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Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is known as a top dental consultant by Dentistry Today.

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Homecare Products Create Profits to Your Practice and WOW Your Patients

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

January 19, 2013

 

People want to improve their smiles, and the market for related products is growing exponentially. Every day, television commercials rave about oral hygiene products and cleaner, whiter teeth. Even advertisements not specifically for oral care show people with beautiful, white teeth – and viewers want what they hear and see daily. That’s good news for your dental practice, but are you doing all you can to capitalize on this opportunity?

You may have experienced frustration when patients return months after a visit, never having purchased the home care product you recommended. Patients leave the dental practice with the good intention of purchasing what you recommend, but lets’ face it – life gets in the way, and many of your patients just never get around to buying the recommended products.

All that said, an often overlooked – yet significant – profit center in a dental practice is selling home care products. These products can contribute at least $30,000 to your practice’s net annual profits, and selling them requires only a small up-front investment. Even better, a quick return on investment is easily accomplished when everyone on the dental team participates and understands the value of offering these products. The point here is not to pressure a sale but to promote optimal oral health and create a simple solution for your patients.

Build Up Your Reputation as the Expert

As you well know, patients get loads of oral care product information on the internet, from commercials, and even from makeover reality shows. Unfortunately, patients won’t even think to ask their dental providers about an oral care product they recently saw. As dental professionals, however, we must remind the public that we are THE experts on oral health and thus on the products that protect our patients’ smiles.

Find ways around your office to remind your patients know just how much you stay abreast of the research, the rapid changes in technology, and all the new products available for consumers. For example, you could include a section on your website that reviews products or simply informs patients about new products on the market. You can do the same with pamphlets or an office e-newsletter.

Bottom line, you want patients asking YOUR opinion so that if they see an ad on TV, internet of a magazine they like, they go to you for the expert opinion. Then, if your dental office has that product or a similar one available, you can sell it right then and there! Not only can you sell it but you can educate them about the best way to use the product. Once patients understand exactly how to use something new they are ten times more likely to begin using the product you recommend.

Let Your Patient Education Do the Selling

As a dental professional or hygienist, you may feel like you are running all day on a treadmill, and the last thing you want to do is add another task to your plate. Building a home care product niche, however, doesn’t have to involve a ton of extra work if you already educate your patients about home care products.

When patients learn from you what the most effective products are, their visit to the dental office will likely exceed their expectations. The icing on the cake (and the easy part) is actually having those products available for the patient to buy. This setup will create a WOW type of dental visit with little extra effort on your part. Tip: Be sure to set aside a few minutes during the patient appointment to demonstrate the proper use of the products. This is a perfect way to ensure the patient understands how to effectively use the recommended product.

Added bonus: These home care talks will improve your patients’ self-efficacy. You have taken time to help patients understand how to use a new product, and they will feel confident and at ease about buying it and then using it. Plus, having oral health care products available is just one more opportunity to add that personal touch – and patients may begin asking for refills when they return.

Get Creative With the Holidays

Valentines Day is coming soon and what would be a sweeter gift than a more beautiful, whiter smile!

February is a great time to offer a whitening special. Forever White™ is available to dentists and for less than $9.00 (Cost to your office to purchase) you will give your patient a more beautiful white smile! Who knows what doors you may open when patients says “YES” to getting whiter teeth. Many times this can lead to higher end cosmetic cases.

You can lower the price on your whitening several times a year and not create a loss leader but a WOW experience for many of your patients. Many offices will give away whitening to their new patients while others lower the price of whitening several times a year. (Many offices will lower the fee to only $90.00 during special times of the year. Purchasing all the  Forever White™ products means you keep most of the money while adding a great patient experience.)

Do Your Homework First

Although we highly suggest adding a homecare profit center to your dental business model, we also suggest taking an honest look at your practice and making sure you have the resources available to make it work. Here are a few questions to consider before diving into home care sales. Take time to share the questions with your team members, and listen to their suggestions on how this can work best for your business model.

  1. What will your ROI be on the sale of these products?
    -Discuss the cost of the products you will provide and how much to initially stock.
    -Discuss the fees you will charge when you do carry these products.
    -Find out if these products are covered by insurance.
    -Note the billing code for patients who purchase these products.
  2. Do you have a place to store these products?
    -Find a time to clean your cabinets and purge expired and send-back products.
    -Find out if you can send certain products back to the distributor.
  3. How can you increase the odds of patients purchasing the products you recommend?
    -Discuss how you can communicate the importance of optimal oral health.
    -What words will you use to promote home care most effectively?
  4. If patients buy these recommended products, will they understand how and when to use them?
    -Have written home care instructions accompanying the new products.
    -Have the home care and product use instructions on your website, as well.

Staying abreast of the new products and research to support their use is key. The last quarter of the year is a good time to schedule your annual strategic planning session. At this meeting, determine as a team what products you want to provide patients. Discuss the costs and benefits for you and your patients regarding the products you decide to make available for purchase in your dental office.

You will exceed patient expectations when you consider their total health and save them time and money with their everyday shopping needs. Our world today is extremely fast-paced, and offering home care products will become a benefit to your patients that goes a long way!