxious when they want to plan for successful dental practice. In some instances they become frustrated when they notice other colleagues on social medial, who are usually the successful 10% of dentists running their busy dental practices with minimal efforts and huge benefits. It makes it harder for us when we feel that this unusual magic success of the lucky 10% of our colleagues seems to hinge upon finding deep-pockets funders and expert mentors which are not always available for the rest of us who is expected to start the journey of dental business from square one.


    But the truth is that success in your dental practice requires a diversity of assets. You already possess some of the most important assets you’ll need to achieve success. These are nothing less than your personal faculties — the awesome power of your own head, your own heart and your own hands. In other words, much of your potential for success will be determined by your:

    1. Head: The quality of your ideas, marketing skills
    2. Heart: Your sincerity and ability to show passion towards you patients as well as your good communication skills with your patients, staff and colleagues in your dental practice
    3. Hands: Your clinical skills, effort and understanding of your limits. It is well accepted that the brainiest ideas and most heartfelt belief are of little value without the resolve to take action and work hard


    I am fully confident that each of us has the real passion and empathy towards our patients and we all know about the daughter/sister test. I am also fully aware that each of us works hard and fully aware of the importance of continual education and clinical development. Smile dental journal’s mission has always been to help our readers to develop their clinical skills based on sound evidence based knowledge. Over the last 7 years, we aimed to play a major role in the continual education by focusing on clinical articles and studies and this issue is another great example of this. So, it goes without saying that most dentists have the heart and the hands. However, we have all to acknowledge that dentists usually fall behind in the “Head” and this is what I would like to expand on during this editorial.




    Every dentist has to fully acknowledge that running a dental practice is nothing but running a private business. Big or small, every successful business begins with an innovative idea. Howard Schultz brought the espresso bar concept from Italy to the United States and grew Starbucks into a global phenomenon. And when Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com in 1994, many people had never even heard of something called the Internet. True, your dental practice business may be on a more modest scale than these world-famous brands. Nevertheless, your first step is to come up with an innovative idea. Each of us is a unique individual, and within ourselves each carries the seeds of personal success: concepts that interest us, things we know we can do better than most people and things we feel ought to be done differently. It’s good to have role models in business, but you should not seek to mimic someone else’s success. Successful businesses are always built from the special aptitudes and unique insights of the people who founded them. Your truly innovative idea will be as one-of-a-kind as you are.


    Your innovative ideas will need to be put to practice and it would be highly recommended to seek advice from business experts to help you to get your ideas off the ground. We should also never underestimate the importance of marketing in our field. In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising. However, marketing experts advice that start-up and small businesses usually allocate 12 to 20 percent if you are in a competitive industry such as dentistry. You can decide with the help of your marketing advisors what type of first stage marketing suites you most. However, regardless of what type of marketing you prefer; (targeted social medial tools or generalized marketing such as radio, TV and magazines) you need to monitor whether your chosen marketing tool is successfully increasing the flow and bringing more clients to your dental practice or not?


    You should also never underestimate the importance of the second stage marketing which is aimed to maintaining the high flow and converting your patients’ needs to demands. This second stage marketing relies on your body language and personal direct marketing skills. One example is that whenever you want to discuss the various treatment options available for your patient is to start by discussing the negative points and then finish by the positive points. It has been suggested by marketing experts that when you start mentioning the downsides of your product “in our case, the proposed treatment plan” you are going to come across as a more trust worthy person and more convincing. In fact, not only you are going to be more trusted but also you might gain their sympathy, which all together will increases the rate of treatment acceptance by our patients. Furthermore by starting with the risks and limitations of your treatment options, then following this with the famous “But” followed by a list of the good points and the advantages of your treatment plan, your patients will always remember what comes after the “But” and you will have the opportunity to wrap your treatment plan discussions with the great values of your proposed treatment plan.


    Another important aspect of marketing in the dental practice is internal marketing which is based on training the team in interpersonal relations. Internal marketing relies on team members motivating patients to refer friends and family. If the team lacks sufficient verbal skills, provides only average customer service, or does not build strong relationships with patients, then any attempts at internal marketing will likely fail. Many team members today do not possess exceptional interpersonal skills. This is an area not taught in school or any type of training programs. In fact, it is my belief that today’s focus on technical education has de-emphasized the important role interpersonal skills play in a health-care facility. While a dental assistant may be excellent at setting up a crown and bridge tray, she or he may not have the skills to necessarily relate to his or her patients in a positive way. Interpersonal relations are skills that can be measured using customer satisfaction surveys and by checking your practice intake records. Successful practices should aim for a target of 40% to 60% of patients to refer at least one patient a year. Go back and review your records to determine the percentage of patients who have referred another patient in the last 12 months. If you fall below the 40% mark, then it is probably time to implement a structured internal marketing program. Keep in mind that this is probably one of the best investments a dental practice can ever make!


    Another major factor in this field is the power of positive belief in your business ideas. An idea for a business might seem “great,” but if it fails to ignite your sense of passion, it probably isn’t the right one for you. Freeing yourself of negativism will require a conscious effort. Take note of the goals you tend to put off and the productive tasks you habitually avoid. Ask yourself why. As you learn to identify the negative beliefs that are impeding your progress, you will feel empowered to begin changing them.


    To sum up, dentists should focus on the 3 Hs to be able to run a successful dental practice and while most dentists will be good enough in the Heart and Hands components of the dental career, we should never under estimate the importance of the Head with all what it stands for from innovative business ideas, marketing skills, body language and team interpersonal skills.