Competition. Utter this word to a dentist owner and watch them squirm in their chair. The idea that they are in competition with the dentist down the street is simply unbearable as they are clinical professionals not competitive sharks.
The word “Competition” evokes the worst conceptions of the business world and often a visceral response toward a number of players (none of which is the dentist down the street). These include, “those PPOs” that are creating this competition problem with lower fees, those “corporate dentistry outfits” that are ruining dentistry, or perhaps even animosity towards Google and other online marketing outfits.
Lately, I’ve even heard many practice management consultants state that dentists aren’t in competition with the dentist down the street at all but are in fact in competition with Apple, the airlines, and ANY and all potential discretionary spending products and services . I suppose it may take the sting out of it to think this way, but it’s completely pointless to plan your competitive strategy this way.
Let’s take a step back and ask ourselves why we even seek to identify our competition – the reason is competitive strategy! In business you identify your competition so that you can execute a strategy to better compete and win market share. I can assure you that Apple is not planning its competitive strategy around how to capture those payments being made toward crowns and dental implants, nor are the airlines.
Yes, its true that for elective dental procedures, a patient may choose to spend money on a vacation instead of that procedure. However, that’s because the patient didn’t see the value in the procedure being greater than the vacation. It’s a failure of the operation and marketing(namely the treatment planning sales) – not a failure of the competitive strategy! However, if that patient never even got to your chair, and received that treatment plan from the dentist down the street. Well yes, your competitive strategy failed.
Patients, the portion of the population that actually goes to the dentist, are choosing a dentist in their local area. You want them to choose you over the dentist down the street. That’s your competition. If you want to win, then you best have and execute a competitive strategy. Just make sure that you are focusing on the right thing!