Episode 86 – Foundational Pillars of Success: #7 Achieving Your Plan with Marketing

Marketing is a foundation of all modern dental practices. But your marketing needs vary and understanding your needs and business are key to effective strategies. Today, I’m going to talk about having a solid understanding of your business and a marketing strategy supports your long-term goals. I’ll also touch on marketing points you need to consider depending on where you are in your business cycle including:

  • Startups – PPO involvement and strategy for growth
  • Mid-stage – Narrowing your focus and growing your business
  • Late-stage – Securing your future with your practice’s value


This is Episode 86. And I’m going to do a little bit of a continuation of building your plan through marketing. You know, you can sit around again and wait and hope that you’re going to reach your goals, and that you’re going to grow. But I think marketing plays a significant role in that.

And the thing that I look at is different phases of the dental practice, the early startup phase, the mid growth, or the mid area we have, we have categories of Productive Dentist Academy for someone who’s is planning on transitioning, but you know, so we have all of these different different methods and different recommendations for different stages.

But I want to kind of cover that kind of in an over overview and then go individually into those things. All of us need marketing in our business. Now, some, if you’re a PPO type practice, you’re actually doing marketing, you’re getting your new patients based upon an insurance contract. And that’s where your new patients come from. These patients are much more insurance driven. Your production per hour is can be affected by that, but doesn’t have to be. I’ve got doctors that still are doing $1,000 an hour in a PPO environment, they have to see a lot more patients and somebody who is in more of a fee for service model. But that doesn’t matter, you can still be productive per hour in pretty much any environment.

And so the startup practice, I’ve said before, I’m a Okay, with a five year plan with a five year startup plan that says I’m going to be involved in some preferred provider organizations. I’m also going to spend time getting out into my community, I want to create raving fans of my patients that live in my my area, so that they can tell their friends about my practice that may not have that insurance, and it may be a regular fee for service patient. I’m going to be involved in community activities I’m going to be in the you know Kiwanis club or the Optimist Club are these are part of a strategy of a start up practice.

Now. Most dentists you know, once they do that they you know, they stay involved with these groups in church, you know, you meet lots of people. So when you’re committed to opening up a business, you’re willing to do whatever it takes, and it’s important for you to do whatever it takes. So from a marketing perspective, you’re really not doing a ton of marketing except some internal marketing when you first open. And there’s other types of marketing. sponsoring a baseball team doing things like that to kind of get the word out and get your name out.

But many of your patients if you’re in the PPO environment are coming from the PPO. Now, if I was opening up a brand new practice, part of my budget would be I would have at least a 30% of my budget, going towards actual marketing for fee for service patients. I’ve told you the story about a dentist who said we don’t have any fee for service patients in our area. And this was a dentist who had been around for many years wrote a book on PPO dentistry and how to how to do it the best way you can and he said there are a fee for service patients Okay, and yet the next seminar I did there was A young female dentist three years out of school, same town, that was 100% fee for service and killing it.

So your perception is your reality, whatever you perceive to be, is your reality. And, you know, that’s why I’m always challenging. What do I think about this? How do I think about this? Why do I think this way? And is it true? And so I challenge you to do that, that the second part of this would be the, let’s just call it the mid range, you know, you’re doing well, you’re making more money than you thought you would make. And you’ve got kids and your coach and the baseball team, and you’re doing all kinds of fun stuff with family, hopefully. And you really don’t have a game plan, you know, you’re you’re making, like I say, make more money than you thought you would. But you’re really not intentional. You’re showing up to work, you generally enjoy it. And but you have different reasons for being there.

And so, from my perspective, this is where marketing can really start to play a role. But it’s where planning has to happen. If you’re in this phase, because a lot of dentists will go through that phase for a 10 year period, and then it plateaus. And then they’re coming to see as a productive dentists and what’s the matter? You know, I’m out here, my practice is just not growing. Well, usually, it’s based on our focus, what are we focusing on? Well, in the mid stage, we’ve got kids, we got family, we got a bunch of stuff going on. And we kind of lose focus, we’re making good money, we’re not hurting.

But we don’t look at our business as a business. And most dentists don’t do that. Anyway. So but this is the opportunity at this stage, to start to what do I love about dentistry? What procedures do I love? Is it time possibly to bring an associate on board, if it is, I want to make sure I’m totally saturated with all the things that I love to do. So that any new things are going to go towards the associate or I’m wanting to say, I’m not going to use a word specialized, but I’m wanting to do implant dentistry, more, I’m wanting to do lanap surgery, I’m wanting to do same day smiles, I’m really wanting to focus my practice in this area, what that will do for you, mid, you’re in your mid 30s, early 40s, what this is going to do for you is it’s going to by marketing correctly, you’re going to now grow your business, grow your productivity per hour, much higher than what it has been, you might have been at 600 an hour for a while and 600 an hour or 700 an hour, that’s a million dollar a year practice, you’re doing great, you’re better than 90% of the dentists out there.

