Successful orthodontic business strategies

shutterstock_93030802TIO founder Grant Duncan presents three key steps to establishing a business plan for your orthodontic practice
The world of orthodontics is changing, and quickly. Emanating from the US, there are developments that are irrevocably altering the delivery of orthodontic services, and significantly impacting upon the business of dedicated orthodontic practices. As I travel from Australia, into parts of Asia, and into North America, Europe and the UK, I see that each country is at a different stage in this process, and that local market nuances play out in various ways. But the bottom line is always the same. The orthodontic specialty is under threat, and doctors are concerned for their futures.
The UK orthodontic marketplace is no different, although fortunately it is at an earlier stage than in many of these other countries. The universal issues at hand are the growing numbers of GDPs doing orthodontics and the fact that digital orthodontics (Invisalign, 6 months braces) makes it easier for them to do so. The UK nuances are a concern about diminishing NHS funding and an incorrect assumption that patients won’t pay for orthodontic treatment. In short, many orthodontists feel at the mercy of the gatekeepers; GDPs and the NHS.
For a select few doctors who understand the risks that lie on the road ahead, there is great opportunity to achieve practice growth. The key to seizing this opportunity is to get past the gatekeepers, into the space the where the GDP can’t compete and the NHS becomes irrelevant. We call this the expert space. This expert space is at the core of the The Invisible Orthodontist (TIO) methodology and forms the basis of everything we teach and practice.

1. Identify the opportunity – harness the power of a high consumer demand niche market.
It is no coincidence that the very same orthodontic appliances GDPs have gravitated towards are the ones that focus upon two key orthodontic concerns, visibility and speed of treatment. This isn’t a guess by the way. It is proven fact, delivered by our friends at Google. Your prospective patients are not searching for Damon, Suresmile, Insignia or Incognito, or the many of other things that you may believe are the province of a quality orthodontic practice. They want invisible and speed. At TIO our core strategy is built around niche marketing – maximising the value that this niche of high consumer demand presents.

2. Become the ‘Clinical Expert’ in your community
The next step is to build expert clinical skills in these areas of high consumer demand. How do you obtain the expert skill set? Well, if you are a specialist, you are already in that space. You may have to realign your belief systems around the quality outcomes that digital orthodontics can deliver, particularly Invisalign. Invisalign is not an easy technique to master, but when you do, about 70% of the braces cases you currently treat could be treated to a similar or better standard with Invisalign. One of key outcomes of TIO is educating and supporting our members to become clinical experts with the Invisalign appliance. At TIO we have clinical teaching modules consisting of about 100 Invisalign clinical videos addressing specific orthodontic issues, monthly webinars where our members meet to discuss difficult cases, online forums and an annual clinical meeting, all directed to bring your clinical skills up to speed quickly.

3. Market your expert status
Being very good at what you do only gets you a ticket to the main game. It is everything you do after that which will determine your success. This is final key is claiming the expert status within your community. Telling your expert story to your dentists, your patients and the wider community through internal and external marketing channels. Creating a successful, comprehensive marketing strategy can be daunting, but at TIO we make it a lot easier by providing a tried and tested roadmap for practices to implement from the ground up. In my next issue we will dig deeper into the processes around this very specialised area of orthodontic marketing.

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Dr Grant Duncan completed his undergraduate training at the University of Adelaide in 1979, and his MSc in Orthodontics from the University of Manitoba, Canada in 1982. He turned to specialist orthodontic private practice in 1983, and is recognised as having one of the largest and most successful orthodontic businesses in Australia. Grant and his son Nick, who has a financial and ecommerce background, launched the Australian TIO network in 2010.

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