Lately, I am finding that many of my friends and colleagues are starting to feel the breath of corporate dentistry on their backs. They are beginning to believe that the growth of corporate dentistry and group practices may suffocate their small businesses.
Allow me to give another perspective. Let me start by saying that I am a solo practitioner who runs a fee-for-service practice in a saturated dental market just outside the Washington, D.C., area. Just as I was graduating dental school, it seemed to be a “golden” time in dentistry — a time where the majority of dentists were making a fortune from doing cosmetic and other elective procedures. There was hardly a concern about how much things cost and more about how quickly one could get in. When I started my business around 2000, the “.com industry” was beginning to collapse, and then the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, happened. Let’s not forget about the housing bubble that shortly after popped and left the economy in ruin, not to mention the impact it had on the overall tone of the community: utter despair.
Through those horribly difficult times, my business continued to grow. Not just mine, but many others. When we see empty chairs, it is difficult not to stress about it and get deflated. Just remember that these feelings are not productive and will not instill change. We cannot control anything outside of our own actions, so why put so much energy into negative things you cannot control? Instead, redirect and refocus. What are things your team can do to generate new patients and increase production? Look at your team’s conversion on case acceptance and focus on the existing patients in your practice and how your team can create opportunities toward gaining that production.
Corporate dentistry is as present as another option for the public. I do not feel threatened by the presence of corporate dentistry. In fact, since corporate dentistry’s business philosophies and models are completely different than mine, I don’t see corporate dentistry as competition for the type of patients whom I am trying to attract. People seek our office for the quality of care we uniquely provide them and for our expertise in our state-of-the-art facility.
If you feel like you are losing patients to big companies and becoming intimidated by the millions put into advertising, my advice is to continue to work with integrity, find ways to “sharpen the saw” and stay true to your personal mission. There will always be ups and downs in the economy, but what happens in business is a direct reflection of you.
Pamela Marzban, DDS, FAGD