But when you start to look at specific things, and you love doing them and you get interested in could be ortho could be whatever. Sleep apnea, once you go into that area, you’re going to find when you’re focusing in just this little bit narrower focus, your production per hour is going to double. And you’re now going to be able to work a little less.

That’s where your associate takes over all of the all of the the dentistry that you don’t like doing if you don’t like doing endo, you know they’re doing the endo, you find your associate based on the things that you know would complete your practice, if that makes sense. So, you want to bring in an associate like that. So this is in this mid range, this mid range timeframe, then what do you do? You know, now you’ve been in practice now and you’re getting into the later later times in your practice. You’ve been in practice for 30 years. And most dentists You know, I think it’s changing now because of the DSO kind of invasion into dentistry. But I think dentists start thinking a little bit earlier about their exit strategy, because they know that that’s available out there, they could always sell to a to a DSO, but if you do that, then you’re going to be tied into that practice for another four or five years.

You know, so the time to start thinking about your transition is when you start your business and you got to build this business sit down and draw out exactly what you want to do. And I you know, I looked at I looked at it okay, how do I want to how do I want to work? Well, I loved having associates I loved working in a group practice. So I would bring associates in some of those associates became partners. We grew the business and but it was all with intentional activity.

It was all things that we were intentionally doing to grow that business and my production per hour, you know, started out low, mid range, it got higher, then I got into my kind of my specialty phase. And it, it went way, way up. But what it allowed me to do during that time, being 45 years old, 46 years old, is now I’m working two days a week, but producing $2 million a year.

And I was able to do that the last 15 years of practice 16 years of practice. So but my associate, they weren’t producing that high number, but they are now. So in other words, this is a transition of a business from you as being the owner, to you as being the partner to you as to as being a grandfathered in and being able to work pretty much whenever you want to, if that’s what you choose to do. And, you know, marketing plays a huge role. A lot, a lot of the times, you know, we’ll talk about the PPO practices, and these offices stay in these PPO’s forever and ever.

And, you know, I just don’t understand it, because you’re writing off 30 to 40% of your of your fi so that you can see patience. And the truth is, I have some really, I don’t have great, great buddies of mine that I play golf with that, do you take so and so. So we take everything out of network. And trust me, it’s worth the extra dollars you’re spending to be out of network.

And I explained to him a little bit about why. And your practice is going to be that place, that if you have a perception of value, if people walk in and go, Wow, this is awesome. You know, they’re their treatment plans, they’re going to be more prepared to do more comprehensive dentistry. I think the environment that we get in when we’re planning, you know, plan our year is, you know, we’re planning based on where we’re at today. Well, that’s not really planning that’s just kind of rolling with the flow. And what I’m telling you is plan, you’ve got 10 PPS, if you’re doing and you want to look at dropping a couple, evaluate that that’s what we do at productive dentist Academy, we help you figure out these are the ones you want to kind of work down.

Chad Johnson, one of our faculty, I mean, he has just completely gone off all of his, all his plans, and his production per hour has double. And his marketing plans have gotten his marketing has gotten extremely good. And there are plenty of fee for service patients out there. And there plenty of people that are older than 65 that don’t have any insurance at all. So there are lots of things out there that I want you to think about. But the the operative word there is to think about, don’t just go through the motions, don’t just go through, don’t just go through your practice life because what you’re going to find is it’s going to go pretty quick.

So I challenge you to, you know, to get your team on board with your thought process your dreams of your business.

It’s really hard. Like I’ve said before, being a great boss when you don’t understand your business. And I was the worst until I understood my business. And now I’m I feel like I’m able to help people and and when I say help people, I’m helping my team. Because my team is not just my team. It’s my family. It’s not just my family, it’s they have kids, they have spouses, and when they’re successful, all of us are successful as a team. So I like to think that way. It’s been it’s been a great ride. So anyway, I want you to think differently.


Build your plan, you know with marketing. And next I’m going to talk about marketing in itself and what what things you should look at along those lines. So hope everything’s good. Stay safe. Look at it, look us up on Spotify, and and and get your friends to start listening. You can always send them one of our episodes if you enjoy it. And we’d love to continue to spread the word.

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