How To Overcome the Very Real Dangers to Your
Orthodontic Practice And Your Way of Life
That can sound harsh, even a little exaggerated.
But it is not.
“Keep doing what works,” is a good idea… until the game changes
The ortho game has certainly changed and it’s not going back.
So if you are waiting around hoping it will revert, just realize that hope is not a plan.
Hope won’t get you where you need to go.
Ignoring won't work either.
Denying it is not viable.
Gripping and complaining may give temporary relief but does nothing to change the real causes of your worsening situation.
Society changed. Technology changed. People changed.
The picture of the future is quite different.
GPs started doing ortho in a way that regular people wanted – cosmetically, easier, more convenient and sometimes cheaper. You lost referrals that used to be yours.
Orthodontic manufacturers started going directly to the public. Invisalign created market demand for clear aligners and now patients ask for them.
The orthodontic profession missed the trend and has only recently begun to respond. Alas, too little and too late.
According to a recent survey, orthodontists are definitely feeling the new forces of the cultural change that has reduced new patients and affected their pocket books in big ways.
The top three problems given as answers to the survey were:
- Lack of new patients
- GPs referrals dropping by 50% or more
- Lack of differentiation of their practices from other orthodontists and GPs doing orthodontics.
Reality has struck.
FEW orthodontists know what to do.
Virtually all are looking for answers, but most do not know where to turn.
The size of the problem is magnified because orthodontists had previously relied on getting GP referrals for so many decades that they have not learned marketing for their practices. Many are virtually clueless.
Orthodontists saw no reason to change what they were doing. They were getting all the patients they needed with the el cheapo referrals. Plus, referrals were more “professional.”
They stopped thinking about and investing in building their practices.
Changes in orthodontic technology combined with Invisalign, combined with the cultural changes have created the opportunities in the field for GPs and “alternative” orthodontics (including mail order orthodontics!)
This was not done with malice or because of stupidity, success will generally sow the seeds of its own demise because innovation and marketing are given less intention and importance – ride the winners for so long that the trends, technology and the cultural scene are ignored and then suddenly you lose relevance rapidly or even completely!
Orthodontists Are Not Alone
Orthodontists are not alone. Similar situations have occurred with countries and companies.
Great Britain lost its colonies when they could have become part of a worldwide, greater Britain had different thinking been involved.
Rome lost its empire by neglecting the basis for their culture, their middle class.
IBM lost 45 billion dollars and almost folded back in the 1990s through this type of stuck thinking.
Kodak is but a shell of its former self because they refused to embrace digital photography. History is replete with this phenomenon.
The bigger sin now is to fail to respond and do so aggressively and rapidly.
Today the average age of an orthodontist is 53.
Almost all are suffering from declining patient counts and declining revenues.
Many are holding out, hoping they can make it to retirement- few can.
Let’s Call It What It Really Is:
A Crisis and Its Getting Worse
The situation is, factually, a crisis. Why? Because it will get worse, much worse.
The cultural changes will continue. Technology will continue to evolve. More GPs will be encouraged to do orthodontics.
Presently, 50% of ortho is being done by GPs for a simple reason: they want to be productive, too.
They think they do it as well as orthodontists or simply ask, “How good does it have to be?”
Big Money is in the Game Now
Big money is in the game now and the orthodontic community has nothing to counter. Companies like Invisalign, 6 Month Smiles, Fast Braces, Clear Choice Ortho and web based treatment like Smile Direct continue to spend big dollars to market to GPs, pediatric dentists and now the general public.
Henry Schein dental supply company was feeling the forces of change in the pocket book. This is why they bought GAC and has developed a suite of services beyond equipment and supplies. They realize the game is evolving and they are evolving, too.
Amazon is about to put its significant money, marketing and mind power to entering this marketplace in a big way
Corporate entities like dental service organizations (DSOs) will continue to push for their Drs to do alternative ortho as a simple way to boost production.
Staying the same is no longer viable.
