For many of us, the Sears Christmas Wish Book was an annual highlight. When it finally arrived, many of us would turn directly to the toy section to see what toys needed to be added to our Christmas lists.
That tradition disappeared long ago. And just this past January, Sears closed the last of its Canadian locations.
How did this happen?
Sears provided quality goods and services along with a top-notch warranty. More than a retail store, Sears provided home heating services, appliance repair, roofing…you name it. It was always going to be there…or so we thought.
Sadly, Sears simply failed to adapt to the changing demands of its customers. As consumers discovered online shopping, Sears assumed its brand recognition and overall customer experience would keep people coming through its doors.
When Sears finally realized its dilemma, its solution was drastic cost cutting which compromised customer service and may have accelerated its “death spiral”. Now we are left with nothing but empty spaces and consumers wondering what happened to this proud, retail giant.
Do you see the private dental practice parallel here?
Today’s dental patient is also demanding a new, modern experience from you. Tech savvy patients prefer electronic appointment confirmations and online scheduling apps over personal phone calls. They expect websites to be informative, mobile friendly and interactive…perhaps even with an online “chat” feature.
That means investing in new hi-tech systems and services. And that impacts your bottom line.
Some private practitioners choose not to make that investment. Like Sears, they assume their past reputation will continue to carry them through. In other words, as times change, just do more of the same old thing.
The truth is that patients will eventually gravitate to the providers who invest in communicating in ways and through systems that patients hear. Whether that is a more tech savvy colleague or a deep pocketed corporate behemoth, you cannot simply ignore the prevailing trend of how to reach out to new and existing patients.
So how do you respond?
Some cost-cutting could improve your bottom line in the short term. Too much, however, could simply accelerate your own, Sears-like death spiral.
A better solution would include targeted investments that reduce wasted time and enable your team to focus on more profitable tasks. The right technology is part of the answer.
So too is joining a buying group. Why pay a team member to comb through catalogs and websites of grey market suppliers when a buying group combines the purchasing power of multiple independent offices to negotiate stable, lower prices from legitimate suppliers for you? You get warrantied products at lower prices and your team has more time to focus on patients!
Pretty much a win-win.
Yes, there are challenges facing private practitioners today. But part of the beauty of a challenge is that there is always a solution! You can either be creative or you can follow the lead of Sears. The choice is yours!
About the Author
Shawn possesses both a Masters in Law as well as a Masters in Business Administration, an educational combination that is unique to the field of dental consultants. This combination allows him to view the business structure behind the daily operations and make sure his clients have established their practice using the best and most efficient framework possible.