Don’t fear the corporate dental office down the street… they’ve got nothing on you.
Corporate conglomerates are everywhere and in every industry. Dentistry is no different. Luckily, independent dental offices can still hold their own against the corporate giants, even though, at first glance, it may seem difficult. Sure, corporate dental offices have their advantages, but they also have a lot of shortcomings, and when it comes to attracting quality patients, independent dentists can capitalize on these drawbacks and profit considerably.
Insurance – Many corporate dental offices are not very discriminating when it comes to accepting dental insurance. To a patient who isn’t well versed in the intricacies of dental insurance, this may seem like an advantage. But what independent dentists know all too well is that accepting any and all insurance is not the most effective or efficient way to operate. When insurance is the pain point for the patient, they may not realize how little their plan actually covers or that the insurance company can place restrictions on the types of materials or treatments used, which can compromise the quality of their care.
Independent dental offices are much better at working with their patients because they have more flexibility to offer low or no-interest financing options as well as partnering with special medical financing companies. An independent dentist is going to be more interested in helping patients understand which treatments are urgent and which treatments can wait, planning expenses so that they are manageable. And, most importantly, the independent dental office is more likely to follow through with that plan. This is the type of personalized care that patients want and need… and are unlikely to get from a corporate practice.
Hours – Because corporate dental offices affiliate with several dentists at once, they can offer operating hours that most independent dental offices cannot match. But what is the price for that convenience? It usually comes at the cost of a personal relationship with the dentist and the team. Most patients who go to a corporate dental office spend very little time with the actual dentist and may end up seeing a different dentist and hygienist each time they visit. There is something to be said for building relationships with patients, and independent dentists definitely have the advantage in that regard. This is most evident in online reviews, which tend to be mixed or generally poor for corporate dental offices, since their goals are more oriented towards volume over substance and quality of care. Patients who are not willing to sacrifice service for convenience are certainly better served at an independent dental office.
Technology – Corporate dental offices will certainly have modern technology in their offices, but they are often not the most up to date on the latest instruments or techniques because they do not have the independence or budget to purchase the technology needed to keep up with the times. They are also not necessarily encouraged by corporate headquarters to seek out independent training on cutting-edge treatments, again, because goals are more volume driven overall. If a patient is looking for the latest technologies, materials, treatments, and techniques, they are much better off choosing an independent dentist who is going to be more motivated to stay up on current advancements because they can immediately implement them in their practice, to the benefit of their patients’ health and comfort.
Marketing – This is one area where it may seem that corporate dental offices have the edge, but think again. While a corporate dental office may have the power of a large corporate marketing department behind it, the office itself has very little say, if any, when it comes to marketing. An independent office has the freedom and flexibility to choose its marketing strategies and is not dependent on the corporate marketing department to say what is working and what is not. When it comes to the local area, a corporate headquarters across the country is not typically the best authority on what is going to be a hit. Moreover, corporate marketing campaigns often lack personality because they are geared towards the masses. This is where independent dental practices can really shine. A well-executed and distinctive marketing campaign can make all the difference, driving the exact type of high-quality patients you prefer to serve rather than a high volume of low-quality patients that don’t align with your practice’s goals.
Business owners all over the country worry about the big corps taking over in their markets. However, in the world of dentistry, we don’t have to be afraid. Independent dental offices have much more to offer and can easily outshine the corporate offices, and patients know this, especially when you market your independent practice effectively.