New Orthodontists Have a Different Mindset
New grads in orthodontics are very different in how they regard their futures.
Some simply want employment with high pay and reliance on the organizations they work for to provide all the practice management and administration. Unfortunately, this “safety” track, fueled by an average debt of $450,000 on graduation, creates the exact opposite of what they want in their futures. They will earn less over their lifetimes and will not have any equity in the form of a practice sale at retirement.
Today, 56% of new graduates are women. They have very different career paths than males, often having part-time schedules or shared practices with other women orthodontists. They are more likely to be employees of DSOs and larger orthodontic practices.
New graduates who go into private practice have more digital savvy and often are taking the patients that used to go to the more established doctors.
They are spending the dollars, time and effort needed to market effectively.
One of my students has built one of the largest ortho practice management companies in North America by riding this wave of mostly younger doctors with different mindsets and who are willing to invest significantly in training and marketing.
The Best Clinical Orthodontists
Are the Hardest Hit
Interestingly, the doctors who have invested in constantly improving patient care and orthodontic clinical excellence have been among the hardest hit.
This leaves many of them feeling angry and even betrayed. Sadly, these feelings will do nothing to fix the present problems.
For most orthodontists, their practice is run like a cottage business – DSOs know this and buy up practices, going for the 20% profit margin above the orthodontist’s pay, while robbing the future wealth that could be the practitioner’s through pension plan, investments and practice sales.
Virtually all Ortho’s need to be run more professionally, but they don’t know how beyond clinical systems and efficiencies of delivery.
They have let enormous sums of money slip through their fingers because of already doing so well that they never focused on extracting all they should.
You can be assured that the smart money and Wall Street will not operate that old way.
A Changed Culture Means Change For You, Too
This was predictable. Trends showed it.
Seth Godin back in 2005 predicted, "it's all marketing now -- the organizations that win will be the ones that realize that all they do is create things worth talking about!"
The new model demands adapting to the current culture and, as a whole, orthodontists have not.
If 50 % of ortho is occurring at the hands of GPs and the total marketplace of available patients has not grown, it is coming out of orthodontists’ revenue.
It is a close to zero sum game and right now their gain is your pain.
Orthodontists must change and evolve new types of practice.
They must figure out new ways to actively get referrals and use direct patient marketing. For some, this alternative practice system may involve owning the practices that used to refer to them, including pediatric and general practices. Multi-locational practices will increase in numbers.
A growth and development approach of presenting orthodontics to the rest of the medical community will encourage referrals for medical reasons. Particular target groups will include ENTS, pediatricians, allergists, sleep medicine and pulmonologists.
Re-positioning orthodontic practices will be required to overcome the public perception of they are all essentially the same.
Get the Missing Differentiation
We did a nationwide survey that told us some remarkable things.
The most glaring is that people can’t tell the differences among orthodontists.
That fact leaves you in a very bad place
This is why we developed a new brand that does differentiate you from your competition. Check it out here: [link]
The DSOs and the less clinically inclined orthodontists love the lack of differentiation.
The DSOs and the less clinically inclined orthodontists love the lack of differentiation.
The lack of differentiation penalizes those Drs who have clinical excellence as a mainstay of their practice philosophy, who have worked so hard to be at the top of their game and who have spent all that time and money to provide care at the highest level.
And that has always disturbed me personally.
This hints at why I became a business coach for orthodontists committed to clinical excellence. My work has an emphasis on marketing, in addition to strategy, people, cash and execution. I help orthodontists own their practices so it doesn’t own them.
Don’t you think that the best practitioners
should have the best practices and the financial
rewards that go with it?
I do and always have.
Something just doesn’t seem right about penalizing those who work so hard to do so much good.
Orthodontists are among the best and brightest of all professionals. But they must change with the times.
They must learn to have a different mindset about the promotion and its components: publicity, marketing and case presentation required to garner all the patients they need and get them to say yes to their best care.
Most existing orthodontists do not know how to respond to the current scene. Many just moan and complain. If only that worked!
