Should Your Clinic Be Offering Family Services?
At one point or another during your career, you will need to decide what type of practice you want to focus on. You may have started out serving a specific demographic group, but in today’s competitive market, if you want to grow, you need to expand your patient target base and services offered.
Broadening your client base ultimately means more production and increased profitability potential.
These expansions can take many forms — some dentists decide to focus on serving the particular healthcare needs of seniors, while others may branch out into cosmetic dentistry — but in most cases, expansion requires investment in new technology, training, and even personnel.
If you’re thinking about expanding your practice this year, however, one of the most rewarding areas to move into is family dentistry.
While taking on children and teens as patients can be challenging, and shouldn’t be done in half measures, in my experience there are some very good reasons to do so. Here are just a few of them:
Children Need More Work Over Time
Taking on children as patients is one of the best ways to guarantee future consistent business — period.
When I talk to dentists who have chosen not to serve young children, one of the reasons I often hear is that it is simply too much work. While it may take a little adjustment, working with children is a rewarding experience that helps keep you and your staff on your toes, while also promising to bring in more future work.
As I noted in my post about how to make your clinic more child-friendly last year, there are a few things you need to do if you want kids to feel comfortable at your clinic — not only do children require more care and a gentler approach, you may need to:
- Retrain your staff
- Work with parents
- Make your reception area more dynamic
Expanding your practice to include children is something that requires significant forethought.
Because they are still growing, kids need more regular check-ups, and often require more specialized work as they get older (retainers, braces, etc.). This means that if you put in the effort to make children (and their parents) feel comfortable and establish a rapport, they can provide reliable business for years to come.
Here are a few general tips to remember when treating children:
Speak gently and use simple words
Talking in a friendly, mild tone while using easy-to-understand words will help put your young patients at ease. When you use simple words to explain dental procedures, it helps a child understand the process before it happens which will reduce anxiety.
Engage them with conversation
Verbal engagement is another helpful tool to keeping your young patients in a positive state of mind. Giving your younger patients tasks such as listing their favorite sports or super heroes is a simple but effective way of keeping them pleasantly distracted. I’ve also heard from numerous dentists that engaging kids with stories or even simple conversation about their day can make them feel more comfortable about the entire experience.
Not only will individual children provide you with more business as they grow older, if you offer excellent care for the child, you may also attract the parents, and any future children they might have. And because young parents are constantly sharing information with each other, you may find that your good work is attracting other families through word-of-mouth.
When it comes to attracting new patients, this kind of organic advertising is gold — and if you make a good impression on your patients, you can use reputation management software to facilitate and leverage good reviews from young families to make your patient outreach even stronger.
Millennial and Gen Z parents rely on reviews (both from peers and from online sources) more than any other metric, and if you’re putting in the work to attract, please, and retain child patients and their parents, you’ll be creating a deep well of future work.
Young Families are More Technologically Savvy
One of the challenges of running a dental clinic that serves many different age groups is the difficulty in standardizing your patient communication protocols. Seniors may want a phone call, while teens and young parents are more likely to respond to a text.
As a result, focusing on younger patients and younger families makes it easier to streamline your communications. You can use to automate reminders, and can use other time-saving tools to keep track of your patients’ preferences and keep them in the loop about their care.
Your Interventions Will Be Life-Changing
In this post, I have focused on the benefits that becoming a family-focused dental practice can have on your patient outreach and, by extension, your bottom line. But these aren’t the only reasons to reach out to children and teens.
Most of the dentists I know got into the profession because they genuinely care about patients, and take pleasure in the knowledge that they are making people’s lives better. When you work with kids and teens, the work you do is literally life-changing, and you get to see the concrete results of it in the short to medium term.
There’s nothing quite as rewarding as watching a child with crooked, unhealthy teeth slowly develop a smile they can be proud of for the rest of their life!
If you want to grow your practice in 2020 by reaching out to new demographics, these are just a few of the reasons you should consider a move toward family-focused dentistry!