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Why are most dental practices not adapting to changing markets?

Businesses, dental businesses included, love nothing more than stability. Well, they do enjoy profits; however, those come when markets are predictable and consistent, and where business owners can accurately plan for a future that is plainly laid out before them.  

Of course, that is quite impractical. Things change, and markets are incredibly volatile. If the operations of your dental practice depend on the market conditions, and they generally all do, then you should know the risks associated with trying to remain on a straight lane across a moving landscape.

Some market changes and forces are quite weird 

When markets get wild, even the best organizations can’t avoid the maelstrom. The coronavirus pandemic has caused disorder, creating unstable environments around the business world. Robert Shiller, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, attests that the disruption caused by this pandemic is something we haven’t seen or experienced before.

As the virus spreads, so does market volatility become more evident, making dental businesses to operate in an unfamiliar context. The drop-off in foot traffic, as states implement stay-at-home orders, has had a significant effect on dental business. Not forgetting that, the American Dental Association (ADA) has asked dentists to only attend to emergency procedures. Patients have not been left behind; they are also adapting to these changes and making different decisions. 

Dental practices, thus, must be flexible and adapt to any market change, regardless of how wacky it is. In short, they should always be ready to ask themselves how they can remain relevant irrespective of new market realities.

What slows dental businesses’ response to market changes?

  • Lack of resources and coordination — Lack of finances, suitable technology, and an active team can prevent dental practices to respond to market changes on time. However, it is the responsibility of the practice owners to appreciate the available resources and to make the most out of them, if they wish to remain relevant in the ever-changing market.  
  • Some dental practice owners are ever resistant to change — Some practice owners are always hesitant with anything to do with change. They are usually content with the way things are going. They stick on the same outdated trends as they deem them safe to work with.

Though there is an element of risk, adapting to market changes can work wonders. For example, nowadays, many patients will opt to visit dental offices that perform technology-backed procedures as opposed to those that rely on conventional treatment methods. The selling point for modern and technology-backed treatment is that it is efficient and less painful for patients.

What can dental practices do to adapt to market changes

Like the wise saying about the blade of grass that easily bends in the wind, a good dental practice should know when to bend to accommodate forces more dominant than itself.  But to achieve that requires business agility. Here are a few things dental offices can do to stay ahead of the ever-evolving markets.

  1. Dental practices should always be patient-centric

Everything a dental office invests in and brings to the market must be intended to meet the needs of the patients. This includes needs that patients themselves might not even be aware of. First, practice owners should analyze patient needs and preferences. Secondly, study how they live and ensure their dental services integrate seamlessly with the patients’ daily lives. By so doing, it allows practices to remain ever-relevant even in new markets, in ways that their competitors can never match.  

For instance, remember the days when patients had to wait an hour or two before they could see a dentist? Today, dental care is more patient-oriented than ever before. Patients can compare dentists and dental offices as easily as they can browse eateries on Yelp. This market change, in particular, made investors in the dental sectors to up their game.  

  1. Avoid making disconnected changes

Knowing how to adapt to market changes is good, but knowing what not to adapt to is also imperative. Not every change is for your business. Try to understand the benefits, significance, and disadvantages of embracing a certain market.

Most importantly, don’t forget what makes your dental practice different. Jumping on the bandwagon can be a temporary fix, but will not help you create long-term relevance in the market. Practices have to adapt in ways that exploit their strengths and emphasize why their dental services are different. In a few words, it’s unwise to lose your differentiating factors in an attempt to remain relevant in the market. 

  1. Adapt dental services to the current market situation

Like we mentioned earlier, various U.S states are advising people to stay at home. This has serious effects on dental offices, to the extent that some are even closing down. Thus, there is a need for practice owners to get creative and come up with ways on how they can still provide the permissible emergency services.

For instance, some dentists are starting to consider the teledentistry option. Already, there is an advocacy group — American Teledentistry Association — that was established sometime last year to guide dental practitioners on this. However, practice owners should also consult with their state authorities to know the regulations surrounding teledentistry.

Via this novel idea, patients can make appointments, ask questions about oral care, or schedule emergency visits online.  These virtual visits are fast replacing the majority of in-office dentist’s appointments. And bearing in mind that the uptick in telehealth and teledentistry follows states’ efforts to get people to practice physical or social distancing, it’s only advisable for dental practices to adapt their services to the new market realities. 

  1. Embrace technology

As a dental office owner, what was the last tech-solution you adopted to streamline your services with the changing market needs? Adapting technology as the market trends change is very advantageous for every dental office.

For example, many dental offices are now allocating substantial budgets to digital media to help them remain relevant in the ever-evolving market and forge deeper connections with their patients.

Not only that, but dental practices have also begun to implement new technologies, like patient-focused Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, to improve patient satisfaction and the general level of care. The data aggregation from CRMs can help dental offices to minimize costs by identifying and treating dental patients’ issues sooner.

In brief, any dental practice that is aspiring to make the most out of the market changes should always be on the lookout for modern technologies that make their operations more and more effective. 

  1. Changes should be incorporated gradually

Dental practices should not react to market changes all at once. Instead, it is advisable to take one step at a time. Momentous changes are far riskier and may make dental practices even more vulnerable. Owners of dental practices should not be afraid, though, to experiment with new strategies, particularly if they anticipate immense changes on the horizon.

  1. Stay prepared for market uncertainties

Not all market changes will affect dental offices negatively. However, practices must strive to adapt to changes well, to reap maximum benefit. Dental office owners should always have a contingency plan in place so that even if any unwanted situation occurs, they will know how to beat it and bounce back. Different market scenarios will need to be approached differently.

For instance, dental practice owners should, at all times, be thinking of ways to improve their services. What new services may patients need in the future? Can they be in a position to experiment with the pricing of their services? Which new marketing strategies can they adopt? There is a big chance that at least one of the plans or scenarios will always bear fruit.  

Market changes are inevitable 

Markets that continually evolve are the new normal. And embracing these changes is no longer a luxury, but rather a must-do for all dental practice owners. Market changes can be triggered by various factors — new competitors, unmet customer demands, government legislation, national emergencies like COVID-19, or rapidly advancing technology. Whatever their form or cause, changes are inevitable.

They are hard to handle, but, sometimes they also provide unique opportunities for practices to reinvent their operations. In fact, they offer dental office owners a chance to leave a mark in a vibrant market where change is always deemed as the undoubted constant.