Younger orthodontists are most readily adapting to the current scene with marketing to the consumer minded patient.
Disruptive innovation will continue – it is what brought Invisalign to become a billion dollar company.
You can expect more disruptive innovations to occur.
BidMySmile.com is the latest iteration that has orthodontists bidding in a Dutch auction, bidding ever lower fees to get patients!
The Five-Step General Strategic Plan for Orthodontic Practice Building and Management
- Treat the emergency of the current scene. Garner more new patients by shoring-up the relationships you have with current referral sources.
Tap the low hanging fruit of referrals, and then build on your referral culture so it gets proper active attention. (Few do now.)
Engage the team in playing the game of referrals and social media activity including likes and shares, videos and having fun with it.
- Implement the Omnipresence Online program with unique content including patient generating web site, 5 star reviews, video patient testimonials, YouTube Channel, Dr.’s video, audio and text blog posting, patient reports, automated emails and digital newsletters, posting unique content on top social channels using automatic tools, Facebook and Google PPC.
This program rapidly improves visits and conversions from web sites.
These may require significant fees above the coaching fees to implement these fundamental building blocks of the marketing dominating patient acquisition system. These fees will vary significantly depending on the Dr.’s current situation. Many will be complete redesigns.
However, we are sensitive to this and will not advise taking on too much too fast. Our end goal for the orthodontist is for you to own your market in your locale.
- Create a strategic framework for increasing new patient numbers and a practice operating system for both tactical execution and achievement of practice goals.
- Review the mindset and budget that will be required for accomplishing the goals of the strategy created. Get real commitment to follow through.
Accept that you will need to spend time and money to create your new patient juggernaut that feeds you practice, realizing that the new promotions spanning publicity and marketing take some time to implement and get results.
This can take as little as three to six months, but often longer.
- Build and reinforce the basic building blocks of your organization: the heart, soul and goal of the company.
Get more organizationally “fit” for the coming increase in flows of new patients that will stress your systems and cause havoc and disagreement within the team and patients if not planned.
Continue to think strategically and apply tactically smart execution.
The above is a generalized plan of action.
Each Dr. has specific needs.
The program will be addressed to those needs from the initial assessment to the executable parts of the strategic plan using a Think- Plan -Do –Review system.
These steps are not sequential, but simultaneous as actions are needed to promote new patient growth and to establish it so it continues along with a practice overall strategy, annual plan and programs execution.
Those who implement these steps will find increasing levels of success and improving ratios of marketing costs as the system takes hold. New patient increases. New profits gained.
This is work. But it is good work and you were going to work hard anyway.
Get a marketing machine that produces the new patients you need.
Differentiate your practice.
Get your practice on the upward track.Make your practice desirable as a practice purchase and more valuable now.
Looking to Transition?
By the way, included in our coaching at no extra charge is transition coaching about how to set up your practice so it is more valuable to a buyer in the future and to you now.
This system gives you guidance on the 8 factors of business value. When implemented, your practice value goes up, often hundreds of thousands of dollars more.
So whether you are looking to transition, or simple want to build a more durable business and improve cash and profits, this is a winning program for you.
Our goal is to make this as simple and straightforward as possible. We do have to be cognizant of competition in your area because heavy competition will take longer to beat.
As part of what we do, we will assess a number of factors including your competition as we start. We recognize that competition never sits still which is why we continue to evaluate your competition.
How This Program is Delivered
This program is delivered in multiple ways: group meetings three times a year, weekly briefings by email, videoconferences and individual times. Why this way?
You need all of these. I have been coaching Drs for a long time successfully and I know what works.
When working together in small groups of 10 to 15, so you get the advantage of my intelligence, training and experience, and also your fellow, like-minded orthodontists who are going after similar goals as yours. I have run mastermind groups like this for over fifteen years very successfully.
Here you get other highly intelligent minds to lean on, to help and to move you forward.
