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    Grow your practice or kill your practice?

    Small practices are floundering, but having an in-house dental savings plan can help your practice stay afloat.

    By using the techniques that I outlined in my book Grow Your Dental Practice with Wine and Cheese, I saw incredible growth in my practice. I sold over 950 plans over a two year period. Between the plans themselves and additional expenditures from plan members during those two years, I earned an additional 1.49 million dollars. My receipts grew by 45 percent a year for two years running. That’s an incredible rate of growth, and I only spent $130 and one hour a month to get it.

    Why should you care about my phenomenal practice growth? Living practices, like living things, are always growing. If you’re not growing, your practice is dying. It might take a decade to put it in the grace, but the end is inevitable.

    More from Dr. Phelps: Baby Boomers: An underserved population ripe for dental outreach

    So, what sort of dental practices are experiencing rapid growth today? According to a study by the American Dental Association, small practices, those with fewer than five employees, are losing ground. In a lot of smaller practices, the dentist has stopped trying to attract new patients. Maybe these practitioners are planning on retiring soon, and don’t care about losses. But if you want to be fair to your staff and your loyal patients, you should be trying to build a practice that will last.

    The big winners in recent years have been the extremely large dental groups, those that employ more than 500 people. A lot of us wouldn’t be happy working for a large company like that. We like having control, and we didn’t get into dentistry to be someone’s corporate drone.

    These super-practices are taking over a lot of under-performing smaller practices. They turn the dentist into an employee, turn the practice around and start turning profits. The dentist who sells his practice to one of these large groups is in the position as a formerly independent physician who gets sucked up into a big hospital group. He has less risk, but he no longer has as much power over patient care and the day-to-day running of his office.

    More from Dr. Phelps: Dental office dynamics: Four elements of a great phone call

    Starting an in-house dental savings plan can help you avoid falling prey to a super-practice. You can attract new patients, increase your earnings and provide a secure future for your patients, your staff and your family. You just need to decide which patients you want to attract and create a plan for marketing directly to them. I chose retirees to grow my practice. You may choose young singles, small businesses or families.

    Whatever you do, create a plan that’s valuable to your target group, and craft events that will bring them in and get them ready to listen. You can grow your practice and remain independent with very little initial investment if you create an in-house savings plan that will work for your community.


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