One of the biggest perceived challenges for an independent dental practice is how to be more competitive… a dental mastermind can help. Larger dental organizations utilize an approach to business that can easily overpower an independent practice with aggressive marketing and pricing advantages that come with their size. But the reality is that there are lots of ways that small practices have an advantage over their bigger competitors.
We recently spoke with New York Times best-selling author and customer-service expert Dr. Jospeh Michelli, and he highlighted some of the advantages independent dentists have and how participating in a mastermind group creates opportunities for growth.
“I wouldn’t be here if not for a mastermind.” -Dr. Michelli
Read on to learn the top five advantages of independent practices and how a mastermind can help you make the most of those advantages.
1. A Focus on Service
If you had to pick only ONE advantage of the independent practice it would have to be the ability to put the patient at the center of every decision. A focus on service is the most important way your practice can stand out from the competition (large or small!). As an independent practice owner, you have the ability to encourage a deeper, stronger, and more personal relationship with your patients.
A memorable patient experience has just as much weight with patients as any service you offer. Patients value relationships and experiences as much as the results of your work. In fact, most patients commoditize the actual clinical work done – the assumption being that all dentists are competent. However, if your patients know you provide an experience they won’t get anywhere else, they’ll come to you.
“Most of the time we are using convergent thinking – where we are trying to get to the ‘right’ answer. But you get into a mastermind and these expansive ideas start happening, you get more divergent in your thinking and you start thinking about possibilities, not incremental improvements.” – Dr.Michelli
2. Innovate and Iterate
For small businesses, with an efficient team and typically just one decision maker, it is much easier to innovate than it is for a larger business with a more ponderous structure. Some large organizations put systems in place to encourage innovation, but it is nearly impossible to ideate, test, and iterate as quickly as a small team with a single decision maker.
Your practice might not necessarily have the resources to experiment with giant initiatives, but it does have the ability to execute on new ideas quickly, and then modify based on your patients’ reactions. Speed is key to getting the ultimate results you want. At the end of the day, the ability to innovate quickly is a clear competitive advantage over larger organizations.
“The power of the mastermind is in the ideation… the benefit that goes to the smaller business is the speed with which they can test and implement ideas… I’ve watched the use of masterminds in corporate America… when it is done well, it increases the nimbleness and growth potential for those individuals. The beauty of being a small business owner is that nimbleness is an inherent advantage, so if you can use a mastermind to be catalytic you can blow past a lot of these slow, dinosaur, sloth-like big corporate players.” – Dr. Michelli
Small = Intimate
One huge advantage for an independent practice is your intimate interactions with your patients. From the front desk to your chair, you are able to directly communicate with your patients without any layers of interference. And you get to choose the nature of those interactions. As the owner of the practice you establish a vision for the experience you want to provide to patients. You also have the ability to get feedback from a dental mastermind, your team, and patients on how close you are to bringing that vision to life.
Personal interaction and collaboration with patients are fundamental to your ability to create memorable experiences and exceed expectations. This results in patient experiences that yield long-term relationships, positive reviews, and referrals to friends and family members.
3. Small-Scale Efficiencies
Innovation in the practice can take the form of examining an existing system and enhancing it. It can also mean introducing something new that makes a task more efficient.
Large organizations tend to be hamstrung by inertia. They can get stuck using “traditional” systems that may not be as efficient as they could be. An independent practice, on the other hand, with a small motivated team and single decision maker, can imagine and test a new way of doing things almost immediately.
This applies to just about every aspect of the practice. As an independent entrepreneur, if you think a change can benefit your patients, you can make it happen almost immediately.
“I see masterminds happen in the corporate world all the time. But I really love it in the more mom and pop entrepreneurial space, because people are just ready to take an idea and put it into action.” – Dr. Michelli
One of the critical requirements for any small business – an independent dental practice included – is narrowly targeting potential patients. Your size makes this much easier. Patients today are looking to connect with you outside of the practice via social media or community events. You have a massive advantage over larger organizations simply because of the intimate relationships that you nurture with your patients and your community.
Take advantage of the ability to connect with your patients through through service to the community. For instance, plan special programs for seniors, or provide mouth guards for the local high school football team. Your patients will see that you are invested in the community and reward you. This type of interaction can also help you with “market research.” Even casual conversations with patients or potential patients can yield ideas for new services.
“When you put the right kind of people in a crucible (the mastermind),
talking about ideas around business, and personal relationship form, I start rooting for your success… Why do companies fail? Complacency. It is hard enough to become successful it is harder to stay successful. Having a network of people who help you challenge yourself and reinvent yourself in ways that create value.” – Dr. Michelli
5. Build Your Brand
“Branding” is a conscious effort at putting forth a consistent “personality” of your business to the market. And branding doesn’t belong exclusively to large organizations. Does an independent practice benefit from branding? There is no doubt. Earning a reputation in your marketplace as a welcoming, patient-centered, trusted, and service-minded practice will set you apart from the often anonymous feeling of large practices.
“Certain situations foster a growth mindset… when you walk into a mastermind most of the people in that room have a growth mindset. [They want] to grow and develop – that’s why they are there. If they meet with similar people, they can do amazing things.” – Dr. Michelli
To Sum Up…
Dr. Michelli says it best about the relationship between a dental mastermind and independent practices:
“Is a mastermind right for you? [To know,] ask a simple question – are you good enough today? If you are so content with where you are, and you are sure that patients are not changing, and you are sure you are on top of all the many things you could be doing in your business to make it successful, then don’t mastermind.
But if you have this sense, a tense uneasiness, that there is so much going on, there is so much information, so much revolution and breakthroughs in the world, there are so many things you could do, what should you do, of all those things you might do, then you might want to mastermind. In that context you are going to be in a room with other people to bounce ideas off of, to talk about those fears, anxieties, tension, heavy decisions, and you can explore how they have done it… It is a fundamental benefit.”
Learn about All-Star Dental Academy’s Titanium Mastermind by visiting allstardentalacademy.com/titanium
Listen to Alex Nottingham and Dr. Michelli discuss how a mastermind can help a dental practice compete.