Often times, the group settings are more valuable than one on one because you get to hear and experience multiple Drs. just like you and learn from their practices, problems and solutions.
You get to learn from their successes. You learn how they overcame obstacles.
They see your blind spots that stop you from getting where you want to go and help you see them, too.
The group improves your diversity of thinking and broadens your problem-solving horizons. Moreover, the depth and breadth of your thinking enlarges.
Accelerate Your Growth
This expansion of your thinking can often add a zero to your bottom line.
The group encourages you when you need it.
Often they become the friends you wish you had where you practice. They often become confidantes and the comrades when you really need them.
Groups like these often help you achieve more in 12 months than you have in 12 years going it alone. They help put your achievement orientation on steroids.
Group meetings like this also have the advantage of getting you out of your office and away from home so you can concentrate without the attention pulling of the day-to-day activities in your practice.
Groups like this help you get more and pay less than just private coaching.
And I have learned that you need some private time with me as well so these times are set up by appointment so you can put it into your schedule and as well email and private call access.
Go here [link] and complete your application and to set up a time for conversation to discuss this program to see if it is a good fit for you.
We refuse to take on anyone or practice that we do not believe we can genuinely help.
We recognize this is a commitment for you as well as us.
Remember this: Successful orthodontists in this new culture will be those who do what unsuccessful Orthodontists failed to do, refused to do or knew to do, but choose not to!
Which do you choose? If it is success, we look forward to working with you.
Remember this has a risk free guarantee.
Here is the link again: [link]
P.S.1 Remember Decisions are the Hallmark of the Successful
The singular trait of the successful is the ability to evaluate, decide and quickly seize the opportunities. Frankly, they decide better and faster. Curiously, hesitation of decision has the opposite effect. Once all the available data is to hand, the Successful decide with firmness and speed. Shouldn’t you, too?
P.S. 2 Procrastination is the Habit of The Poor
Procrastination kills possibilities and squanders opportunities. You may have little voices in your head urging you to back away. Quiet the little voice of doubt that sings the siren song of delay, wait and “I want to think about it.”
Practice is getting tougher and will continue to worsen unless you proactively get ahead of the often unseen, crushing trends of disruption in Orthodontics.
He who hesitates is lost. Don’t get lost. Join us!
Now you may be one of those orthodontists that dips a toe in to test the waters – great – this program is guaranteed so toe-dipping is A-Okay with me.
You’ll soon be swimming in the waters of a better future. [link]
Even if you are on the fence, or just thinking maybe, remember: Procrastination is the habit of the poor. If you want to build a better future, a better practice, and really take care of your family and enjoy the ride, this is perfect for you. Your risk is zero.
Go Here: [link] complete the short application and then schedule your conversation.
You can at least do that.
His coaching has helped me
Dr Martin has really helped me to better understand my practice and how it needs to function to make money. Charley has that unique combination of skills that we as orthodontists need in these more challenging times. He also coached me to become a better leader as well as think about my practice differently. His coaching has helped me improve my bottom line income by 25,000 per month!
Don’t spend time looking elsewhere
Charley has the vast knowledge and background to help you really understand what your real problem is and help solve it on the spot. He helps you overcome the barriers that can seem insurmountable. He gets to the heart of the matter to bring solution that work.
Dr Martin understands orthodontic practice and business of orthodontic practice. Don’t spend time looking elsewhere. Make the move and get Charley as your coach!
Charley has my hearty endorsement
Dr Martin has the unique blend of orthodontic knowledge and business acumen to help virtually any orthodontist to manage this delicate balance. His guidance has taken my ideas and vision and given them direction and a strategy for implementation. And it’s working! His knowledge of the marketing, people and leadership is rare. Charley has my hearty endorsement.
He gets results.
Dr Martin has helped me understand my practice and what needs to be done in these changing times. He understands marketing and appealing to the patients we want in our practice. Charley has helped me to get the systems in place to ensure new patient flow. He gets results. We have grown 20 percent over the last year.