How Best to Handle the Competition of Your Dental Practice

This is one of my favorite topics to write about and discuss. My first question to everybody regarding this topic is, “who do you think your competition is?” The range of answers is interesting to say the least. I hear everything from "all the dentists that have moved into my area," to "Apple and other companies." My personal opinion on the matter is that your competition is any and all discretionary spending sources. Letʼs face it, people have less spending money in the past 5 years or so than they did before. If you have ever sat through one of our programs then you have seen the evidence that many consumer product companies are doing surprisingly well. In fact, recently most all are doing well, as is shown within the stock market. In late 2008 the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a low of 6626 and, as of writing this article, had hit a high of over 15,000. For those of you unsure of what that means, it means lots of companies are doing very well within the stock market. Of course to do very well in the stock market, they are selling lots of stuff. What this means for you is people are spending money again. They are being more discerning than they used to for sure.

Your competition isnʼt another dentist, but rather all the consumer spending places that the Dow Jones represents. Your competition is Apple. If a patient is calling other dentists to see their prices on treatment, there was a break down somewhere in your case presentation. I would postulate that for some reason they are a bit skeptical of either your diagnosis or how much they value you. Contemplate it this way - have you ever been car shopping and found the car you liked but decided to see if another dealer could give you a better price? Have you also at some point found the car you liked and just bought it? What was the difference? Did you trust the person you purchased from more then the one that you price shopped? I would say generally when people price shop, something was flawed in the relationship that caused them to seek another opinion or price.

This is the greatest area of influence you have within your practice. When a patient is in your office and in chair discussing treatment, they canʼt hop on the internet to see someone elseʼs price (like they can with cars and other products). You have their full attention and the greatest opportunity to build a very trusting relationship in that moment. If you build a very trusting relationship in that moment, they often will say “yes” to treatment. Now of course not every time, but often.

When you examine great companies and great leaders (Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, Michael Dell, and others), they didnʼt concern themselves with what their competition did. They focused on what they could control and made the best product or service they could, and as a result, dominated their markets. Interestingly, after some of these great leaders left, their companies faltered because their successors grew reactive about competition. Apple is living this right now. Look at their stock and company performance since Jobs passed away.

My advice - get clear on your vision and plan and execute it flawlessly every day. It wonʼt take long and you wonʼt have competition, because you will have blown them away, and they will be following you!! 

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